കേരളത്തിലെ റോമോ സുറിയാനികളും മലങ്കര സഭാ തർക്കവും

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എഡിറ്റർ –  TMUNT

കേരളത്തിലെ റോമോ സുറിയാനി ക്രിസ്ത്യാനി വിഭാഗങ്ങളായ സീറോ മലബാർ, സീറോ മലങ്കര സഭ നേതൃത്വതോടും, അൽമായ   ഗണതോടും മലങ്കര സഭയിലെ വ്യവഹാരങ്ങൾ നടക്കുന്ന പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിൽ ചില കാര്യങ്ങൾ  സൂചിപ്പിച്ചുകൊള്ളട്ടെ. 

ഒന്നാമത് തന്നെ ഇത് നിങ്ങളുടെ സഭയുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട ഒരു തർക്കം അല്ല. ഇത് മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ ആഭ്യന്തര പ്രശ്നം ആണ്. അതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ നിങ്ങൾക്ക് ഈ തർക്കവുമായി യാതൊരു തരത്തിലുള്ള ബന്ധവുമില്ല.

മലങ്കര സഭാ നേതൃത്വം  റോമോ സുറിയാനികളെ മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ ആഭ്യന്തരകാര്യങ്ങളിൽ ഇടപെടാൻ ക്ഷണിച്ചിട്ടില്ല.

മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ വ്യവഹാരങ്ങൾ പരിഹരിക്കപ്പെടാൻ ഈ രാജ്യത്ത് ഒരു  നിയമ വ്യവസ്ഥിതി ഉണ്ട്. അതനുസരിച്ച് മലങ്കരസഭ ആ കാര്യങ്ങൾ കൈകാര്യം ചെയ്തുകൊള്ളും.  റോമോ സുറിയാനി സഭകളുടെ സഹായം മലങ്കര സഭയ്ക്ക് ആവശ്യം ഉണ്ടെന്നു തോന്നുന്നില്ല.

മർത്തോമ ഒന്നാമൻഎയും, അതുപോലെ മലങ്കര സഭയെ മുഴുവൻ ചതിച്ച പാരമ്പര്യമുള്ള  പറമ്പിൽ ചാണ്ടി, ആർച്ചുബിഷപ്പ് ഇവാനിയോസ്  എന്നിവരുടെ പിന്തുടർച്ചക്കാർ ആയിട്ടുള്ള ആളുകളുടെ സഹായം സഭയ്ക്ക് ആവശ്യമില്ല.

ഒരുവശത്ത് കള്ളത്തരത്തിൽ കൂടെ ചരിത്രം സൃഷ്ടിക്കുകയും ഇല്ലാത്ത പാരമ്പര്യങ്ങൾ അവകാശപ്പെടുകയും,  മറ്റൊരുവശത്ത് മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ പാരമ്പര്യത്തെ നശിപ്പിച്ചു കളയാൻ ചെയ്യുന്ന കാര്യങ്ങളെ മലങ്കര നസ്രാണികൾ ശക്തമായി തിരിച്ചറിഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്. കുറച്ചുനാൾമുമ്പ് കുറവലങ്ങാട് റോമോ സുറിയാനികൾ നടത്തിയ സമ്മേളനം ഇതിന് ഒരു ചെറിയ ഉദാഹരണം മാത്രം.

മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ തലവനായ മലങ്കര മെത്രാപ്പോലീത്തയുടെ കാനോനിക സ്ഥാന നാമങ്ങളെ  അവഹേളിക്കുന്ന റോമോ സുറിയാനി കളുടെ  കള്ളത്തരങ്ങൾ ഞങ്ങൾ കാണുന്നില്ല എന്ന് നിങ്ങൾ വിചാരിക്കരുത്.

ഇതു കൂടാതെ യാതൊരു ഉളുപ്പുമില്ലാതെ  വിശുദ്ധ തോമാശ്ലീഹായുടെ സിംഹാസനവും മലങ്കര മെത്രാപ്പോലീത്തയുടെ സ്ഥാന നാമങ്ങൾ തങ്ങളുടെ പിതാക്കന്മാരുടെ ആണെന്ന് അവകാശപ്പെടുന്ന റോമോ സുറിയാനികളെ ഓർത്തു ഞങ്ങൾ ലജ്ജിക്കുന്നു. റോമോ സഭയിൽ ഉള്ളത് ഒരു സിംഹാസനം  ആണ്.  അത് പത്രോസിനെ സിംഹാസനം ആണ്.  അതിൽ  ഇരിക്കുന്നത് പരിശുദ്ധ മാർപാപ്പയാണ്.  ഇതുകൂടാതെ പല സിംഹാസനങ്ങൾ റോമാ സഭയിൽ ഉണ്ടെന്നുള്ള വാദം റോമോ സുറിയാനികൾ ലോകത്തിനു കൊടുക്കുന്ന പുതിയ അറിവായിരിക്കും. കേരളത്തിലെ റോമോ സുറിയാനികൾ നടത്തുന്ന ചില ബാലിശമായ വാദങ്ങൾ  മാത്രമാണിത്. 

ഏറ്റവും വലിയ തമാശ ഇതൊന്നുമല്ല, സീറോ മലബാർ മേജർ ആർച്ചുബിഷപ്പ് ആണോ  അതോ സീറോ മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ മേജർ ആർച്ചുബിഷപ്പ് ആണോ മാർ തോമാശ്ലീഹായുടെ സിംഹാസനത്തിന് അവകാശി എന്നുള്ളത് അവർ തമ്മിൽ ഇതുവരെ തീരുമാനമായിട്ടില്ല. രണ്ടുകൂട്ടരും ഘോരഘോരം സിംഹാസനത്തിന്  അവകാശവാദമുന്നയിക്കുന്നു ഉണ്ട്.

ഒരു വശത്തുകൂടി എക്യുമിനിക്കൽ ബന്ധങ്ങൾ ഊഷ്മളമാക്കാൻ നിങ്ങൾ ആഹ്വാനം ചെയ്യുകയും, മറ്റൊരു വശത്ത് കൂടി റോമാ സഭയോ, മാർപാപ്പയോ നിങ്ങൾക്ക് തരാത്ത സിംഹാസനങ്ങൾ നിങ്ങളുടേത് ആണെന്ന് അവകാശപ്പെടുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന ഇരട്ടത്താപ്പു ഞങ്ങൾക്ക് തീർച്ചയായും മനസ്സിലാകും.

മലങ്കര സഭയ്ക്ക് മാത്രം അവകാശപ്പെട്ട, കാനോനികവും അപ്പോസ്തോലികവുമായ സിംഹാസനം കൈക്കലാക്കാനുള്ള നിങ്ങളുടെ  വങ്കത്തരം സാമാന്യ  ബോധം ഉള്ള ഏതൊരു മലങ്കര നസ്റാണിക്കും മനസ്സിലാകും.

പറമ്പിൽ ചാണ്ടിയുടെ കാലഘട്ടത്തിൽ പിടിച്ചുപറിച്ചുo ഇവാനിയോസിന് കാലഘട്ടത്തിൽ പാൽപ്പൊടി  കൊടുത്തുo വേണ്ടുവോളം ആളുകളെയും വസ്തുക്കളെയും മലങ്കര സഭയിൽ നിന്ന് അടർത്തിമാറ്റി ഇല്ലേ?  ഇവാനിയോസിന് കാലത്തിനു ശേഷവും, മലങ്കര കത്തോലിക്കാ  റീത്ത്  എത്രയോ മലങ്കരസഭ വിശ്വാസികളെ പണവും ജോലിയും നൽകി കൊണ്ടുപോയിരിക്കുന്നു.

