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Pope confirms new chief of India’s Syro-Malabar Church, divided for many years over liturgy dispute

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ROME — Pope Francis on Wednesday confirmed a brand new chief for India’s Syro-Malabar Church in a step towards therapeutic a decades-long liturgical dispute that grew to become so dire that Francis just lately threatened to excommunicate a whole bunch of monks.

Francis confirmed the election of His Beatitude Mar Raphael Thattil as main archbishop of the arch-eparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, situated in southern Kerala state the place lots of India’s Christians stay.

Thattil had been elected to the place by the synod of bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, one of many 23 autonomous japanese ceremony church buildings in communion with the Holy See. Francis confirmed the selection as referred to as for below church regulation.

Thattil’s appointment opens a brand new chapter for the church, which has been badly divided by a dispute over the celebration of the liturgy. In 1999, the church’s synod determined to undertake a compromise, unified liturgy however many of the estimated 460 monks in Ernakulam-Angamaly refused.

Francis for years has urged them to conform and over the summer season appointed a private envoy, the Slovak Jesuit Archbishop Cyril Vasil, to attempt to assist resolve the standoff.

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Tensions got here to a head on Dec. 7, when Francis issued a videotaped warning to the dissident monks that they risked excommunication in the event that they didn’t conform by Christmas and rejoice the unified liturgy.

“Within the identify of the Lord, for the religious good of your church, of our church, I ask you to heal this rupture,” Francis begged them within the video. “It’s your church, it’s our church. Re-establish communion, stay within the Catholic Church!”

That very same day, Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal George Alencherry, whom Thattil now replaces.

Based on Rome-based prelates acquainted with the Indian church, many, if not most, of the monks celebrated Christmas in accordance with the compromise formulation, which entails the priest dealing with the congregation for a part of the service and the altar for the Eucharistic prayer.

Francis made no point out of the dispute in a letter to Thattil that accompanied the announcement of his appointment Wednesday, although the pontiff mentioned he was praying for unity.

“Could the Holy Spirit foster the unity, constancy and mission of the Syro-Malabar Church, in order that it might develop and flourish below your paternal steering,” Francis wrote.

Thattil is understood to have accepted the unified liturgy and in a few of his first feedback after his election, mentioned, “We’re collectively and we work collectively,” in accordance with the AsiaNews missionary information company, which has adopted the dispute intently.

There are round 20 million Catholics in India, with most belonging to the Latin ceremony Roman Catholic Church. The Syro-Malabar Church is the most important japanese ceremony Catholic church in communion with Rome after the Ukrainian Church.

It counts some 5 million believers, most in India but additionally in communities in the USA, Canada, Britain and Australia, in accordance with the church’s web site.

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