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India’s Syro Malabar Church sets deadline to solve liturgy row

However, priests and the laity in Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese are sticking to their demand for traditional Mass
Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil.

Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil. (Photo: syromalabarchurch.in)

Published: June 10, 2024 12:03 PM GMT
Updated: June 10, 2024 12:13 PM GMT

The crisis-ridden Syro Malabar Church in India has set a deadline to solve its decades-old liturgy dispute.

The Church based in southern Kerala state has asked all defiant priests in Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese to follow the Synod-approved Mass in which the celebrant faces the altar during the Eucharist on or before July 4 or face expulsion.

The Church's head, Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil and Bishop Bosco Puthur, the archdiocese's apostolic administrator, set the deadline in a joint pastoral letter issued on June 9.

The Church leaders also asked to read the circular in all parishes on June 16 Sunday. 

Barring the archdiocese, which is also the seat of power of the Church, all 34 dioceses of the Church in India and abroad have implemented the Synod-approved Mass.

Most priests and laity in the archdiocese, home to some 10 percent of the 5 million followers of the Church, refused as they wanted the celebrants to face the people throughout the Mass.

The circular asked the archdiocese's seminarians and deacons to sign a document saying they would celebrate the Synod-approved Mass, failing which they would not be ordained.

It told Catholics that participating in a mass in the Church other than the synod-approved mass after July 3 would be invalid, and such masses would not satisfy the Sunday obligation.

The circular also said priests without the bishop's mandate would not be allowed to administer parishes or Church-run institutions.

However, leaders spearheading the struggle say they will not accept the synod-approved Mass. 

“Let me make it very clear we are not going to accept the Synod-approved Mass,” said Riju Kanjookaran, the spokesperson of the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, representing priests, religious, and laity that spearheads the protest for the traditional Mass.

“This is an arbitrary decision taken without consulting our priests and lay leaders, and nobody is bound to comply with it,” he told UCA News on June 10.

Kanjookaran questioned the validity of the pastoral letter when an extraordinary Synod was convened on June 14 to discuss the liturgy dispute.

“It clearly shows that the Synod does not want to listen to either priests or the laity. They instead want to have their way,” he added.

All the parishes have passed resolutions supporting the traditional Mass and handed them over to the Synod and the Vatican. The archdiocese has close to 470 priests, and 450 priests stand for the traditional Mass, he said.

He said a delegation of lay leaders called on Pope Francis in May this year.

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1 Comments on this Story
JOHN MASCARENHAS
THE ADVICE THAT POPE FRANCIS IS GETTING IS WRONG. RATHER THAN GETTING THE 2 FACTIONS TO COMPROMISE, HE SHOULD HAVE SETTLED THE MATTER, AS IT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR SO LONG. THIS IS A SHAME ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ITS AUTHORITY. IF ALL THE PRIESTS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH FACE THE CONGREGATION DURING THE MASS, WHY DO THESE SYRO MALABAR HEADS OF CHURCH (THAT ARE PART OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH) WANT TO FACE THE ALTER?? WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO HIDE FROM THE CONGREGATION? I SUPPORT THE LAY PEOPLE AND PRIESTS WHO INSIST THAT THE PRIESTS MUST FACE THE CONGREGATION DURING MASS. FIGHT THE PHARISEES! STAY STRONG!
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