Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly Faces Unsettling Divisions Despite Major Archbishop’s Reconciliatory Efforts

Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly Faces Unsettling Divisions Despite Major Archbishop’s Reconciliatory Efforts

Major Archbishop Thattil Acknowledges Church’s Struggles

Expressing concern over the deepening divisions within the Church, Major Archbishop Thattil acknowledged the challenging state of affairs, noting that even non-Christians are expressing pity for the situation.

Thattil, formerly the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Trichur, has been leading the SMC’s Shamshabad Diocese since 2018.

Divisions Persist Despite Reconciliation Efforts

Despite Major Archbishop Thattil’s appeal for suggestions and prayers to address the challenges, subsequent events in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly indicate the persisting divisions.

A significant point of contention revolves around the synodal Mass, where priests and laypeople are defying the SMC synod’s call for unity.

Resistance to Reading Pastoral Letter

Priests in the archdiocese, particularly around Kochi, have defied the SMC synod’s call for a uniform synodal Mass.

In a meeting on Jan. 19, they decided not to read a pastoral letter from Thattil and 49 bishops signed during a Jan. 8–13 synod.

The letter, urging unity in the Catholic Church, faced resistance from dissenting priests who released a statement refusing to allow its reading in their dioceses.

Concerns About Violation of Church Code of Law

The dissenting priests argued that the synod’s decision on a uniform Mass violated the norms laid down by the Syro-Malabar Church code of law.

They claimed that even the Pope had been misled on the matter, expressing dissatisfaction with the lack of proper responses to their appeals.

The Archdiocesan Protection Committee (APC) emphasized that their adherence to the revised SMC Mass text was specific to the archdiocese and did not indicate separation from the Catholic communion.

Major Archbishop’s Reconciliatory Efforts

After the synod, Major Archbishop Thattil attempted reconciliation by meeting key priests and offering a reconciliatory address.

He expressed readiness to listen to their concerns, acknowledging the wounds within the Church.

However, dissenting voices argue that despite these words, no efforts have been made to accommodate those wishing to celebrate Mass as they have for decades.

Continued Tensions Despite Pastoral Letter

While Major Archbishop Thattil has reiterated the need for priests to follow the synodal Mass, dissenting groups claim that the subsequent pastoral letter showed no effort to accommodate their perspectives.

Father Jose Vailikodath, APC spokesperson, criticized the duplicity, emphasizing the necessity for frank discussions to resolve the issue.

Lay Group Supports Dissenting Priests

The lay group “Almaya Munnetam” (“Laity Forward”) endorsed the decision of the clergy not to read the bishops’ pastoral letter in parishes.

They emphasized that the issue extends beyond supporting bishops or priests, pointing out that the synodal Mass ignores the preferences of the laity who favor Mass facing the people.

Major Archbishop’s Decisions Amidst Tensions

Amidst the ongoing dispute, Major Archbishop Thattil declared St. Sebastian’s Church of Nedumkandam as the major archiepiscopal church of the Diocese of Idukki.

He reiterated that priests cannot offer holy Mass as per their will, emphasizing the need for adherence to designated guidelines.

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