'First among the Equals': Need for Objective Understanding of our History
- Dear Forum Members
The below is a posting appeared in Indian Orthodox Forum. If I am not
wrong author of this message Fr. John K.K was an active member of
this forum in the beginnings. I think the last post of the Achan
appeared in this forum was related to St. Mary, and it was very
informative. Can the moderators of this forum explain why the Achan's
postings are not appeared in this forum
Aji Thomas David
Kadisa Chruch Kayamkulam
--- In IndianOrthodox@yahoogroups.com, Fr. K. K. John wrote:
This has reference to Mr PK ABraham's mail in Daily Digest#877.
I was determined not to write anything about the factional
conflicts because these discussions render no use nor it is conducive
to unity. No one wants to hear, respect others' views or change, but
only want to insist on one's own point of view. No one is interested
in the real unity rather want the other to come down and surrender saying
good-bye to self-esteem and the belief hitherto held dear.Those who thus
far ventured for unity has been let down by both parties in many ways.
But since a pertinent question has come up, though knowing fully
well that the questions are not meant for clarifications but to induce
interest in a meaningless argument, if however the concern is genuine
perchance, I thought a brief reply would be genuine.
Questions in the digest #877, "Is Catholicos first among the equals?"
Yes, he is. But when the Patriarch, if there is one within the same Church,
is present the Catholicos is second among the equals. In our church thereis
a tradition of honoring the seniority. Seniority based on position, age and
date of ordination. When there are two or more people of the same level, the
one who was ordained first is senior. When there are two or more people of
different positions the one who has the higher rank is the senior. For
example, if a priest aged 70 years and a corepiscopos aged 50
years come together, the latter is senior. In the case of a priest of
40 years and a remban-priest of 35 years, (ordination) the former is
senior. Recently I saw a parish flier inscribed, "His Grace Remban " This
is ignorance, for remban is not a clerical position.
In another case of Muunninmel, there was a remban and two priests. The
priest was senior by ordination but the people in charge of the
affairs opted the remban in the center. Remban claimed he rightly
deserved the center position, they often pretend as bishop. Is it due
to ignorance! The senior priest became unhappy and expressed his ill
feelings in the public meeting that followed. The priest was right but the
unpleasantness could have been avoided. Needless to mention what followed
As I have many times before wrote, all the bishops are equal.
But there is seniority based on age, ordination and administrative
responsibilities. Catholicos is superior to all other bishops.
According to Hudaya Canon "Methropolitho Rabo medneho == the Great
Methran of the East" shall be called Catholicos. Thus canon well accepts
the seniority. Catholicos is not an ordained post but automatic that is
whoever is the "Great."
2, Geographic boundaries of Catholicos, America, Middle East,
etc.According to Hudaya Canon 7:1, Patriarch of Antioch has
jurisdiction over all the East. And the Catholicos has jurisdiction
over all the East except Antioch. When the synod meets, the Catholicos
should be seated at the right side of the Patriarch. Thus the position of
first next only to Patriarch is well settled and no one denies it.
But this is a situation when both the positions work in unison
and since we have basically accepted so in the constitution.
Again, we need to understand that an adherent of the Patriarch of
Antioch wrote the Hudaya Canon, we often consider official law book.
We have been taught and now unnecessarily fight with own kindred based
on the one-sided teachings of the Antiochian fathers. Not that we discredit
them for we hold the doctrines as valid, undefiled and authentic but the
fact is, we have to know that they taught us only what were beneficial to
them. There are many variant facts beyond what we have learned for an
impartial reader. For example the version of Hudaya Canon 7:1, is not found
in the council decisions of Nicea. The corresponding provision is Canon 6
of the Council of Nicea, which is extant, has no mention of a word,"Catholicos"
or the word, "East." Basically Canon 6 of the council deals with the
jurisdiction of Alexandria, not Antioch. Antioch and Rome are mentioned as a
comparison of the custom of the ancient from which we can infer only that
bishop of Antioch certainly had authority over certain region, which the
council did not specify. We attribute it to the East. My inquisitiveness
made me read from different independent authors and all are unanimous
in this aspect. Even if the word, "East" is added, it does not mean Malankara.
East on those days meant, Persia, not Malankara. Historians now agree
that the Latin and Greek versions in use of the said canon are different
from the Antiochian version. "The change in the original text did not happen
by accident; it comes from Antioch and was part of the systemic 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," (Malankara
not included) page 50 "The church of the ancient councils," by Archbishop
Now considering the Hydaya Canon itself valid, the Patriarch has
no jurisdiction in the West. Thus, strictly speaking, neither the Patriarch
nor the Catholicos under him has jurisdiction in America. On the
other hand if the Patriarch claims jurisdiction of the whole universe
on a flimsy decision of a local minority synod I am at a lose to understand
what prevents the Catholicos not to do so. Thus the question of geographical
boundary applies to all, not one alone. If the Patriarch has authority over
the West so does the Catholicos. I do not know any one denomination following
the geographical boundary.
I am also at a lose to understand why certain people completely deny our first
century connection with Syrians, replacing Persia instead of Syria. "There
were Syrian Christians in Kerala from the first century,"
says Dr Mar Aphrem- president of all India church history association in
page 93 of Paurasthya Sabhacharithra Pravesika." After discussing the
relevant early Syrian connection he says, "The question, with which church
the Indian church was in contact is out of place because denominational
differences originated after the Nestorian controversy in AD 431," page 128.
No one until recently had ever contradicted the fact that Persian church was
under the jurisdiction of Antioch. Some others claim, we had east
Syriac not west Syriac etc. Division of Syriac language as East and west took
place well after AD 500. Undoubtedly Christianity flourished in Malankara
well before the said division and hence our connection was essentially
Syrian, not Persian. There are a few who say that the Patriarch is nobody
to Malankara, why we need to respect Patriarch, Catholicos is prelate for
India as Patriarch is for Antioch, etc. These assertions are against the
very constitution, which even the catholicos and SC have conceded. These
attitudes are surely detrimental to unity. On the other hand certain quarters
think the concept of an independent Indian Church a heresy. Both views are at
loggerheads. If it is a heresy the Synod of Ephesus conceded this heresy. The
Church of Cyprus was granted independence from Antioch in that council. Church
of Armenia was granted independence from Antioch, of course not willingly but
due to necessity of circumstances. Church of Ethiopia became independent of
Alexandria, etc. While we concede their independence and considering them
bonafide members of Oriental family without attaching any blemishes on their
apostolic succession, why our Indian Church is denied that minimum status?
History shows that no church or no nation has fully developed under a foreign
yoke. We ought to be thankful to our honored tradition and indebtedness to the
apostolic connection to Antioch and keeping it unhindered we ought to be
independent. Seeking independence is in no way ingratitude to our tradition.
--- End forwarded message ---
From the Desk of Moderators
Rev. Fr. John K.K is still in our mailing list. We the moderators not
rejected or deleted any of his messages. We think he himself keeping distance
from this forum.
As Mr. Aji stated he was an active member of this from in the early days
and defend the Universal Church with all his resource. We hope & pray he
still affirm on his faith and work for the Church.