Indian Catholic News

Former priests say Mass in parish under diocesan ban

The former priests had to conduct the mass because the Neyyatinkara diocese has banned priests from the parish.

St Sebastian’s Church in Balaramapuram

A forum of Catholic priests, ex-priests and nuns has claimed that a Catholic parish in Kerala created history by allowing six former priests to offer Holy Mass, the first such incident in the history of the Indian Church.

Six former priests offered the Masses from January 11 to 20 as part of the feast at St Sebastian’s Church in Balaramapuram under Neyyatinkara diocese, Reji Njelani, chairman of Open Church Movement told reporters on Monday.

The movement organized the services, Njelani said. This was possible because in principle a priest once ordained, remained a priest for ever.

The former priests had to conduct the mass because the diocese has banned priests from conducting at ceremonies. The diocesan decision came after the parish members resisted the move of the diocese to take over 18 acres of the land owned by the parish, according to Njelani.

The diocese had refused to have priest to provide the first Holy Communion to the children even after they completed their preparation for it two years ago.

The diocese also refused to conduct the last rites of four parishioners, who had to be buried without last rites, said Njelani.

The Open Church Movement is said to be the brain child of Joseph Pallath, who was dismissed from the Society of Jesus in 2000 for “disobedience and behaviour not suited to priests”. It began in 2016.

Diocesan vicar general Father G Christu Das told Deccan Chronicle that according to canon law the church and its property belonged to church. Hence, the church, the cemetery and the 18 acres of the parish was under the administration of the bishop.

The administration of the school belonging to the parish even now was with the corporate management of the church. There are many families who lived within the 18 acres.

The stand of the church was that let them live there without eviction. Moreover, even if the land was with the administration of the diocese, the parishioners could very well have the right over it, said Father Das.

Source: deccanchronicle

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