Bishops warn rebel priests to follow synod Mass from July 3 or face ban from performing priestly duties

Priests who defy the order and do not adopt the synod Mass will be considered outside the communion of the Catholic church.

Published - June 10, 2024 07:01 pm IST - KOCHI

Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church Raphael Thattil and apostolic administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese Bosco Puthur have ordered archdiocesan members and priests to follow the unified Mass system from July 3, 2024, commemorated as feast of St. Thomas from whom Syrian Catholics all over the world claim lineage.

Disregarding the circular and not adhering to the synod-recommended unified Mass tantamount to defying the Pope, leading to a schism, the two top functionaries warned the five lakh-strong archdiocesan community. The archdiocese occupies a prominent place in the 2.35 million Syro-Malabar Church with the presence of the church headquarters in Kochi and principal church St. Mary’s Basilica here.

The circular said that the synod Mass, which came into effect on 28 November, 2021, in the Syro-Malabar church as a whole will be effective in the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly from July 3. Priests who defied the order and did not adopt the synod Mass from the day will be considered outside the communion of the Catholic Church.

The defiant priests will be banned from carrying out priestly duties in the Catholic Church from July 4 without warning. Priests, who are outside the archdiocese either in service or for studies, will have to submit a written statement before the apostolic administrator expressing willingness to celebrate the synod Mass on or before July 3. Those who do not submit their willingness will be banned from carrying out priestly duties. Their current institutions and superiors will also be informed of the decision.

Other curbs

The bishops also warned lay faithful not to participate in Mass celebrated in contravention of the unified Mass. Marriages blessed by the banned priests will not be valid. These priests cannot also administer or represent institutions of the archdiocese. Those who do not express willingness to follow the synod Mass will not be ordained deacons.

The synod Mass or the 50:50 Mass has been a bone of contention for several decades. But it was ordered by the synod of bishops around three years ago. It was then ratified by Pope Francis on three occasions. The Pope also sent a Roman delegate, who failed to reconcile the issue as rebels opposed the synod decision. The papal delegate returned under the glare of public defiance in December 2023.

The synod recommended Mass involves the celebrant facing the participants during the opening sequences up to the Biblical readings and homily. He then turns to the holy of holies during the consecration of the Eucharist and turns to the faithful for the final blessings.

Though the joint circular issued on June 9 by the top church functionaries seeks to end the long-pending differences over Mass liturgy, a rebel group claiming support of the vast majority of lay people and priests quickly rejected the circular outright and declared the circular as holding little value.

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