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Pope Francis establishes diocese for Australia’s Indian Catholics
14 January 2014 12:50 by Mark Brolly

Pope Francis has established a diocese in Australia for the country's 35,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics, indicating the big increase in Indian migrants to Australia in recent years.

The eparchy, as dioceses in the Eastern Churches are known, will be led by Indian-born Bishop Bosco Puthur, who also has been named Apostolic Visitor for Syro-Malabar Catholics in New Zealand.

The Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle of Melbourne is Australia’s fifth Eastern Rite Catholic eparchy. Others have been established in Australia to serve Ukrainians, Maronites, who hail from Lebanon, the Damascus-based Melkites, and Chaldeans, whose Patriarch is based in Baghdad.

Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of India's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, visited Australia in late 2012 and inaugurated a National Board for his Church in Canberra.

Around 2 per cent of Australia’s population, or 391,000 people, are of Indian descent and they are one of the country’s fastest growing ethnic groups.

The Syro-Malabar Church is one of the Indian denominations with roots in the southern state of Kerala that traces its origins to the evangelistic work of St Thomas the Apostle in the first century.