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Billboards across Ernakulam highlight issue of Mass

Issue of fully congregation-facing Mass celebration

Dozens of large billboards akin to advertisement hoardings continue to linger on roadsides in several places in Ernakulam district asserting the right of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar church to continue with the fully congregation-facing Mass celebration while the synod of bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church is yet to issue a circular granting permanent exemption to the archdiocese from a synodal decision.One of the billboards close to the busy Vyttila Junction in the city reasserts the “people’s right to‘‘ continue with the fully congregation–facing Mass. The board has been put up by a group of parishioners in the Thripunithura Forane. Similar boards have been erected by different foranes and parishes. Many of the boards thank Pope Francis for allowing the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly to continue with the 50-year-old custom of fully congregation-facing Mass. They also congratulate Metropolitan Vicar Archbishop Antony Kariyil for standing with the rights of the archdiocesan members.Many of the boards carry the names Almaya Munnettam, a combination of lay people and Athiroopatha Samrakshana Samithy or forum for protection of the archdiocese formed by the priests in the archdiocese. However, Riju Kanjookkaran, leader of the lay people said neither the group nor the combine of priests had put up archdiocesan level boards, which have been sponsored by members of parishes and forances in the archdiocese.A senior priest said the boards were erected preceding a vehicle rally by the members of the archdiocese. However, with COVID-19 protocol that came into effect with a spiral in new cases, the rally was cancelled.In the meanwhile, parishes and religious institutions in the archdiocese are reported to have stuck to the custom of congregation-facing Mass though no circular or pastoral letter was issued on January 23 exempting the archdiocese from a synodal decision to have a uniform style of Mass with the celebrant facing the congregation only for the first half.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed on the issue”, said a senior priest.

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