Syro-Malabar Church initiates disciplinary action against 4 priests over uniform mass row | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Syro-Malabar Church initiates disciplinary action against 4 priests over uniform mass row

Aug 23, 2023 12:40 AM IST

Last week, Archbishop Vasil, in a stern letter to the priests of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, had asked them to practice the Synod-approved standardised mass from August 20 in all parishes

KOCHI: The Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala on Tuesday transferred four young priests as punishment for refusing to follow the Synod-approved uniform holy mass format, in an indication of the administration’s tough stance against dissenters.

Syro-Malabar Church head Cardinal Mar George Alencheri (C) during special prayers for the Manipur violence victims, in Kochi on June 7. The church is embroiled in a row over the way the holy mass ritual is conducted. (PTI)
Syro-Malabar Church head Cardinal Mar George Alencheri (C) during special prayers for the Manipur violence victims, in Kochi on June 7. The church is embroiled in a row over the way the holy mass ritual is conducted. (PTI)

The priests of the Sacred Heart minor seminary in Kochi were transferred without being given postings or responsibilities on the orders of Pontifical Delegate Archbishop Cyril Vasil who was directed by the Vatican to resolve the simmering dispute within the Church over the way in which the holy mass ritual is conducted. Mar Andrews Thazhath, the apostolic administrator, issued the letter to the priests.

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“The four priests under the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese were asked if they would follow the holy mass format as approved by Pope Francis and the Church Synod. They said no. That’s why they have been directed to vacate the premises of the minor seminary,” said a church official.

Last week, Archbishop Vasil, in a stern letter to the priests of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, had asked them to practice the Synod-approved standardised mass from August 20 in all parishes. “If they disobeyed the order, it would be seen as ‘voluntary, personal and culpable disobedience to the Holy Father,” his letter said. Failing to follow the uniform mass style would also attract canonical punishment, he had warned.

A majority of the priests and laity of the archdiocese, which commands nearly five lakh faithful, are in favour of ‘jana abhimukha kurbana’ or practicing the holy mass by facing the people during the entire ritual. But the Synod-approved format requires the priest to face the people in the introduction and conclusion of the mass and in between face the altar.

As part of a protest against the Church action on the priests, two senior rebel priests Kuriakose Mundadan and Sebastian Thaliyan attempted to sit on a hunger strike at the Church headquarters of St Thomas Mount in Kakkanad, Kochi. But the plan was foiled by the local police who moved them from the premises.

Fr Mundadan said, “This is a fight for dharma, justice and truth. We don’t accept the Synod’s orders because it brought them in illegal ways. As the voice of the archdiocese, its priests and five lakh faithful, we will not accept any punishment ordered by the Church.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishnu Varma is Assistant Editor and reports from Kerala for the Hindustan Times. He has 10 years of experience writing for print and digital platforms and has worked at The New York Times, NDTV and The Indian Express in the past. He specialises in longform reportage at the intersections of politics, crime, social commentary and environment.

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