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ISAC's online roundtable brings scholars to analyze recent or up-coming events that impact, engage, or speak to Asian Catholics.


Discerning the Dissent in
the Syro-Malabar C
hurch of India

6 February 2024 


The Syro-Malabar Church, one of the three ritual Churches in India, claims its origin to the first century of the common era. Some of the features of this historical Church such as the idea of Bishop primarily as the spiritual head, management of the temporal affairs of the church by lay people and the autonomy of the synod (to elect the bishops, to frame polices and to administer the church according to the needs of the people) distinguishes it from the Latin Church.


While the above mentioned characteristics display the path of synodality, an unprecedented crisis in this Church has erupted with one of the synodal decisions in 2021 that mandated all the twenty five Syro-Malabar dioceses to adhere strictly to an uniform rubric in the celebration of the Holy Qurbana (Eucharist). This mandate criticized and opposed by a large section of priests and lay people in the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly has produced an impasse in the Syro-Malabar Church.


Neither the papal delegate Jesuit Archbishop Cyril Vasil’s visit in August 2023 to the archdiocese, nor pope Francis’s appeal to the dissenting party to toe the official line or face sanctions has made any impact on the ground to bring peace and unity between the contending parties, the decision-making hierarchy and the dissenting voices on the periphery.


This online roundtable searched to dispassionately analyze this crisis situation of the Syro-Malabar Church and discern the dissent from different perspectives. The scholars described issues at stake and dig deep into the causes, both historical and contemporary, that had produced this situation. They discussed its consequences for Christians in Indian and the Church in Kerala, in particular including its relationship with the Vatican.


Dr. Pushpa Joseph, Chief Editor, Magnet and Research and Development Officer, Conference of Religious India (CRI) 

Mr. Shyju Antony, Freelance Journalist and Former News Presenter of National TV Channel, Doordarshan. 

Dr. Anthony Kalliath CMI, Founder-editor of Asian Horizons and Former Dean of Faculty of Theology, Dharmaram, Bangalore. 

Prof. Felix Wilfred, Founder-Director of Asian Centre for Cross-cultural Studies (ACCS), Chennai

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