Syro Malabar Church to convene Synod to solve liturgy row

Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil, leader of the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church, has called for an extraordinary synod of bishops to resolve a long-standing liturgical dispute within the Church.

Jun 15, 2024

The bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church with Pope Francis at the Vatican in early May. (Vatican Media)


KERALA, India:
Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil, leader of the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church, has called for an extraordinary synod of bishops to resolve a long-standing liturgical dispute within the Church. In a communication dated June 3, Thattil announced a special virtual meeting of the Synod, the Church’s highest decision-making body, scheduled for June 14.

The two-hour online session aims to address the contentious issue of liturgical practices, which has divided the Church’s clergy and laity in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. The dispute centres on the synod-approved rubric for Mass, which mandates that priests face the altar during the Eucharist prayer. A significant number of priests and laypeople prefer the traditional practice of priests facing the congregation.

The Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, home to nearly 10 percent of the Church’s 5 million followers, has been the epicentre of this conflict. The outcome of this synod could shape the future of the Syro-Malabar Church, one of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome.

In early May, a delegation of lay leaders from the archdiocese sought Pope Francis’ intervention during a visit to the Vatican, requesting permission to maintain their traditional Mass practices. Subsequently, bishops from the Permanent Synod and the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator also met with the Pope to discuss the issue. According to a church source, Pope Francis expressed a desire for an amicable resolution without coercion.

Opponents of the synod-approved Mass demand that the Synod either withdraw its decision or grant their version of the Mass “liturgy variant” status, allowing its continued practice. Despite these appeals, the Synod has remained firm on implementing the approved liturgy.

Rumours suggest that the Synod may take disciplinary action against protesting priests and warn lay leaders of potential excommunication. “Our position is very clear. Let the Synod take action against one priest or all the priests; we will not dilute our demand for traditional Mass as priests and the laity are together in this emotive issue,” said Riju Kanjookaran, spokesperson for the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (AMT), a group leading the protests against the synod-approved Mass.

A priest, speaking anonymously, warned that any disciplinary measures would only exacerbate the crisis. “When the faithful will not allow a priest to celebrate the Synod-approved Mass, whatever disciplinary action the Synod contemplates will not help solve the dispute. It will only aggravate the crisis further,” he said.

Sources indicate that the priests and lay leaders are preparing the congregation for the worst, should the Synod reject their demands. — Agencies

Total Comments:0

Name
Email
Comments