Uniform Holy Mass: Protesting priests reject fresh note issued by Syro-Malabar church

Priests protesting the changes to Holy Mass in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese on Saturday rejected a fresh note from the synod of the Syro-Malabar Church, calling it an attempt to incite conflict in the parishes.
Uniform mass of Syro-Malabar church
Uniform mass of Syro-Malabar church

Kochi | Priests protesting the changes to Holy Mass in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese on Saturday rejected a fresh note from the synod of the Syro-Malabar Church, calling it an attempt to incite conflict in the parishes.

The post-synodal note came amidst a raging row over a circular issued by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church head Raphael Thattil on June 9, 2024, giving an ultimatum to the priests who do not comply with its directive to hold uniform Holy Mass in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese starting from July 3 this year.

Thattil and the Apostolic Administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, Bosco Puthoor, on Friday issued a post-synodal note addressing the priests and faithful in the archdiocese.

In the note, the church authorities detailed a set of decisions formulated during the special online meeting of the Synod held on June 14 and 19.

Among the decisions, the church said the circular issued by it on June 9 would continue to stand and all priests should hold the mass in a standardised manner as directed earlier.

However, it made it clear that canonical punishment, as mentioned in the June 9 circular, would not be initiated against those priests who start performing at least one Uniform Holy Mass on Sundays and other significant days.

The relaxation was given based on the directive of Pope Francis to give awareness about the Uniform Holy Mass, the post-synodal note further added.

However, the protesting priests said in a statement that the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese is rejecting the post-synodal note issued by Raphael Thattil and Bosco Puthoor.

They charged that both Thattil and Puthoor had once again "deceived" the priests and the entire faithful of the archdiocese.

Instead of a formula to resolve the stalemate, this is a note that "ignites riot" through parishes in the wake of Uniform Holy Mass issue, they alleged, adding that the priests and laity of the archdiocese do not accept it.

The post-synodal note was issued with an intension to bring the entire Archdiocese under the Uniform Holy Mass, the priests further alleged.

"This is a gross betrayal of the Archdiocese by the Major Archbishop and the Apostolic Administrator," they said.

A complaint, signed by all priests of the archdiocese against the June 9 circular, has already been submitted to the higher authorities of the church, the dissident priests said, adding that they were moving forward with the strong conviction that the synod cannot take any action against them.

Five bishops of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church had recently expressed disapproval of a recent circular issued by their church head, which warned that priests in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese who protest against the changes made to Holy Mass customs would be excommunicated.

The bishops had alleged that the circular "smacks of the middle-age culture of the Church." In the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, some priests and members of the church community disagree with the Syro-Malabar Church's August 2021 decision on uniform Holy Mass.

This decision mandated a standardised way of conducting Holy Mass, where priests are required to face the congregation only at the beginning and end of the service, turning towards the altar for the rest of the Mass (known as the 50:50 formula).

While most dioceses under the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church have adopted this approach, many priests in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, along with their parishioners, continue to oppose it. They argue that it breaks from tradition, where the priest traditionally faces the congregation throughout the entire Mass.

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