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MOSC Faces Identity Crisis

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  • Paul Joshy
    Dear moderators Malankara Orthodox Church (IOC) is going to celebrate the centenary of the (re)establishment of the Catholicate in Malankara on Nov 25. At this
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 23, 2012
      Dear moderators

      Malankara Orthodox Church (IOC) is going to celebrate the centenary of the (re)establishment of the Catholicate in Malankara on Nov 25. At this moment it very clear that MOSC is facing a serious identity crisis, not for the first time but at crucial moment. Few decades back it had members around one forth of legislators from the Conress/UDF in the Kerala Assembly, but today none. Similarly among the bureaucracy the diktats from Devalaokam were pursued according to the intensity and timing of the issue, but today bureaucrats are not hearing “properly” what Devalokam Catholica says to them particularly the IOC members.

      The most recent issue regarding the identity crisis is regarding the
      question of using Syrian along with the Church. On the one hand Devalokam Catholica himself claims that he is the supreme head of the Syrian Church ( This claim was actually emanated from the (dis)belief that the current crisis in Syria will exterminate the Patriarchate of Anthioc from the earth so that Devalokam Catholica can claim that position now onwards!). On the other hand messages are pouring in of various orthodox forums that Malankara Sabha should remove officially the word “Syrian” from the Church’s name.

      In fact the crisis is related not just using a word “Syrian” but of
      heredity, liturgy, lineage and status. Without Syrian lineage MOSC cannot claim it’s so called upper cast status among the Christian community of Kerala, at the same time its considered as a baggage of “Syrian Colonialism” in Malankara . One comment in an IOC forum was that “Many of our friends join together to eradicate the Syriac words from our liturgy and to drop `Syrian' from our name. If that is the case, the names of our metropolitans also shall be questioned; all the Greco-Syrian names shall be removed. Even our foreign names like Daniel, Jacob, Paulose, Thomas etc also to be changed and local names to be assumed”.

      Secondly, MOSC claims during the pre-Coonan Cross period that it had
      followed East Syrian liturgy, but today it can’t reactivate the East Syrian liturgy in Malankara, rather following the same Anthiochian liturgy while disparaging Antioch.

      Thirdly, it is regarding question of regional church or a country/global church. Syriac Church of Antioch is known as universal Syrian church, because it has members in Iraq, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and India, apart from Syria and follows the same liturgy and oneness. But for MOSC it claims regional based global church so that how should it be addressed.

      Fourthly, for the last 100 years MOSC has failed to give clear and
      reasonable explanation as to why a Catholicate was established in Malankara in 1912. The only reason it gives that the then Patriarch of Antioch HH Adbulla II was greedy and power monger. But the same Vattasseril Thirumeni got ordained from the same Patriarch and when HH Abdul Mishiah Patriarch was dethroned in 1906, Malankara Church accepted the decision of the Synod which decided to remove HH Abdul Mishiah and ordain Adbulla II as Patriarch of Antioch. And the problem in Malankara was not at all related to the developments in Mardeen (between Adbulla II and Abdul Mishiah) but was purely local. Then why a dethroned Patriarch or “Valiya Bawa” was invited to Malankara?

      Fifthly, Even if considered as the establishment of the Catholicate in 1912 is a legitimate one, then how it will become an independent Catholicate because in any way HH Abdul Mishiah was a Patriarch Antioch. So naturally it is a part of the mother Church as the head of the church has given the authority to Malankara rather than emerged naturally , independently or created newly.

      Sixthly, today there are three Catholicose in Malankara, Reeth, Orthodox and Jacobite, so how can Orthodox Catholica be distinguished from the other two because they are under Rome and Antioch. So the confusion is whether Devalokam Catholica is just a Catholica or a Catholicose-Patriarch.

      In this regard, MOSC can celebrate 100th anniversary of the Catholicate but will face the identity problem for long period.

      Joshy Paul
      New Delhi
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