Re: Unity in Christ/ Percentage Splitting
- In response to my suggestion that ending court cases will be a huge step in establishing peace between our churches, Ronnie Daniel disagreed respectfully. He asks "Suppose now the Malankara Orthodox agreed for a percentage split and your side separated. Say after couple of years a group from your Church wanted to form another group with a different constitution, leadership etc.. etc.. Will you be ready to split the assets?"
Essentially Ronnie Daniel is saying that if a split is allowed now, then other people may ask for it later. He forgets that our current dispute is far different because it involves the very top hierarchs, between the Patriarch and Catholicos, leading to a split between over one million Orthodox Christians. To equate this division with minor disputes that may come up later in individual churches is unfair. These court cases negatively affects both our churches directly and the only way to resolve it is through compromise. In fact, I would argue that the decision of "our [Metran Kashi] Church taking a stand that any assets created before establishing your 2002 constitution remains with the Mother Church and you are free to have your ownership right on any assets created after that" is one of the major reasons why our churches continue to fight and bicker.
Thankfully, there are people like Joe George who see the immense damages caused by court cases. Interestingly, he says, "I recall the words of Pampady Thirumeni, 'Our effort should be to restore peace in the church...our suggestion is that both sides should make some compromises so that the integrity of the church is not affected. We should not try to aggravate our differences by going on litigation. We exhort you to pray hard for peace and unity in the church, this being the season of lent". If Pampady Thirumeni said this with a genuine heart and he also worked for bringing this about within his church, then Pampady Thirumeni is to be commended. He can then be pointed to as one of the peacemakers, called by Christ, as blessed.
Joe George's desire for peace is something both our churches share. As I wrote earlier, this reality of peace is reached through steps along the way towards this destination. Unfortunately, I have not seen these steps being taken at all. In fact, it's interesting to note that Ronnie Daniel turns the reality of these court cases upside down with his comments. He writes, "I agree court cases are bad, But, when you create law and order problem in a smoothly functioning Parish what do you expect other than court cases? So many of my friends from the Patriarch faction are coming to worship at Parumala Church. They come, pray and go." So he's essentially saying that the Jacobites are destroying smoothly functioning parishes. I could not wonder at the innocence of those comments. Let's look at the facts regarding these court cases in individual parishes. For instance, go and visit any of these churches: Puthencruz St. Peter & St. Paul, KannyattuNirappu St. John, Nechoor St. Thomas, Onnakkur Sehiyon Church, Palakkuzha Church, Piravom Valiyapalli, Kadamattom Church, Perumbavoor Soolokko Church, Odakkaly Church, etc., etc., etc. What you will see is that the far majority of families are Jacobites. I mentioned earlier about St. Peter & St. Paul Church in Puthencruz. This home church is literally walking distance from the Jacobite Church Center. The Methran Kashi families that started problems there are only a handful within a church of far majority Jacobite families. So who's disrupting the smooth functioning of churches with court cases?
And, yes, Jacobites do visit Perumala church, pray and go. Unfortunately, this respect and understanding is not returned.
If we want peace, steps should be taken towards it. Unfortunately, the following actions have only led to steps backward:
1) Three bishops leave Jacobite church in the name of "unity", only causing further divisions, especially amongst those directly involved. My American diocese, with the diocese of the other two bishops in Kerala, are directly and indirectly suffering, to this day, from the dispersing of its shepherd.
2) When Patriarch wants to visit Kerala, Methran Kashi church works against it. How is this a step towards peace? Metran Kashi claims that Patriarch will cause problems in Kerala, yet Patriarch never involves himself with any Methran Kashi Church during his visits. What purpose is served by working to deny and reject the person that even the Metran Kashi Church remembers during Holy Kurbana?
3) Mar Severios Mosus Gurgan, who was consecration by two bishops (un-canonically), is accepted by Methran Kashi Church. What purpose does this action and acceptance serve but only to cause further divisions between our churches? In fact, with this action, the bleeding is made even worse because Metran Kashi is now directly interfering with the larger Syriac Orthodox Church outside of Kerala.
We know these incidents. What is the outcome? Each incident only adds to the number of radicals on both sides of the conflict. The division grows worse.
