Mass row in Syro-Malabar Church: rebel group conditionally agrees to ‘conciliation terms’ of synod

Churches in archdiocese told to celebrate at least one Mass on Sundays and days of obligation in the unified synod liturgy

Published - July 02, 2024 08:36 pm IST - KOCHI

Signalling that a resolution could be in sight for the stand-off between the Syro-Malabar Church and a good share of priests and members of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (a rebel group of laity and priests opposed to observing the synod-approved unified Mass) conditionally agreed on Tuesday to the ‘conciliation terms’ put forward by the synod leadership late on Monday to end the stalemate.

Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church Mar Raphael Thattil and apostolic administrator Bosco Puthur had on Monday directed priests in the archdiocese to celebrate at least one Mass on Sundays and days of obligation in the unified synod liturgy. If the churches followed the order, they can continue with the present system of celebrating people-facing Mass. Priests refusing to heed the order will face disciplinary action.

In keeping with the implementation of the order, canonical forum elections will be held and deacons ordained as priests in consultation with Rome, read a clarification issued late on Monday.

The Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (AMT) said discussions had been held at different levels during the past few days in this regard. Barring a few ‘stubborn’ ones, most bishops in the synod were keen to settle the stand-off in an amicable manner, based on Christian values. Despite many hiccups, talks held during the past two days at Mount St. Thomas here, the headquarters of the Church, helped arrive at decisions based on conciliation, it said in a press release on Tuesday.

Subsequently, both the parties also agreed verbally to adhere to the following measures, the first being that there was no need to implement the conciliation circular in churches where litigations were pending. In addition, the circular would be put on hold in churches where the congregation was opposed to the unified Mass. The curia, apostolic administrator and the AMT would discuss this and arrive at a settlement. It was also decided that the unified Mass would be observed only as special Mass in such churches.

Another key decision was not to involve the police or use force to implement the unified Mass order. Action would not be taken against priests in this regard. But the canon law could be invoked against priests who openly challenged the conciliation measures. Considering the developments, it is hoped that peace would prevail in the archdiocese, the AMT said, while stating that it would withdraw from the conciliation formula, if the synod made any move that violated the formula.

The AMT’s pending demands include the mode of Mass with the priest facing the congregation as the official mode of the archdiocese, and steps for ‘restitution’ in the controversial land deal in the church. The forum would continue to assert its demand for due role for the laity in Church matters, its representatives said.

It was represented in the talks by convener Shyju Antony, secretary P.P. Jerald, spokesman Riju Kanjookaran, executive committee members Jemi Augustin, Prakash P. John, Binu John, Thankachan Perayil and Jojo Elanjikal, among others.

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