ഇതുകൂടാതെ 2017, 150 ഓളം ആളുകളെ മലങ്കര, തൊഴിയൂർ സഭകളിൽ നിന്ന് നിങ്ങൾ റീത്ത് പ്രസ്ഥാനത്തിലേക്ക് അടർത്തിമാറ്റി ഇല്ലേ?  ഇത് ചോദ്യം ചെയ്യാത്തത് മലങ്കരസഭയുടെ ദൗർബല്യമായി നിങ്ങൾ  കരുതരുത്. വത്തിക്കാനും മാർപാപ്പയും റീത്ത് പ്രസ്ഥാനങ്ങളെ പറ്റി പറഞ്ഞ കാര്യങ്ങളെ കാറ്റിൽപറത്തി കൊണ്ടല്ലേ നിങ്ങൾ ഈ തോന്നിവാസം ചെയ്തുകൂട്ടുന്നത്? 

ഫ്രാൻസിസ് മാർപാപ്പ  പ്രസ്ഥാനങ്ങളിലൂടെ  റീത്തു കളിലൂടെ അല്ല ഇനിയുള്ള കാലഘട്ടം നടക്കേണ്ടത് എന്ന് വളരെ വ്യക്തമായി പറഞ്ഞിരിക്കുന്ന ഈ  കാലയളവിൽ നിങ്ങൾ ചെയ്യുന്ന ഇങ്ങനുള്ള പ്രവർത്തികളെ എന്തായിട്ടാണ് കരുതേണ്ടത്? 

റോമാ സഭയുടെ സമ്പത്ത് കണ്ട് അതിലേക്ക് ഓടിപ്പോയി ചേക്കേറുകയും, സമ്പത്ത് കൊണ്ടല്ല മലങ്കര സഭ തർക്കം കൊണ്ടാണ് ഞങ്ങൾ   റോമാ സഭയിലേക്ക് പോയതെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞു പരത്തുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന വിഭാഗം, മലങ്കര സഭയിലെ തർക്കം പരിഹരിക്കണമെന്ന് ഉണ്ടെങ്കിൽ ആദ്യം മാതൃ  മലങ്കര സഭയിലേക്ക് തിരിച്ചുവരിക, എന്നിട്ട് നമുക്ക് ബാക്കി കാര്യങ്ങൾ ചർച്ച ചെയ്യാം.

എല്ലാ വ്യക്തിഗത  റീത്ത് സഭകളിലും ചെറുതോ വലുതോ ആയ ആഭ്യന്തര  പ്രശ്നങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ട്.  ആ പ്രശ്നങ്ങൾക്ക് പരിഹാരം കണ്ടിട്ട് പോരെ മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ പ്രശ്നങ്ങൾ പരിഹരിക്കാൻ വരുന്നത്?

 എക്യുമെനിസം എന്ന ഇരട്ടത്താപ്പിനെ പേരിൽ നിങ്ങൾ ആഹ്വാനം ചെയ്യുന്ന സമാധാനം മലങ്കര സഭയ്ക്ക് ആവശ്യമില്ല.

ഇത് മർത്തോമാ സഭയ്ക്കും ബാധകമാണ്. നിങ്ങളുടെ മാർത്തോമ്മാ മെത്രാപ്പോലീത്തായെ  നിലക്ക് നിർത്തി,നിങ്ങളുടെ ആഭ്യന്തരപ്രശ്നങ്ങൾ ഒക്കെ തീർത്തു, മണ്ഡലം തിരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പ്  ഒക്കെ  നടത്തിയിട്ടു പോരെ മലങ്കര സഭയെ ‘ഗ്രേസ്’ പഠിപ്പിക്കാൻ വരുന്നത്. 

സീറോ മലബാർ സഭയുടെയോ സീറോ മലങ്കര സഭയുടെയോ ആഭ്യന്തരകാര്യങ്ങളിൽ ഒരുകാലത്തും മലങ്കരസഭ ഇടപെടാൻ വന്നിട്ടില്ല.

കർദിനാൾ ആലഞ്ചേരി വിഷയത്തിലോ, കൽദായ സുറിയാനി കാരും ലത്തീൻ സുറിയാനി കാരും  തമ്മിലുള്ള തർക്ക വിഷയങ്ങളിലൊന്നും തന്നെ മലങ്കര സഭ ഔദ്യോഗികമായി  ഇടപെട്ടിട്ടില്ല. 

നേരെ മറിച്ച് നിങ്ങളുടെ മേജർ ആർച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ്മാർ മലങ്കര സഭയിലെ വിഘടിത വിഭാഗത്തിന്  അവരുടേതായി ട്ടുള്ള  കൂറും, സഹായവും  പ്രഖ്യാപിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട് . ഇതിനുള്ള നന്ദി പരിശുദ്ധ പാത്രിയർക്കീസ് ബാവ ഒമാനിൽ വെച്ച് നടന്ന സിനഡിൽ പ്രത്യേകം എടുത്തു പറയുകയും ചെയ്തു. 

റോമോ സുറിയാനി കളുടെ ഇത്തരത്തിലുള്ള ഇടപെടലുകൾ വ്യക്തമായിട്ടുള്ള അജണ്ട  വെച്ചു കൊണ്ടുള്ളതാണ്. പക്ഷേ ഇത് പറമ്പിൽ ചാണ്ടി, ആർച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് ഇവാനിയോസ് എന്നിവരുടെ  കാലഘട്ടമല്ല എന്നുള്ളത് റോമോ സുറിയാനികൾ തിരിച്ചറിയേണ്ടതാണ്.

അന്ത്യോക്യൻ  പാത്രിയർക്കീസ്നോ,  സുറിയാനി സഭക്കോ,  മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ ആഭ്യന്തരകാര്യങ്ങളിൽ യാതൊരു അധികാരങ്ങളും ഇല്ലെന്ന് സുപ്രീംകോടതി  വിധിച്ചിരിക്കുന്ന അവസരത്തിലാണ്,  റോമോ സുറിയാനികൾ  അന്ത്യോക്യൻ പാത്രിയർക്കീസിനെ പിന്താങ്ങുന്ന  മലങ്കര സഭയിലെ  വിഘടിത   വിഭാഗത്തിന് താങ്ങും തണലുമായി എത്തിയിട്ടുള്ളത്.  തനത് ദേശീയ സഭയായ മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ നാശം കണ്ടാൽ മാത്രമേ അതിൻറെ പാരമ്പര്യങ്ങൾ കൊളോണിയൽ സഭാ വിഭാഗങ്ങളായ റോമോസുറിയാനികൾക്ക് തട്ടിയെടുക്കാനും,  ഒപ്പം അവകാശപ്പെടാനും സാധിക്കുകയുള്ളൂ.  

കർദിനാൾ ആലഞ്ചേരി വിഷയത്തിൽ  സമാധാനം കാണാൻ പ്രാർത്ഥന ആഹ്വാനം നടത്തിയ മേജർ ആർച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് കർദ്ദിനാൾ ക്ലീമീസ്ന് ഉള്ള മറുപടി സീറോമലബാർ ചുണക്കുട്ടികൾ സോഷ്യൽ മീഡിയ വഴി കൊടുത്ത് ഞങ്ങൾ കണ്ടതാണ്.

വിഘടിത വിഭാഗ നേതൃത്വം അവരുടെ നിലനിൽപ്പിനെ ഭാഗമായിട്ട് റോമോ സുറിയാനി കളുടെയും മറ്റു സഭകളുടെയും സഹായം അഭ്യർത്ഥിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്. എന്നാൽ മലങ്കരസഭ നിങ്ങളുടെ ആരുടെയും ഒരു സഹായവും അഭ്യർത്ഥിച്ചിട്ടില്ല.

