Tension outside St George Church, Edappally in Kochi after pro and anti-Unified Mass parishioners of Syro-Malabar Church come face-to-face

Tension erupted as supporters and opponents of the Unified Holy Mass clashed over reading a circular by church leaders. A war of words followed when the opposing group tried to burn the circular.
Believers protesting infront of  the St.George church Edappally on Sunday.
Believers protesting infront of the St.George church Edappally on Sunday.Express

KOCHI: Tension prevailed on the premises of the St George Church, Edapally in Kochi after those supporting and opposing Unified Holy Mass (Mass facing the altar during the Eucharist prayer) came face-to-face on Sunday over the question of reading the circular issued jointly by the Syro Malabar Church Major Archbishop Mar Raphael Thattil and Apostolic Administrator of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese Mar Bosco Puthur.

A war of words ensued after the anti-Unified Holy Mass group tried to burn the circular.

According to Tenson Pullickal, of the regional committee executive member of the Mar Thoma Nasrani Sangam, which supports the Uniform Mass, the circular was read at nearly 20 percent of the churches in the archdiocese. "In 20 per cent, the circular was burnt while in the rest of the churches, the priests just mentioned it and refrained from reading it before the laity. Tension did prevail in some parishes," Pullickal said.

Around 30 police officers were deployed outside the church to prevent any untoward incidents. "The intention of the people gathered there was to read the circular. Following this a minor conflict arose between the groups, but it did not cross the limits," said J S Sajeev Kumar, the SHO of Elamakkara police station. After a while, the police forced them to put off the mic. "We deployed around 30 policemen in order not to worsen the situation," he added.

Meanwhile, Pullickal claimed that many priests like the vicar of the Karukutty church have shown readiness to follow the decision taken by the Synod. "Even in Edappally church, only a handful of people close to the priest and the parish council were the ones who were raising their voice of dissent. As for the laity, they are ready to follow the decision of the Synod," he said.

A parishioner of Edappally church who didn't want to be named said, "What we want is a peaceful atmosphere to pray. We will wholeheartedly accept the decision taken by the Synod." However, it should be noted that the church higher-ups also need to take into consideration the emotional status of the laity, he said. It would be difficult to change into a new form of celebrating Holy Mass from the one that we have been following." But we don't want our churches to remain closed over the issue, he added.

"St George Church had once been closed for an indefinite period. The same is true in the case of Palarivattom church today. No churches need to be closed," he said.

Synod to meet again on June 19

Meanwhile, the Synod, the highest decision making body of the Syro-Malabar Church, will meet on Wednesday (June 19) after its meeting on Friday (June 14) failed to arrive at a decision. Sources said the decision of the Synod will be revealed only on July 3. "The Synod will meet again on June 19 after eight bishops including Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt were unable to attend the online meeting held on Friday (June 14). Their views too have to be heard."  

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