08/01/2023, 20.19
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Pope appoints a delegate to settle dispute with rebellious Syro-Malabar archeparchy

by Nirmala Carvalho

The pontiff picked Archbishop Cyril Vasil’ in order to end the crisis that has unfolded in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, which has so far refused to adopt the "uniform" rite in force since the summer of 2021. After 11 years as secretary of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, the prelate served as apostolic administrator of the Eparchy of Košice, Slovakia.

Kochi (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has appointed a papal delegate for the Archeparchy (archdiocese) of Ernakulam-Angamaly; his choice fell on Bishop Cyril Vasil of the Eparchy (diocese) of Košice of the Slovak Greek-Catholic Church, a former secretary of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches.

This follows the pope’s decision to accept the request made in June by the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabars, Cardinal George Alencherry, to appoint a delegate to end a row that began over the new version of the Holy Qurbana, the local traditional Mass. The "uniform" liturgy is a compromise between the various liturgies previously in use.

In the first part of the service and the liturgy of the Word, the priest is turned towards worshippers; in the middle, that of the consecration and Eucharistic rites, he turns towards the altar (in the direction in which the faithful also look). After the communion, the celebrant turns back to look towards the assembly.

This solution was reached by the Syro-Malabar Synod held in the summer of 2021 following several appeals for unity made by Pope Francis, but the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly and its clergy have refused so far to adopt it.

In a statement, Fr Abraham Kavilpurayidathil, major archiepiscopal chancellor of the Syro-Malabar Church, writes that, "The Holy Father has appointed his special Delegate to study the current situation and to propose the ways to end the crisis [that] emerged in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly.”

Appointing a papal delegate was first mentioned in early May and was discussed by the Synod of Bishops of the Eastern Rite Church in June.

The statement goes on to say: “The Pontifical Delegate will arrive on August 4, 2023. He will be accompanied by Rev. Fr. Sunny Kokkaravalayil SJ, who is currently Professor of Canon Law at [the] Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome.”

In the meantime, “Archbishop Andrews Thazhath will continue to administer the Archeparchy in his capacity as the Apostolic Administrator.”

Born in 1965 in Košice, Slovakia, Archbishop Cyril Vasil' was ordained a priest in 1987. After a doctorate in Canon Law, he taught at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, later serving as its rector.

In 2009 he was appointed secretary of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches and ordained archbishop. Eleven years later, he was appointed apostolic administrator of the Eparchy of Košice, becoming its second bishop in 2021.

Archbishop Vasil’ also represented the pontiff at the funeral of the late major archbishop, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, in 2011.

In January 2018 he spoke at the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church and participated in the Assumption of the Office of the bishop of Shamshabad.

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Syro-Malabar major archbishop resigns, Francis asks for obedience on the liturgy
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St Mary’s Syro-Malabar Basilica reopens (by court order)
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Syro-Malabar Synod does not resolve the rift over the liturgy
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Syro-Malabars to observe 'uniform rite' from 28 November
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Syro-Malabar 'uniform' liturgy continues to divide
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