Episode 131, Rising from the Shadows: The Remarkable Journey of Cardinal Anthony Poola



Cardinal Anthony Poola emerged as a beacon of hope within the Catholic faith when he became one of the two Indians chosen by Pope Francis for installation in 2022. Prior to this appointment, he had dutifully served as the Archbishop of Hyderabad. In an effort to alleviate the plight of the underprivileged, he established a website at archdioceseofhyderabad.org. This website serves as a conduit to various societies, including HAES (Hyderabad Archdiocese Educational Society), and offers a contact link for further interaction.


A Historic Achievement: First Dalit Cardinal

Cardinal Poola holds the distinction of being the first Dalit to be elevated to the position of cardinal. The term 'Dalit' refers to the 'untouchable class’, also called the lowest caste. Furthermore, he stands as the first cardinal to speak Telugu, a language spoken by over 75 million souls in India. His representation extends to one of the poorest regions within India.

Born in 1961, Cardinal Poola's origins trace back to a family of the Dalit class, to which two-thirds of India's Catholics belong. Despite the Constitution abolishing discrimination based on the caste system over 70 years ago, the Dalits continue to grapple with some oppression, persecution, and a constrained existence marked by menial labor.


Education and Aspirations

His Eminence was given an elementary education but because his family was so poor, his father could not afford funds past eighth grade. One year he had to stay home. At a summer camp, Dutch missionaries saw something special and told his father they would pay the funds for his school. He walked several miles to high school and had no shoes. He was able to go to high school, and told the priests that he wanted a higher education. He attended college and studied finance. At that time, he told his mentor he wanted to enter seminary. 


Dedication to Social Service and Empowerment

Before ascending to the position of cardinal, His Eminence dedicated himself to various social service organizations, notably the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. Through this platform, he brought joy and solace to children and the elderly, especially finding joy in assisting the less fortunate. His compassion for impoverished children fuels his determination to facilitate their education, striving to find sponsors to help fund them. Presently, while autonomous Catholic colleges are not available, junior colleges stand as a stepping stone for their aspiring minds.

Cardinal Poola's inspiring journey rekindles hope, shedding light on the Church's commitment to embrace and uplift marginalized and ostracized members of society. His fresh approach is an example of the Church's resounding compassion for those in need.


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