Kochi, July 14, 2019: Almaaya Munnettam, the combine of lay people in the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, has congratulated parishes which “ignored” a circular sent out by Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, to be read out during the July 14 mass.
The lay people’s combine has been demanding that the Cardinal come clean on a series of controversial land deals by the archdiocese in 2017 and 2018 which led to substantial financial losses. More than a thousand lay leaders and faithful met last Sunday in the city to declare their opposition to the way the Cardinal was conducting the affairs of the archdiocese, one of the largest of the Catholic Church in India.
The circular from the Cardinal expressed optimism that steps would be taken to appoint a bishop with special administrative powers for the archdiocese in consultation with the synod of bishops and instructions from Rome. He said the synod of bishops would meet in August and take decisions for better pastoral care of the faithful.
A statement issued by Almaaya Munnettam congratulated more than 90% parish priests who did not cooperate with the Cardinal by not reading out the circular during the mass. The circular was issued at a time when about 95% of the priests in the archdiocese publicly declared not to cooperate with the Cardinal, said the statement. The Cardinal had been warned not to issue the circular, the statement said, and pointed out that it might be for the first time that a circular by a head of the Church had been so ignored.
The lay people’s combine also claimed that the Cardinal had hurt the sentiments of both the lay people and priests seriously and it was, therefore, not possible for the priests to read out his circular. Of the 336 parishes in the archdiocese, only 30 saw the circular being read during the Sunday mass, the statement said.
Father Antony Poothavelil, a staunch supporter of the Cardinal, said the circular was read out during the mass at the Mattoor St. Antony’s Church as well as at the St. Mary’s Church at Mattoor town.