Pope Francis addressed the ongoing liturgical conflict within the Syro-Malabar Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, cautioning against the formation of a sect and calling for unity within the Catholic Church.
The Syro-Malabar Church, the second-largest of the Eastern churches in union with Rome, with approximately 4.25 million faithful, has been embroiled in a dispute centered around the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, or “Qurbana.”
The Holy Synod, the highest ecclesial authority in the Syro-Malabar Church, endorsed and mandated a compromise liturgical practice, which was embraced by most dioceses.
However, the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, home to the Major Archbishop, has been a focal point of resistance, leading to internal strife and, at times, violence.
Pope Francis expressed concern over the liturgical discord but suggested that not all opposition stemmed from theological differences.
In his video message, he addressed the faithful, acknowledging that he had previously communicated on the matter through letters but sought to eliminate any doubts about his position.
“In the name of the Lord, for the spiritual good of your Church, of our Church, I ask you to heal this rupture. It is your Church, it is our Church. Re-establish communion, remain in the Catholic Church!” the Pope implored.
Drawing attention to potential worldly motivations behind the resistance, Pope Francis urged priests to honor their ordination vows, emphasizing unity with the Synod, Bishops, and the Major Archbishop.
He called for the implementation of Synod-approved liturgical decisions by Christmas 2023, cautioning against the danger of transforming into a sect.
“I ask you to be careful. Be careful that the devil does not lead you to transform yourselves into a sect,” the Pope warned.
The pontiff warned of potential sanctions if the ecclesiastic authority were forced to recognize a departure from the Church.
He pleaded with the Syro-Malabar faithful not to separate from their pastors and the Successor of St. Peter.
“I do not want to reach that stage,” the Pope said. “With great sorrow, sanctions would be incurred.”
Pope Francis issued an appeal for adherence to Synod directives, communion in liturgical practices, and forgiveness within the Church.
“Do not shatter the Body of Christ, which is the Church, so as not to eat and drink judgment upon yourselves,” he urged.