CWN - Pope Francis has created an eparchy-- the equivalent of a diocese-- for Catholics of the Syro-Malabar rite in Great Britain.

To lead the new Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Preston, the Pope appointed Father Joseph Srampickal, who has been serving as vice-rector of the Propaganda Fide College in Rome. Bishop-elect Srampickal will lead a community of nearly 40,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics in England, Scotland, and Wales.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which traces its origins to the missionary work of St. Thomas the Apostle in India, claims over 4.5 million faithful, with the overwhelming majority in India. It is the 2nd-largest of the Eastern churches in communion with Rome.