Kochi: The St Mary's Cathedral Basilica here witnessed chaotic scenes on Saturday too over the unified Mass row that has roiled the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Members of the laity who favour the congregation-facing Mass and those opposed to it got into a brawl inside the Basilica.
A section allegedly went up to the altar and pushed it away. Supporters of unified Mass reached the church in between the public meeting of priests, which commenced Friday evening.
A large police contingent has been camping at the spot. Police used force to remove priests and the laity from inside the church.
Tension prevailed since Friday. From photographs and videos available online, two factions of priests stood at either ends of the altar offering contrasting styles of Mass at the same time. Priests in favour of congregation-facing Mass are conducting a relay Mass and said they would go on till Saturday morning.
Shortly after the first group of priests who favour the congregation-facing Mass had started their prayers, freshly appointed administrator, Fr Antony Poothavelil, wearing the vestment used to celebrate Mass, allegedly stood opposite them on the altar.
Meanwhile, a section believes the police conspired to desecrate the Holy Mass. The priests said there is a planned move close down the church. A priest complained that police officials pushed and pinched them.
'Feuding parties to be called for talks'
The Assistant Commissioner of Police announced that the feuding sides will be called for a discussion. "Believers and priests were moved from inside the church to avoid further conflict. Police have no plans to close the church," said the ACP.