Kerala churches refuse uniform code for services

Kerala churches refuse uniform code for services

Differences within the Syro Malabar Catholic Church over the uniform code had already come out in the open with a section of priests even staging public protests

Syro Malabar Church. Credit: PTI Photo

The Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala on Sunday went through tense moments as many churches refused to adhere to the decision of the synod to implement a uniform code for church services from Sunday.

The differences within the Syro Malabar Catholic Church over the uniform code had already come out in the open with a section of priests even staging public protests leading to minor tensions.

The synods secretary Bishop Antony Kariyil had even called on the Pope against the decision of the synod to implement the uniform code and obtained a directive that dioceses could follow the existing practices also.

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However, the synod president Cardinal Mar George Alencherry was insisting on implementing the uniform code at all churches from Sunday.

The synod decided to bring in the uniform format for the mass with the priests facing the congregation during the introduction and conclusion of the masses and facing the altar during the main part of the mass. But a section was opposed to it and wanted to follow the practice of the priests facing the congregation throughout the mass. Though a decision to bring in a uniform code was taken in 1999 also, many dioceses sought exemptions and were continuing with their own practices.

According to sources, only some dioceses implemented the new uniform code on Sunday while a majority of the churches continued to follow the existing practice itself. There are 35 dioceses under the Syro Malabar Church of which 13 are in Kerala and 18 in other states. Of the 13 dioceses in Kerala, six had expressed their differences towards the uniform code earlier itself.

Those in support believed that the uniform code was necessary to ensure unity in the church, while those opposing wanted to have more deliberations before finalising the code.

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