Re: Facts about the establishment of Catholicate of east
- Dear Dr. Leena Mathew,
Thank you for your reply. I do not want to enter into an argument with you but since I am a priest of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India and serve on the full time faculty of a theological institution under Serampore College (University) I take the liberty of responding to your views.
Your statement that affiliating with a Protestant seminary is against our FAITH is highly debatable and I disagree..Serampore University was established by Protestant missionaries but there are many scholars from the Indian Orthodox churches who had contributed to its theological vision and mission. Many leaders of the Orthodox churches have graduated, worked, and still serve in colleges under that university. As I mentioned earlier, I had been part of the Serampore system since 1975 and I am humbled to write that my Orthodox tradition and spirituality have not eroded a bit but enriched by it. There are four students (two of them deacons) of an Indian Orthodox church who are studying in a protestant seminary in South India (Serampore affiliated) where I currently teach. I consider my teaching ministry also as an opportunity to expose our protestant colleagues to the Orthodox faith, tradition, and practices. In other words, we learn from each other and grow in Christian faith giving due respect to the Orthodox tradition. It is high time that the Indian Orthodox churches need to critically look at their "traditions and practices" which were constructed by human beings in their own contexts.
I am fully aware that Protest understanding of Christian faith is different from Orthodox understanding. It is fair to say that there commonalities as well as differences. We need to be aware of the fact that we live in the midst of diversities (our Redeemer was a Jew) and our Indian context multi-religious (predominantly Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsees, and others) and we need to seriously consider contributing to and learning from each other with certain level of humility and openness rather than dwell solely on our differences.
I am curious to know your background and the context from which you send your comments, if you feel comfortable to do so.
Fr. Dr. George Varughese
- Dr.Leena and others interested,
It is not my job to point out your non sequiturs but I wonder how you inferred that I believe "that there won't be any change in policies of an institute as long as it is run by the same sect of people" because I would have thought that it is emphatically clear from my sentence you quoted that "policies do change". What I was merely pointing out was that the nature of the University i.e., ethos remained Protestant. And from your earlier messages I gather that you believe MSOT seminary is "better off being on its own". While I don't entirely agree with that, I believe your opinion stems from the concern over the Protestant nature of University. In the `Kalpana' you quoted in one of your previous messages, HH the Patriarch asked for clarification to Baselios Augen I for "affiliating the Seminary to the Serampore University of Culcutta[sic], which is well known as a protestant university". To me it looks like His Holiness was concerned over the Protestant nature of the University to which a Syriac Orthodox Seminary is affiliated to. And as far as I know their ethos haven't changed.
I thank you for taking the trouble to contact the proper authorities regarding the syllabus and affiliation. Shri Joshy Pauls clarification was similar. Though what I learnt from my own enquiry was that before the BD course commences a foundation course on our faith, liturgy and addenda is taught to the priests-in-training of our church and after completing that they advance to the regular 4 year BD program with a University prescribed syllabus with no dilutions. So, unless you have categorized everything that is being taught at the MSOT seminary as syllabus my information is inaccurate.
The Orthodox seminary was affiliated in 1964 and 38 years have passed since His Holiness asked for clarifications in 1974. I do understand that we were pre occupied with the schism for many years. Surely it is time to think, at least, of a Theological University with Orthodox ethos as a long term goal. You asked, "Who told you that they are not planning it?" Well, do you know if there is any long-term vision of that sort? Usually it has been our practice to announce things we plan to do with a lot of hue and cry and I didn't hear about this one. Maybe I wasn't paying attention when it was being announced. I am well aware of our "achievements" as you put it and I am not criticizing any of it rather I congratulate our HB Thomas I, Catholicose of India, and all the associated people on their steadfastness to bring glory to our Church. But I do hope it didn't come at the cost of our spiritual growth.
Theological studies in India are not easy and the Church has a certain responsibility to make it better. From what I understand MSOT seminary doesn't offer Masters or Doctoral courses. Maybe we can start from there. Maybe my opinion to put Theological University on a higher priority as one of our Church's goals is a minority one and, as you put it, is not one which is passed by the Holy Synod with "two third majorities". But even in a top-down structure like ours I believe the voice of an ordinary faithful do matter and airing opinions on this forum gives me an opportunity to engage in meaningful opinion building process.
Lastly on a personal note, my query whether you were related to me was to make us not "strangers". Though a simple yes or no might have sufficed, I do understand your reservations for giving out personal information even though I gave out my personal information. But being 22 and a student (oops! I did it again: P) makes me relax over my own privacy concerns.
Hope I've been polite, courteous and clear.
Zach George Arapura