Friday 29 March 2024

Closed for 486 days due to liturgy dispute – cathedral reopens

After 486 days, church services are once again being held in the cathedral of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Major Archdiocese, which was closed following disputes over the liturgical reform. 

On Tuesday, the responsible state court ordered the church to reopen. 

However, the celebration of the Eucharist remains prohibited. 

In the evening, a rosary prayer and a Stations of the Cross were celebrated again for the first time in the cathedral. 

 The administrator of St Mary's Cathedral told UCANews Vicar Varghese Manavalan, said that everything went peacefully. 

The court only allowed the celebration of services on the condition that no masses would be celebrated. 

It also ordered police protection and a mediation process between the opposing groups of believers to examine the possibility of an Easter mass. 

The results of the negotiations are to be presented to the court on Wednesday.

The cathedral was closed by the police in November 2022 after clashes broke out between supporters and opponents of the uniform form of liturgy adopted by the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church. 

The then Apostolic Administrator of the Grand Archdiocese was prevented from celebrating mass in the controversial standardised form. 

The cause of the dispute is the question of whether the mass in the Syro-Malabar rite should continue to be celebrated facing the people throughout, or whether the priest should only face the people at the beginning and end, as decided by the synod as a compromise. 

The church has only been open for a few days since its closure in December 2022 and has remained closed since violent clashes at Christmas. 

The papal delegate appointed by Pope Francis, Cyril Vasiľ appointed by Pope Francis, was only able to enter the cathedral in mid-August under police protection for a sacramental procession.

Proceeding dispute over the East Syrian mass

The liturgy dispute has divided the Syro-Malabar Church for decades and has escalated even further since the 2021 synod decision. 

In December, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Grand Archbishop George Alencherry and the Apostolic Administrator of the Grand Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. 

At the same time he published a video message to the faithful urging them not to leave communion with the Church and to adopt the unified liturgy. 

In January, the synod of the Syro-Malabar Church elected Raphael Thattil as the new Grand Archbishop

The election was accompanied by the hope for a pacification of the conflict. conflict. 

However, the opponents of the unified liturgy reacted negatively to an appeal by the synod for unity.

The Syro-Malabar Church in south-west India is the largest of today's churches and communities of the Thoma Christianswhich is said to have been founded in the 1st century by the apostle Thomas on his missionary journeys. 

Through links with the Assyrian Church of the East, it celebrates its liturgy in the East Syriac rite. 

In the course of Portuguese colonisation, the Thomas Christians were forced to adopt Western forms and hierarchies and broke up into several churches.