Syro Malabar Church

While East Syrian in origin, between 1599 and the 1950s the Rite was Latinized almost beyond recognition, though Syriac continued to be used until Vatican II, when the vernacular, Malayalam, was adopted. Pius XII had attempted a restoration of East Syrian usage, but after being estranged from it for so many centuries, Syro-Malabars generally rejected it. In 1998, after decades of Rome's insistence on greater orientaliza-tion ('Chaldeanization') on the one hand, and its rejection by the majority of Syro-Malabars on the other, the Major Archbishop and his Synod were given complete freedom to regulate worship. The liturgical question - along with the lack of parity for Syro-Malabars outside Kerala - has remained the most divisive issue facing the Church. The challenge, in the view of liturgists, is to enculturate worship effectively into Indian realities, and to show sensitivity to the faithful who have become essentially Roman Rite in their liturgical ethos. As regards details, Syro-Malabars continue to use unleavened bread, and priests tend to celebrate the Eucharist versus populum, though recently a compromise had been struck that would have had them face versus altare during the anaphora. An abbreviated and simpler order for the Eucharist - developed in 1968 but rejected by Rome - continues to dominate. After Vatican II, Syro-Malabars began composing hymns heavily influenced by Indian motifs.

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