November 28, 2021 4:50:33 am
KERALA-BASED Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has plunged into a crisis over the implementation of a uniform method of offering Mass, the top procedure of worship in the Christian world.
Bishops and priests in several dioceses in Kerala and elsewhere in the country came out on Saturday against the directive of Church head Cardinal George Alencherry to implement the uniform Mass code from November 28.
For several decades, dioceses under the Syro-Malabar Church have been following different modes of celebrating Mass. While a section of priests offers Mass facing the people, another does so facing the altar. In certain other dioceses, the Church follows a mix of both.
Bishops and priests have been divided over the conduct of Mass.
As per the uniform mode of offering Mass, priests and bishops across the Church in all dioceses have to perform the ritual facing the altar throughout the service.
After several rounds of deliberations, in July this year, Pope Francis approved the uniform mode of offering Mass and directed the Kerala Catholic Church to implement it at the earliest.
However, in a severe setback to Alencherry, who was mired in shady land dealings in the past, his subordinate and Ernakulam Archbishop Antony Kariyil issued a directive to priests and people of his diocese that status quo (facing the people) will continue as far as offering Mass. Kariyil also claimed that he had the Vatican’s consent to issue such a directive.
The showdown between Alencherry and Kariyil reached a flashpoint after the former claimed there was no such directive from Rome to Kariyil. Subsequently, Kariyil released the letter from the Vatican, embarrassing Alencherry. In Thrissur, Archbishop Andrews Thazhath was gheraoed by a section of priests and laity on Saturday evening demanding that the uniform mode not be implemented.
Church sources said the issue would trigger protests in many dioceses on Sunday where priests are not willing to follow the Church directive. Earlier, there was a divide among the bishops in the Catholic Church over liturgical matters.
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