A Pathetic Attempt to Teach Some Sabhacharithram
- Dear All,
The following is a portion of lucture published in an IOC forum by a Cross-jumper priest from Jacobite Church. This priest tries to teach some Church history to an IOC fanatic!
Antioch, Persia and Arch deacon Mr. Thomas says that since the Kaldaya church first elevated the priests to "arch deacons" before consecrating them as bishops that is the correct procedure followed in the ancient in bishop consecrations. He further says it is evidence
that the ancient Malankara Church was affiliated with Persian church, not under Church of Antioch and that "the position known as arch deacon is not heard of in that church."
I wonder from where Mr. Thomas learned this. (a) By justifying the procedure followed by Kaldaya church, Mr. Thomas is claiming that what they do is the correct system of the ancient and that the Malankara church from its inception was Kaldaya in faith. (b) He is seeing Persian church and Church of Antioch as two different churches.
The fact is: Church of Antioch is considered mother of all Christendom for the followers of Christ were called Christians for the first time "Christians" Acts 11:26. Attributing this honor to any other church is against the very truth. By claiming that Malankara was under Persia does not mitigate the presence or influence of the Church of Antioch. According to Nicene and Constantinople councils, there are only four patriarchs for four regions; bishop of Rome, bishop of Alexandria, bishop of Antioch and bishop of Constantinople and fifth honorary bishop of Jerusalem. So when we claim that we believe in three universal synods (Tubden 5), we agree the doctrinal and administrative arrangements made therein.
Nicene Canon 6 deals with privileges and prerogatives of bishops whom the council recognized regarding the control of the election of bishops. In other words it does not confer control of internal administrative affairs of a diocese. The following is quoted from "The Church of the Ancient Councils" written by Archbishop Peter L'Huillier, Prof Canon Law, OCA. It reads, "Let the ancient custom be maintained in Egypt, in Libya and in Pentapolis so that the bishop of Alexandria has authority over all these territories, since the bishop
of Rome there is a similar practice and the same thing concerning Antioch; and in other provinces, let the prerogatives of the churches (of the capitals) be safeguarded," (straight translation from Greek original) page 45. While the names of territories under the authority of Alexandria are recorded, neither in the Latin RC version nor in Greek version names of territories under the authority of Rome or Antioch is given. The reason is obvious; the council was disposing a question about the authority of Alexandria. Rome and Antioch are mentioned simply for the sake of comparison. Arch bishop Peter comments, "It seems probable, therefore, that the bishop of Antioch, by virtue of ancient customs, confirmed the election of bishops of a certain number of sees beyond the limits of Coelosyria," page 48. "The term indicated normally the pre-eminence of one Episcopal see over others," page 49. "It comes from Antioch and was part of the systematic effort of the bishops of that city, from the end of fourth century on, to control the election of metropolitans in the whole diocese of the east," page 50. "Moreover, some years after the first ecumenical council, the fathers of Antioch promulgated an ordinance taking up again the ruling of canon 4 and 6 of Nicea," page 51. "From the end of fourth century on, this interpretation was admitted by everyone. At the beginning of the following century, Pope Innocent took this canon as the basis of the efforts of the see of Antioch to assure to itself the control of the whole diocese of the East," page
51-52." This is confirmed in Hudaya Canon 7:1. Nowhere except in the Hudaya canon I have come across the title, "Catholicos" or "Great Bishop. Therefore I surmise that these titles including "Patriarch, Pope" etc are derived later. Catholicos of the East is within the spiritual jurisdiction of the bishop of Antioch, because he is one of the four as defined by Nicene Council. Contradicting and denying the historical facts for the sake of claiming independence is not logical or admissible for an impartial learner. Note: I preferred a quote from OCA source not to entail partiality; the author is not involved in the Malankara dispute.
In the 6th century a portion of the Church of Persia fell to Nestore, but still there were followers of true faith. Patriarch of Antioch then consecrated Mor Morutho as "Mapriono/Catholicos." From then on, the church of Persia had both Nestorian and Anthiocian followers. The Syriac language also was divided into east and west with slight differences in pronunciation. Both of them came to Malankara and gathered followers according to their convenience. Because both of
them had common dress code and language, our innocent and ignorant forefathers could not differentiate them and accepted both. Absence of an effective and strong leadership of the rank of episcopo is well evident. This situation continued until a Mapriono from Jerusalem of the Church of Antioch came here for permanent stay. Thus Persian influence does not negate the spiritual superiority of Antioch.
Arch deacon is the same "Arkadyakon" mentioned in the Hudaya Canon chapter 7 clause 6 under the heading, "Kuriako Patriarko." (1) "Arkadyakon is the chief of deacons." (2) "A deacon is made Arkadyakon not ordained by laying of hands but by giving sthathikon," sub-clause 5. The said clause also defines the duties of Arkadyakon; (3) "Arkadyakon manages the affairs of the madbaho. (4) When episcopo is present he shall read Catholiki and epistle from Sleeho. (5) He determines who should conduct sermon, or read the portions. (6) He shall decide the mode of punishment in case of disputes among the clergies. (7) Each episcopo shall have one Arkadyakon as his assistant, who shall be wise, dexterous in serving and committed to the welfare of foreigners and poor people. (8) He shall be the head of the deacons (Rees-samsono). (9) He shall arrange seats for the priests and distribute books to Koruyo and ask them to read. (10) He shall act as assistant and mouth-piece of the episcopo." If the Arkadyakon or Arch deacon (English) position is not known to Antioch how his duties are well written in the book of Canon?
It is true that the Malankara Church has certain issues with the present and most recent past patriarchs. My sincere prayer and hope is that these issues could be resolved if and when a reasonably thoughtful patriarch assumes office. But Malankara leadership also has a strong part to play namely; they ought to teach the right thing instead of cooking up stories and shifting allegiance to churches other than Antioch that inflame hatred among the members of the opposite faction. Not one foreigner is better than the other; all were competing to subjugate Indian people and their customs as and when they got opportunity. I do not envisage that we have any issue with the Church of Antioch; except that the leadership is not until now rising against division, above short term benefits and stopping the colonizing attitude. Church independence is conceived only in the sphere of administration especially on temporal matters.