Kerala

Row over Syro-Malabar Mass raises its head again

On the agenda of the Syro-Malabar Church synod meeting from January 7 are possible changes to the liturgy.

On the agenda of the Syro-Malabar Church synod meeting from January 7 are possible changes to the liturgy.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Church Synod may discuss whether celebrant should face the congregation or not

The question whether the celebrant should face the congregation (westward) or eastward during the holy Mass, a bone of contention in the Syro-Malabar Church for several decades, is back in focus again.

On the agenda of the Church synod meeting at St. Thomas Mount here, headquarters of the Church, from January 7 are possible changes to the liturgy and the direction the celebrant should take during Mass.

Monsignor Varghese Njaliath, senior priest and an expert on liturgy, on Thursday made an appeal to the synod not to ban the practice of priests celebrating Mass facing the congregation. He was speaking at a seminar on liturgy at the Renewal Centre here. There was a general opinion at the seminar that it was not to the east but to the Cross of Christ that the priest should look during Mass.

Fr. Njaliath said the spirit of the Second Vatican Council should be imbibed and no restriction should be imposed on offering Mass facing the congregation. Pastoral councillor secretary P. Gerard spoke on the agenda of the Synod. Around 1,200 representatives from different parishes of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese participated in the seminar.

‘Liturgical unity’

In the controversy, a golden mean was struck sometime back with the celebrant being allowed to face the congregation up to the homily and then being allowed to celebrate the consecration of the host and rest of the Mass facing away from the people. Even the compromise formula has been skipped in Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese where the mass is celebrated with the celebrant facing the congregation throughout. There is a large section of the faithful in the archdiocese who fear a ban on Mass facing the congregation, to bring about liturgical unity.

Meanwhile, the Thrissur archdiocese said it had always taken a neutral position on the issue. “We are ready to abide by the decision of the synod,” archdiocese sources said.

Sources in the Thamarassery diocese said the agenda of the synod is finalised only in its first sitting.

Any propaganda about the items on the agenda of the synod is obviously a part of the defence mechanism of those who have vested interests.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:15:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/row-over-syro-malabar-mass-raises-its-head-again/article30464263.ece

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