Re: An Indian Patriarch of Anthioc
- This issue is being raised here not with bonafide intentions but to
sow discord. Neverthless, I will answer it because it is a question
that has come up even among members of the Patriarchal faction and
will continue to come up.
Here are some excerpts from the constitution of the Syriac Orthodox
Church (applying to the Church in the Middle East and its diaspora)
approved at the Holy Synod of September 22-26, 1998,
Article 32 The Patriarchal Assistant and Patriarchal Vicar must
telegraph His Beatitude the Catholicos and the Metropolitans in order
to select a Metropolitan to act as a Patriarchal Locum Tenens.
Article 37 The Patriarchal Locum Tenens will summon His Beatitude the
Catholicos and the Metropolitans, who are members of the Holy
Synod, to elect the new Patriarch within a period not to exceed
Article 40 His Beatitude the Catholicos, the Metropolitan of the
Knanaya Archdiocese, the Metropolitans of the churches of the
Antiochian Apostolic See in India, and the Metropolitan of North
America of the Malankara Archdiocese will participate in electing the
Patriarch, but may not be elected.
Thus, even though the Catholicos has a position of pre-eminence at
the election of the Patriarch, it is true that a metropolitan from
Malankara cannot be elected Patriarch. There are good reasons for the
1. The Patriarch is a spiritual and temporal head of the church in
the Middle East. He is only a spiritual head of the church in India;
even the Patriarch faction (for all the noises we make) will not go
very far in giving the Patriarch any real temporal authority (and I
must add that I agree with that since I think if anything it
diminishes that position). Just as we do not want a person outside
our culture and not resident among us, even if he be the Patriarch,
to exercise full temporal authority over us and be involved in day to
day administration, we cannot expect Syriac Christians in the Middle
East to accept the temporal authority of an outsider. In an Islamic
society where the Christians are reduced to the status of "dhimmis"
and governed by laws exclusive to each community, the leadership of
their community is a matter of survival for them. In the Ottoman
Sultanate, the Patriarch was the secular head of the "millet" and was
at a time even responsible for collecting taxes, answerable for
crimes committed by any member of his community, etc. In some
countries like Syria, the situation is much better today, but in
Turkey, which the true roots of the Church lie, the situation is no
2. Even today, almost 30 years after the last resident Syriac bishop
left India, many Malankara Syrian Christians (of course predominantly
in the Patriarchal faction) regard our association with the Syriac
Orthodox Church in the Middle East as sacred. This is primarily due
to the sacrifices made by generations of bishops from that church for
our sake over the centuries. Many became part of our soil and
gratitude to their spiritual ministry is ingrained in many of us
(Please note that I am not including here those in the Catholicos
faction and so no arguments over this please!). The people in the
Middle East (besides the monks and bishops who went to Malankara)
never had an opportunity to develop a similar bond with the Malankara
Church. The reason is obvious; there was never one instance where a
bishop or monk or priest or layman went to the Middle East to
minister to their souls or assist them in the time of their need.
There was no dearth of opportunity over centuries of their history!
At the turn of the century when hundreds of thousands of Syriac
Christians were brutally massacred and the oppression of the Ottoman
empire was at its peak, we were busy fishing in troubled waters
and "transferring the Catholicate" to India and fighting with each
other over it. In 1970s when Islamic fanatics were oppressing Syriac
Christians forcing them into a mass exodus to the West, we were
expelling the last vestiges of Syriac presence among us. It never
occured to our ancestors and to us that our fellow Christians were
suffering and that they could use help, spiritual or otherwise. So
why would one expect them to accept someone from Malankara today in
no less a position than the Patriarch?
In order that the candidacy for the Patriarchate be open to any
person regardless of ethnic origin, it would be important for the
position to be exclusively one of spiritual authority whether in the
Middle East or Malankara. The day to day administration would have to
be vested in "Maphryonos", meaning that one or more Maphryonos should
be appointed for the Middle East, its diaspora, etc., in addition to
one or more Maphryonos (from a historical perspective, erroneously
called Catholicos) in Malankara and its dispora.
But I truly wonder whether I personally would want to see one from
among our fractious community that produced one saint in 2000 years
to occupy that exalted position.
PS: The Alexandrian Christological tradition is merely one aspect of
the theological position of the Oriental church. Let us not pull wool
over anybody's eyes here; the Church in Malankara from its earliest
days was deeply rooted in the Syriac tradition whether Eastern or
This will be the last posting on this particular subject.
No further posting will be approved on this subject.
Thanks for your participation
I am intertested in this conversation. Regarding your question of
wedding rings, what I think is, it is primarily a ritual and it started
as a riual and the theological and biblical meaning later followed.� All
rituals and its careful observation gives meaning to human life.� Though
we live a world of scientic advancement, technological progress and
theological speculations, it will never give human kind complete
happiness, even if happiness� defined or interpreted in physical terms.
The happiness of the mind and the fulfillment of spiritual desires make
him/she in the process of achieving complete humanity and also for an
Ritual plays a prominent part in the making of religion.� I don't want
to enter in the theological meaning of wedding rings, as it was discussd
already.� Regarding your question of priest exchnging wedding rings and
the tieng wedding knot by the bridegroom, both give different meaning.
The divine presence is officiated by the priest in the exchanging of
rings and the human promise and the desire and willingness of a just
family life is undermined in the wedding knot.� That is, when someone
looks at his wife's wedding ring the first impression is the God's
mediatorship or divine intervention in their family life and seeing the
wedding knot implies that it is his sole effort or promise for
covenental life in the sociectal or community life.�� Both the cases
reflects that married life is sacred and it is performed in a sacred
More over it is a custom adopted from the Hindus in Kerala, means that
we are no longer a different community, but one among them in a multi
diaspora.� And now it is an accoustomed custom and there is a difficulty
in getting it changed now.� And the Christian traditions differ from
countries to country and denomination from denomination in all the
rituals. No matter what we do in our daily life is none other than
ritual, and we simply call it as habit.� But everything gives
satisfaction and meaning to our life.