An Open Letter to H.H. Moran Mar Ignatius Zakkah I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch.
- H.H. Moran Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas,
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
May it please Your Holiness,
May I take liberty to submit a few lines for the kind consideration of Your Holiness. First of all let me convey Your Holiness that not only the Orthodox Christians of Indian origin, but also the entire Christendom on earth who claim the St. Thomas heritage, succession and tradition, had rejoiced and still rejoice in Your Holiness� kind and marvelous gift of a part of the holy relics of St. Thomas to Late Lamented H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Augen I, Catholicose, in 1965, with the remark that �Indian Church is the right heir of it�. Your Holiness, any Indian Christian would remember this glorious incident with thrilling and bumping feelings only.
Now may I refer to the Order No. 203/70 from the Late H.H. Moran Mar Ignatius Yakub III, Patriarch, which had deepened the Christians across the globe and in particular the entire Indian Christians in deep sorrow and utter confusion. We all would like to hear the approach, direction and decision of Your Holiness about the contents of the above-mentioned order. A large number of faithful are earnestly interested to learn the regards and attitude of Your Holiness to the priesthood of St. Thomas and the throne of St. Thomas. It is our humble and earnest request to Your Holiness to reveal the attitude, policy and teaching of Your Holiness on the subject.
As Your Holiness is well aware that all tensions and problems due to the rifts in the Indian Orthodox Church were over in 1958, when the Supreme Court released the final verdict upon all the cases till then. The Patriarch of Antioch and the Catholicose of the East had accepted mutually and unconditionally. As a result the Malankara Church enjoyed peace and happiness for about 12 years. The advancement in the spiritual and social atmospheres were also tremendous. In 1964 HH Moran Mar Ignatius Yakub III was invited to Kerala as the chief celebrant of the exaltation of HH Moran Mar Baselios Augen I Catholicose. After the order no 203/70, dissident individuals had been secluded themselves from the Mother Church, one after the other and in course of time more joined them, when it was made sure that the Holy See of Antioch would provide encouragement of such moves. It is a painful truth that Your Holiness also consecrated many as the Metropolitans of the dissident faction in spite of the repeated requests from the IOC not to do so. Finally a new name (Malankara Jacobite Church) has been adopted with the blessings and approval from the Holy See of Antioch. When Jacobite Church published special supplements in the local newspapers, in connection with the visit of Your Holiness to Kerala, it was mentioned that St. Thomas is the founder of Indian Church. If Your Holiness agrees with the teaching of Your Holiness� predecessor, how it could be true and binding? Would your Holiness be kind enough to reveal the opinion of Your Holiness regarding the year old faith and tradition in India that St. Thomas had ordained priests and Bishops in India and had entrusted the Sacraments to them and asked to continue, as the other Apostles did in other countries?
As Your Holiness is sure that the present Malankara Jacobite Church had separated themselves from the Indian Orthodox Church in course of time from 1970 onwards, could Your Holiness explain how Your Holiness could exhort for the return of IOC to the �original Church� with repentance. So also would Your Holiness inform what is the meaning in saying that Your Holiness would consider IOC as a brother Church on certain conditions? (Like after withdrawing all court cases against the Jacobite faction etc) And finally in the so-called Mulanthuruthy Synod,Your Holiness had declared the IOC as a Church separated from the �newly formed Jacobite Church�. Will your Holiness please explain how this could be justified? I am sorry to write that Your Holiness did not take initiative to convene a meeting of the entire Church when the Synod at Mulanthuruthy was convened.. So many of us doubt how the decisions of the syonod could be binding and legal to the IOC. It is a truth that no historian could prove that the predecessors of the present Jacobite church were separate from the time of St. Thomas or after the time of the Apostle. All the Orthodox faithful were together until the court cases started in the previous century. And all the initial cases were over by the verdict of Supreme Court in 1958.
May I bring to Your Holiness� memory that Indian Orthodox Church is one of founder members of WCC, where Your Holiness is one of the present eminent Presidents. So also IOC is an inseparable part and parcel of the Oriental Orthodox Church family from its very inception. When Your Holiness visited Kerala, were Your Holiness supposed to take an initiative to visit the Indian Orthodox Church for the re-establishment of peace.. Many were shocked to hear Your Holiness� public announcement that Your Holiness won�t do any favor in the matter. It was a matter of disappointment for thousands who longed to see an act of unity, fraternity and Christian love from the Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
May I inform your Holiness in humbleness that many of us were expecting more tolerance, forgiveness and affection. Still also we do expect for more favorable and sincere attitude from your Holiness based in the love of Lord Jesus. I am sure that Indian Orthodox Church would have welcomed Your Holiness whole heartily if an initiative was boosted from the side of Your Holiness. I have no hesitation to admit that the stand of IOC was also not 100% right. The Church as a whole would admit its mistakes whatever it might be, in the true Christian spirits.
May God Almighty grant long life of happiness, peace and good health to your Holiness. If this letter has irritated your Holiness kindly forgive this sinner. Kindly pray for me and bless me.
With love, prayers and reverence, I have the honor to be the spiritual child of your Holiness,
Jose Kurian Puliyeril, Abu Dhabi