Syro-Malabar Church Day passes off peacefully as both sides stick to agreed formula on Mass

Of the 321 churches in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, 250 churches celebrated synod-approved Mass on Wednesday as per a pre-agreed formula. The peace formula rests centrally on at least one Mass being celebrated in the unified formula on Sundays and days of obligation in all churches in the archdiocese

Updated - July 03, 2024 10:25 pm IST

Published - July 03, 2024 07:31 pm IST - KOCHI

Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church Mar Raphael Thattil performs the Holy Mass Raza along with Bishop Bosco Puthur, Auxiliary Bishop Tony Neelankavil, Curia Bishop Sebastian Vaniyapurackal, and Bishop Regimose Inchananiyil at St. Thomas Mount at Kakkanad in Kochi on Wednesday.

Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church Mar Raphael Thattil performs the Holy Mass Raza along with Bishop Bosco Puthur, Auxiliary Bishop Tony Neelankavil, Curia Bishop Sebastian Vaniyapurackal, and Bishop Regimose Inchananiyil at St. Thomas Mount at Kakkanad in Kochi on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement 

The row over Mass liturgy in the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly appears to have stumbled to a close after about a quarter of a century with St. Thomas’ feast (Syro-Malabar Church Day), July 3, 2024, passing off peacefully with both sides on the divide conducting Mass peacefully, sticking to a pre-agreed formula.

The peace formula, reached after several hiccups, rests centrally on at least one Mass being celebrated in the unified formula on Sundays and days of obligation in all churches in the archdiocese.

At the end of the day’s celebrations, however, the rebels were quick to claim that attendance in around 250 churches where synod Mass was celebrated as a special case was very thin.

But Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil, who led the festival Mass at St. Thomas Mount, the headquarters of the eastern rite Church, sounded enthusiastic. He told a public gathering at the end of the Mass that strengthening of families was a must to bolster faith. The celebrations started with hoisting of the flag.

Apostolic administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese Bosco Puthur was among the concelebrants. Heads of institutions, religious bodies, and a large number of lay people attended the mass at St. Thomas Mount, said an official communication here.

‘No untoward incidents’

The rebel group Alamaya Munnettam, comprising lay people in the archdiocese, said the synod prescription came into effect with conditions. The group said that of the 321 churches in the archdiocese, 250 churches celebrated synod Mass, but with thin attendance, on Wednesday, as per the pre-agreed formula. Mass was celebrated in around 50 churches in the full people facing mode as they are under dispute in the courts.

There were also a few cases where synod Mass was not celebrated because of opposition from the lay people, the rebels added. The parishioners asked the vicars to inform the curia about the development. There were no untoward incidents in any of the churches, said Riju Kanjookkaran for Almaya Munnettam, the lay people’s group.

‘A reason for hope’

He said that Wednesday’s peaceful proceedings was a reason for hope after about two years of tension that clashes may be avoided in the future. This is expected to move towards a permanent resolution of the issue. The group reiterated its demand to recognise the full people facing mass as a liturgical variant. The group also said that the issue of making good the losses suffered by the archdiocese in a series of land deals in 2017 still needed to be addressed.

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