Row over unified mass: Archbishop blocked at Ernakulam Basilica gate

Dissident group camps near the church and raises slogans seeking Mar Thazhath’s return

Published: 28th November 2022 03:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th November 2022 03:51 AM   |  A+A-

The pro and anti-unified holy mass faithfuls hold demonstrations and protests outside St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica  in Kochi on Sunday. (Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

The pro and anti-unified holy mass faithfuls hold demonstrations and protests outside St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica in Kochi on Sunday. (Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The row over implementing Syro-Malabar Church’s uniform mass took a violent turn as Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath was blocked at the gates of Ernakulam St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica by a dissident group of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese who are opposing it, on Sunday morning. 
The dramatic incident unfurled when Mar Thazhath, who is also the administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, arrived at the Basilica in the morning to lead the mass. 

Mar Thazhath decided to conduct the uniform mass on Sunday as it marked the commencement of the liturgical calendar. He had given prior information in this regard to the Vicar of the Basilica. Priests and faithful came out against the move and started an indefinite agitation on the premises of the Bishop’s House.

It was around 5.30 am that Mar Thazhath arrived at the gates of the Basilica for conducting the mass that was to start at 6 am. Before his arrival, the dissident group camped near the church and raised slogans asking him to return. Later, they locked the gate of the Basilica from the inside preventing the entry of the archbishop’s vehicle. 

Soon, a group of faithful who supports the uniform mass also arrived at the place. To avoid a confrontation, Mar Thazhath returned to Thrissur after waiting at the gates for over half an hour. The vicar of the Basilica then conducted the Sunday mass in the old (Mass facing the people) format. 
Later, a group of activists who support the uniform mass entered the archbishop’s house and vandalised the premises. Soon police officials arrived at the spot and removed the protestors. 

The police locked up the church as a preventive measure. Police also recorded the arrest of six persons under Section 151 CrPC (Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences). Jayakumar Chandramohan, ACP, Ernakulam Central, said that the church gates were locked as a temporary arrangement. “The key will be returned when the matter is resolved at a meeting to be conducted by the district administration. It has to be ensured that no such violence takes place in future,” he said.

The issue pertains to the decision of the Syro-Malabar Church synod in August last year to implement a unified form of holy mass across the church. However, the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese has not implemented the decision as it is staunchly opposing the unified mass.


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