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"Pope Francis has become a laughing stock in Syro Malabar Church" Catholic Laity from SM Church

By Johny Chegalan

The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) resisted the liturgical reforms and held on to the Tridentine - Ad orientum Mass. It denied the validity of the Second Vatican Council. The same pattern was repeated here in Kerala. Mar Powathil upheld Ad orientum Mass and thereby indirectly rejected Vatican II reforms. Unfortunately, the Oriental Congregation which was founded to safeguard the deposit of faith in the Oriental Churches, was of the same interest. They wanted the Oriental Churches to remain as a showpiece of antiquity, as most of the Oriental Churches are numerically very small. Among the Oriental Churches, only the Ukrainian and the Syro-Malabar Churches have a relatively larger number of faithful.

Mar Powathil and his small group resisted all the liturgical reforms carried out in the Syro Malabar Church under the leadership of Mar Parecattil. Mar. Joseph Powathil’s theological standpoint was mere envy and disappointment at Ernakulam Archdiocese being in the spotlight.

The members of the Oriental Congregation and Mar Joseph Powathil were birds of the same feather and hence they flocked together. Over three decades of time, they manipulated the Syro-Malabar Synod to ensure a majority for the Anti-Vatican II lobby. Now, this lobby which has a majority in the Syro Malabar Synod, considers it the most opportune time to implement Ad Orientum Mass in the Syro Malabar Church.

More than a hundred thousand faithful assembled to protest against the removal of Archbishop Kariyil, who advocated liturgical reforms in the Syro Malabar Church. The removal of Bishop Kariyil intensified the ongoing tension in the Church.

Both the Anti-Vatican II lobby and the Oriental Congregation are working in tandem to realise their objective. The Oriental Congregation is neither bothered about the welfare of the faithful in the Syro-Malabar Church nor their meaningful participation in Holy Mass. They only want to showcase the Syro-Malabar Church, which traces its origin to St. Thomas, the Apostle, as an entity untouched by any reforms, unlike its Latin counterpart. Almost all the Prefects of the Oriental Congregation were Latin Cardinals. Mar Powathil succeeded in engendering a polarization within the Syro-Malabar Church between the Ernakulam-led pro- reform group and the Changanassery-led Anti Vatican II group resisting all attempts at reforms in the Syro Malabar Church.

The present Anti-Vatican II faction in Syro Malabar Church started to clearly deny Vatican II reforms and uphold the pre-Vatican II practices of the Church. They wanted to revive the discarded anathemas and ex-communications in the church.

The travesty of the reality is that the proponent of SSPX Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who opposed the renewal spirit of Vatican II, was suspended by John Paul II and was eventually excommunicated whereas Mar. Joseph Powathil who orchestrated the same course of actions in the Syro-Malabar Church in India was given a red carpet welcome by Oriental Congregation. It is the hidden game plan of the lobby group in the Syro-Malabar Church that manipulates the power structures of the Catholic Church. If justice and truth prevailed in the Catholic Church, the same fate of Marcel Lefebvre would have happened to Mar. Joseph Powathil.

Syro Malabar faithful in India began to react against the rampant corruption of cardinal Alencherry, who has been embroiled in criminal deeds in his notorious land row. A mass rally was conducted against the removal of Archbishop Kariyil.

Pope Francis must do justice to the Indian Church. Pope Francis succumbs to the pressures of the clandestine lobby group of Changanassery. The colonial dictatorship towards third-world Catholics no more rewards fair justice. This is a flagrant violation of justice and Truth. Pope Francis is seemed to be oblivious to these dirty games of the Anti-Vatican II lobby group of Syro Malabar Church in India, but for the ordinary faithful, Pope Francis is responsible for the travesty in the Syro-Malabar Church today

Fortunately, the Latin church in India managed to keep in check the traditionalist votaries of Ad orientum Tridentine Mass. Cardinal Sara, one of the leading cardinals in the group tried to establish the modified Tridentine Mass as a general norm for the Latin church in 2017. But within five days, Pope Francis intervened and cancelled his directives. The latest Motu proprio of Pope Francis, Traditionis Custodes vigorously checkmated the traditionalist groups. They insisted on the bishops to make sure that those priests who are permitted to celebrate Ad orientum Tridentine Mass personally acknowledge and accept the validity and lawfulness of Vatican II pronouncements and all the liturgical reforms of the Church promulgated by the Supreme Pontiff.

But the Syro-Malabar Church, which fully endorsed and embraced the teachings and reforms advocated by Vatican II, unfortunately, fell into the iron hands of the traditionalists. And the Supreme Pontiff remains helpless in this matter since liturgical reforms come fully within the purview of the Syro Malabar Synod. However, the SM Synod still uses the name and signatures of the Pope, although without his knowledge and express permission many times to validate their objective of imposing Ad orientum Mass in many of the Syro-Malabar dioceses. This remains a paradox for the papacy and the people. Pope Francis thwarted all the attempts of traditionalists to bring back Ad orientum Mass in the Latin Church of which he is the so-called patriarch of the Latin Church. Still, his name and signature are seen in multiple documents sent to the Syro-Malabar Church to give the impression that the Pope himself desires Ad orientum Mass in Syro-Malabar Church.

The faithful in Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese are aware of the sinister motives of the Anti-Vatican II lobby and give scant regard to the letters purportedly written in the name of the Pope. The people's argument is simple and logical; the Pope would not impose on us what he is personally opposed to. (If at all those letters were truly signed by him). Unfortunately, the Pope, oblivious to him, has become a laughing stock in Syro Malabar Church, and the Oriental Congregation takes full credit for that.

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