The clergy should face congregation: priests

A meeting of more than 300 priests from the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese here on Tuesday reiterated that there would be no compromise on continuing with the practice of celebrating the Mass with the celebrant (priest) facing the congregation throughout the duration of the Mass.

Senior priests Kuriakose Mundadan, Joseph Vailikodath, and Mathew Kilukkan told mediapersons after the meeting that they expected the Vatican to intervene in the matter after an appeal was made to Pope Francis not to impose the decision by the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church to bring about uniformity in the celebration of the Mass.

The priests insisted that the Universal Synod of the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, had said that when liturgy is renewed, unity should be the matter of essence. There was no recommendation from the council to impose uniformity if matters of the faith were not involved.

The priests expressed optimism that a favourable decision by the Vatican on the issue would be conveyed before November 28, the first Sunday of Advent, which marks the beginning of the liturgical calendar for the Catholic Church.

The Synod of Bishops had decided that the uniform way of celebrating the Mass would be introduced on the day.

The newly recommended uniform way involves celebrating the Mass with the celebrant facing the congregation during the first half and and facing the tabernacle (holy of holies and away from the congregation), during the other half.

Opposing the change

Priests, parishioners and religious from Ernakulam-Angamaly, Irinjalakuda, and Thrissur dioceses are among those who have vehemently opposed the change.

The priests said that celebration of the Mass in the archdiocese, involving the celebrant facing the congregation during the entire course of rituals, had been a practice for half a century. There had been no disruption or lack of unity in this regard.


The archdiocesan administration had gone on peacefully.

Though there was a difference of opinion on the issue during the Synod of Bishops early last month, these opinions were not considered or put on record, they alleged.

Discussions on the way the Mass is celebrated in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has been going on for decades.

However, the synod last month sent out an instruction that the uniform practice would come into effect on November 28.

The priests alleged that there was a “Chaldean lobby” that was trying to capture power in the church and the lobby was the cause of disruption and lack of accord among the faithful.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 9:47:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/the-clergy-should-face-congregation-priests/article37181541.ece

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