Syro-Malabar church mandates unified holy mass amidst rising dissent

Period of familiarisation to be determined by synod; stipulations laid out in June 9 circular
Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, leading the Holy Mass in the new format at Mount St Thomas, Kakkanad, on Nov 28, 2021.
Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, leading the Holy Mass in the new format at Mount St Thomas, Kakkanad, on Nov 28, 2021.File photo |A Sanesh

KOCHI: In an attempt to mollify dissenting voices in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church, Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil and Apostolic Administrator of the archdiocese Bosco Puthur released a circular in which the priests of the archdiocese have been directed to celebrate one Mass in keeping with the unified mode every Sunday from June 3 onwards. This will be valid during the catechetical (period of familiarisation), which is to be determined. The circular, however, emphasised that the stipulations laid out in the June 9 circular issued by Mar Thattil and Mar Puthur still stand.

Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, leading the Holy Mass in the new format at Mount St Thomas, Kakkanad, on Nov 28, 2021.
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It had been a tense few days for the laity and priests of the Church who have been waiting with bated breath for the decisions made at the 32nd synod, that met online on June 14 and 19, followed by another round on Thursday night. As per the circular, the new formula comes in the wake of suggestions and recommendations made by bishops and priests of the archdiocese.

In the circular, the bishops stated that Unified Holy Mass needs to be celebrated from June 3 at all churches, institutions, religious homes and seminaries. “From June 3, for catechetical purposes at least one Holy Mass has to be celebrated in the unified mode on every Sunday and debt days in all churches of the archdiocese. The Holy Mass need to be celebrated using bema (elevated platform for ceremonial use) in all the churches. Holy Mass also needs to be celebrated in the unified mode whenever the bishops and priests visit the parishes as part of their pastoral duties,” the circular states.

All priests celebrating the Syro-Malabar mode of Holy Mass need to continue doing so and that too as per the missal which came into effect from November 28, 2021, from June 3 onwards. They should only be celebrating the Unified Holy Mass, it said.

The circular also pointed out that action will be initiated, as mentioned in the June 9 circular, against priests who do not abide by the rule to offer at least one Holy Mass as per the unified mode. “The period for the catechetical (period of familiarisation), as was mentioned in the letter sent by the Pope on March 25, 2022, will be arrived at the synod which will be held in the coming days,” said the circular.

Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, leading the Holy Mass in the new format at Mount St Thomas, Kakkanad, on Nov 28, 2021.
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If it is found that after June 3 any priest refuses to offer at least one Unified Holy Mass on Sundays and the debt days or if anyone tries to disrupt the Unified Holy Mass, action will be initiated against them as mentioned in the June 9 circular, it said. The circular cautions all priests and laity members from making public statements that would hurt the unity of the church. Measures will be initiated against those who engage in such activities, it said.

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