Syro-Malabars to observe 'uniform rite' from 28 November
by Nirmala Carvalho

Despite objections, the Synod decided to go ahead with the introduction of the single mode of celebrating the liturgy, which will see the celebrant turn towards the faithful in the initial rites but then turn towards the altar in the central part. Some exceptions will be allowed in eparchies where there are more opponents, but only until Easter 2022.


Kochi (AsiaNews) - Despite strong opposition from some of the clergy and faithful, the Synod of Syro-Malabar bishops has chosen to move forward on the path of a uniform way of celebrating the Holy Qurbana, the Eucharistic liturgy of this Eastern rite.

At the conclusion of their work last night, the archbishop-major of the Syro-Malabars, Cardinal George Alencherry, 'in accordance with the unanimous decision of the Synod' issued a decree establishing that from 28 November, the first Sunday of Advent, the 'uniform' rite will be adopted in all the eparchies.

Thus during the first part of the celebration and in the liturgy of the Word, the priest will face the faithful, and then turn towards the altar ("in the direction in which the faithful also look") during the central part, that of the consecration and the Eucharistic rites. Finally, in the concluding part, after communion, the celebrant will once again face towards the congregation.

The solution adopted follows the indication that had already emerged in 1999 and was approved by the Congregation for Eastern Churches, but had met with strong resistance especially in those communities where the liturgy currently takes place with the celebrant facing the faithful during the entire rite.

In a letter sent to the Syro-Malabar Church on 3 July last, Pope Francis wrote that "the Holy See looks with particular approval and encouragement at the agreement reached unanimously by the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church in 1999 - and repeatedly confirmed in subsequent years - for a uniform way of celebrating Holy Qurban, considering it an important step towards the growth of stability and ecclesial communion within the entire body of your beloved Church".

The decree circulated at the conclusion of the Synod provides for the possibility of some exceptions for a limited period, which is to end with next Easter, on 17 April 2022. "The bishops of some eparchies that have expressed their difficulties in implementing the decision in the entire eparchy," the decree reads, "will be able to introduce the uniform mode of celebration on 28 November 2021, starting with cathedrals, places of pilgrimage, religious communities, parishes where possible, minor seminaries and other centres of formation. Through effective catechesis, the uniform mode can be gradually introduced in the entire eparchy as soon as possible and in any case no later than Easter 2022". The decree specifies that nowhere will exceptions be allowed for Eucharistic celebrations presided over by bishops.