Woes never cease for the Syro Malabar (SM) Church! The latest in the series is a laity uprise in Gujarat, against the interference of the newly formed SM diocese of Shamshabad. The number of SM community members asking for status quo in Gujarat is increasing surprisingly. Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis issued to all Indian Bishops along with the installation of the Eparchy of Shamshabad clearly says that the new Eparchy is not about letting anybody exercise special powers but reaching everybody in love and tolerance. Pope Francis had passed the same message when decreeing the formation of the Eparchy of Faridabad too. But what we saw there was a clash of words between the Syro Malabar community of Delhi and the Diocese of Faridabad which ended up in the interference of Vatican. Just because the Delhi SM community stood together, they could maintain status-quo (continuing in the Latin parishes they used to be members of).
Why do people outside Kerala turn against SM dioceses? There are three reasons; the first being the inherent problems of being divided with the local Latin community in the name of Rite, the second being unnecessary rules, rituals and lengthy practices likely to be introduced and finally regular extraction of money in the name of donations of varying kinds. It is learnt that alongwith the marking of the new office, collections also had begun in and out. A special fund-raising is going on in the whole of Trichur archdiocese now. This is in spite of the heavy donations being collected from other centres in India.
(In the picture: SMC4U (Gujarath) committee members visiting Ahmedabad bishop-elect Rt. Rev. Athanasius Rethna Swamy).
The SM dictum seems to be that the Bishop commands and the faithful agrees. In other words, the duty of a layman is limited to just three services – pray, pay and obey. All over Gujarat, the Latin Bishops were already sharing their churches with the Syro-Malabar community without any prejudice and the entire community was happy with them. Now the community is worried about the local adjustments the new Bishop is making with other Christian denominations like Orthodox.
Appointment of Vicars, Vicar Generals and other officials falls within the canonical authority of the concerned Bishop. The same Canon also permits each catholic of SM origin in Gujarat and elsewhere in India to choose to be with the Latin parish which was serving him/her for years; that is the problem!
Joseph Mattappally (Asso. Editor CCV). Reach the author: firstname.lastname@example.org /+91 9495875338