Pope Francis Urges Unity and Respect for Traditions in Syro-Malabar Church

Pope Francis met with the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church at the Vatican, emphasizing unity and obedience amid a liturgical conflict. He stressed preserving the Church's unique traditions and granted jurisdiction over Syro-Malabar immigrant Christians in the Middle East.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Pope Francis Urges Unity and Respect for Traditions in Syro-Malabar Church

Pope Francis Urges Unity and Respect for Traditions in Syro-Malabar Church

Pope Francis met with Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil and members of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church at the Vatican on Monday, emphasizing the importance of unity and obedience amid a long-standing liturgical conflict within the Eastern-rite church. The Syro-Malabar Church, with over 5 million members worldwide, has been divided over the orientation of priests during the celebration of the Mass.

Why this matters: The Pope's call for unity and respect for traditions in the Syro-Malabar Church has significant implications for the global Catholic community, as it sets a precedent for addressing internal conflicts and preserving cultural heritage. Moreover, it highlights the importance of interfaith dialogue and understanding in a world where religious divisions often fuel social and political tensions.

During the meeting, Pope Francis stressed the significance of the Syro-Malabar Church, particularly in today's times, when it is common to "sever the roots connecting us to the past." He praised the community's obedience and fidelity to the Church despite past challenges, acknowledging the mistakes of Western missionaries who attempted to force Kerala's Christians to conform to European traditions.

The Pope emphasized the importance of preserving the Syro-Malabar Church's unique liturgical, theological, spiritual, and cultural traditions to ensure their continued vitality. He officially granted the Church jurisdiction over Syro-Malabar immigrant Christians living in the Middle East, empowering them to address diaspora challenges with responsibility and evangelical courage.

Referring to the liturgical dispute, Pope Francis warned against the danger of self-referentiality, which leads to a focus on one's own way of thinking and undermines Jesus' desire for unity among his disciples. "Guarding unity is not a pious exhortation but a duty," the Pope emphasized, particularly among priests who should exemplify charity and meekness.

The Pope encouraged the Church to work towards protecting communion, praying tirelessly for those who refuse to accept the Church's rulings on liturgical issues. He emphasized the importance of meeting and discussing without fear, but above all, praying for the light of the Spirit to resolve disputes.

The Syro-Malabar Church traces its roots back to the apostolic preaching of Saint Thomas in India. Despite challenges throughout its history, including insensitivity to its particular nature and traditions, the Church has remained obedient and faithful. Pope Francis' address underscores the need for unity, respect, and obedience within the Syro-Malabar Church while acknowledging the importance of preserving its rich heritage.

Key Takeaways

  • Pope Francis meets with Syro-Malabar Church leaders, emphasizing unity and obedience amid liturgical conflict.
  • The Church has been divided over priest orientation during Mass, with 5 million members worldwide.
  • Pope Francis stresses preserving Syro-Malabar traditions, citing mistakes of Western missionaries.
  • He grants the Church jurisdiction over Middle East immigrant Christians, empowering them to address diaspora challenges.
  • Pope Francis warns against self-referentiality, urging unity and prayer to resolve liturgical disputes.