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Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay

Archdiocese of Bombay
Archidioecesis Bombayensis
मुंबई के सूबा
Country India
Territory Maharashtra
Ecclesiastical province Bombay
Metropolitan Mumbai (formerly Bombay)
Area 10,103 km2 (3,901 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2012)
525,017 (2,6%)
Parishes 122
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established 1 September 1886
Cathedral Cathedral of the Holy Name, Mumbai
Patron saint St Gonsalo Garcia
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop Oswald Gracias
Auxiliary Bishops Agnelo Rufino Gracias
Dominic Savio Fernandes
John Rodrigues[1]
Emeritus Bishops Percival Joseph Fernandez
Bosco Penha
Ferdinand Fonseca
Building that houses the Archbishop of Bombay next to the Holy Name Cathedral

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay is a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in India. The archdiocese has been a metropolitan see since the time it was elevated by Pope Leo XIII on 1 September 1886. The ecclesiastical province of Bombay includes the suffragan dioceses of Nashik, Pune, and Vasai. As of 2006, the archdiocese had 277 diocesan priests, 283 religious priests, 383 male religious orders and 1,530 female religious orders. The archdiocese serves a total of 506,976 Catholics in 121 parishes scattered across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (formerly Bombay).

The current archbishop is Oswald Gracias, who was appointed on 14 October 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.[2] He is also the president of Conference of Catholic Bishops in India (CCBI) and will lead the CCBI delegates for the forthcoming 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.[3][4]


  • History 1
    • The Catholic community of Bombay 1.1
    • The formation of the archdiocese 1.2
  • Media 2
  • Archdiocesan Board of Education 3
  • Controversy 4
  • Leadership 5
    • List of Archbishops of Bombay 5.1
  • Notes 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The Catholic community of Bombay

The Portuguese first reached the west coast of India when Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut in 1498.[5] They finally established themselves at Goa in 1510.[6] In 1526, they established a factory in Bassein. In 1534, the islands of Bassein, Salsette, Bombay and Karanja were ceded to the Portuguese by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.[7][8] In this very year, the Archdiocese of Goa was created and the whole of the western coast around Bombay formed part of that archdiocese.[9] Missionary activities in Bassein, Salsette and Bombay commenced from 1534 onwards, thus laying the foundation of the future Archdiocese of Bombay. The Portuguese missionaries who accompanied the conquerors were the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans and Augustinians.

In 1665, the Bombay Island was ceded to the British as a part of the marriage dowry to Charles II of England by Catherine of Braganza of Portugal.[10] The Church on Bombay Island still continued to be under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa. The year 1692 marked the end of the Jesuit presence in Bombay. The Decree expelling the Portuguese Franciscans from Bombay was issued by the British on 24 May 1720. Later, the British allowed the Italian Carmelites to take charge of the Catholic community in Bombay. In 1794, the double jurisdiction was devised by the British which let them interfere in the religious life of the Catholics.

The formation of the archdiocese

Agnelo Rufino Gracias, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay

On 12 December 1853 the Carmelites decided to give up the administration of the Bombay Mission. The Holy See accepted their resignation and thus ended, after a period of 133 years (1720–1853), the Carmelite administration of the Vicariate of Bombay. On 16 February 1854 the propaganda officially divided the Bombay Vicariate into the northern Vicariate of Bombay (comprising the islands of Bombay, Colaba, Aurangabad, Khandesh, Malwa, Gujarat and Sindh as far as Kabul and Punjab) and the southern Vicariate of Poona (comprising the islands of Salsette and Bassein, and the regions of the Konkan and Deccan or Bijapur). Further the propaganda entrusted the Bombay Vicariate to the Capuchin Fathers and the Poona Vicariate to the Jesuit Fathers. Finally, the Archdiocese of Bombay was established by Pope Leo XIII on 1 September 1886. The archdiocese received territorial jurisdiction over Bombay Island and over the northern districts of the Vicariate of Bombay with Poona as a suffragan diocese. Mangalore and Trichinopoly were added as suffragan sees in 1893, in which year the First Provincial Council was held (Acta et Decreta, Bombay, 1898).


