Telesphore Placidus Toppo
Archbishop Emeritus of Ranchi
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Installed7 August 1985
Term ended24 June 2018
PredecessorPius Kerketta
SuccessorFelix Toppo
Other post(s)Cardinal Priest of Sacro Cuore di Gesù agonizzante a Vitinia (2003–present)
Ordination3 May 1969
by Franz von Streng
Consecration7 October 1978
by Pius Kerketta
Created cardinal21 October 2003
by Pope John Paul II
RankCardinal priest
Personal details
Born (1939-10-15) 15 October 1939 (age 81)
Chainpur, India
Previous post(s)
Alma mater
MottoParare viam Domini
('Prepare the way of the Lord', Isaiah 40:3)
Styles of
Telesphore Placidus Toppo
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeRanchi (emeritus)
Ordination history of
Telesphore Toppo
Priestly ordination
Ordained byFranz von Streng
Date3 May 1969
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorPius Kerketta
  • Leo Tigga
  • Joseph Robert Rodericks
Date7 October 1978
Elevated byPope John Paul II
Date21 October 2003
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Telesphore Toppo as principal consecrator
Stephen M. Tiru7 October 1986
Charles Soreng, S.J.9 February 1990
Michael Minj, S.J.22 August 1993
Joseph Minj24 August 1993
Thomas Kozhimala7 October 1996
Felix Toppo, S.J.27 September 1997
Julius Marandi7 October 1997
Gabriel Kujur, S.J.8 January 1998
Vincent Barwa8 November 1998
Victor Henry Thakur11 November 1998
Paul Alois Lakra5 April 2006
John Barwa, S.V.D.19 April 2006
Clement Tirkey23 April 2006
Paul Toppo24 May 2006
Kurien Valiakandathil27 February 2007
Angelus Kujur, S.J.18 April 2007
Binay Kandulna30 November 2012
Emmanuel Kerketta2 February 2010
Jojo Anand8 December 2012
Kishore Kumar Kujur29 September 2013
Telesphore Bilung, S.V.D.30 August 2014
Theodore Mascarenhas, S.F.X.30 August 2014
Cajetan Francis Osta22 October 2014
Vincent Aind14 June 2015

Telesphore Placidus Toppo (born 15 October 1939) is an Indian Cardinal and was the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ranchi from 1984 until his resignation was accepted on 24 June 2018.

A polyglot, Toppo speaks Sadri, Oraon (mother tongues), Hindi (national language), English and Italian.[1]

Early life and ordination

Toppo was born in Chainpur, in the state of Bihar and now in Jharkhand, India, on 15 October 1939, the eighth of ten children.[1] He and his family belonged to Adivasi community.[2]

He studied at St. Xavier's College, Ranchi, and theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. He was ordained priest on 3 May 1969 by Bishop Franz von Streng.


After a stint at Torpa (Jharkhand), as Headmaster of St Joseph's School and Director of the Lievens Vocational Center, Toppo was named Bishop of Dumka and received his episcopal consecration on 7 October 1978 from Archbishop Pius Kerketta SJ. He was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Ranchi, capital of the Jharkhand state, on 8 November 1984. He became Archbishop there on 7 August 1985.


Toppo was made Cardinal-Priest by Pope John Paul II on 21 October 2003, given the titular church of Sacro Cuore di Gesù agonizzante a Vitinia.[3] He was the third cardinal from India, the first Adivasi.[2][1] He said the title of cardinal was a "mark of distinction for the tribal Church in India and recognition of its growth".[4]

He was elector at the 2005 papal conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.[5]

He was elected to serve a two-year term president of Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on two occasions, in 2004[6] and 2006.[7] He also served as president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, made up of Latin Rite bishops only, from 2001 to 2004 and from 2011 to 2013.[citation needed]

At the Synod of Bishops in 2008, he endorsed ecumenical efforts but warned against "dilution of the Truth" and called for agreement on a common date for the celebration of Easter.[8] At the Synod on the New Evangelization in 2012, he called on religious orders to commit themselves anew to missionary work.[9]

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that selected Pope Francis.[10]

On 11 February 2008, he called for the proclamation of a new marian dogma on Mary, Mediatrix of graces, Co-Redemptrix of humanity, with Jesus as sole and unique mediator.[11][12]

Toppo sits on the Board of World Religious Leaders for the Elijah Interfaith Institute.[1]

Pope Francis accepted Toppo's resignation as Archbishop of Ranchi on 24 June 2018, announcing as his successor Felix Toppo, Bishop of Jamshedpur.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d "Christian Leaders: Members of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders". Elijah Interfaith Institute. Archived from the original on 24 August 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b Akkara, Anto (1 December 2003). "The First of His Kind". Catholic World News. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Assignment of the Titles or the Deaconries to the new Cardinals". Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. 21 October 2003. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Archbishop Toppo Would Be India's First Tribal Cardinal". Zenit. 5 October 2003. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Archbishop's Desk". Ranchi Catholic Archdiocese. Archived from the original on 7 September 2006. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Cardinal Toppo Is New President of Indian Episcopate". Zenit. 15 January 2004. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Cardinal Toppo Re-elected by Bishops' Conference". Zenit. 14 February 2006. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Synod Interventions of 16th General Congregation". Zenit. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Full Text of Tuesday Morning Interventions at Synod of Bishops". Zenit. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  10. ^ "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Cardinals' Letter Proclaiming Marian Dogma". Zenit. 11 February 2008. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008.
  12. ^ "Cardinal Toppo on a Proposed Marian Dogma". Zenit (Interview). 5 May 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  13. ^ "New Archbishop For Ranchi Appointed". Matters India. 24 June 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Leo Tigga
Bishop of Dumka
8 June 1978 – 8 November 1984
Succeeded by
Stephen Tiru
Preceded by
Pius Kerketta
Archbishop of Ranchi
7 August 1985 – 24 June 2018
Succeeded by
Felix Toppo
Preceded by
Patrick Paul D'Souza
Vice-President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India
1998 – 2002
Succeeded by
Valerian D'Souza
Preceded by
Henry Sebastian D'Souza
President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India
2002 – 2005
Succeeded by
Oswald Gracias
Preceded by
Mario Luigi Ciappi
Cardinal-Priest of Sacro Cuore di Gesù agonizzante a Vitinia
21 October 2003 –
Preceded by
Cyril Baselios
President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India
12 January 2004 – 19 February 2008
Succeeded by
Varkey Vithayathil
Preceded by
Oswald Gracias
President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India
12 January 2011 – February 2013
Succeeded by
Oswald Gracias