Three representatives of Laity4Unity (Ms Catherine Mathai, Ms Joan Antony and Mr Kurien Joseph) met Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto and Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara (Faridabad Eparchy) at Archbishop's House Gole Dakkhana on Tuesday 27 July 2015.
AGENDA AND ATTENDANCE
Advocate Jenis Francis, President of Catholic Association and one of the original signatories of our Petition to the Holy Father, was also present. Fr Mathew Koyickal, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, was also in attendance. Rev. Fr Susai Sebastian, VG, was not present, being out of Delhi.
The Eparch of the Syro Malabar (SM) Eparchy of Faridabad was accompanied by SM Vicar General, Msgr Sebastian Vadakumpadan, SM Chancellor, Fr John Mylamvelil, Rev. Sr Ruby Therese CHF (?), Mr C J Jos and Mr Johnson.
Through some miscommunication, our representatives were not aware that anyone – let alone an entire team – would be present from the SM side. We had been told instead that this was to be an "ad hoc" meeting between Archbishop Anil Couto, VG Fr Susai Sebastian, Chancellor Fr Mathew Koyickal, Mr Jenis Francis and our three representatives.
We were therefore taken aback when, right at the start, Archbishop Kuriakose (who chaired the meeting at the invitation of Archbishop Anil Couto) formally stated that this was a meeting of the “Adhoc Inter-Ritual Committee”. We responded immediately that we had not been aware of such a forum or that this was the agenda. We also stated, although very briefly, our position as detailed below.
BACKGROUND OF THE "COMMITTEE"
On 23 June 2014, at our only meeting with H E The Apostolic Nuncio of Delhi, His Excellency had made some non-specific references to a certain “committee” of five members from “each side” to discuss the issue. On enquiring thereafter with Archbishop Anil Couto we had learnt that there had been only an “ad hoc committee”, set up in his predecessor’s time, essentially to discuss sharing of infrastructure between the Latin Archdiocese and the Syro-Malabar Eparchy.
Since that issue had already been settled, we had pointed out to the Nuncio on several occasions, most recently on 31 March and 26 June 2015, that we were unable to understand what role such an ad hoc infrastructure committee could play in the settlement of the current Rites problem. As far as we can see, the only parties to discuss this are: ourselves as the aggrieved party; the two concerned Bishops; and the Nuncio. No other entity – and certainly no lay person who fails to understand why we are aggrieved – would appear to have any locus standi in this matter. In addition, we also understand from Archbishop Anil Couto that as late as today, our names, which he had sent in to the Nuncio to present our case, have not yet been formally approved by the latter. Finally, in spite of our requests, the Nuncio has not yet laid down specific terms of reference for any such new “committee”.
Having openly stated this position, however, our three Representatives agreed to "participate in the discussions", clarifying that they were only three members out of the nine Petitioners, who in turn represented thousands, and that their participation was to indicate our good will and our appreciation for the COMMENCEMENT OF DIALOGUE.
From the SM team, Archbishop Kuriakose himself displayed a very positive attitude to arriving at an amicable and acceptable solution. After the meeting we wrote to the Nuncio, Archbishop Anil and Archbishop Kuriakose, recording what we understood had been discussed. We await responses to our communication. Since dialogue has started, and since matters are at a sensitive stage, we feel we should await further developments before we come back to you with fuller details.
TO OUR SUPPORTERS
Our representatives made it amply clear that they were participating in the discussions in the spirit of positive dialogue. However they (the three present of the nine Petitioners to the Holy Father) represent thousands of aggrieved Catholics like yourself. So there is no question of our taking any “final decision” or agreeing to any “final solution” until we have referred back to you for your valuable inputs and responses, as we have always done in the past.
In the meantime, we would request you to continue to pray for unity among all churches in the Catholic communion and among all Christians to end the divisions which Pope Francis has condemned as a 'SCANDAL'.