The Examiner (formerly called the Bombay Catholic Examiner), is a diocesan news weekly published at the Examiner Press of the Archdiocese of Bombay.[11] It was established on 10 July 1849 by a Jesuit father. Tej-Prasarini is a media and communication institution run by the Salesians of Don Bosco of the Archdiocese of Bombay. It combines a multimedia production centre with training programmes in creativity, media and peace education. It is a member of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication. The Archdiocese has now official opened its very own Catholic Communication Centre on 5 November 2011.[12]

Archdiocesan Board of Education

The Archdiocesan Board of Education, registered in 1985 as an Association under the Societies Registration Act –XXI / 1860, is a certified body for Catholic Institutions in Maharashtra and the Districts of Thane and Raigad. Functioning as a Federation of Schools for its first 20 years, the Consultation of Catholic Schools held in November 2004, reviewed the role of the ABE and recommended that it be an umbrella body for all Catholic Institutions, and that its role be extended to meet all the needs of Catholic Education.

The Board carries out tasks like co-ordination, research and documentation, planning and liaising with the State Department of Education and other Diocesan Bodies for its vast network of Educational Institutes and offers services in legal and administrative problems. It also publishes a bulletin called 'Shikshan Vichar'.


In April 2012, complaints were filed by Catholic Social activists[13] against Sanal Edamaruku at several police stations around the city under section 295 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that persons can be arrested and charged on the allegations of hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community. Edamaruku had previously made derogatory statements regarding the Pope, Catholic Church and priests,[13] besides claiming to have exposed the "miracle" of the dripping Jesus in Mumbai, confronted Church leaders on a live TV channel a month earlier and has suggested that he will be arrested any moment.[14] In early July 2012, this was borne out when police arrived at his house with the intent to arrest him.[15]

In a statement, the Auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai said: "The Church is always cautious in attributing supernatural causes to out of the ordinary phenomena. Whenever possible, it always tries to find 'scientific' explanations for similar events. It does not pay great attention to things like this, although it accepts the possibility that God can intervene in human life in 'extraordinary' ways: what we call 'miracles'. "[16]


List of Archbishops of Bombay

Oswald Gracias, the current Archbishop of Bombay
  • George Porter, S.J. (21 December 1886 – 26 September 1889)
  • Theodore Dalhoff, S.J. (6 December 1891 – 1906)
  • Hermann Jurgens, S.J. (28 May 1907 – 28 September 1916)
  • Alban Goodier, S.J. (15 December 1919 – 1 October 1926)
  • Joachim Lima, S.J. (4 May 1928 – 21 July 1936)
  • Thomas Roberts, S.J. (12 August 1937 – 4 December 1950)
  • Valerian Gracias (1 December 1950 – 11 September 1978)
  • Simon Pimenta (1 September 1978 – 8 November 1996)
  • Ivan Dias (8 November 1996 – 20 May 2006)
  • Oswald Gracias (14 October 2006 –)


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Appointments". Apostolic Nunciature, India. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  3. ^ "Archbishop Gracias to lead CCBI delegates for Synod Of Bishops". 19 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  4. ^ "Archbishop Oswald elected for 2008 Synod of Bishops". Indian Catholic. 18 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  5. ^ "Vasco da Gama (c.1460 - 1524)".  
  6. ^ Kerr 1812
  7. ^ Maharashtra State Gazetteer, pp. 153–154
  8. ^ Robert 1812
  9. ^ "Archdiocese of Goa". New Advent. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  10. ^ "A young town".  
  11. ^ "An era in the service of truth". The Examiner. Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  12. ^ "History". Tej-Prasarini. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  13. ^ a b "Christian forums file FIRS after IRA chief calls 'miracle water' a scam".  
  14. ^ Doctorow, Cory. "Indian skeptic charged with "blasphemy" for revealing secret behind "miracle" of weeping cross". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Sanal Edamaruku's situation worsens: still facing arrest over debunking of Catholic miracle". New Humanist. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  16. ^ "Water from the cross of Irla. Indian atheist accuses Church of "manufacturing" miracles for money". AsiaNews. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 

See also

List of parishes of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay


  • Kerr, Robert (1812), "Discoveries, Navigations, and Conquests of the Portuguese in India, from 1505 to 1539", A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels 6, George Ramsay and Company, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  • Maharashtra State Gazetteer, Portuguese Settlements on the Western Coast,  
  • Robert, Kerr (1812), "Discoveries, Navigations, and Conquests of the Portuguese in India, from 1505 to 1539", A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels 6, George Ramsay and Company, retrieved 2008-08-08 

External links

  • Official site of the Archdiocese of Bombay
  • History of the Archdiocese of Bombay
  • Catholic HierarchyArchdiocese of Bombay on
  • Catholic EncyclopediaArchdiocese of Bombay on
  • GCatholic.orgArchdiocese of Bombay on
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