More than 100 priests from the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly staged a protest fast in front of the residence of Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, in the city to reiterate their demand that the archdiocese should be allowed to continue with the tradition of fully congregation-facing Mass and be given permanent exemption from a directive of the Synod of Bishops of the church last August in this regard.
A member of the Athirupatha Samrakshana Samithi (forum of priests for protection of the archdiocese) said there were around 350 priests, who could actually participate in the protest but the COVID-19 protocol saw around 100 of them taking part in the protest. The samithi leader said any attempt to impose the uniform Mass system would be resisted.
The day-long fast was staged even as the 30th Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church was in progress at the church headquarters at Mount St. Thomas in Kakkanad, near here. The community of priests had earlier submitted a memorandum to the Synod raising the same demand.
The 30th Synod, which began on January 7, will conclude on January 15 and the community of priests requested the Bishops to consider the occasion as an opportunity to reconcile the differences of opinion on the celebration of the Mass.
Meanwhile, Almaya Munnettam, a collective of lay people, organised a black flag protest march to the archdiocesan headquarters in the afternoon, demanding, among things , the spirit of the Second Vatican Council should be preserved and the Synod, which had lost its synodality, should quit. The Alamaya Munnettam is calling for more transparency in church administration and demanded that the fully congregation-facing Mass should be allowed in the archdiocese and alleged the Cardinal Alencherry was using the issue of Mass celebration to camouflage other issues.