The division on the celebration of the mass in the Syro-Malabar church deepens

The divide over how Mass is celebrated has deepened in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church.

A group of priests and laity opposed to the celebration of the Uniform Mass mandated by the church’s synod of bishops last August said a wedding and baptism due to take place at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica here has were moved to a nearby church and chapel on Wednesday, while another wedding was moved out of the basilica on Thursday.

The situation now resembles that which persisted between the Jacobite and Orthodox factions of the Malankara Church during which there were periodic disputes over burial in different parish cemeteries.

The new phase of the row in the Archdiocese began on Tuesday when supporters and opponents of the uniform celebration of Mass held firm as an evening Mass was to be celebrated. Police intervened and closed the doors of the basilica, in what Syro-Malabar Church sources said was an attempt to maintain public order.

However, Almaya Munnettam, a group of lay people opposed to the synodal decision and Athiroopatha Samrakshana Samithi, priests against the synodal decision, claimed that Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop and head of the Syro-Malabar Church, was using the police to suppress the will. of the vast majority of the people of the Basilica Cathedral parish.

The dispute centers on a synodal decision ordering the entire Syro-Malabar Church to celebrate Mass uniformly, with the celebrant facing the congregation for the first half and completing the second half facing the altar. However, there is a large group of parishioners and priests in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly who have put their foot down and said they will stick to the tradition of celebrating Mass with the celebrant facing the congregation throughout the mass.

No mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday as a large group of police officers were seen stationed in the cathedral complex. A spokesman for the pro-unified system Samyukta Sabha Samrakshana Samiti (Church Protection Forum) said the time to implement the synod’s decision was Easter Sunday, April 17. He said that its members, who were in quick relay to the basilica demanding the execution of the synod’s decision, did not interrupt or prevent the marriage and baptism as claimed by the opposing camp.

Martha J. Finley