വിഘടിത വിഭാഗത്തോടുള്ള ഉള്ള നന്ദിയോ അല്ലെങ്കിൽ മറ്റേതെങ്കിലും തരത്തിലുള്ള സ്നേഹം കൊണ്ടാണ് നിങ്ങൾ അവരെ ഔദ്യോഗികമായി പിന്താങ്ങുന്നു എന്നത്  മലങ്കരസഭ വിശ്വസിക്കുന്നില്ല. 

അങ്ങനെയായിരുന്നെങ്കിൽ  ചർച്ച് ആക്ട് ഉയർത്തിക്കൊണ്ടു വന്നപ്പോൾ വിഘടിത വിഭാഗത്തെ നിങ്ങൾ എന്തുകൊണ്ട്  പിന്താങ്ങി ഇല്ല?

ചർച്ച് ആക്ട് ഒരു വിഷസർപ്പം ആയി നിങ്ങളിലേക്ക് തന്നെ ചീറിയടിക്കുന്ന നിങ്ങൾ കണ്ടു. അത് നിങ്ങൾക്ക് തന്നെ വിനയായി തീരും എന്ന് മനസ്സിലാക്കിയ നിങ്ങളുടെ നേതൃത്വം തന്നെ ഇപ്പോൾ അതിനെതിരെ സംസാരിക്കുവാൻ തുടങ്ങി. ഇത്രയും നാളും അന്ധമായി വിഘടിത വിഭാഗത്തെ പിന്താങ്ങിയ നിങ്ങൾ, ചർച്ച് ആക്ട് വന്നപ്പോൾ ആണോ  നിങ്ങളുടെ കണ്ണും കാതും ഒക്കെ തുറന്നത്?

ലോകത്തിലെ തന്നെ ഏറ്റവും വലിയ കോർപ്പറേറ്റ് സ്ഥാപനമായ റോമൻ കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭ ചർച്ച  ആക്ടിനെ ഭയന്ന് അല്ലേ പറ്റൂ? ഭയക്കാതെ വേറെ വഴിയില്ലല്ലോ.  

മറ്റൊരു കാര്യം, മലങ്കരയിൽ നിങ്ങൾ വിഘടിത പക്ഷത്തിനും, സുറിയാനി പാത്രിയർക്കീസിനും ശക്തമായ പിന്തുണ കൊടുക്കുന്നുണ്ട് . നേരെമറിച്ച്  നിങ്ങളുടെ സഹോദര കത്തോലിക്കാ  ബിഷപ്പുമാർ, ഗോട്ടിമാല പോലുള്ള സ്ഥലങ്ങളിൽ പ്രേക്ഷിത വേദിയിൽ ഏർപ്പെട്ടിരിക്കുന്ന സുറിയാനി പാത്രിയർക്കീസിനെ ബോയ്ക്കോട്ട് ചെയ്യാനായിട്ട് ആഹ്വാനം ചെയ്യുന്നു.  എന്ത് വിരോധാഭാസമാണ് ‘ആഗോള’ റോമൻ കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭയിലെ മെത്രാന്മാർ കാട്ടിക്കൂട്ടുന്നത്?

ഓർത്തഡോക്സ് സഭകളിൽ വെച്ച്  റോമാ സഭയും ആയിട്ട് ഏറ്റവും  കൂടുതൽ അടുപ്പവും ബന്ധവും കാത്തുസൂക്ഷിക്കുന്ന ഒരു സഭയാണ് സുറിയാനി ഓർത്തഡോക്സ് സഭ എന്നുള്ളതാണ് ഇതിലെ ഏറ്റവും വലിയ രസം. കുർബാന സംസർഗ്ഗത്തിനുള്ള ഉടമ്പടികൾ കൂടാതെ  പത്രോസിനെ ഇല്ലാത്ത പരമാധികാരത്തെ വാനോളം പുകഴ്ത്തി നടക്കുന്ന കൂട്ടത്തിലാണ് ഈ രണ്ടു സഭകളും. റോമാ സഭയുടെ ഇരട്ടത്താപ്പ് നയങ്ങളോട് സുറിയാനി സഭ കണ്ണടയ്ക്കുന്നു എന്നുള്ളത് സങ്കടകരമായ വസ്തുത തന്നെ.

മേൽപ്പറഞ്ഞ വസ്തുതകൾ, മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ നേതൃത്വം മനസ്സിൽ ഉൾക്കൊണ്ടുതന്നെ മുൻപോട്ടുള്ള  കാര്യങ്ങൾ ചെയ്യും എന്ന് പ്രതീക്ഷിക്കുന്നു.  മലങ്കര സഭയും റോമാ സഭയും തമ്മിലുള്ള ഊഷ്മളമായ എക്യുമെനിക്കൽ ബന്ധങ്ങൾ തുടരട്ടെ. പക്ഷേ, ഒറ്റപ്പെട്ടുപോകും എന്ന പേടിയാലോ, എക്യുമെനിസം തരുന്ന അന്ധമായ പ്രൗഡിയിൽ പെട്ടോ, റോമോ സുറിയാനികളുടെ ഇരട്ടത്താപ്പ് നയങ്ങളും, കള്ളത്തരങ്ങളും, അജപാല മോഷണവും മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ നേതൃത്വം കാണാതെ പോകരുതേ  എന്ന് ഒരു അപേക്ഷ മാത്രം. 

എഡിറ്റർ –  TMUNT.

‘Jacobite’ Faith, the Malankara Church, and the Corrupted Lineage of the Syriac Church 

Saint Jacob Baradaeus, Ignatius Elias III, Ignatius Zakka Iwas, Ignatius Aphrem II. Pics- Wiki
Saint Jacob Baradaeus, Ignatius Elias III, Ignatius Zakka Iwas, Ignatius Aphrem II. Pics- Wiki.

Editor – TMUND   – 25/112019

One of the principal arguments put forward by the Jacobite faction is that they follow a faith distinct from the Malankara Church. They argue that the Malankara conflict is about faith and not civil litigation about the management and administration of the Church. Does this argument hold any water? 

What is Jacobite Syrian Christian Church (JSC)?
JSC is an autonomous Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. The Jacobite Church is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch is one of the ancient Christian Churches presently headquartered in Damascus. 

Membership and Affiliation of the Jacobite Church 
Jacobite Church, an autonomous Archdiocese of the Syriac Church is also a member of the Oriental Orthodox (OO) communion. In India legally, the Jacobite Syrian community-based at Puthencruz is a registered society as per the Societies Registration Act 1860, whereas the Malankara Orthodox Church is recognized as a church by the Supreme Court of India. 

Oriental Orthodox or Antiochian Faith?
The Syriac Orthodox Church is a member of the Oriental Orthodox communion. The Malankara Church is also a member of the Oriental Orthodox communion, along with Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches. If the Syriac Church and the Malankara Churches are members of the OO communion and confess the faith decided by the first three ecumenical synods,  isn’t it contradictory for the Jacobite Christians (who are under the Syriac Church) to claim they profess a distinct faith? How can Malankara and the Jacobite Syrian Church remain within the Oriental Orthodox communion with distinct faith and belief? 

A Comparison Chart

Sl No: Area Jacobite Syrians Malankara Church
1. Faith and Polity Miaphysite and Episcopal Miaphysite and Episcopal
2. Origin Apostolic (St. Thomas the Apostle) Apostolic (St. Thomas the Apostle)
3 Canonical and Administrative nature  Autonomous, based on Orthodox conciliarity  Autocephalous, based on Orthodox conciliarity 
4. Communion Oriental Orthodox  Oriental Orthodox 
5.  Ecumenical Synod First Three Synods (Constantinople, Ephesus, and Nicea) First Three Synods (Constantinople, Ephesus, and Nicea)
6. Ethnicity  Malankara Nasrani Malankara Nasrani`
7.  Head of the Church  Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan
8. Regional head Maphriyano and Metropolitan Trustee Nil
9. Sister Oriental Churches Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches  Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian and Eritrean  Orthodox Churches 
10 St.Peter Teaches Supremacy of Peter  Teaches Primacy of Peter

Jacob Baradaeus, and the Apostolic Lineage of Syriac Church
Jacobites in India argue over the lineage of St. Thomas Christians.  Having no proof for Apostolic succession is demeaned and exploited by the Jacobite campaigners to their advantage.  

