Rebellion of Syro-Malabar Catholics in Kerala


Tension continues to rise among the faithful of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly in Kerala, India. On October 1, 2022, several members of the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (AMT) expressed their displeasure by publicly burning a circular from the Apostolic Administrator outside his home.

Since the end of September, Bishop Andrews Thazhath has benefited from strong police protection for his travels and the meetings he attends because the situation is tense.

The pill does not go down very well with the AMT, an association which brings together lay people and priests opposed to the restoration of the Syro-Malabar liturgy begun in the diocese. But in this fight, the “trads” are not necessarily those you would think.

To grasp the full complexity of the situation, we must remember that in the first half of the 20th century in India, two currents were formed within the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

Two currents are made up of those who oppose those who wish a restoration of the rite according to the Syrian-Eastern tradition and those who call for an Indian-style inculturation in order to approach the supposed liturgical origins of a church founded by the holy apostle Thomas.

It is in the name of this liturgical archaism which results in such chaos that the unity of the local Church has been called into question.

In 1999, seeking a compromise, a Syro-Malabar synod decided unanimously, with the approval of the Holy See, that the priest would celebrate the liturgy facing the people until the offertory, then ad orient to Communion. This is a provision against which some priests resist in the name of maintaining “their traditions”, which date back half a century.

The members of the AMT, opposed to the restoration attempt approved by Rome, claim to represent the majority of the clergy of the archdiocese, and do not intend to give in to those who would like them to stop celebrating the liturgy facing the people. throughout the performance. And so they flooded the Vatican with petitions asking for recognition of the celebration in front of the people as a “liturgical variant”.

But Rome does not see it that way. In a letter dated September 20, 2022, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, signified a categorical “no” to the demands of opponents of the reform: “A liturgical variant for the eparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly is therefore excluded,” the high prelate wrote to Archbishop Thazath.

And Cardinal Sandri added: “While leaving it to the pastoral care of your grace to decide on the particular measures, it seems necessary to put an immediate end to the confusion on the principles, and to specify that all bishops, priests , religious and laity are bound to conform to the synodal decision on the holy liturgy”.

And to move from words to deeds, Rome has decided to depose Mgr. Antony Kariyil, an opponent of the reform.

It was the circular drafted by Bishop Thazath which was to be read from the pulpit on October 9, 2022, sparked a fierce negative reaction.


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