Renewed warning of schism

Pope Francis urges opponents of liturgical reform to give in

Vatican City - Opponents of the Syro-Malabar liturgical reform are pinning their hopes on the Pope: In the end, they wanted to found a new church linked to Rome. However, Francis is sticking to his position: no concessions for the liturgical rebels.

Published  on 13.05.2024 at 11:21  – 

Pope Francis has once again warned opponents of the liturgical reform in the Syro-Malabar Church against a schism and called on them to give in. In a address to a delegation from the Eastern Catholic Church in the Vatican on Monday, the Pope the Pope described the dispute over the liturgy as a dangerous temptation to focus on one detail to the detriment of the common good of the Church. "It is incompatible with the Christian faith to seriously disregard the most holy sacrament, the sacrament of love and unity, by discussing the liturgical details of this Eucharist, which is the culmination of his divine presence among us." The devil creeps in through the dispute. "Preserving unity is therefore not a pious exhortation, but a duty, especially for priests who have promised obedience and from whom the faithful people expect an example of love and meekness," the Pope continued.

In his address to the delegation, which also included the newly elected head of the Syro-Malabar Church in January, Grand Archbishop Raphael ThattilFrancis paid tribute to the Eastern Church for its "ancient fidelity, which can be found in the witness of St Thomas, the Apostle of India". Apostle of Indiais rooted". In doing so, Francis explicitly honoured the ecclesial communion between the Syro-Malabarians and the Pope. "Where there is obedience, there is Church; where there is disobedience, there is schism. And you are obedient, that is your glory: obedience."

Francis constantly urges unity in the liturgical dispute

With his address, Pope Francis has intervened for the second time with personal words in the liturgy dispute among Catholic St Thomas Christians, which has been smouldering for years. In December, he sent a video message to the protesting faithful in the greater archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, where the conflicts over the uniform form of the liturgy adopted by the Synod of the Church have their centre. He called on them with clear words, to return to the communion of the Church"If there is no communion, there is no church. It is then a sect." The faithful should therefore not follow priests who are not prepared to celebrate the unified liturgy. He had previously appointed a papal delegate to mediate in the dispute. The delegate, Archbishop Cyril Vasil, has been unsuccessful in his mission been unsuccessful so far.

Most recently, opponents of the liturgical reform had proposed separating the Grand Archbishopric of Ernakulam-Angamaly from the rest of the Syro-Malabar Church and establishing it as a new church under its own law, linked to Rome. as a new church of its own right linked to Rome. The liturgy dispute has divided the Syro-Malabar Church for decades and has escalated even further since the synod's decision in 2021 to introduce a standardised liturgy. The standardised form stipulates that the priest faces the consecration ad orientem, i.e. with his back to the people. Opponents of the liturgical reform want a continuous celebration versus populum, i.e. facing the people. According to the protesting priests, a change to the liturgy that has been established for 50 years would not be accepted in their parishes.

The Syro-Malabar Church in south-west India is the largest of today's churches and communities of the Thoma Christianswhich is said to have been founded in the 1st century by the apostle Thomas during his missionary journeys. Through links with the Assyrian Church of the East, it celebrates its liturgy in the East Syriac rite. In the course of Portuguese colonisation, the Thomas Christians were forced to adopt Western forms and hierarchies and broke up into several churches. (fxn)