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Serious setback to Abp. Vasil: "Recognize our Mass or accept us distinct Oriental Catholic Church".

The reflections and requests made by the priests of the Archeparchy of Ernakulam Angamaly met on August 8, 2023 at Renewal Centre, Kaloor.




Archbishop Cyril Vasil SJ

Pontifical Delegate for the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly

Your Excellency,

Prayerful greetings from the priests of the Archeprchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly!

The undersigned priests of the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly who met at a short notice at the Renewal Centre Ernakulam on Tuesday 8th August 2023 in order to take stock of what has happened in the initial meetings with Your Excellency on 7th August 2023 at the Chavara Hills. In light of the sharing of the priests who met you on 7th August 2023, we would like to present before you the following:

1. We hereby reiterate our loyalty to the Holy Father Pope Francis. But we have reservations to put into practice the exhortation regarding the uniform mode of celebration of Mass as exhorted by the Holy Father regarding the Synodal decision on the mode of celebration of the Mass for reasons we have repeatedly informed the Holy Father, the Secretariat of State and the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches.

2. The post-Synodal circular issued by the Major Archbishop after the special synod held from 12-16 June 2023 states that the Synod proposed a papal delegate to create an atmosphere of dialogue and find a permanent solution to the problem after taking into account the good of the Archdiocese. But it is clear from your letter of August 5, 2023 and from the conversations our priests had with you on August 7, 2023 that you have not come to study the ground reality in the Archdiocese and propose a solution taking into account the good of the Archdiocese rather to impose the 50:50 formula even if it leads to pastoral problems and law and order issues in the Archdiocese as is the case at present in the Cathedral Basilica. You have categorically stated that there is no room for dialogue and that you have no mandate to report our requests and concerns to the Holy Father. It is felt that your language and approach are at times of threatening rather than of dialogue. By doing so, we feel that your mission has become ineffective even before it took off. In this case, we have no other option than informing you that none of the groups of priests mentioned in the letter given to you on 7 August 2023 will meet you until the scope of dialogue and reporting to the Holy Father are included in your mandate rather than implementing the synodal decision. This mandate is to be made available to the public in its entirety.

3. You have stated that you are a classmate of Abp Thazhath and hold the opinion that Abp Thazhath has not failed in his mission contrary to the opinion of Abp Thazhath himself, who said that he had failed in his mission. In fact in the opinion of priests and faithful of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Abp Thazhath is the cause for worsening this issue and also for the closure of the Basilica. Abp Thazhath's influence on your approach in this matter is very clear. We came to know that Abp Thazhath stated in the specially convened June 2023 synod that with the help of Pontifical delegate he would enforce the 50:50 formula in all the parishes of the Archdiocese. Until and unless Abp Thazhath is removed from office of the Apostolic Administrator and someone from our Archdiocese is appointed as Archbishop who would listen to us and take our concerns directly to the Holy Father, we see no benefit in entering into dialogue with Your Excellency.

4. Since the Synod is not prepared to accept us as long as we celebrate the Mass facing the people and we are convinced of the spiritual fruits of the Mass facing the people and are not prepared to change the way the Mass is celebrated, we ask you to request the Holy Father to recognise the Mass facing the people as a variant in the Archdiocese, applying the provision of ius speciale. If this is not viable, we request you to study the possibility of accepting our Archdiocese by the Holy Father as a distinct Oriental Catholic Church alongside the Syro-Malabar Church.

5. We are convinced that the liturgy issue and the land issue are closely connected. We also know that you were the Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches when two of our Auxiliary bishops were unlawfully and unjustly removed from their offices in the context of the land scam. Therefore we are sure you personally know the gravity of the land scam. It is you who will know better than anyone else that a solution to the liturgical issue will not be successful until and unless the land issue is resolved. Therefore we request that your mandate should include also finding a solution to the question of restitution.

6. In the various meetings you held with our priests you have acknowledged that some mistakes were made in the decision regarding the uniform mode of celebration. You have also said that you are prepared to apologise for them in public. Instead of correcting or rectifying the mistakes, you seem to cover up the whole issue and to save the face of the responsible persons involved in it. Despite the fact that the decision reached at the Synod to implement the 50-50 formula has many procedural errors and a factual error, as in the letter of Pope Francis on July 03, 2021, you continue to insist that since the Synod has taken a decision “it is legitimate and binding” despite the dubious procedural errors in it. Your example of the suppression of the Jesuits in the 18th century is a misplaced example. Why does not the Church learn from these mistakes and correct the errors even when there are possibilities to solve this issue? We are deeply convinced that if you acknowledge that mistakes have been made in this matter, in a Church where Popes ask pardon for past mistakes, his delegate should take the responsibility to take the initiative to correct the mistake and do us justice rather than punish us for a wrongly made decision by the Synod.

Thanking you for your patient reading of these reflections and requests of the priests of the Archdiocese.

Yours devotedly,

PS: These decisions are taken and signed by 237 priests gathered at a short notice on 8th August 2023 at the Renewal Pastoral Centre Kaloor. All other priests of the Archdiocese who were absent but adhering to these decisions will endorse this document with their signatures and submit it to the Papal delegate soon.

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