Vatican appointee’s liturgy letter burnt

Liturgy circular

A Vatican appointee’s liturgy circular is drawing ire from lay Indian Catholics in Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

They burnt it in a public protest.

Archbishop Andrews Thazhath’s circular insisted on a controversial form of Mass. That form has been the centre of a dispute for 50 years.

St Mary’s Basilica, which is the seat of the Major Archbishop of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church, closed last December.

The closure followed physical violence inside it over the liturgy dispute.

The dispute

Most of the archdiocese’s priests and laity have rejected an order of the Mass approved by the Church’s synod.

The order demanded priests turn to the altar during the Eucharistic prayer.

Modernist priests and laity want the celebrants to face the people throughout the Mass. Traditionalists want the opposite.

The dispute led the synod to have a special gathering this month. It agreed to request the Vatican send a delegate to decide on the issue.

The circular

Despite this, Thazhath (who is also the Indian Catholic Bishops Conference president) issued the circular, insisting the archdiocese follow the synod-approved Mass.

“What is the need for the administrator to issue such a circular?” asked Riju Kanjookaran. He’s the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency spokesperson, which led the protest in front of the closed basilica.

The administrator’s June 22 circular ordered Cathedral Vicar Father Antony Narikulam to celebrate the synod-approved Mass in the Cathedral before July 2. It also threatened to transfer him without any prior notice if he fails.

Additionally, the circular warned of action against the parish council for opposing the synod’s decision about matters like liturgy, which are beyond the council’s jurisdiction.

Special synod

The administrator said these actions have been agreed upon during the Syro-Malabar Church’s special June 12-16 synod.

The special synod followed Vatican directions to find a lasting solution to the archdiocese’s liturgy dispute. However, the 56 bishops at the synod couldn’t reach a consensus. They recommended the Vatican send a papal delegate to settle it.

“When the synod has decided to leave the matter for final adjudication to the Vatican, this circular is only aimed at creating trouble for the faithful and the priests in the archdiocese who are ready to work with the papal delegate for a final settlement,” Kanjookaran says.

“We have complained against the administrator to the synod and would soon inform the Vatican about his coercive actions aimed at creating more trouble ahead of the visit of papal delegate.”

Church officials say the Vatican still has to let the synod know about the delegate and his arrival date.

“At the movement, we only know that the synod has requested the Vatican to send a delegate. Nothing else is clear,” one of the synod’s bishops says.

Kanjookarn says the administrator continues his “terror acts” against the diocese’s approximate 500,000 Catholics, including 400 priests.

“It is better for everyone to maintain peace as the ball is now in the court of the Vatican,” one priest says.


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