Kerala Church threatens to oust priests over non-compliance with uniform Holy Mass directive

The Archdiocese Protection Council rejected the circular and said they would continue to celebrate Holy Mass facing the faithful.


Published Jun 11, 2024 | 9:47 AM Updated Jun 11, 2024 | 9:47 AM

Bishop Raphael Thattil

The Syro-Malabar Church has threatened to oust from the Catholic Church those priests who do not comply with its directive to hold uniform Holy Mass in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese starting from 3 July this year.

The warning was issued by Church head Raphael Thattil and Apostolic Administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese Bosco Puthoor through a circular signed by them. Thattil is also the major archbishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

“Priests who do not obey our decision from 3 July will be treated as those who have left the Catholic Church fraternity. Such priests will be barred from offering Holy Mass in the Catholic Church from 3 July,” Thattil and Puthoor are quoted as saying in the circular.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese Protection Council, a platform of priests and laity who oppose the Church authorities’ decision to impose a uniform Holy Mass, rejected the circular and said they would hold the Holy Mass facing the faithful.

In a meeting of the protesting priests held at Chunangamveli in the Ernakulam district, around 300 priests announced that they would continue to offer Holy Mass facing the people even after 3 July.

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The conflict

A strong section of priests and the laity of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese are at odds with the leadership of the Syro-Malabar Church over its Synod’s decision in August 2021 to introduce a standardised manner of conducting Holy Mass.

According to the 2021 decision of the Syro-Malabar Church Synod, priests must face the faithful only in the first and last parts of the liturgical service, turning towards the altar for the rest of the Holy Mass (50:50 formula).

While most dioceses have adopted the Synod-approved Holy Mass, a majority of priests in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, supported by the laity, continue to oppose it, citing a departure from the tradition where the priest faces the congregation throughout the Mass.

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