Even though the Jacobite enthusiasts know the contributions made by St. Jacob Baradaeus (also known as Yacoub Burd’ono) to the Syriac Church, and his efforts to maintain apostolic continuity, they remain deaf to the facts.  

St. Jacob  Baradaeus was consecrated as the Bishop of Edessa by the Coptic Pope Theodosius I of Alexandria at the recommendation of Empress Theodora who was a supporter of the non-Chalcedonian church. Whereas, her husband Emperor Justinian supported the Chalcedonian church.

As a result of the lack of support from the Emperor, the non-Chalcedonian Church leadership declined, regardless of the support from Christians of Armenia, Syria, and Egypt. Acting as a non-Chalcedonian missionary agent, Jacob traveled throughout Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Armenia,  Cappadocia, Cilicia, Isauria, Pamphilia, Lycaonia, Lycia, Phrygia, Cana, Asia Minor and the islands of Cyprus, Rhodes, Chios, and Mitylene and Egypt and he ordained around 80,000 clergies. Some sources state that his ordinations included 89 bishops. He also consecrated two Patriarchs (Patriarch Sergius of Tella and Patriarch Paul II of Antioch). The Oxford reference states that ‘Jacob was secretly consecrated Bishop of Edessa, he spent the rest of his life clandestinely ordaining clergy and helping to establish a separate hierarchy’, a reason why some of the critics consider Jacob as a Saintly ‘Episcopus Vagant’.  Besides, the episcopal life of Jacob Baradaeus was filled with many controversies and upheavals. 

After reading the life of Jacob, a few questions need to be answered: 
Jacob established a separate Mypahisite hierarchy and thereby the Syriac Church is also called Jacobite. Does it mean that Jacob is the founder of the Syriac Church?  

The Maphrianite in India was newly established in 1964, even though the Jacobites claim that it was re-established. Technically, Jacob nor his successors consecrated any Bishop for the Jacobites in India. Jacobs’s episcopal activities were not aimed at the Church in India.  Syriac Christianity arrived in India in 1665. The Maphrianite in India doesn’t have any historical connections with Jacobs bishopric. Also, the council of Constantinople prohibits bishops going beyond their diocese and churches.

Canon 2. Council of Constantinople 381 on Bishop’s Jurisdiction 
The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nice, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs. And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nice. But the Churches of God in heathen nations must be governed according to the custom which has prevailed from the times of the Fathers.

Syrian Jacobite Controversies 
There is nothing to be so proud of the Jacobites if a through an examination of their history is made. The atrocities committed by the Jacobite faction against the Malankara Church faithful are well known. However, the Syrian Jacobites and their leadership in the Middle East and elsewhere are also quite famous involving themselves in controversies. 

During the 6th century, Maronite Christians in large numbers were massacred by the Jacobites due to rivalry.  “As we were going to the Monastery of Saint Simon, for reasons concerning the Church, these wicked ones [the Jacobites] prepared an ambush for us on the road; and, coming to hurl themselves upon us, they killed three hundred and fifty of our people and wounded others. They even killed those who had taken refuge near the altars. “They burnt the monasteries, sending by night a multitude of seditious persons won over by money, who looted the little that was there. (Alexander, Priest, and archimandrite of Saint Maron, year 517). 

Corruption and the leadership of the  Syriac Church 
There were several instances when the position of the Patriarch of Antioch remained vacant in the history of the Syriac Church ie the Syriac Church was managed without a Patriarch. Hence the unbroken lineage of the Syriac Church is under question. 

Paul II the Black of Alexandria (consecrated by Saint Jacob Baradaeus) was the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch from 550 until 575. He was another controversial figure in the history of the Syriac Church. Jacob Baradaeus excommunicated Paul for siding with the Chalcedonian party but was later restored. However,  Pope Damian of Alexandria, another controversial figure interfered in the internal affairs of the Syriac Church and tried to depose Patriarch Paul. 

 Peter III of Callinicum was the Patriarch of Antioch from 550 to 575. He was notorious for his rejection of Trinity. For this reason, he was harshly condemned by the Coptic Pope Damian of Alexandria. It is interesting to note that Pope Damian consecrated Peter III. Due to the rift between the two Patriarchs, at least from 588 to 616 AD, the Syriac and Coptic Churches were in schism. 

After the demise of Patriarch Iwannis I (740–754), Caliph Al-Mansur appointed two successors without the consent of the Syriac Church, thereby corrupting the lineage. 

Moreover, between 1364 to 1816, the Syriac Church went through another schism when a separate Patriarchate was constituted for the Tur Abdin region. 

Hence, there is no meaning in stating that the Apostolic lineage of the Syriac Orthodox Church has always remained ‘uncorrupted’.  

 Many of the Syrian Jacobite Patriarchs and Bishops are no better in their attitude and Church administration. Let us discuss a few of them below. 

Some of the recent researches revealed that Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Elias III (who is mortal remains are entombed at Manjanikkara) received payments (5,000 shillings per month) from the Turkish government to deny Seyfo (genocide).  

Timothy Fawlus, the Assyrian/Aramean Jacobite Bishop of Constantinople was notorious for congratulating Sultan Abdul-Hamid II (with a poem on his birthday in 1902), who was responsible for the murder of more than 300,000 Christian Armenians, Arameans, and Greeks in 1895.

collage
Ignatius Yacub III, Archbishop Yeshu Samuel, Archbishop Julius Yeshu Cicekin, Ignatius Abdul Aloho. Pic- Wiki, FB.

The infamous Patriarch Ignatius Abded Aloho II was well known for embracing and propagating reformed protestant ideas. This inconsistent man became a bishop of the Syrian Catholic Church for over nine years (1896-1905) and later returned to Syriac Orthodox Church under the promise of becoming the Patriarch Antioch.

The Dead Sea scrolls were purchased by the former Syriac Archbishop Yesu Samuel of Jerusalem. A report dated 4 December 2018 in Daily mail states that the Archbishop smuggled (fearing its safety during the Arab-Israeli war) those scrolls to the USA and in 1954 he sold the scrolls for an amount of $250,000 by placing an ad in the Wall Street Journal). Instead of preserving the valuable scroll, they were sold to raise money for the Church. However, the Eastern U.S. Archdiocese of the Syriac Church hold is in possession of just one fragment of the scroll. 

In one of the previous articles, we discussed how the Syriac Patriarch-elect Mor Osthathios Kyriakos had to give up his position upon the threats from a group of people within the Syriac Orthodox Church, as part of the internal turmoil in the year 1957.

In 1970, Patriarch Yacub III in encyclical No.203/70 propagated one of the greatest heresies by denying the priesthood of St. Thomas the Apostle. 

The sudden and unexpected demise of Archbishop Mor Julius Yeshu Cicekin 2005, raised a lot of eyebrows. A detailed report on the ‘Killing’ of Yeshu Cicekin by the Syriac Church leadership was published on the website of the Arameans of Aram-Naharaim Organization (Aramnahrin.org).

In 2007, Syriac bishops Ablahad Shabo and Benjamin Atas transformed their Churches in Södertälje, Sweden, into polling stations for Syrians in the diaspora to cast their votes. They were heavily criticized for such actions. 

In 2011, Patriarch Zakka I have sparked controversy by stating that the US and Israel were behind the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

In 2017, Patriarch Aphrem II Karim became the center of controversy when six Metropolitans rebelled against him for raising and kissing the Quran.  

