Indian archbishop resigns over dispute on celebration of liturgy in Syro-Malabar Church

Archbishop Antony Kariyil of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese in Kerala state resigned on Tuesday July 26.

An Indian archbishop resigned over a dispute on the celebration of a unified liturgy in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

Archbishop Antony Kariyil, the 72-year old Archiepiscopal Vicar of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese in Kerala state, resigned on Tuesday July 26.

The prelate tendered his resignation to Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to India, said a report on Matters India.

The report said the archbishop’s resignation “is believed to be the fall out of his inability to convince the priests and laity in the archdiocese to follow the uniform mode of celebrating Mass.”

In August 2021, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church decided to implement a uniform Mass in all its 35 dioceses in India and overseas in a bid to find a permanent solution to the liturgical dispute.

The dispute over the liturgy is more than four decades old.

The Synod of Bishops in 1999 ruled that the priest “will face the congregation until the Eucharistic prayer, and then again from communion to the end of the Mass. From Eucharistic prayers until Communion, the priest will face the altar.”

The synod’s formula, seen as a compromise requires priests to face the congregation during the start and concluding parts of the Mass but face the altar during the Eucharistic prayer.

Except for the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, all Syro-Malabar dioceses implemented the synod decision with effect from November 2021.

Archbishop Kariyil, however, could not implement the synod Mass in the wake of opposition from priests and laity in the archdiocese.

The archbishop, according to Church sources, was summoned to nunciature in New Delhi on July 19 and was asked to tender his resignation the following day by Archbishop Girelli.

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