Instead of living in the past, I hope steps will be taken in the future to reverse these trends. Declaring a compromise on court cases, for the sake of its termination, will be a HUGE step towards peace. Unfortunately, it's the voices of the radicals that stand out now. If only the voices like Joe George's multiply, then our churches may have some hope.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
- In response to the many responses posted on ICON regarding a topic that all Jacobite/Orthodox Christians think and pray about, my doubts about unity only grows worse.
I'm unwise to understand that these postings, in the end, go back to where it started. There's saying that most people are drawn to take in and remember only the information that reinforces their existing mental model. The majority of postings I've read in response to my post proves this concept to be true. As Orthodox Syrian members, these writers focus on where the Jacobite fell short. As a Jacobite Christians, my posts look at where the Orthodox Syrian church fell short. So we merely reinforce our own beliefs and end up where we started.
In response to the many posts regarding court cases, most authors hold the view that these court cases should continue so that possibilities for future divisions will not happen. In their judgment, let us continue to file cases one on top of the other for more peaceful times in the far future instead of looking at peace in the present. They see future divisions by members of a church as equal to our current division that occured at the very top, between Patriarch and Catholicose. Therefore, its argued, let the cases continue. And indeed, they will continue even after our death. These cases, which are continuing to be filed as each day passes, will be the gift we leave our future generation (which by the way, is growing less and less).
And Mr. Philip Ayyamplackal refers to me as an "angel of peace" in disguise. Mr. ES John writes "Jacobites dragged us to the court". And he goes on to "make a comparison between the British and Antiochians". Interestingly, Fr. KK John's message, on the other hand, views the Patriarch as wanting peace; it's instead a few radicals within Jacobite church who worked against the peace-loving Patriarch. One contradicts the other.
ES John ends with an ultimatum, "Better tell your church hierarchy to get out of our religious places that you illegitimately occupied". Yet, mostly incidents that occur now involve Metran Kashi people doing this very same thing within majority Bava Kashi churches. In fact, I still remember a devout Manarcad church member telling me how the former Catholicose of Orthodox Syrian Church, H.H. Mathews II, declared publicly that he will forcefully enter the Bava-Kashi Manarcad Church. Even the Hindus of the area came to stop this from happening.
And the most comical of all, Mr. ES John ends by saying "There is one more enemy that we have to fight against now, the bishop Gurgan's
crossbreed holy politics". Did he forget who fed and bred this enemy in the first place? The acceptance of the Orthodox Syrian Synod of his un-canonical ordination still baffles me. I see no other reason for doing this but to insight further hatred between our churches.
Fr. KK John wrote a long letter explaining his views on our church disputes. He places most of the blame on one person. He views our former Catholicose, HB Paulosee II, as "saintly". Yet he conveniently forgets many other incidents such as how Thomas Mor Athanasius took the bishop's house from this saintly Catholicose. Very sad stories such as these can be expressed in detail, but then again, our endless cycle of pointing each other's wrongs would continue endlessly.
Mr. Georgy S. Thomas gives a two-part reply. I must commend his section against the Majority Principle, which I, too, generally agree on. He writes that the Jacobite church also disagrees with the Majority principle by quoting its Constitution: "The Syriac Church says it doesn't matter whether parishioners who rebel against it are in a majority in a given parish. They'll have to go out without any claims on any of the assets of the Syriac Church". Therefore, Mr. Thomas' argument is: the Jacobite Church rebelled against the Orthodox Syrian Church, so the Jacobites should therefore go out without any claims on any of the assets of the Orthodox Syrian Church. Plain and simple. This is the way to end our 100+ years of dispute. Let the Jacobite simply leave and form their own churches.
But unfortunately, as I said earlier, this dispute involves the very top, between Patriarch and Catholicose, dividing our churches in half. Asking one half to leave their home churches, their family tombs, etc. to the other half is not a viable option; we both know this. Therefore, according to Mr. Thomas' argument, the solution is between either joining the Orthodox Syrian Church or the court cases continuing. And once again, we return to the very beginning. This argument then follows our reality: the court cases will continue as a gift we leave for our next generation.
I want to end my post with another concept called Causal-Loop Diagram. It's also identified as circular feedback: as different parts of a system affect each other, causes become effects which in turn becomes causes. An example is the war on terrorism in America. Depending on your perspective, either the terrorists or America does something that enrages the other. So, America responds by attacking the terrorists. This causes the terrorists to react with an attack on America. And the cycle continues...
