A meeting of the presbyters’ council of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in Kochi on Friday warned of a more intense agitation if the archdiocese was not officially permitted from November 27 to celebrate fully congregation-facing Mass.
Lay people in the archdiocese too have come out in support of the priests, warning apostolic administrator Archbishop Andrews Thazhath on the issue.
The issue in the Syro-Malabar Church revolves around a decision by the Synod of Bishops in August last year to impose a unified Mass system. The unified Mass involves the celebrant facing the congregation for the first half of the Mass and facing away from it for the second half. However, the majority of priests and lay people have demanded a fully congregation-facing Mass as a liturgical alternative for the archdiocese.
The warning of a more intense agitation after November 27 came in a resolution submitted to the apostolic administrator by the priests after their meeting, said Father Sebastian Thalian and Father Jose Vailikodath, who is also the spokesman for the Athiroopatha Samrakshana Samithi (forum for protection of the archdiocese).
The priests also claimed that the unified Mass system “imposed on the archdiocese” by the Synod of Bishops did not have any sanctity before law. Any action against priests in the name of such an “imposition” would be strongly resisted and would trigger strong protest, said the priests. Action against any priest on the issue would be considered an action against all the priests, they said.
The meeting of the priests, held at the Archbishop’s House in the city, was followed by a meeting of lay people under organisations such as Almaya Munnettam, Basilica Koottaima and Daivajana Koottaima. Later, a delegation of both priests and lay people met Archbishop Thazhath to submit the resolution passed at the presbyters’ meeting.