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Faithful tear, burn church circular on uniform Mass in Kerala

On the premises of some churches, faithful, including senior citizens and women, tore copies of a recent circular issued by Syro-Malabar Catholic Church head Raphael Thattil and Apostolic Administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese Bosco Puthoor in this regard.
Last Updated : 16 June 2024, 08:51 IST

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Kochi: Various Catholic churches under the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese here on Sunday witnessed protests by a section of laity against the ultimatum issued by the Syro-Malabar Church in connection with the implementation of uniform Holy Mass.

On the premises of some churches, faithful, including senior citizens and women, tore copies of a recent circular issued by Syro-Malabar Catholic Church head Raphael Thattil and Apostolic Administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese Bosco Puthoor in this regard.

Thattil is also the major archbishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

In some other churches, they could be seen putting the circular in the waste bin and even burning it.

The Syro-Malabar Church recently warned to oust from the Catholic Church priests who do not comply with its directive to implement a uniform Holy Mass in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese from July 3.

However, the protesting laity on Sunday said they would not accept the Synod decision to go ahead with the uniform holy mass and wanted the years-long practice of performing the ritual facing the faithful to be continued.

Extending complete support to a significant section of priests in the archdiocese who had announced that they would continue to offer Holy Mass facing the people even after July 3, the faithful said the church authorities could not take any action against them.

"The Mass is part of our lives and faith. We do not want any change in the practice, which has been continuing for years. We won't accept the directives of the Synod," an elderly devotee said during the protest at the Elamkulam church here.

Another devotee said they would extend complete support to the priests who rejected the Church authorities' decision to implement the uniform Mass.

"Our priests are the ones who dedicate their lives to us and our faith. The authorities cannot oust them from the church. They are the representatives of Jesus Christ," he said.

In the circular issued last week, Thattil and Puthoor were quoted as saying that "priests who do not obey our decision from July 3 will be treated as those who have left the Catholic Church fraternity. Such priests will be barred from offering Holy Mass in the Catholic Church from July 3." However, the Archdiocese Protection Council, a platform of priests and laity who oppose the Church authorities' decision to impose a uniform Holy Mass, had rejected the circular and said they would continue to conduct the Mass facing the faithful.

In a meeting of the protesting priests held at Chunangamveli in the Ernakulam district, around 300 priests announced they will continue to offer Holy Mass facing the people even after July 3.

A section of priests and the laity of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese are at odds with the leadership of the Syro-Malabar Church over its Synod's decision in August 2021 to introduce a standardised manner of conducting the Mass.

According to the 2021 decision of the Syro-Malabar Church Synod, priests must face the faithful only in the first and last parts of the liturgical service, turning towards the altar for the rest of the Mass (50:50 formula).

While most dioceses have adopted the Synod-approved Mass, a majority of priests in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, supported by their laity, continue to oppose it, citing a departure from the tradition where the priest faces the congregation throughout the Mass.

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Published 16 June 2024, 08:51 IST

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