In 2019 the leadership of the autonomous Knanaya Syrian Archdiocese criticized the Patriarch of Antioch for his inappropriate interference in the internal affairs of the Archdiocese. 

Many among the Jacobite faction in Malankara believes that everything is perfectly fine with the Syriac Orthodox Church and they believe that it is the only true Church without flaws. Syriac Church has its share of controversies and scandals. Sadly the beliefs of Jacobites do not match reality.

References:
Naaman, P. (2011). The Maronites. Trappist, Ky.: Cistercian Publications.

Oxfordreference.com. (2019). Jacob Baradaeus – Oxford Reference. [online] Available at: https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100015751 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2019]. 

Syriacstudies.com. (2019). all kinds of writing. [online] Available at: http://www.syriacstudies.com/AFSS/Syriac_Scholars_and_Writers/Entries/2008/3/22_64-_Mar_Jacob_Baradaeus_%28d._578%29.html [Accessed 22 Oct. 2019]. 

Jacobitesyrianchurch.org. (2019). Jacobite Syrian Christian Church. [online] Available at: http://www.jacobitesyrianchurch.org/thechurch.html [Accessed 9 Nov. 2019].

Atour.com. (2010). The Secret Payment of Patriarch Elias Shaker for Denying the Genocide Seyfo – Assyrian Forums. [online] Available at: http://www.atour.com/forums/religion/48.html [Accessed 9 Nov. 2019].

Center, S. (2019). Assyrian Genocide Research Center –. [online] Seyfo.seyfocenter.com. Available at: 

http://seyfo.seyfocenter.com/index.php?sid=2&aID=364 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2019].

lastampa.it. (2017). Six bishops against the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch: “He betrayed faith” – La Stampa. [online] Available at: https://www.lastampa.it/vatican-insider-en/2017/02/15/news/six-bishops-against-the-syrian-orthodox-patriarch-he-betrayed-faith-1.34653967 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2019].

Orthodox, S. (2017). Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II kisses the Quran. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw7qfp_248Q [Accessed 9 Nov. 2019].

Acsatv.com. (2011). Wikileaks reveals Patriarch Zakka’s bad judgment: ACSA TV – Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Association. [online] Available at: https://www.acsatv.com/?p=559 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2019].

Fortescue, A. (2001). The lesser eastern churches. Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press.

Aramnahrin.org. (2006). Spiritual (brother) killing of Mgr. J. Y. Cicek. [online] Available at: https://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Spiritual_Killing.htm [Accessed 9 Nov. 2019].

Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States. (2010). June 25, 2010 – Readings. [online] Available at: https://www.suscopts.org/readings/2010/jun/25/ [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Murphy, S. (2018). Archaeologists have given fresh hope in the hunt for more Dead Sea Scrolls. [online] Mail Online. Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6458885/Archaeologists-given-fresh-hope-hunt-Dead-Sea-Scrolls.html [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Earlychurchtexts.com. (2019). Constantinople – Canons of the 381 Council. [online] Available at: https://earlychurchtexts.com/public/constantinople_canons.htm [Accessed 25 Nov. 2019].

Source:
TMUND

 

മലങ്കരസഭയ്ക്ക് ഉണ്ടായിരിക്കേണ്ട തിരിച്ചറിവും ബോധ്യവും, കടന്നുപോകേണ്ട പാതയും

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CN – TMUNT – 25/11/2019
ആമുഖം
ഏത് സമൂഹത്തിലും ഭിന്നതയും അഭിപ്രായവ്യത്യാസങ്ങളും ഉണ്ടാവുക സ്വാഭാവികമാണ്.വ്യക്തിപരമായ ഇടപെടലുകളിലൂടെയും മധ്യസ്ഥ ചർച്ചകളിലൂടെയും  ഭിന്നതകൾ പരിഹരിക്കാൻ സാധിച്ചില്ല എങ്കിൽ, ഒരു ജനാധിപത്യവ്യവസ്ഥിതിയിൽ പിന്നീടുള്ള എക പോംവഴി നീതിന്യായപീഠമായ കോടതിയെ സമീപിക്കുക എന്നത് മാത്രമാണ്.ഇരുഭാഗത്തിന്റെയും വാദങ്ങൾ വിശദ്ധമായി കേൾക്കുന്ന കോടതി പക്ഷപാതരഹിതമായി നീതിയുക്തമായ ഉത്തരവ് പുറപ്പെടുവിക്കും.ആ ഉത്തരവ് ഏവരും അംഗീകരിക്കുകയും അത് പ്രാവർത്തികമാക്കാൻ അധികാരപ്പെട്ട ജനങ്ങളാൽ തെരഞ്ഞെടുക്കപ്പെട്ട ഗവൺമെന്റ് കാലവിളംമ്പം കൂടാതെ ആയത് നടപ്പിലാക്കുകയും ചെയ്യും.ഇതാണ് ഒരു ജനാധിപത്യരാജ്യത്തിൽ സംഭവിക്കുന്നതും പൗരന്മാർ ഭരണാധികാരികളിൽ നിന്നും പ്രതിക്ഷിക്കുന്നതും.നീതിയുക്തവും പക്ഷപാതരഹിതവുമായ ഈ നടപടി ഒരു പൗരാധിപത്യ രാജ്യത്തിന്റെ അഖണ്ഡതയ്ക്കും സമാധാനപൂർവ്വമായ സഹവർത്തിത്വത്തിനും ഏറെ ആവശ്യമാണ്.എന്നാൽ ഇതിൽ നിന്ന് വ്യത്യസ്ഥമായി നീതി നടപ്പാക്കലിനോടുള്ള കൗശലപൂർണ്ണമായ ഒരു സമീപനമാണ് മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ കാര്യത്തിൽ സംഭവിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നത്. നീതിന്യായ പീഠത്തിന്റെ ഉത്തരവുകൾ നടപ്പിലാക്കാൻ അധികാരപ്പെട്ട ഗവൺമെന്റ് അത് നടപ്പിലാക്കാതെ കള്ളനും പോലീസും കളിക്കുന്നു. നീതിനിഷേധിക്കപ്പെട്ടവർ എന്ന് കോടതി കണ്ടെത്തിയ സമൂഹത്തിന് ഒപ്പം  നിന്ന് അവർക്ക് നീതിനടപ്പിലാക്കി കൊടുക്കാതെ അനധികൃതർ എന്ന് ന്യായപീഠം വിലയിരുത്തിയ വിഘടിത സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ ഒപ്പം ചേർന്ന് അവരുടെ രാജ്യദ്രാഹ – കിരാത പ്രവർത്തനങ്ങൾക്ക് കൊടിപിടിക്കുന്നു. വോട്ടുബാങ്കും,ലഭ്യമായ പാർട്ടിഫണ്ടിന്റെ നന്ദിയുമാണ് ഈ പ്രവർത്തിയിലൂടെ ഭരണവർഗ്ഗം കാട്ടുന്നതെന്ന പൊതുസമൂഹത്തിന്റെ വിലയിരുത്തലിനെ ചുമ്മാതള്ളികളയുക സാധ്യമല്ല.തന്മൂലം സഭാതർക്കം കൂടുതൽ വഷളാവുകയും സമാധാനപൂർണ്ണതയ്ക്ക് കാലവിളംമ്പം ഉണ്ടാവുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു.ഈ അവസരത്തിൽ ചില കാര്യങ്ങളെകുറിച്ചുള്ള  വ്യക്തമായ അറിവും ബോധ്യവും നമുക്ക് ഉണ്ടാകണ്ടത് നമ്മുടെ നിലനിൽപ്പിനും പോരാട്ടത്തിനും വളർച്ചയ്ക്കും ആവശ്യമാണ്.

