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Row over unified Mass in the Syro Malabar Church spills over into street

Reported by the Hindu/ Kochi

Photo: Press conference by clergy of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam- Angamaly

The controversy over the implementation of the unified format of Mass in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese took an ugly turn as clashes erupted between the rival groups of laity on the premises of the Ernakulam Bishop’s house on Friday.

This followed shortly after priests had a meeting with the Metropolitan Vicar of the archdiocese, Mar Antony Kariyil, and registered their protest against the directive of the head of the church, Cardinal George Alencherry, to implement the unified Mass from Sunday.

A circular bearing the signature of Cardinal Mar George Alencherry on the celebration of uniform mass from Palm Sunday was against Canon Laws and hence, would not be read out in churches in Ernakulam-

Angamaly Archdiocese, Almaya Munnettam, a combine of lay people in the archdiocese, has said

Metropolitan Vicar of the Archdiocese, Mar Antony Kariyil, had come out in the open saying that he did not sign the circular wholeheartedly. This, in itself made it null and void, as per Canon Law. In addition, an explosive situation would result if a worship method that was opposed to by church members, was imposed on them by Cardinal Alencherry, it said.

The Archbishop signing a circular that only Bishop Kariyil is empowered to issue, was in itself an illegality, said Binu John, convenor of the combine. He took strong exception to a group of people allegedly showering abuse on priests who were speaking to the media in the front of the Bishop’s House on Friday.

Later, Fr. Mathew Kilukkan, public relations officer of the archdiocese, issued a statement saying that the old format of the Mass would continue in the archdiocese. The statement claimed that in the meeting with the priests, Mar Kariyil had revealed that he was compelled to sign the circular issued on Thursday and that it was prepared in advance by the curia (administrative office) at Mount St. Thomas, the headquarters of the Syro Malabar Church.

The Bishop was asked to send his letterhead, seal, and digital signature with the directive not to discuss the matter even with his own office. The statement said that this proved that the Bishop signed the circular under duress, and therefore, it was not canonically valid.

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