The Syro-Malabar Church has over 30 dioceses in India, US, Canada, Australia and Britain, serving over five million faithful.
Kochi: Crisis deepened in Kerala's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church on Friday (June 28), with about 200 priests of the influential Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese publicly protesting the Vatican's decision to reinstate cardinal George Alencherry as major archbishop with all administrative powers.
Launching a scathing attack on the cardinal, the priests made it clear they and the faithful could not accept him as their major archbishop as he is an "accused in financial misappropriation cases related to church land deals."
The priests, who met at Aluva, also adopted a resolution slamming the Vatican's Oriental Congregation's decision to suspend two senior bishops of the archdiocese from the offices of the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese.
"This can be seen only as an act of vengeance," they said.
The developments came a day after the Syro-Malabar Church Media Commission said in a statement that Alencherry, head of Syro-Malabar Church, secured full powers of major archbishop of the archdiocese after the Vatican directed bishop Jacob Manathodath, appointed as the archdiocese's apostolic administrator last year, to return to the Palakkad Diocese to carry out his pastoral duties.
Questioning the decision to suspend bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath and bishop Jose Puthenveetil from their offices of Auxiliary Bishops of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, the priests said no convincing documentary proof had been produced by the synod of Syro-Malabar Church to justify the decision.
Rallying behind the suspended bishops, the priests, who had earlier fought cardinal Alencherry over a controversial land deal in the Archdiocese, allegedly involving him, sought to know why both the bishops were suspended.
Both the Oriental Congregation, which has authority over all matters relating to the Oriental Churches and Syro-Malabar Synod have the responsibility to convince the priests and laity of the decision to suspend the bishops, the priest said.
They also urged the Oriental Congregation and synod of Syro-Malabar Church to convince them and the laity about the "serious lapses and corruption" in the land deal.
Stating that the Vatican's decision to reinstate Alencherry has affected the faithful, the priests said they would not cooperate with the major archbishop, who has no moral right to rule over them.
Alencherry had secured full powers of major archbishop of the archdiocese, on Thursday, after the Vatican directed bishop Jacob Manathodath to return to the Palakkad Diocese to carry out his pastoral duties.
A statement by the Syro-Malabar Church Media Commission had said Pope Francis made the decision in the light of studies carried out on different levels over the recent developments in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.
A division bench of the Kerala high court had, last year, set aside a single bench order, directing police to book Alencherry and three others over alleged irregularities in land deals in the archdiocese.
Last Updated 2:54 PM IST