ചരിത്രത്തിലെ പാഠം: കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭയുടെ കൈയ്യേറ്റങ്ങൾ-മലങ്കരയുടെ നഷ്ട ദേവാലയങ്ങൾ

മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ ഇരുപത്തിയഞ്ചോളം ദേവാലയങ്ങൾ 1665 മുതൽ സിറോ മലബാർ കത്തോലിക്ക സഭ അനധികൃതമായി കൈവശം വച്ചിരിക്കുകയാണ്.അന്നത്തെ നീതിന്യായ വ്യവസ്ഥകളുടെ പരാജയവും,പറങ്കി-റോമൻ ബന്ധത്തിന്റെ ഭീഷണിയും,ചില നസ്രാണികളുടെ അതിരുകടന്ന റോമൻ വിധേയത്വവും മൂലം ഇവ തിരിച്ച് പിടിക്കാൻ മലങ്കര സഭയ്ക്ക് സാധിച്ചില്ല.പിന്നീട് ഒരിക്കലും അത്രകണ്ട് അതിനായ് ശ്രമിച്ചിട്ടുമില്ല.പറങ്കികൾ വച്ചുനീട്ടിയ കൊഴിക്കട്ടകാശും സ്ഥാനമാനവും സ്വീകരിച്ച് മറുകണ്ടം ചാടിയ പറമ്പിൽ ചാണ്ടി കത്തനാരെ(സീറോ മലബാറിന്റെ ആദ്യ തദ്ദേശീയ മെത്രാൻ)പോലുള്ളവർക്ക് പ്രധാനം തങ്ങളുടെ നിലനിൽപ്പും വളർച്ചയുമായിരുന്നു. അതിനായ് ആളുകളെ കൂടെകൂട്ടാൻ പണം ഒഴുക്കാനും അന്നത്തെ സഭാ തലവനായ  മഹാനായ മാർതോമാ ഒന്നാമൻ മലങ്കര മെത്രാപ്പോലീത്തയ്ക്കും  അദേഹത്തോടൊപ്പം നിന്നവർക്കും എതിരായി സ്ഥാനന്യൂനത ഉൾപ്പെടെ ഉള്ള അപവാദ പ്രചരണങ്ങൾ പറഞ്ഞ് പരത്താനും ചാണ്ടി മെത്രാനും കൂടെ ഉള്ള റോമാ സുറിയാനിക്കാർക്കും യാതൊരു മടിയും ഇല്ലായിരുന്നു.തൻമൂലം ജനങ്ങളിൽ ഒരു ചെറു പങ്കിനെയും അവരിലൂടെ പള്ളികളെയും തങ്ങളുടെ കൂടെ ചേർക്കാൻ പഴയകൂറ്റുകാർ എന്ന് തെറ്റായി സംബോധന ചെയ്യപ്പെടുന്ന യഥാർഥ പുത്തൻകൂറിന് സാധിച്ചു.അങ്ങനെ കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭ കൈയ്യേറിയ ഈ പുരാതന പള്ളികൾ എല്ലാം ഇന്ന് മലങ്കരയുടെ നഷ്ട ദേവാലയങ്ങളുടെ ഗണത്തിൽ ആയിതീർന്നിരിക്കുന്നു.ഇനി അവയെ തിരിച്ച് പിടിക്കാൻ സാധിക്കുമോ? ആവോ അറിയില്ല.

ഇന്നത്തെ അവസ്ഥ: സിറിയൻ സഭയുടെ കൈയ്യേറ്റശ്രമങ്ങൾ -വിഘടിത വിഭാഗവും സഭയിലെ ഇത്തിൾ കണ്ണികളും
മലങ്കരയുടെ നഷ്ട ദേവാലയങ്ങളുടെ ഗണത്തിലേയ്ക്ക് വിഘടിത യാക്കോബായ വിഭാഗം അംഗബലത്തിന്റെയും വിശ്വാസത്തിന്റെയും പേരിൽ അനധികൃതമായി കൈവശംവച്ചിരിക്കുന്ന കുറച്ചധികം പള്ളികളെ കൂടി ചേർക്കാനുള്ള നിർദേശവും ശ്രമവും സമ്മർദ്ദത്തിന്റെയും,സമാധാനത്തിന്റെയും,സമവായത്തിന്റെയും പേരിൽ നേത്യത്വനിരയിലും (സഭാ സമിതിഅംഗങ്ങൾ,കമ്മറ്റിക്കാർ etc), പ്രാമുഖ്യ-പണ്ഡിത നിലയിലുമുള്ള പലരും ഇന്ന് മുന്നോട്ടുവയ്ക്കുന്നതായി അറിയുന്നു. പരമോന്നത നീതിപീഠത്തിന്റെ നിശ്ചയങ്ങളെ പോലും കാറ്റിൽ പറത്തികൊണ്ട് ഈ പരി.സഭയ്ക്ക് ലഭ്യമായ നീതിയേയും ദേശീയഅംഗീകാരത്തെയും ചരിത്ര സാക്ഷ്യത്തെയും നശിപ്പിക്കുക എന്നതിന്റെ ഭാഗമായി മാത്രമേ ഈ ശ്രമങ്ങളെ വിലയിരുത്താൻ സാധിക്കു.

സമാധാനകാംക്ഷികളും അങ്ങനെ അഭിനയിക്കുന്നവരുമായ മെത്രാന്മാർക്കും, വൈദീകർക്കും,അത്മായകാർക്കും പലതും പറയുകയും എഴുതുകയും ക്രിസ്തീയയുടെ പേര് പറഞ്ഞ് സഭാ നേത്യത്വത്തേയും സഭാതലവനെയും സമ്മർദ്ദത്തിലാക്കുകയും ചെയ്യാം.അവരുടെ അഭിപ്രായയങ്ങളുടെയും നിഷ്പക്ഷതയുടെയും പേരിൽ പൊതു സമൂഹത്തെയും കൂടെ നിർത്താൻ സാധിക്കും.എന്നാൽ അന്തസും ചരിത്രബോധവുമുള്ള ഒറ്റ നസ്രാണിപോലും ഇവരുടെ വിഘടിത-കലക്ക പ്രവർത്തനങ്ങൾക്ക് കുട പിടിക്കില്ല.അവന് പ്രധാനം നസ്രാണി സഭയും സഭയുടെ ചരിത്രത്തിന്റെയും വ്യാപ്തിയുടെയും അടയാളങ്ങളായ ദേവാലയങ്ങളുമാണ്.

ഇത്തിൾകണ്ണിയായി സഭയിൽ നിൽക്കുന്ന ചിലർക്ക് പ്രധാനം നീതിയുടെ പൂർത്തികരണമോ,സത്യത്തിന്റെ വിജയമോ, മാർതോമ്മായുടെ പുരാതന സഭയുടെ നിലനിൽപ്പോ-ശാശ്വതസമാധാനമോ,ചരിത്രസാക്ഷ്യമോ അല്ല.നേരെ മറിച്ച് വ്യക്തിപരമായ നേട്ടവും അഭിനന്ദവും ചിലരോടുള്ളകുശുമ്പും അസൂയയുമാണ് ഇവരിൽ പലരേയും നയിക്കുന്നത്.മലങ്കര സഭയാകുന്ന പെറ്റമ്മയിൽ നിന്ന് ആമാതാവിന്റെ മക്കളാകുന്ന ഇടവക പള്ളികളെ വിദേശബന്ധത്തിന്റെയും ക്രിസ്തീയ സാഹോദര്യത്തിന്റെയും പേരിൽ അകറ്റി മാറ്റുന്ന പ്രക്രിയയ്ക്ക് (വിദേശത്തെ പോറ്റമ്മയ്ക്ക്? കീഴിലാകുന്ന പ്രക്രിയയ്ക്ക്) ഇവർ കുടപിടിക്കുന്നു എന്നതാണ് സത്യം.ഈകൂട്ടർ സഭയിലൂടെ വളർന്നവരും സഭയിലൂടെ നേട്ടമുണ്ടാക്കിയവരും സഭ തളർന്നാലും കുഴപ്പമില്ല എന്ന് ചിന്തിക്കുന്നവരുമാണ്. ഇവർക്ക് സഭയെക്കാൾ പ്രധാനം മറ്റു പലതുമാണ്.സഭ തങ്ങൾക്ക് വളരാനും സ്വന്തം നിലപാടുകൾ പ്രാവർത്തികമാക്കുന്നതിനുള്ള ഒരു സ്ഥാപനം മാത്രം.ഇത് 2000വർഷത്തെ ചരിത്രം പേറുന്ന ഭാരതത്തിന്റെ ഏക ദേശീയ സഭയാണെന്നും ഒരു ചെറിയ കുരിശടിപോലും നഷ്ടപ്പെടുന്നത് വലിയ നഷ്ട്ടമാണെന്നും ഉള്ള ചരിത്ര പാഠം(1663-65കാലത്ത് സീറോമലബാർ സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ കടന്നുപോക്ക്) പലതിന്റെയും പേരിൽ അവർ വിസ്മരിക്കുന്നു.

