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Archbishop Cyril Vasil (UCA News)

The Vatican has appointed a pontifical delegate to find a lasting solution to the decades-old liturgy dispute in the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church in India. Source: UCA News.

Jesuit Archbishop Cyril Vasil of Slovakia was appointed on Monday as the apostolic delegate after the Kerala-based Church’s synod, the top decision-making body, failed to find a solution.

Archbishop Vasil, a former secretary of the Office for Eastern Churches and head of the Greek Catholic diocese of Kosice in Slovakia, is tasked with conducting a study to suggest a lasting solution.

The liturgy row in the Church with more than 5 million followers has seen clashes, public rallies, hunger strikes, burning of effigies, and police registering cases.

The dispute dates back to the 1970s, with one group wanting to revive the liturgy in its pristine purity and another group demanding revision on modern lines. The traditionalists want the priests to celebrate the Mass facing the altar throughout the Eucharistic celebration, while the modernists want them to face the congregation.

The dispute intensified in 1990 after the Church’s Synod approved a uniform Mass and directed priests to turn to the altar during Eucharistic prayer and face people for the rest of the Mass.

Except for the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, all 35 dioceses of the Church adopted the Synod-approved Mass by 2022.

The archdiocese is the seat of the Church’s Major Archbishop, Cardinal George Alancherry.

Tensions continued to simmer in the archdiocese as the Synod insisted on implementing the uniform liturgy with a majority of its priests and bishops opposing it.

Last December, the archdiocese’s St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica was closed following a brawl between rival groups inside it.

The Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, comprising priests, religious and lay people from the Angamaly-Ernakulam Archdiocese, questioned the appointment of Archbishop Vasil and expressed doubts about his credibility.


Vatican delegate to ‘solve’ Indian church’s liturgy row (UCA News)