Bishop Antony Kariyil resigns amid brewing controversies in Syro Malabar Church

Mar Antony Kariyil with Nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli

Kochi: Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese apostolic vicar Antony Kariyil stepped down following the visit of a delegate from the Vatican demanding his resignation.

Vatican delegate Nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli met the Archbishop on Tuesday to discuss the fissure in Syro Malabar Church. It has been reported that the bishop urged Mar Antony Kariyil to resign as per the guidelines issued earlier.

The action against Antony Kariyil is reportedly initiated for not following the instructions of the Vatican and synod in the matters regarding Uniform Holy Mass. Antony Kariyil had stood with the priests who raised opposition against Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry in the controversies in the Church over land transactions and implementing a uniform way of performing Holy Mass. Among the 35 dioceses, only the Ernakulam archdiocese refrained from adopting uniform Holy Mass.

Leopoldo Girelli summoned Antony Kariyil to Delhi on July 19 and handed over a letter demanding his resignation. According to the instructions issued by the top authorities, Antony Kariyil will not be allowed to reside within the limits of the archdiocese or participate in public gatherings.

Meanwhile, the priests’ collective and Archdiocese Protection Committee have extended support to Antony Kariyil. They opined that Cardinal Mar George Alencherry was the person who shall be expelled. The priests and laities, who convened a meeting on Monday had passed a resolution regarding this and sent it to the metropolitan after obtaining the signatures of over 200 priests.

For several decades, dioceses under the Syro-Malabar Church have been following different modes of offering Mass. While a section of priests offer Mass facing the people, another does so facing the altar. In certain other dioceses, the Church follows a mix of both. In July 2021, Pope Francis approved the uniform mode of offering Mass and directed the Kerala Catholic Church to implement it at the earliest. As per the uniform mode, priests and bishops across the Church in all dioceses have to perform the ritual facing the altar throughout the service. Several bishops, priests came against this method.

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