Synod vows to enforce discipline within Syro-Malabar Church

Priests, nuns barred from public protests; curbs on appearance in channel debates

January 18, 2019 11:31 pm | Updated 11:31 pm IST - KOCHI

In what could be construed as a strong counter offensive against its detractors, the Permanent Synod of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which concluded here on Friday, has come up with a detailed set of guidelines to ensure “discipline” within the church.

This was part of the circular on the decisions of the Synod issued by the church head, Cardinal George Alencherry. The Synod stated that the tendency to challenge disciplinary action with the help of the media and anti-church groups could not be entertained.

The 27th Synod of the church, attended by 55 bishops, was held from January 7 at Mount St. Thomas, the headquarters of the church at Kakkanad.

It observed that the action of some priests and nuns, who had attended public protests in recent times, breached all boundaries of discipline.

The circular said that showcause notices should be issued to all those in serious breach of discipline and they should be meted out ideal punishments if the response to the notices was found unsatisfactory.

Significantly, the circular stated that priests and nuns should attend channel debates only with the permission of their congregation head or the bishop concerned. No one should mistake anyone’s comments as the official stand of the church unless it is coming from the media commission or the spokesperson, the circular read.

Priests and nuns, who indulge in public protests, should study the canon laws in this regard and their violation would be considered as breach of discipline.

The circular urges believers to dismiss and not to cooperate with organisations batting for the handing over of church properties to the government.

The Synod offered full support to Bishop Jacob Manathodath, the Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese, appointed by the Vatican in the wake of the controversial land transactions and allegations levelled against the Cardinal, who is also the Major Archbishop of the archdiocese. The circular directed the believers not to make public comments on the issue.

The report of the expert committee appointed by the administrator would bring out the truth behind the issue, the circular said.

The Synod also warned of legal action against media houses accused of publishing fake news with the intention of tarnishing the image of the church and its leaders. Some anti-church organisations were also warned of legal action.

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