Priests, laity fight inside Basilica in Kerala on Christmas Eve over Holy Mass style

Tension has been prevailing from Friday evening as group supporting the Holy Mass and those opposed to it gathered at the Basilica.
Priests and laity belonging to two groups fight each other at the famous St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica (Photo | EPS)
Priests and laity belonging to two groups fight each other at the famous St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica (Photo | EPS)

KOCHI: Priests and laity belonging to two groups fought each other and destroyed the altar at the famous St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, the headquarters of the Major Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly on Christmas Eve, on Saturday.

Tension has been prevailing from Friday evening as group supporting the Holy Mass and those opposed to it gathered at the Basilica. The group opposing the Unified Mass had tried to disrupt the Holy Mass on Friday night.

However, police pacified both groups. At 10 am on Saturday morning, the group opposed to Holy Mass disrupted it triggering an altercation. Though police tried to pacify the priests and laity belonging to both groups, they fought each other and raised slogans against the police.

A section allegedly desecrated the altar and pushed down the lamps. The priests were also attacked. As the laity and priests belonging to both groups fought each other, the police used force and removed them from the church. The police took three people into custody in connection with the incident.

When the marathon mass led by the rebel group completed 12 hours, members of the opposite group entered the church and rushed to the altar. But the rebel group of priests, who were inside the church refused to leave church. This led to an altercation and priests were seen fighting in front of the altar. Though the police attempted a compromise, both sides were against shutting down the church on Christmas eve. St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica administrator Fr. Antony Puthuvelil offered the Unified Holy Mass while a few priests offered the Holy Mass simultaneously.

As tension escalated, the police took control of the church and pushed both groups outside the Basilica. Finally, the police pushed priests and laity belonging to both sides outside the gate of the church. They have been directed to participate in the mediatory talks under Kochi city police DCP.

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