Now, depending on your perspective, either the Orthodox Syrian are the terrorists who first started this cycle or its the Syrian Orthodox Church. On the other hand, this cycle can be interrupted with some sort of Christ-like reaction. Our Lord's command, which He showed with His own actions, calls His followers to do something unusual and un-worldly, such as "forgive" and if "someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well". Now of course, both sides will say that the other should practice this Christian principle. So the cycle continues...
Anyway, going back to Joe George's first post on the possibility for unity, we return there once again. I wonder if this desire we share is ever going to come to fruition. In the meantime, I hope members on both sides can do their part to stop this endless cycle of retaliations. If people speak up instead of blindly following leaders, some change may come about. I, too, should do my part, whatever minute or insignificant I may be, towards this goal. And in the long run, hopefully we can move away from seeing each other as enemies and instead, at minimum, see each other as "sister churches". But this will take time and Christ-like actions on both sides to end the cycle.
Thank you for your inputs and dialogue.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Mr.Joshy Paul
How come you Jacobites do not accept 1935 constituition of MOSC! Your L.L.H.H.Partiarch Yakkob III and all your late Saints in Malankara accepted it in 1958 due to Supreme court verdict. If you do not want to accept the 1935 constituition now, you are free to do it at your own. Then you cannot claim that share of properties/churches on the basis of percentage splitting. That is called simply partition/separation. Unity in Christ and percentage of splitting become useless as you are against unity and Christ.
Your interpretation of Supreme Court vedict is not true as Supreme Court of India itself wanted unity in Malankara Church (between the two factions) which was clearly mentioned in their ruling.
It is not the churches who attend Malankara Association. It is representatives from parish/church attend the Association
Thomas Samuel, Kenya
- Dear Anup,
I had stopped talking or writing about this issue, because the more you speak and talk, the more things seem to get worse.
If we can stop trying to change each others minds, but keep an open mind and approach neutral authorities like court documents and so on, we may atleast start on the slow road to peace.
What I wrote, I wrote from memory as I did not have any references with me, with respect to the Marthomites, suits over common properties like the Seminary took place, and later suits over individual churches.
References regarding common properties are reasonably available, but the judgements over individual churches are difficult to find.
I checked a Marthomite website, it says that through the courts they got 2 churches 100% (Maramon and Kozhencherry) and five churches on a shared basis. Only one church Kottarakara was got on a no-contest basis because the Orthodox did not press their claim.
So except for one church, the Orthodox fought for a number of churches. And whatever the court ordered was obeyed by both parties.
On what principle the courts handed over 7 churches into the complete or partial control of the Marthomites, I do not know. That only the court papers will show.
But in any case, the parties litigated over the parishes and the verdict reached was obeyed by both.
It is also to be remembered that some parishes which had strong protestant influence like Paliakara were ceded over to the Orthodox.
Paliakara was under the vicarship of Kovoor Kathanar, where even itinerant tamil revivalist preachers were allowed to preach. Many of the Orthodox persuasion had left and formed Kattapuram parish. Yet finally Paliakara was ceded to the Orthodox and the Marthomites left and formed a new parish.
So each parish seems to have been ceded on a case by case.
C Suraj Iype
- Thank you for your response Joshy. Your questions are genuine and let me answer it to the best of my knowledge. May be Georgy who did some real research on this will correct me if I am wrong.
1935 was the time a formal constitution was established for the first time in Malankara Church.
The Indian Constitution was Established in 1945.
Does that mean that England can make a new constitution in 2010 and catch a few disgruntled people and occupy a state in India again??
Your other question is how many Churches attended the 1935 association. Does it matter?? No meetings are ever attended by 100 % of people and no candidates ever won with 100 % of votes. It goes by the majority or any such rules allowed in the constitution.
Your next question was about the Jacobite Churches accepting the constitution. If it was not accepted by some Parishes in 1935, it was accepted stretching both hands in 1958. There are "Kalpanas" in the record from the leading Bishops of your side asking all the Churches to accept the constitution. There is "Kalpana" from H.H. the Patriarch accepting the Supreme Court Verdict exhorting you folks to fall in line. Some of your people were still resisting, means they were not even prepared to accept the Bull of the Beloved Patriarch.
We all know why this division had happened. This has nothing to do with faith or spirituality. This has nothing to do with lay folks like you and me. In fact it should not matter to both of us whether Parumala Church belong to our side or whether Manarcadu church belong to your side. Well, it may puff up my ego to say that Parumala Church belong to our side. Other than that we both have nothing to do with ownership of these two famous Churches on our both sides.