നസ്രാണികളുടെ നിലപാട്സഭയുടെ നിലപാട്-നീതിപീഠത്തിന്റെ ഉത്തരവ്
മലങ്കര സഭയെന്ന പുരാതന ഭാരത സഭയ്ക്കവകാശപ്പെട്ട ഒരു ദേവാലയവും സ്ഥാപക-ജംഗമ-വസ്തുക്കളും നഷ്ടപ്പെടാതെ തിരിച്ച് പിടിക്കണം എന്നുതന്നെയാണ് ഓരോ നസ്രാണിയും ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നത്.ഇന്ത്യയിലെ പരമോന്നത നീതിപീഠത്തിന്റെ ഉത്തരവും ഇതുതന്നെയാണ്.മലങ്കരസഭ സ്ഥാപിതമായ കാലം തൊട്ട് വിഘടിത വിഭാഗം വേർപിരിഞ് പോകുന്ന 1970-72കാലംവരെ സ്ഥാപിതമായ ഒരു ദേവാലയവും വസ്തുക്കളും നഷ്ടപ്പെടുന്നത് അംഗീകരിക്കുക സാധ്യമല്ല.വിഘടിത വിഭാഗക്കാർ ഭൂരിപക്ഷമായി നിൽക്കുന്നതോ നൂറുശതമാനം അവർ മാത്രമുള്ളതോ ആയ ദേവാലയങ്ങളും ഇതിൽ പെടാം.അവ പോലും നഷ്ടപ്പെടാനൊ ഭൂരിപക്ഷത്തിന്റെ പേരിൽ വിഘടിത വിഭാഗത്തിന് വീതം വച്ച് നൽകാനോ ഇടയാവരുത്. സമാധാനത്തിനുള്ള എളുപ്പവഴി,കമ്മറ്റി തീരുമാനം,സമവായശ്രമത്തിന്റെ ഭാഗം,പൊതു സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ നിർദ്ദേശം എന്നൊന്നും പറഞ്ഞ് മലങ്കര സഭയ്ക്ക് അവകാശപ്പെട്ട ഒരിഞ്ച് ഭൂമിയോ ഒരു കുരിശടിപോലുമോ വിട്ടുകൊടുക്കുക സാധ്യമല്ല.അത് ചരിത്രത്തോടും, പിതാക്കന്മാരോടും,വരുന്ന തലമുറയോടും ചെയ്യുന്ന മഹാപാതകമാണ്.

ഒരു പക്ഷെ ഈ ദേവാലയങ്ങളും മറ്റും തിരിച്ച് പിടിക്കാൻ കാലം ഏറെ വേണ്ടിവരും.വെയിലും മഴയും അപമാനവും സഹിക്കേണ്ടതായി വരും.എങ്കിലും ദൈവത്തിൽ ശരണംവച്ച് സത്യത്തിന്റെ പാതയിൽ നീതിയുക്തമായ് അധ്വാനിച്ചാൽ മലങ്കരയ്ക്ക് സഭയ്ക്ക് അവകാശപ്പെട്ട എല്ലാ പള്ളികളും തിരിച്ച് പിടിക്കാൻ സാധിക്കും.ഇതിനെതിരായുള്ള ഒരു നിർദേശവും നസ്രാണി സമൂഹത്തിലെ ചുണകുട്ടികൾക്ക് അംഗീകരിക്കുക സാധ്യമല്ല.അങ്ങനെ എന്തെങ്കിലും സംഭവിച്ചാൽ അത് സഭയിൽ ആഭ്യന്തര പ്രശ്നങ്ങളും വിള്ളലുകളും സൃഷ്ടിക്കാനെ ഇടയാക്കു.

വിഘടിത വിഭാഗത്തിന്റെ മുമ്പിലുള്ള വഴികൾ – പാത്രിയർക്കാഭക്തർ ചെയ്യേണ്ടത്
ഇന്നത്തെ യാക്കോബായ വിഭാഗത്തിൽ ഉൾപ്പെട്ടു നിൽക്കുന്നവർക്ക് മാത്യുസഭയാകുന്ന മലങ്കര സഭയിലേയ്ക്ക് മടങ്ങിവരാം.1934ലെ ജനാധിപത്യപൂർണ്ണമായ ഭരണക്രമം അംഗീകരിച്ച് വൈദേശിക ആധിപത്യങ്ങൾക്ക് കീഴ്പ്പെടാതെ ഈ സഭയിലെ അംഗമായി പഴയതുപോലെ സ്വതന്ത്രരായി തുടരാൻ സാധിക്കും. പരി.സഭാ നേതൃത്വവും അതാണ് ആഗ്രഹിക്കുകയും നിർദേശിക്കുകയുo ചെയ്യുന്നത്. സമാധാനത്തിനുള്ള എറ്റവും നല്ല മാർഗ്ഗവും അതാണ്.

ലബനോനിലെ പാത്രിയർക്കീസുമായുള്ള ബന്ധത്തിൽ (അന്ത്യാഖ്യ ബന്ധത്തിൽ) തുടരാൻ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നവർക്കുള്ള എക പോംവഴി മലങ്കര സഭയുടെ പള്ളികളും മറ്റ് സ്ഥാപക ജംഗമ വസ്തുക്കളും ഉപേക്ഷിച്ച് or പുത്തൻകുരിശിലെ വിഘടിത വിഭാഗം ചെയ്തതുപോലെ യഥാർഥ അവകാശിയെ ഏൽപ്പിച്ച് വേറെ പള്ളികൾ വച്ച് അന്ത്യാഖ്യാ ബന്ധം തുടരുക എന്നത് മാത്രമാണ്.അതല്ലാതെ നീത്യന്യായ കോടതിയുടെ ഉത്തരവിനെ വെല്ലുവിളിച്ച് പള്ളികൾക്ക് മുമ്പിലും മറ്റും സമരം ചെയ്യുന്നതുകൊണ്ടൊ,അപവാദപ്രചരണങ്ങൾ കൊണ്ട് മലങ്കര സഭാ നേത്യത്വത്തെ അപമാനിക്കുന്നതുകൊണ്ടൊ, ഒഴിഞ്ഞും തെളിഞ്ഞും ആക്രമണങ്ങൾ അഴിച്ച് വിടുന്നതുകൊണ്ടൊ,മൃതശരീരം വച്ച് വില പേശുനാടകങ്ങൾ നടത്തുന്നതുകൊണ്ടൊ ഒരു ഗുണവും ലഭിക്കാൻ പോകുന്നില്ല.ഇന്നല്ലങ്കിൽ നാളെ കോടതി വിധി എല്ലാ ദേവാലയങ്ങളിലും നടപ്പായിരിക്കും.കാരണം ഇത് നീതിക്ക് പ്രാധാന്യം കൊടുക്കുന്ന ഒരു ജനാധിപത്യ രാജ്യമാണ്.

