Iglesia Católica De Rito Siro-Malabar. Foto: Cardenal George Alencherry

Special Synod Convoked in India Given the Imminent Risk of a Schism Over the Liturgy

The conflict in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church dates back to 2021 when the leadership decided to change the way of celebrating mass in that Eastern Catholic rite to a single mode.

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Elizabeth Owen

(ZENIT News / Mumbai, 06.01.2023).- The Major Archbishop of the Catholic Church of the Syro-Malabar Rite, Cardinal George Alencherry, has convoked an emergency Synod from June 12-16, to address a liturgical question, which has divided one of the most numerous Catholic Oriental Churches.

The initiative of the special Synod is not that of the Syro-Malabar leader but of the Holy See. “The Synod is convoked following instructions of the Holy See, after the Synod’s permanent members visited Rome early this month,” states a press release, which also specifies the reason for the meeting: “the resolution of the problems faced by the  Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly in the implementation of the unified Mass.”

The conflict in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church goes back to 2021, when from the top it was decided to celebrate Mass only one way in that Oriental Catholic Rite. The change was assumed by almost all the dioceses except the most numerous: the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. The conflict has even caused violent episodes, including confrontations inside the Cathedral. Given that the most numerous diocese has almost half a million Catholics, it’s about the most important possible schism over liturgical questions in the last years.

The imminence of a division made the leadership of the Syro-Malabar Rite go to Rome in early May to be guided both by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, as well as by the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches. The leadership of those that disagree sees the measure with distance and skepticism, objecting to the secrecy with which the subject is being handled and the lack of openness to dialogue and debate on the liturgy. 

In fact, the anti-uniformity movement is using Pope Francis’ speeches, which do condemn uniformity. Pope Francis has talked about the richness of diversity, and those against liturgical uniformity wonder why that wouldn’t also apply to those who want to keep another way of celebrating the Mass, as had always been the case in that Rite.                 

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