08/16/2023, 12.12
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Syro-Malabars: Papal delegate Vasil fails to break deadlock

by Nirmala Carvalho

The clergy of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly contest Pope Francis' envoy who does not want to reopen the discussion on the unified liturgy. He was only allowed to enter the cathedral escorted by the police. Vasil: "Do you want to listen to the Pope or those who sow division?".

Kochi (AsiaNews) - Initially concieved as a means to overcome an ongoing dispute between the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly and the rest of the Syro-Malabar Church, the mission of papal delegate of Slovak Archbishop Cyril Vasil, former secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, has so far failed to ease tensions between parties over the issue of the "unified" modality for the celebration of the Holy Qurbana, the Eucharistic rite of this ancient Eastern-rite Church in communion with Rome.

The object of contention is still the compromise solution between the different forms previously in use, adopted by the Syro-Malabar Synod in 2021, and which envisages the celebrant turning towards the altar only during the central moment of the liturgy.

This is a solution that the vast majority of the clergy of Ernakulam-Angamaly - which is the largest archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church, comprising about a tenth of the faithful - does not want to accept, having adopted the rite in which the celebrant looks at the assembly after the Second Vatican Council.   

Clergy and groups of the faithful are also harshly contesting Archbishop Vasil after the papal delegate made it clear in a letter to the faithful upon his arrival some ten days ago that his task is not to reopen the debate, but to get them to accept the solution chosen by the Syro-Malabar Synod.

The reaction of the clergy of Ernakulam-Angamaly was very harsh: many refused to read Mgr Vasil's message to the faithful and openly contested his mandate, accusing him of failing to promote a true dialogue between the parties. In their protest, they also raise accusations against the management of the Syro-Malabar Church by the senior archbishop, Card. George Alencherry, also recalling the disputed land sale that had already raised a storm within this Eastern-rite Church some years ago.

Finally, they ask Rome that the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly may detach itself from the Syro-Malabar Church if it really does not want to reopen the discussion on the solution adopted by the Synod.

"This fatherly voice of the Holy Father has not been heard by many priests and in many cases has even been hidden from the laity," he added.

"Are you with the Holy Father, do you want to remain priests and members of the Catholic Church and your Syro-Malabar Church, or do you want to give preference to the voice of the troublemakers who lead you to disobedience to the Holy Father, the legitimate pastors of your Syro-Malabar Church and the Catholic Church?

"I am sure," he concluded, "that many priests and lay people have protested in good faith. Many are led down this path of pride believing that they are only exercising their right to dialogue and confrontation, believing that insistence will eventually bear fruit. But the only fruit will be the great damage to the Church, the great scandal before those who observe us, and the spiritual damage that is the fruit of disobedience to God's will. Do you really want to be responsible for the grave sin of such disobedience?"


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