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Simmering tension prevails in Kerala:Liturgical disputes turn to the closure of churches, seminaries

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Simmering tension prevails in Kerala: Liturgical disputes turn to the closure of churches and seminaries.

The liturgical disputes turned to new waves of retaliation from Abps Andrews Thazath and Vasil, a papal delegate ordering to close the churches and seminaries as a slap to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam and its 460 priests, who apparently disregarded the ultimatum given by Vasil to surrender and obey before Aug 20, 2023. Priests and faithful of half a million professed their faith to Pope Francis and officially requested for a liturgical variant to continue with the Holy Mass celebrating facing congregation ( Holy Mass versus populum) against the diktat of Abp. Vasil to obey or face excommunication.

The recent synod of the Syro Malabar Church resolved to form a 9 Bishops committee to choose a process of dialogue with dissident priests and sort out a mutually acceptable solution to the problem. They have met a few times to chalk out solutions. However, Archbishop Thazath and the Papal delegate as a team tried to worsen the situation by declaring to close the churches and seminaries if their ultimatum of ex-communication was ignored. This led to another outburst as the priests of the Sacred Heart seminary were removed creating an impasse, triggering an immediate closure of the Seminary. Parents of the seminarians moved to the Ernakulam Archdiocesan curia with a petition as the future of the minor seminarians seemed to be in danger without any alternative.

Action from Pope Francis and His office to alleviate the tension is required as it has been reported from local media about the alarmingly divisive tension in the Syro Malabar Church. Archbishop Vasil, the papal delegate exacerbated the situation and messed up the status quo with his decree of excommunication of half a million Catholics of Syro Malabar Church.

Syro Malabar Church is one of the 23 sui iuris ( autonomous) Oriental churches in the Catholic communion.

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