Call for Wisdom - An open letter to the leadership
- May it please Your Holiness, Your Beattitude and Your Grace'.
Blessed Thirumenis, dear Achens and all beloved faithful from both our
churches (MOSC and JOSC)
Even as the leadership and respective office bearers from both churches contemplate on the next moves after the One week debacle at Kolencherry, as if playing a game of chess with the lives of people, first of Kolencherry and that of all the faithful from across the world belonging to both churches, I take this opportunity to share a few thoughts for consideration by both factions.
As a priest from MOSC and as an ecumenist at heart, it was not a pleasant sight for me to see the heads of both churches spend much of their invaluable time at the streets of Kolencherry through the past week, that too with a hunger strike that thankfully lasted within 7 days. Kolencherry became a place of Synod meeting of both churches, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons....Through the past week, honestly, I failed in my attempt to see myself either as an outsider or as an insider, because when I start to see myself as an insider to one church, I could not bear the thought of becoming an outsider to the other church and vice-versa. So, the only platform I could grab at the end was the platform of humanity, of that of a Christian, who is striving to discern a relevant Orthodox spirituality amidst this struggle, and hence an insider to the cause of upholding humanity in this respect. It is from this sincere and humble perspective that I share these thoughts.....
1. Who can solve the dispute?
For a dispute which has not found a solution in the court of law for all these years, I take this opportunity to ask the ecumenical leadership from both factions (clergy and Metropolitans) to come forward and play a meaningful role in bringing about peace and trust between the two churches, rather than taking their own respective sides and being a deception to their ecumenical heart and commitment. Indeed in this respect, I am deeply hurt to see some of them take sides and deny their larger responsibility and calling to humanity. While we look at the dispute, what is at the centre of attention? Is it the court order and its implementation, is it the victory of a particular faction (which is a mirage), is it the show of political
strength in terms of numbers, or more crucially, is it the lives of people from both factions who need to live beside each other after all the decision making by law or church leadership? Are we trying to create an Indo-Pak situation in Kolencherry and all other disputed sites for these our faithful from both churches? I fail in my efforts to consider such an effort, anything close to an Orthodox spirituality or a Christian spirit which basically upholds humanity before the living God. What sort of justice are we talking of amidst such a reality? If we can admit that justice is a word that needs to be mutually respected and upheld, we will stop banking on civilian courts and politicians and find a way to come together and sit around a table and see by all means what it takes to uphold justice for each other, not for oneself. For isn't that what Christ taught us, before you approach the altar of God, go and find peace with your neighbour / your enemy.
2. Is there a place for peace?
Even as we try and talk much about justice in all these disputes, the one reason there has not been even a slightest of progress in all these years has been because of the neglect of peace between both churches. It seems like this word is an alien in the places of worship in Kerala, though liturgically, we seem to be abusing the word so continuously. Is it relevant to the hearts of our faithful from both factions in Kerala? If the answer is yes, then indeed, there needs to be a new definition to it, probably an Orthodox definition of peace that can be contextualised in the situation in Kerala amidst disputes in the name of faith. Or perhaps, we should also call this a mystery that can be actualised, not in this life time....The Orthodoxy I know of, challenges me to put into practice, the Kingdom of God, here and now, through the practices in the Church and outside, only then can
it be called a sacramental life. There cannot be two ways of thinking in this regard and the only way we can sow the seeds of peace for our tomorrow is to act now, particularly in terms of leading our faithful towards dreaming of such a possibility for peace, rather than sowing seeds of hatred and division. The greatest witness of what we do today are our children...and I am worried about our children from both factions, particularly those growing up in Kolencherry and other places of dispute. I cannot but call their circumstances of growth as abusive environments which sow seeds of hatred, rather than nurturing environments, which sow seeds of peace and love.
Hope these humble views of mine are taken in the right spirit.
Yours in Christ