Syro-Malabar Church Gets Leeway on Electing Bishops

Decree Also Gives Latitude on Setting Up Eparchies

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2004 ( The Holy See confirmed that the Synod of Syro-Malabar Bishops now has wide leeway in selecting bishops and establishing and suppressing eparchies, or dioceses, in its territory.

The Holy See granted this in a decree the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, presented to the archbishop major of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil.

The decree was presented during the general assembly of the Indian bishops’ conference, which ended Wednesday in Trichur, in the state of Kerala.

According to Cardinal Daoud, when the Holy See recognized the Syro-Malabar community as a major archbishopric in 1993, matters of liturgy and the creation of new eparchies and election of bishops were not included.

Reservations with regard to the liturgy were removed in 1998, and now, following the recent plenary assembly of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pope has also revoked the restriction on matters of eparchies and bishops.

From now on, the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church will not only be able to decide, by majority vote, on liturgical questions, but will also be able to make a list of candidate bishops, conduct necessary inquiries from bishops, priests, and responsible members of the laity, select the candidates by majority vote, and submit the names to the Pope for approval.

The Catholic Church of India includes the Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar rites. The Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar Churches date back to the Apostle Thomas.

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