Cardinal Vithayathil was ordained a priest in 1954 and ordained a bishop in 1996. In 1999, he appointed the Major Archbishop by Pope John Paul II. The same pope created Vithayathil a cardinal in 2001 giving him the title of San Bernardo alle Terme.
Trained in Canon Law at the Angelicum, Vithayathil taught the subject in the Redemptorist seminary. For a term he served as the Father Provincial of the Redemptorists of India and Sri Lanka and later serving as the Apostolic Administrator of a Benedictine abbey of monks.
Cardinal Vithayathil was a supporter of the 5th Marian doctrine, that of Mary’s role in salvation history as the co-redemptrix.
Pope Benedict’s telegram upon hearing of Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil.
This will mean the Church will have a third election of a Major Archbishop in 2011. The Maronite and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churches have just recently elected new heads.