CNA—Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, based in India, commending the prelate’s faithfulness after decades of leadership in that Church.
At the same time, the Holy Father addressed an ongoing bitter dispute in the archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, directing the faithful there to accept the decision of Church leaders to institute a uniform liturgy.
Canon law dictates that bishops must submit their resignations to the pope at age 75. Alencherry turned 78 this year. In his letter on Thursday, Francis told Alencherry he “decided to accept your resignation as a sign of your openness and docility to the Holy Spirit.”
Last year, Francis noted, was Alencherry’s “50th anniversary of priestly ordination and 25th anniversary as a bishop.”
“Now that you have reached two significant jubilees and accomplished the pastoral objectives set for the flock entrusted to your care, I consider your resignation not as the conclusion but the fulfillment of your service,” the Holy Father told the prelate.
The Vatican said Curia Bishop H.E. Sebastian Vaniyapurackal, titular bishop of Troina, would serve as the interim administrator of the Syro-Malabar Church until the election of the new major archbishop.
Archbishop Andrews Thazhath resigns as apostolic administrator
The Vatican on Thursday said Francis had also accepted the resignation of Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, apostolic administrator of the archeparchy since July of last year. Archbishop Thazhath remains metropolitan archbishop of Trichur of the Syro-Malabars.
Bosco Puthur, bishop emeritus of the Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Melbourne of the Syro-Malabars (Australia), will serve in that role “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis,” the Holy See said.
Pope re: long-standing liturgical dispute in the Syro-Malabar Church in India
In addition to the letter, on Thursday the Holy Father sent a video message addressed to “brothers and sisters of the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly” in which the pope confronted a long-standing liturgical dispute in the Syro-Malabar Church in India.
The Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 23 autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. The Eucharistic liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church, known as the Holy Qurbana, has been the subject of a long, complex dispute over which direction the priest should face when celebrating the liturgy.