Priests Reject Syro-Malabar Church's Directive for Uniform Holy Mass
Priests Reject Syro-Malabar Church's Directive for Uniform Holy Mass

KOCHI:  Priests in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese have strongly rejected a recent directive from the Syro-Malabar Church's synod, calling it an attempt to incite conflict within parishes.

The controversy arose from a June 9, 2024, circular issued by Syro-Malabar Church head Raphael Thattil, which mandated that priests conduct a standardized Holy Mass starting July 3. This directive was reinforced in a post-synodal note issued by Thattil and Apostolic Administrator Bosco Puthoor on Friday.

The note, addressing priests and the faithful, detailed decisions from special online synod meetings held on June 14 and 19. It stated that the June 9 circular remains in effect, requiring all priests to hold Mass in a standardized manner. However, it also mentioned that canonical punishments would be waived for priests who perform at least one uniform Holy Mass on Sundays and significant days, in accordance with a directive from Pope Francis to promote awareness about the uniform Holy Mass.

Despite this concession, the protesting priests rejected the post-synodal note. They accused Thattil and Puthoor of deceiving the priests and the faithful, alleging that the note was intended to incite unrest rather than resolve the ongoing dispute over the Holy Mass.

"This note is a gross betrayal of the archdiocese by the Major Archbishop and the Apostolic Administrator," the priests stated. They further claimed that the synod's actions were unacceptable and expressed their firm belief that no action could be taken against them.

A complaint against the June 9 circular, signed by all priests in the archdiocese, has been submitted to higher church authorities. The priests remain resolute in their opposition, supported by five bishops who recently criticized the circular, likening it to medieval church practices.

The dispute centers on the August 2021 decision by the Syro-Malabar Church, which introduced a uniform way of conducting Holy Mass, known as the 50:50 formula. This requires priests to face the congregation only at the beginning and end of the service, turning towards the altar for the rest of the Mass. While most dioceses have adopted this approach, many priests and parishioners in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese argue that it breaks from their tradition of facing the congregation throughout the entire Mass.

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