Ernakulam, 24th December 2022: Factions opposing and supporting unified Mass, clashed on Saturday morning at St George’s Basilica in Ernakulam. In the clash, even the alter got damaged.

In the incident that has shaken the Syro Malabar believers across Kerala, two factions of priests stood at either ends of the altar offering contrasting styles of Mass simultaneously.

Shortly after the first group of priests who favour the congregation-facing Mass had begun Mass, the freshly appointed administrator, Fr Antony Poothavelil allegedly stood opposite them on the altar. This angered both the factions who later vandalised the church together.

A large police contingent had been camping at the spot. They had to use force to remove the priests and other laity from the church.

“Believers and priests were moved from inside the church to avoid further conflict. Police have no plans to close the church,” said the Assistant Commissioner of Police.

“For several decades, diocese under the Syro-Malabar Church have been following different modes of offering mass. While a section of priests offer mass facing the people, another does so face the altar. In certain other dioceses, the Church follows a mix of both. As per the uniform mode of offering mass, priests, and bishops across the Church in all dioceses have to perform the ritual facing the altar throughout the service,” reported Mathrubhumi news.

The incident has greatly demoralised the Syro Malabar church which is all set for Christmas.