Ownership of these Churches may be helping those people on both sides who took religion and litigation as their profession or it may satisfy someone's pride. I do not take any pride in the ownership of those Churches. But, I take pride in St. Gregorios or St. Mary as my intercessor. So, in the final analysis if you are proud about the ownership of a Church it is your flesh who wins. Or if you are proud about the Saint who is interceding for you it is your spirit who wins.
Fighting for ownership might be helping those folks who want to get a commander or chevalier position. 99 percent of the people like you and me are not in that category. The problem is unfortunately we are not organized and therefore, these 1 percent people on the top who assume leadership by hook or crook take advantage of us.
Let us pray for them and I think that's all we can do right now.
- Without going into the intricacies of the conflict between the SOC and the MOC, there is a fundamental issue outlined in this posting on which I am afraid we are running with the hare and hunting with the hound. On the one hand, we hope and pray for recreating the ideal "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic" Church, which we say, has been fragmented on account of human failings. In the same breath, we also say that trans-national authority is anathema to the Orthodox tradition, where each nation has its own Orthodox Church with an independent Head.
If we consider the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic" Church in the Orthodox perspective as comprising all those faithful to the true faith, both living and dead, united in Christ, then organizational unity is neither necessary nor something to be hoped for. Do we ever envisage organizational unity with the Coptic or Armenian Church, even though we are in full communion with them? Why then do we fret so much over the prospect of further earthly organizational division? We should suffer a lot more heartburn when people leave us(like the Marthoma Church did and Pentecostals continue to do)on grounds of faith because that diminishes the strength of the "One Church". Our seeking independence from the Patriarch cannot be on the basis of virulent national patriotism. It has to be a calmly reasoned logic that the SOC is the Church of the Syriac speaking people native to Syria, Iraq and Turkey and their diaspora throughout the globe whereas the MOC is the Church of the Malayalam speaking people native to South India and their diaspora throughout the world. We acknowledge and appreciate the help rendered by the Patriarch of Antioch in our hour of need but as a different people, we need to manage our affairs independently. In this, all of us have to stand united. That our Church is Apostolic in origin is the jewel in our crown; it is not the only reason for being independent. The Russian Orthodox Church, for example, cannot be called Apostolic yet they have their own independent Patriarch and the Byzantine Church does not grudge them that.
It is only in the Roman Catholic Church that their idea of "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic" Church coincides perfectly with organizational unity. Going by the logic of some of the postings on this forum, all RCs outside Rome, our Syro Malabar sect included, are spineless worms having no self-respect etc. because they happily accept a European as their Head. If you look at the Syro Malabar Church, you will realize how wrong that picture is. They are numerically greater, financially stronger and politically far more influential than us. Even at the individual level, they are more aggressive and ruthless than us. No one messes with the Pala and Kanjirapally types. Yet they do not see patriotism as a good enough reason to break with the Vatican because in the RC scheme of things, national boundaries do not matter to the Church.
If some people in Kerala continue to have a fixation with Antioch, we cannot fault them in isolation. Throughout the history of Christianity in Kerala, we have looked to foreigners for inspiration. Has one new doctrine or Christological formulation ever arisen from Kerala? Despite centuries of peaceful practice of the religion, what has been our contribution to the development of doctrinal Christianity? Even if Arius and Nestorius propounded ideas that were later discredited, you cannot deny that they were ORIGINAL. Whether our forefathers experienced any level of intellectual stirring from the Bible or persona of Jesus in those times is doubtful. First the Persians, then the Portuguese Romans, then the Antiochians, then the British Protestants and finally the American Pentecostals - ours has been a story of transfer of loyalties to various foreign ideologies. Chest-thumping patriotism requires to be backed by a lot more originality than temple-shaped church buildings.
- I discovered that a small group of Coptic Orthodox Christians have been meeting and having liturgy once a month in the basement of one of their homes. It was truely a blessing yesterday to join our brothers and sisters who are united with us in Christ and partake in communion with them. They are only 3 families and because my family was the exception from understanding Arabic or Coptic, they brought out the books in English and truely wonderful to follow through prayers and order of St. Basil Liturgy.
