By Matters India Reporter
Kottayam: The Archdiocese of Changanacherry plans to observe on May 18 as a day of special fasting prayer to resolve crises within the Syro-Malabar Church.
A letter sent to all parishes in the archdiocese, Archbishop Mar Joseph Perumthottam of Changanacherry called upon his faithful to pray for divine intervention to ensure unity, peace and discipline in the Church.
“Some recent developments have pained and raised the concerns of not only the Church but also the entire Christian community,” the archbishop’s note says.
The prelate also observes that the Church is facing persecution and threats from within and outside. “Some are seen falling prey to the evil tactics of ‘striking at the shepherd to scatter the sheep.’ The faithful fear indiscipline and impudence will undermine the Church,” he adds.
The New Indian Express newspaper sees the appeal as an indirect call to the faithful to rally behind Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, who faces mounting pressure to resign over a couple of land deal rows in neighboring Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese.
The cardinal, a native of Changanacherry, also heads the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, the traditional seat of the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church. Ernakulam is some 85 km northwest of Changanacherry.
A section of priests in the Ernakulam-Angamaly has revolted against the cardinal after he allowed the sale of the Church land that brought huge financial loss to the archdiocese.
In another case, a lay movement has accused the cardinal of transferring a house meant for the poor to his relative. However, the buyer as well as the spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church has dismissed the allegation as baseless. The buyer and the cardinal shared the same house name, but they are not related to each other as the lay movement alleged.
The Express newspaper points out that Changanacherry is the first diocese to respond to the developments related to the land deal controversy. “Interestingly, the archdiocese had remained tight-lipped on the issue until now despite Alencherry coming under attack from various quarters,” the mass circulation daily says.
Changanacherry archdiocese indirectly termed the open attack on the cardinal by some priests as an attempt to create confusion among the faithful.
“Let us pray for blessings of the Church for united progression of our mother Church, the Syro-Malabar Church, which is facing a grave challenge and establish discipline and obedience within the Church,” says Archbishop Perumthottam’s note.