SYRO-MALABAR Post-Synodal Circular - August 2023
CARDINAL GEORGE ALENCHERRY,
the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church
to the Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Men
and Women and Lay Faithful of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Third Session of the XXXI Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church took place at the Major Archiepiscopal Curia at Mount St. Thomas Kakkanad from August 21 to 26, 2023. The Fathers of the Synod made an effort to study the contemporary issues that pertain to the Church as well as the society and find solutions for the problems in a spirit of prayer and faith. I offer my gratitude to all of you who have prayed sincerely for the success of the Synod.
The Discharge of the Duty of the Pontifical Delegate
We have been striving for decades to implement a uniform mode of celebration of the Holy Qurbana in our Church. Except in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, the uniform mode of celebration of the Holy Qurbana was implemented in all other eparchies of the Syro-Malabar Church. Despite several attempts on various fronts, the Archeparchy was unable to make any progress in resolving the issues in this case. As a final step, the Holy Father Pope Francis sent Archbishop Cyril Vasil SJ as his Delegate to solve the problems connected with the implementation of the uniform mode of celebration of the Holy Qurbana in the Archeparchy. The Pontifical Delegate who reached Kerala on August 4th, held discussions with different groups of people in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly. But the Church felt a deep sense of sorrow at the protests held against the Pontifical Delegate at the Cathedral Basilica, Ernakulam. The provocative slogans shouted against him and the situation of conflict created by a few who gathered around the Basilica was highly insulting and defaming for the Syro-Malabar Church in the society and in the Universal Church. The Pontifical Delegate addressed two times the Syro-Malabar Synod on August 21 and 22. He informed the Synod that it would be difficult for the Church to go forward without discipline and unity and hence very serious disciplinary procedures would be initiated. All the decisions taken with regard to the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly would be subject to the approval of the Holy Father conveyed through the Pontifical Delegate.
Having completed the first phase of his mission in the Archeparchy, the Pontifical Delegate met with the Holy Father Pope Francis on August 23 on his return to Rome. He conveyed to the Holy Father his assessment of the situation and the report of his visit to the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly from August 4h to 22nd. He informed the Apostolic Administrator of the decision of the Holy Father to stick to the decision taken in the light of the suggestions given by the Holy Father and the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches. Archbishop Cyril Vasil has also given a detailed report about the crisis in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly to Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches. The Pontifical Delegate has also informed that he would continue his mission to implement the decision of the Holy Father and of the Synod on the uniform mode of celebration of the Holy Qurbana in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly.
The Synod has decided to continue dialogue with the members of the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly in order to facilitate the conduct of the mission of the Pontifical Delegate. A Committee consisting of nine bishops is appointed to continue the dialogue. The Committee has already begun its work. The proposals that would emerge from the dialogue will be forwarded through the Pontifical Delegate to the Holy Father and they would be implemented as per the direction given by the Apostolic See on the proposals. Let us go forward with one mind, forgetting our personal or regional differences. I do pray that the Altar of our Lord Jesus Christ, which unites all, may become the source of our unity. All are lovingly urged to desist from actions and statements that would create hurdles to find solution to the problems we face. Let us pray for finding a solution to the existing problem in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly during the eight days fasting (ettu nombu) this year, as our special intention.
Conflict in Manipur
The conflict in Manipur has created a deep wound in the heart of secular India. The rebellion started as an inter-tribal conflict against the decision of the High Court of Manipur on reservation. A lot of people belonging to the two dominant tribes have undergone persecution and death on account of this conflict. However, the majority of people who suffered are Christians. In this conflict, more than 170 people died and thousands of houses and places of worship were destroyed. Thousands had to flee their homes to save their lives. The Government is urged to act decisively and sincerely to end this conflict which has been raging for the last three and a half months and bring about peace and stability, especially when the parties are fighting with modern armaments. It is the constitutional responsibility of the Central and State governments to safeguard the life and property of the citizens. It is really disheartening to see that the persecution against Christians shows a rapid increase in their pace.
It is a sign of great hope for the secularism of the country that the whole nation has risen against the perpetrators of the conflicts in Manipur. We have a grave responsibility to stand with the people of Manipur in their deep anguish. We shall pray for the advent of peace and stability for the people of Manipur. Caritas India which is the Social Agency of the Catholic Churches in India is intervening effectively for the restoration of the well-being of Manipur. It is also a welcoming step that many of our eparchies have started offering free education to the children of Manipur who are homeless and orphaned. We have to cooperate wholeheartedly in this work of restoration of Manipur.
Major Archiepiscopal Assembly
The Fifth Major Archiepiscopal Assembly of the Syro-Malabar Church will be held at the Alphonsian Pastoral Centre of the Eparchy of Palai from August 23 to 25, 2024. The theme of the Assembly is “Ecclesiastical life and mission according to the times in the Syro-Malabar Church”. The members of the Church are requested to undertake a close and deep study of the theme at the levels of their parishes and religious houses. A working document will be prepared on the basis of these discussions for the Assembly. Your cooperation and prayers are requested for the success of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Assembly.
Inauguration of the Website
A revised website of the Syro-Malabar Church (www.syromalabrchurch.in) was launched at the Synod in order to make more visible the activities of our Church. You may make use of the information about the Syro-Malabar Church and its activities that is available on this site.
A New Shepherd for the Eparchy of Gorakhpur:
Fr. Mathew Nellikunnel, a member of the CST congregation, has been appointed the new shepherd of the Eparchy of Gorakhpur. I offer my congratulations and best wishes to the Bishop-elect and to the Eparchy. The Syro-Malabar Church is deeply obliged to Bishop Mar Thomas Thuruthimattam CST who led the eparchy gracefully and ably for the last 17 years. His episcopal ministry was a blessing to the whole Church, to the society and especially to the Eparchy of Gorakhpur.
We shall offer our gratitude for the Divine Providence. May the intercession of the Mother Mary, the Mother of God, and of St. Thomas, our Father in Faith, be helpful to us. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Given from the Major Archiepiscopal Curia of the Syro-Malabar Church at Mount St. Thomas, Kakkanad on August 26, 2023.
Cardinal George Alencherry
Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church