The contention over the way Mass is to be celebrated has brought about a division within the Syro-Malabar Catholic church with a section favouring the decision on a uniform celebration and those opposing it coming out openly to defend their positions.

Almaya Munnettam, an organisation of lay people, priests and religious of the Syro-Malabar archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, met here on Sunday and decided to make a personal appeal once again to Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop and head of the Syro-Malabar church, to refrain from imposing the uniform method.

However, a group calling itself the World Christian Council has opposed the demand to prevent the uniform Mass celebration. Kennedy Karimbinkalayil, chairman of the council, called for the removal of Antony Kariyil, administrator of the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, for his visit to Rome to plead for a postponement of the implementation of the uniform Mass celebration.

A decision by the synod of bishops of the Syro-Malabar church early this year had issued instructions to all dioceses and archdioceses to implement the uniform Mass code from November 28.

The contention is between the synodal decision to have the Mass celebrated with the celebrant (priest) facing the participants or the congregation for one-half of the Mass and then the celebrant facing away from the congregation for the rest of the rituals. However, several dioceses in the Syro-Malabar church, including Ernakulam-Angamaly, have favoured the practice of the celebrant facing the congregation for the entire duration of the Mass.

A senior priest of the archdiocese said on Sunday that the decision by the synod of bishops to impose a uniform method of Mass celebration had only helped to create a division within the Syro-Malabar church.