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Several parishes under Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese abandon Sunday Mass fearing disruption over ‘imposition’ of uniformity

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KOCHI, Aug 20: The Vatican’s order to celebrate Holy Mass in a uniform manner failed to have the
desired effect among parishioners in Kerala’s Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese as Mass was
suspended in most parishes on Sunday, including the St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, the principal
church in the Archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
Last week, Pontifical Delegate Archbishop Cyril Vasil had warned of canonical punishment to priests
who do not follow the uniform Holy mass as per the synod’s direction.
Parish members opposed to the order to celebrate Holy Mass in a uniform manner gathered in large
numbers at the Basilica from early morning, determined to stop newly appointed priest Father
Antony Puthavelil from conducting the liturgical service.
Many parishes under the archdiocese on Sunday decided not to celebrate Mass considering the
opposition from a section of priests and believers.
“I want to solve the issue in a peaceful manner. I do not intend to be the reason for people to
become violent and fight inside the church premises. Holy Mass should be celebrated in a peaceful
atmosphere. Since the situation was not conducive, I have decided not to conduct Holy Mass,” Fr
Puthavelil told the media.
However, a church in Kakkanad and Fort Kochi are reported to have celebrated Holy Mass in the
prescribed manner.
Puthavelil had taken charge yesterday even as over 300 priests of the archdiocese of the church had
on Friday said they cannot accept the warning issued by papal representative Vasil to celebrate Holy
Mass as prescribed by the synod.
The Basilica has been closed for months following the altercation over the conduct of the synod-
specified unified Holy Mass.
Papal representative Vasil had recently issued a hard-hitting letter addressing priests in the
Ernakulam-Angamaly Archeparchy, directing them to follow the synod-approved Holy Mass from
August 20.
Vasil had said that those who oppose the Syro-Malabar Church Synod’s decision will invite canonical
punishment. He also warned the protesting priests that any disobedience to this order would be
considered “voluntary, personal, and culpable disobedience to the Holy Father”.
The Synod of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church had introduced the uniform way of celebrating Holy
Mass in August 2021.
According to it, priests celebrating Holy Mass must face the faithful only in the first and last parts of
the liturgical service and turn towards the altar for the rest of the Mass.
While all other dioceses under the Syro-Malabar Church have adopted the instruction approved by
the synod, the majority of priests of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, supported by their laity,
opposed it. They said they could not depart from the tradition by which the priest faces the faithful
throughout the Mass.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the 22 Eastern Oriental Churches in full communion with
the Pope.
Vasil was appointed by the Vatican to address and resolve the ongoing conflict over the unified Mass
in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, where discontent has been brewing for some time among
a significant section of priests, nuns, and laity over the synodal decision to “impose” uniformity in
celebrating Holy Mass in churches under its control.
On August 15, he was stopped at the gate of St Mary’s Basilica here by a section of laity and priests
opposing the unified mass, who staged a protest.
Vasil had also ordered that the letter of Pope Francis regarding the celebration be read out on
August 20 in all parish churches, filial churches, and all other institutions under the Ernakulam-
Angamaly Archdiocese where Sunday Qurbana (holy communion) is celebrated.

The priests refused to accept this order as well, saying the reason behind such a warning was that
someone had misled the papal delegate.
Vasil had warned that any disobedience to this order would be construed as an act of impeding the
right of the Holy Father to communicate with the people of God, which would be considered a
“serious delict” and invite canonical penal sanctions.
The pontifical delegate had also urged the priests to think seriously about the pledge of obedience
taken at the time of their sacred ordination. (PTI)

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