By Matters India Reporter
Kochi, August 18, 2019: A section of lay people in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam Angamaly has asked the Syro-Malabar Synod to find a solution to the crisis in their archdiocese immediately.
The Oriental Catholic Church’s synod will begin on August 19 at its headquarters in Kakkanad, a suburb of Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala. The 11-day summit is to be attended by 57 of the 63 bishop of the Church.
The Synod achieves significance as the letter from the Oriental Congregation in the Vatican ending the administrator’s rule had suggested that the Synod that should decide on the long-term solution for the crisis in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly.
The laity group under the banner of Athirupatha Almaya Munnettam (AAM, Archdiocesan Laity Uprising) on August 17 demanded that the synod should find the solution within seven days of the meet.
Speaking to media persons, Riju Kanjookkaran, general secretary of the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, said that the synod must intervene to change the existing system in the Church of not including laity in crucial discussions.
“In future proceedings of the Church, we cannot accept the decisions taken by a handful of bishops and priests. Laity is also part of the Church and therefore the Holy Synod must make provisions for it,” he said.
“The laity is watching the synod with a wounded heart especially after some so-called spokespersons of the Syro-Malabar Church tried to publicly ridicule the bishops, priests and lay people of the archdiocese. We protest this and urge the synod to check such trends,” Kanjookkaran said in a statement.
AAM wants the synod to find ways to clear the debts of the archdiocese as directed by the Vatican. For this, the synod should reinstate with full power the two auxiliary bishops who were suspended without explaining the reasons.
“The synod should be ready to amend Church laws to check such developments in future,” the statement said.
It also said laity representatives from some 300 parishes of the archdiocese would gather at the Church’s headquarters at 2:30 pm on August 18 to submit their demands to the synod. “There should be positive decisions on the demands. However, if the synod chooses to ignore them, the laity movement would go ahead with open protests and legal actions,” the statement said.
Meanwhile Father Antony Thelachalloor, secretary of media commission, said the synod has planned extensive discussions to resolve various issues in the archdiocese. “Pastoral Council secretaries from various dioceses of the Syro-Malabar Church, under the leadership and guidance of senior bishops, are taking part in the day-long meeting planned on August 26,” the priest said in a press release.
Earlier, the protesting priests had demanded the reinstatement of suspended auxiliary bishops, removal of administrative responsibilities from Cardinal George Alencherry and appointment of an administrative archbishop from within the archdiocese.
Father Joseph Pareckattil of the archdiocese last month undertook an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Bishop’s House demanding an end to alleged police torture of laity and priests by framing them in fake cases. He ended the strike after Synod bishops held discussions with the dissident priests of the archdiocese and gave assurance to look into their demands.
However, according to a source, the police team probing the case in which documents were allegedly forged to defame Cardinal Alencherry has summoned Father Benny Maramparambil, who headed an inquiry commission to probe the land deals of the archdiocese, for questioning.
Earlier, in the forgery case, the police had collected statements from Fathers Tony Kallookaran (another accused in the case), Kuriakose Mundadan, Presbyteral Council secretary, Paul Thelakat and some bishops.