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The Syro-Malabar community in Ireland seeks Synod’s intervene in ‘nomination raj’

Dublin: People from India came in Ireland to fill the skill shortages in various employment sectors, Most of them are high skilled professionals working as front line staff in health, IT sectors. Majority of them were Syro-Malabar church (SMC), one of the world’s largest eastern rite catholic churches from Kerala, a southern state of India. Irish catholic church given a warm welcome to people and provision of pastoral care even bringing Syro Malabar ‘Chaplains’ from India to serve the Syro Malabar catholic communities in Ireland.

The committees of the Syro-Malabar Church in Ireland are accused of “nomination raj.” For the next two years, the members of the National and Zonal Committees, elected by popular vote, were made irrelevant by ‘nomination’ headed by the former National Coordinator, whose headquarters had moved to Rome.

Everyone has been taken aback by the fact that the people who have risen to positions of power in the national (Sabha Samiti) elections held this week are those who have been in office for ten or fifteen years. Unlike the Syro-Malabar Church’s global governance arrangements, the new officers were appointed without even following the procedures outlined in Ireland’s “Special Constitution”. Many positions in the new committees have appeared without being included in the constitution. There is a strong opposition to the process of tarnishing the transparency and discipline of the church system by introducing their own people. It is surprising that a church that even elects the Pope through popular vote has nominated and appointed the vast majority of Ireland’s national councils.

Despite the fact that nearly 50% of Keralites (Indians) in Ireland are Syro-Malabar Church believers, they have not been the ones who have planned and implemented any measures for the advancement of society over the last 20 years. Even in some rural areas of Ireland, the church has a population capable of carrying out social interventions for the general community, but it is alleged that the church leadership is merely acting as a conduit for the faithful’s vows and annual collections without benefiting them.

A responsible church community with the ability and human capacity to start services that would benefit hundreds of immigrants from all walks of life, such as after-school facilities anywhere in Ireland, including child care centres, is a faith community that limits its goals to fundraising, charity, and art fairs. It is also clear that the clergy make decisions “on their own as uni-disciplinary manner against the professional conduct with the support of the likes” without even holding public committee meetings to discuss them. 

There are appointments that are not even mentioned in the church constitution or canon law. The current activities are beyond the powers, titles, and duties assigned by the Church to the holder of the title of Apostolic Visitor.

The good majority of long settled people in Ireland where they were the ‘heart and soul of the Syro Malabar church in Ireland with a great vision’ have just walked away. But they haven’t walked away from their faith, just the Syro Malabar church and mass. The Syro Malabar church’s leadership in Europe is also in a state where it appears to be going in the wrong direction with No shared ‘strategic plan’. Church members are demanding that the Church Synod intervene and adjust the constitution and functioning of the Church Committees, as well as implement plans for all sections of the people, as it does not plan or implement any activity for the common interests of the society.

Because of the current situation by the challenging leaderships in Ireland and Europe; the Syro Malabar church’s forward vision of an European eparchies (dioceses) will be a long way as the people in the ground supporting the church and clergy are very unhappy with devastating and often deadly consequences of polarising tendencies that turn every disagreement into a power struggle. The church still has a god given opportunity to model a better way by increasing migrants; however Syro Malabar church in Ireland and Europe faces  a crossroads ahead, with many big decisions to be made, and wonders what wells sustain the people today. As Pope Francis said once “Let us pray for peace: peace in the world and in each of our hearts”.

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