GOA: 450 Year-old Archdiocese a Metropolitan Again
The official announcement was made at the Vatican at noon corresponding to 4.30 p.m. IST on Saturday, 25th November, 2006 which day also happens to be the Feast of St. Catherine, the Patron Saint of the Cathedral of Goa.
A metropolitan archbishop is a bishop who, besides governing his own diocese, presides at the same time over other dioceses - called suffragans - of a well-defined geographical area called ecclesiastical province.
Though the metropolitan has no power of governance in the suffragan dioceses, he is empowered to exercise a limited degree of supervision over them, so that faith and discipline may be carefully observed. He may perform sacred functions in his suffragan dioceses as if he were the local bishop, although this is now rare, and conduct official visits in special cases, such as when suffragans have seriously neglected their duties.
Goa, whose physical territory once extended from Calicut in Kerala to Surat in Gujarat had been an outstanding Metropolitan Archdiocese right from its creation in 1557 with its metropolitan supervision extending over the dioceses of Malacca (Malaysia), Macau, Nanking and Peking in China, Funay in Japan, Timor near Indonesia, Mozambique in East Africa as well as Cochin, Cranganore, Mylapore and Daman in India, some of which are now extinct. Over the years, it shrank in size and lost all its suffragans, the last being Macau and Timor, in 1976 at which time Goa lost the status of a metropolitan archdiocese.
Sindhudurg, which has now been made a suffragan of Goa, had been part of this archdiocese from 1557 till 1953, the year when it was attached to the diocese of Pune.
With the present appointment, Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao becomes the first Indian Metropolitan of Goa and Daman. It was only in 1978, that the 450 year old Archdiocese got its first Indian Archbishop in the person of Most Rev. Raul Gonsalves.
The Church in Goa and Daman rejoices that a 30-year-long hiatus has been filled and is grateful to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI for bringing it about while also offering its sincere congratulations and prayerful support to the Archbishop on his new appointment.