Syro-Malabar Church: The Creation of a Commission of Nine Bishops

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal George Alencherry

The Primate Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church announced the creation of a commission of nine bishops to prevent schism. It must serve as mediator in the conflict over the Syro-Malabar liturgy.

The Synod of this Church has decided to continue dialogue with members of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, who reject liturgical reform. This step was announced by Primate Archbishop George Alencherry in a post-synodal circular published in English on Tuesday.

Members of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church have already expressed their concern for the unity of the Church in a joint declaration. They claimed that opponents of liturgical reform had put themselves in a position that calls into question their communion with the Church through their protests against the papal delegate, Archbishop Cyril Vasil.

“We sincerely hope that none of them will lose communion with our Mother, the Holy Catholic Church, in the face of this sad situation,” the letter said.

The bishops set several conditions for the dialogue: any proposed solution must be approved by the papal delegate and the Pope's directives must be respected. Pope Francis had already addressed the faithful of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly in a letter in March 2022, urging them to implement the unified liturgy decided by the Synod.

The new liturgy must be celebrated in all churches, monasteries, and seminaries. The postponement of the implementation of the reform for training in the unified liturgy will only be granted if special authorizations are obtained for this purpose.

Priests cannot be prevented from celebrating the unified liturgy, nor bishops from visiting parishes and institutions. Finally, the liturgy will mention the names of the Pope, the archbishop, and the apostolic administrator.

The Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese has been deeply divided for years over the liturgical dispute. The dispute mainly concerns the position of the priest during the Holy Mass. A compromise concluded by the Syro-Malabar Synod in August 2021 provides that the priest would face the faithful during the liturgy of the word and turn towards the main altar when he celebrates the Eucharist.

Of the 35 dioceses of the Syro-Malabar Church, all, with the exception of the large archdiocese, have implemented the liturgical reform decided by the synod. In early August, Pope Francis appointed Slovak Archbishop Cyril Vasil as his special envoy to find a way out of the crisis.

But on his return, he could only report to the Pope an almost total failure, with only 6 parishes out of the 328 in the archdiocese having accepted the reform.