We have our Malayalam Orthodox liturgy once every 4 or 5 months when Achen comes from Edmonton.Please pray that we next discover the wonders of the Ethiopian , Armenian and Eritrean Orthodox Christians in this location and we come to open our eyes to see what we have been missing for 2000 years and work together for His glory. Who knows this could open up to development to see without prejudice the differences that led to separation with the Chalcedonian churches?
1.On my thoughts and pain on the situation we ourselves created within the community that shares the same faith and heritage from/in Malankara, My thoughts have been posted many a times in this group this 2001 and not repeating .
- - In IndianOrthodox@yahoogroups.com, George Aramath, Grand Rapids, MI < indianorthodox@...> wrote:
> Our current dispute is far different because it involves the very top hierarchs, between the Patriarch and Catholicos, leading to a split between over one million Orthodox Christians. To equate this division with minor disputes that may come up later in individual churches is unfair.Dear Mr. George Aramath,
Well, here is where you got everything fundamentally wrong. There is absolutely no dispute between the Patriarch and Catholicos. Both these Hierarchs know exactly where they stand and if there was any grey area in their relationship, the Indian Supreme Court in 1958 interpreted the relations to both sides and both sides accepted it. Both sides spent enormous amounts of money to get it interpreted and the judge finally asked your side to pay our legal expenses too. After all those sufferings from your side, our side did not take it out of compassion. Everything was going well thereafter for a while.
Then as you rightly said "A Minor Bishop" started creating trouble in a "Minor" church and he got some fanatics with him who started chanting slogans like "Pettammaye marannalum Anthokyaye marakilla". There is a saying in Malayalam that "You beat your mother, there will be some people who will say you are right".
I have responded to you with some common sense answers to your question hoping that you are genuine. But, in your other mail to Georgy you said it merely reinforced your own belief and ended up where you started in spite of Georgy quoting your own Syrian Church constitution and establishing that this division is unconstitutional. If you are not approaching this issue with an open mind and trying to understand the reasoning of the other side, I think your intervention in the conversation of your opposite side might have helped both you and the people responded to you to sin.
I do understand the arguements your side making about some of the Churches where you are the absolute majority. But, there again you should not try to occupy it illegally and by force and by creating law and order situations.
Our Holy Fathers of today are descendants of the same Holy Fathers who had shown your side the compassion to forgive you what you were ought to pay in 1958. I am sure they will show the same compassion if you want to part ways for whatever reasons.
But, there is a Christian way to do that. Not by pure politicking. It doesn't go very well when your side do politicking on the one side and ask for christianity and compassion on the other side.
- Dear Friends:
Please keep the mission work of our Church and specifically Fort McMurray in your prayers.
On October 28 2011, it is planned that for the first time a priest from our St. Gregorios Mission society will be coming to offer Holy Qurbana. During that weekend it is intended to have different sessions to discuss and learn more of our Orthodox Christian faith.
Fort McMurray is known as largest oil sands reservoir in the world and has people coming to it all over the world, but does not have a regular Orthodox Christian service. (We too moved here from Calgary in 2006. However, we are in the process of transitioning back to Calgary in November.)
My prayer is that the an Orthodox Christian centered community will develop in time in Fort McMurray, moving beyond the walls of culture and language of Coptic, Ethiopia, Russian, Malayalaee etc. with regular service in English and open to all cultures to come and worship as Orthodox Christians.
I used to wonder on St. Gregorios mission: why HG Makarios of blessed memory have had separate mission parishes with Caucasian priests instead of having them as inclusive part of the Malankara Orthodox Church parishes. My fear was that they are seen like the untouchable lower caste parishes for the Nadar community who still hasn't been able to merge fully with the other parishes in spirit and they will grow comfortable to live within their own community.
Living the last 5 years, with perhaps a Malayalam H. Qurbana once every 6 months and not under the regular discipline of priest and Bishop to oversee regularly the spiritual growth of the community, has made me realize and see this happening before my very eyes without knowing what to do in the Malayalee Orthodox community in Fort McMurray.
However, our God works in mysterious ways. When we had our Malankara Orthodox family conference in July, persistence of the few families that it cannot go on continuing like this.
It is my request for your prayers and provide encouragement to Church hierarchy (Not only Indian Orthodox - but others too from Ethiopian, Coptic, Syrian etc.) to support mission parishes in Fort McMurray and other such isolated places in the Orthodox Christian worship and faith of the Church.
George Varghese, Calgary, Canada