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Liturgical conundrum-Episode 6: Pope Francis and his message of fraternity and peace to the world

By. Wimal Mary Das

Episode 6

Pope Francis and his message of fraternity and peace to the world

Pope Francis, in his encyclical "Fratelli tutti​" speaks about the fraternity of humanity​. ​ ​He ​ writes, "I am certainly not proposing an authoritarian and abstract universalism, devised or planned by a small group and presented as an ideal for the sake of levelling, dominating, and plundering. One model of globalization in fact "consciously aims at a one-dimensional uniformity and seeks to eliminate all differences and traditions in a superficial quest for unity… If a certain kind of globalization claims to make everyone uniform, to level everyone out, that globalization destroys the rich gifts and uniqueness of each person and each people."​ (No.100)

"This false universalism ends up depriving the world of its various colours, its beauty, and, ultimately, its humanity. For "the future is not monochrome; if we are courageous, we can contemplate it in all the variety and diversity of what each individual person has to offer. How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace, without all of us having to be the same!"

And also, his stunning words of comfort and perseverance shared ​with ​the people of Iraq​ before his pastoral visit — "I come as a pilgrim of peace, seeking fraternity, reconciliation" is the foundation ​stone ​of this movement as​ to​ ​vouch for ourselves to ward off ​the root cause​s​ of infighting ​due to the imposition of the Chaldean liturgy​. It is amazing to note that the Chaldean Church did not subscribe to this dividing spirit.

The Purpose of Liturgy exhorted by Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako

According to him, the purpose of liturgy is the renewal of faith and liturgy by which we praise and glorify God. The tradition should not lead us to division, but it should lead us to peace and harmony. He is quoting St. John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.) "Liturgy is made for people, not people for the liturgy." It echoes his stand for renewal and peace.

It is fascinating to see the trend of renewal, rather than restoration of acclaimed heritage of the past. The Patriarch states that "authenticity is not a static tradition, but a living one," a call for openness and acceptance of divergences​ and inclusivity.

The crux of division and disunity emerged in the Syro-Malabar Church because of imposed ​Chaldean rituals and prayers, ignoring the dissenting voices still continues. It is inspiring to see that the leadership of the Chaldean Church already introduced the changes in ​ the Holy Mass for the immigrant people outside of their territory where ​ they are celebrating the Holy Mass facing the people, adapting to the cultural and sociological needs of the faithful.

The pivotal teaching of Pope Francis regarding the Synodality and listening to the people​ of God are pertinent factors of the Christian life. He says "…The Synod of Bishops must increasingly become a privileged instrument for listening to the People of God… A Bishop who lives among his faithful has his ears open to listen to 'what the Spirit says to the churches' (Rev 2:7), and to the 'voice of the sheep,' also through those diocesan institutions whose task it is to advise the Bishop, promoting a loyal and constructive dialogue" (Episcopalis communion, 5)

Way out from this Liturgical conundrum

There are a lot of wounds and harms inflicted due to the overarching domination of certain leadership in the Church in recent years that created irrevocable and disastrous pastoral damages. These wounds ​ should be healed through dialogue and discussions of peace and harmony.

Photo Credit to Public domain. The liturgical issue is a cover-up against Major Archbishop's criminal trials.

The liturgical issue is a cover-up against Major Archbishop's criminal trials demanded by the highest court of Kerala. This is profusely evident from the deeds of Major Archbishop and his discrete modus operandi. He cunningly camouflaged under the garb of Pope Francis’s exhortation letter for unity, used as a tool to conceal his overt fraudulent activities. Major Archbishop has not only become a disgrace to the Syro Malabar Church, but also he has ruined the credibility of Pope Francis that the ordinary faithful of the Syro Malabar Church held in high esteem in their hearts. The Vatican and its cold-blooded approach towards criminally convicted Major archbishop have shaken the moral consciousness of faithful, and beyond any exaggeration, it has irreparably damaged the high regard of Catholic leadership.

What is the way out from this liturgical crisis? Certainly, everyone accepts this unwanted crisis as an offshoot of dirty deeds of the unbridled dictatorship of the Major archbishop and his sectarian bishops-cohort. It means the Synod has divided terribly as the brute majority of bishops began to dictate their hidden agenda without heeding to the voice of justice and truth. This decision of dictatorship in the name of uniformity has become like a wound that has been inflicted intentionally. There is no spirituality or charity behind this liturgical decision other than a few people who are animated by vengeance and arrogance. This liturgical crisis has created division and restlessness, knocking down the peace and harmony of the Syro Malabar Church.

Strategy of accepting both forms of eucharistic celebration is the best way out of this crisis. These two forms are legitimate and valid as late Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil amicably settled this issue in 1998, and both parties accepted it. Cardinal was accorded the title of “ Peacebuilder” for his enduring leadership on this matter. His legacy becomes increasingly relevant now as the liturgical issue is facing insurmountable challenges. Both forms of worship( versus populum and ad orientem) are part of Syro Malabar church history, and both forms truly carry their legacy and historicity; negating one for the sake of the other is equally wrong and discriminating. Thus both forms must be accepted with greater dignity and nobility.

Moreover, creating half-half formula is a lunatic invention for the sake of uniformity, and it has discredited both forms of worship that the Universal Church embraced throughout its history. Warring Syro Malabar communities are certainly scandalous and extruding counter-witness, and Syro Malabar Church has lately become a laughing stock among its own faithful. What we need is a path to peace movement, and this path to peace movement will open a gateway for Syro Malabar faithful to lead the authentic life in Christ​ where the values of our Christ will become the guiding principles rather than primitive ritualistic obsessions. This will be a tragedy in the future if we become reticent to seek the path of reconciliation and peace.

Read previous episodes

Episode 1.

Episode 3

Episode 5.

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