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Re: An Indian Patriarch of Anthioc

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  • drthomas_joseph
    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
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 11, 2002
      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
      fifteen days.

      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
      Dear Members

      This will be the last posting on this particular subject.
      No further posting will be approved on this subject.
      Thanks for your participation
      Forum Moderator
    • Athanickal, Johnkutty
      Dear Shibu 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
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 11, 2002

        Dear Shibu
        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
        eternal salvation.�

        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.

        Fr. Athanickal

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