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Church feud: Govt. urged to hold referendum

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  • Thomas Daniel
    http://www.thehindu.com/stories/2002031805150300.htm Church feud: Govt. urged to hold referendum By Our Staff Reporter KOTTAYAM, MARCH 17. The feud between the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 18, 2002


      Church feud: Govt. urged to hold referendum

      By Our Staff Reporter

      KOTTAYAM, MARCH 17. The feud between the Catholicos and Patriarchal factions in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, which is expected to take a crucial turn with the separate conventions called by both of them on March 20, appears to be taking a new twist with the latter calling for the intervention of the State Government to hold a referendum so that the two factions, who according to them have reached a point of no return in their efforts to find a way out of the present impasse, could part as two separate Churches.

      Speaking to mediapersons at the St Mary's Jacobite church, Manarcadu, near here today, the Catholicos-designate of the Patriarchal faction, Thomas Mar Dionisious, said his faction, which would accept the directives of the judgment of the courts wholeheartedly, was also committed to abide by the will of the people and the flame of faith handed over to them by generations of faithfuls.

      According to him, the Catholicos faction was giving lopsided importance to only one of the directives given in the judgment, viz. the elections to the Church association, turning a Nelson's eye to other issues. The prime of place given to the `palliyogams' since the apex court had found that the parish churches belonged to the parish members, has been rejected for all practical purposes by the Catholicos faction, he said pointing to the fact that in many of the churches where the Patriarchal faction had majority, the Catholicos faction had steamrolled their electoral process.

      In spite of the repeated statements by the Catholicos to the effect that he would abide by the Supreme Court directive on his relationship with the Patriarch of Antioch, he has failed to issues `kalpanas' to that effect to be read in his churches, so that the directives would form part of the Church tradition, Mar Dionisious said. This was one demand consistently being made by the Patriarchal faction, he added.

      He reiterated his allegations that the present elections were held on the basis of bogus voters' list, that the prime of place given to the palliyogams has been negated, that the electoral process was being held unilaterally without taking the Patriarchal faction into confidence, that the number of churches coming under the 1995 court verdict numbered 1,064 and after removing those belonging to the Simhasana churches, the Knanaya diocese and the like would come to only 913 and not over 1500, as claimed by the Orthodox faction.

      Reacting to a question, the Catholicos-designate alleged that though he did not want to ruffle the feathers of those in authority, it remains a fact that the State Government was already interfering in the Church feud and added that the Patriarchal faction was being discriminated against.

      He alleged that during 1974, when a spurt in the Church feud appeared on the horizon, the then State Government could take a decision in the interest of the majority of the people. He hoped the present Government too would follow the footsteps of the then Government in this regard.

      Markos Mar Coorilos, head of the southern dioceses and working president of the Sathyaviswasa Samrakshana Samithy set up by the Patriarchal faction, rejected the contention that the convention of the faithfuls being organised in Puthenkurisu was an effort to affirm allegiance to a foreign power. In 1653, the faithfuls had assembled there to affirm their allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch against the latinisation efforts by colonial powers. This time too, they would reaffirm their faith in the Patriarch, he said.

      Mar Coorilos said that the essence of Christian faith was its Catholicity and the Supreme Court had accepted the contention that the Patriarch of Antioch was the head of the Universal Syrian Church, of which the Malankara Church was a member. The Catholicos was the chief of this regional Church, he added.

      The move to canonize Vattasseril Mar Dionisious would open a Pandora's Box as the Orthodox Church would be forced to reopen the controversy over the dispute between Patriarch Mar Abdulla and Patriarch Mar Abdul Maseah, since Mar Dionisious was consecrated by Mar Abdulla.

      Thomas Mar Thimothios of Kottayam diocese alleged that the present Church elections had totally failed to ensure grassroots level electoral processes. As such, the present elections can never be held, he alleged.

      The Bishops said they were expecting one lakh faithfuls at Puthenkurisu on March 20 and they would reiterate their faith in the primacy of the Patriarch of Antioch.


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