Kerala: Christian groups fought about the way to pray, and 35 churches closed
On November 27, Sunday, St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica in Kerala’s Kochi witnessed a confrontation between two groups of devotees over the procedure of offering the unified mass on Sundays. St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is the headquarters of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archeparchy.
Archbishop Andrews Tazhath, the Apostolic Administrator, was even stopped from entering the Basilica by devotees who opposed the implementation of the unified mass service. Another group of devotees attempted to break the lock, which further fanned tension. Reportedly, the violent protestors also damaged church property.
In the wake of escalating tensions, the police intervened and asked the protesting groups to vacate the church. Subsequently, the church was locked until the situation turns normal.
However, the violent protests did not end. As per a Dainik Bhaskar report, 35 churches have been closed after various Christian organizations took out violent protests. The Almaya Munnettam group, which believes that holy mass should be offered while looking at the devotees, claims that the new format is being imposed on them despite the pope’s permission to continue worshipping in their traditional manner. The group also warned the Roman Catholic Church that if the new decision is not reversed, it will face consequences, Danik Bhaskar reported.
Notably, in August 2021, the Synod of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church decided to enforce a uniform method of conducting Holy Mass across its churches. It is important to mention here that offering mass is believed to be the best procedure of worship among Christians.
The synod decided that all churches must use the same mass format, with priests facing the gathering of devotees during the introduction and conclusion of the masses and facing the altar during the main part of the mass. However, the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese opposed the implementation of a new format without discussions.
Subsequently, the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese wrote to Pope Francis against the Synod’s decision. On March 25 this year, Pope Francis responded to the complaint and directed the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese to implement the Synod’s decision of a unified mass.