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Syro-Malabar archbishop reportedly resigns in liturgical dispute

July 27, 2022

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CWN Editor's Note: The Indian archbishop at the center of an intense liturgical dispute within the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has submitted his resignation, according to local published accounts.

Archbishop Antony Kariyil, the archepiscopal vicar of Ernakulam-Angamaly, reportedly agreed to step down after a lengthy meeting with the apostolic nuncio in India, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. He had been under pressure from the Vatican to resign because of his opposition to changes in the liturgy that had been confirmed by the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.

The Syro-Malabar Church is one of the largest Eastern churches in communion with the Holy See, with over 4 million faithful, mostly in southern India. The new liturgical rules—most notably the requirement that the priest face ad orientem during the Eucharistic liturgy—had been opposed by many priests of Ernakulam-Angamaly, which is the leading see of the Syro-Malabar Church.

Archbishop Kariyil has been vicar for the archdiocese, serving under the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Cardinal George Alencherry, who is the head of the Syro-Malabar Church. Cardinal Alencherry has supported the liturgical changes.

The archdiocese has been in turmoil since 2018, when Cardinal Alencherry was accused of financial impropriety in connection with real-estate transfers. The Congregation for the Eastern Churches temporarily removed the cardinal’s governing authority, naming an apostolic administrator to lead the archdiocese. But in 2019 the Vatican restored Cardinal Alencherry to office. More recently, a court in India’s Kerela state cleared the cardinal of all charges after a lengthy investigation.

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