ഉപസംഹാരം
ദൈവസ്നേഹവും,സഭാസ്നേഹവും,രാജ്യസ്നേഹവും ഉള്ളവരാണ് മലങ്കര നസ്രാണികൾ.നമ്മുടെ പിതാക്കന്മാർ വി.മാർതോമ്മാശ്ലീഹായുടെ സിംഹാസനത്തിൽ ഉപവിഷ്ടരായിരുന്ന പുണ്യപിതാക്കന്മാരുടെ കൽപ്പനകൾ പ്രമാണിച്ച് സത്യത്തിന്റെ പാതയിൽ മുന്നോട്ടു പോയതുപോലെ, ദൈവരാജ്യത്തിന്റെ സത്യപാതയിൽ നമുക്കും അണിനിരക്കാം.ദൈവം തന്റെ ദിവ്യസമാധാനം കൊണ്ടും ഐക്യ- പുരോഗതി കൊണ്ടും തന്റെ പരി.സഭയേയും നമ്മെയും നിറയ്ക്കട്ടെ.

A Response to the Marthomite writer on the ‘Orthodoxy’ of the Marthoma Church 

Editor – TMUND – 18/10/2019

TMUND Editorial Board welcomes the response posted by our friend Abel Joshua on his Fb profile, in response to our article ‘The Marthoma Church – Anglican, Protestant or Oriental Orthodox?’

Non-ordained women take part in the reformed Marthoma Liturgy. Orthodox Churches only allow ordained Deaconess for Church Services.
Non-ordained women taking part in the reformed Marthoma Liturgy. (Some Orthodox Churches allow ordained Deaconess for Church Services.)
Non-ordained women in 'Saree' carrying Censer during the reformed Marthoma Liturgy.
Non-ordained women in ‘Saree’ carrying Censer during the reformed Marthoma Liturgy.

1. Marthoma Church and the ‘Wider Oriental’ Family
Abel has compared the Marthoma Church with the British Orthodox Church, Church of France and the Celtic Orthodox Church. It is important to understand that none of these Churches are considered to be mainstream Orthodox Churches, rather they are independent jurisdictions. (Not to forget that British Church was part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 2015). However, these independent Churches are Western Rite Orthodox in their faith, unlike the Marthoma Church. The Celtic, Church of Gauls and the French Orthodox Church constitute the communion of the Western Orthodox Churches.  These Churches have Western Rite Orthodox origin with a historical connection to the Syriac Orthodox Church. However,  these three independent Western Orthodox jurisdictions are considered non-canonical by the rest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.  Technically, there is no wider Oriental Orthodox family that accommodates OO Churches and the rest of the independent jurisdictions like the Celtic and British Orthodox Churches.

‘But then to rebecome what we’re in our origins, the Syriac Orthodox Church consecrated two Bishops for us. One of the consecrating Bishops is a Saint, Saint Gregory of Parumala and from these two consecrations, the beginnings of the renewal of the Celtic Orthodox Church took place. ‘  – Bishop Paul Dupuis, Bishop of the Celtic Orthodox Church.   

Oriental Concelebration the Feast of St. Gregorios of Parumala in the US. Pic Source- http://www.spc.rs
Oriental Con-celebration of the Feast of St. Gregorios of Parumala in the US. Pic Source- http://www.spc.rs

The Celtic Church venerates St. Gregory of Parumala.  On the other hand, the  Marthoma Church rejects veneration and intercession but respects the Saints. St. Gregorios of Parumla is also commemorated and venerated by the rest of the Oriental families, especially by the Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, apart from Syriac and Malankara Churches. Even those Oriental Churches who are not even in the mainstream venerates the great Saint of Malankara/India. How about the Marthoma Church? Do they venerate him? Do they enligthen their faithful, the importance of the life and teachings of St. Gregorios of Parumala, let alone any Orthodox saints? However, our friend Abel thinks that the Marthoma Church belongs to the wider Oriental family alongside the Celtic and other Churches. Amusing indeed!

Deaconess (Mzamronyotho) Ordination at Sts Peter and Paul Church in Michigan
Deaconess (Mzamronyotho) Ordination at Sts Peter and Paul Church in Michigan. Photo source- http://syrianorthodoxchurch.org

The photos of the non-ordained women serving at the reformed Liturgy of  Marthoma Church itself is a classic example of its purposeful rejection of Orthodoxy.

Abel claims that the Marthoma Church is nothing but an ‘Orthodox Church’. We do not object to his personal opinion as we fully respect his individual freedom. However, that is just his personal opinion as none of the Orthodox Churches recognize nor approve Marthoma Church as ‘Orthodox’. But such an approval is not a requirement for the Marthomites to believe what they want to believe.

Source- Facebook
Source- Facebook

Praise and worship by Bishop Gregorios Mar Stephanos of Marthoma Church. ( charismatic/pentecostal model  worship is rejected by  Orthodox Churches.)

2. Intercession, Saints, and Prayers in the First Two Centuries
Another argument put forward by our friend is that for the first 200 years there is no mention of anything related to seeking the intercession of saints.

Yes, we do not have many evidences from the first two centuries, however we hope that he is also aware of the fact that there are pieces of evidence on saints, angels, martyrs, and prayers for them in the first two centuries.

Him indeed we adore as the Son of God; but the martyrs we love as they deserve, for their surpassing love to their King and Master, as we wish also to be their companions and fellow-disciples. –  (Letter from the Church of Smyrna – AD 155).

“For in this way they shall secure a fruitful and perfect remembrance from us, with sympathy for them, both in our prayers to God, and our mention of them to the saints.” -St. Pope Clement – the Orthodox Bishop of Rome ( AD 35- 99 AD) (Letter to the Corinthians). 

After the death of Ignatius and in a dream “… some of us saw the blessed Ignatius suddenly standing by us and embracing us, while others beheld him again praying for us, and others still saw him dripping with sweat, as if he had just come from his great labor, and standing by the Lord.” (Martyrdom of Ignatius (A.D. 107 – 116).

May God the Father, and the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ build us up in faith and truth and love and grant us our portion among the saints with all those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for all saints, for kings and rulers, for the enemies of the Cross of Christ, and for ourselves, we pray that our fruit may abound and that we may be made perfect in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.  St. Polycarp of Smyrna  (AD 69 – 155 AD).

O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael bless ye the Lord; O ye apostles, prophets, and martyrs of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise Him, and exalt Him above all, forever.  St. Hippolytus of Rome. ( AD 170–235 AD).

Apart from the above-mentioned quotes, there are a number of quotations from the Early Church fathers like St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Ephrem the Syrian and many others commenting on the intercession of saints and angels. If the Marthoma Church truly follows the Orthodox tradition and adheres to the teachings of the early Church fathers and councils,  the question of intercession during the first 200 years is out of the question, because if they are truly Orthodox, they need not worry about the veneration of saints during the first two hundred years,   they can just follow the teachings of the Orthodox fathers and decisions of councils of the Orthodox Church.

3. Marthoma – Syrian Orthodox Dialogue?
We also noted that Marthomites claim that their Church is in dialogue with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. Do they have a formal joint commission for theological dialogue with the Syriac Orthodox Church? Are they in dialogue only with the Syriac Orthodox Church and is it because they think that the Marthoma Syrian Church is just an offshoot of the Syriac Patriarchate?  If the Marthoma Church is ‘Orthodox’ in its essence and nature, then it should establish intense dialogue and cooperation with the Orthodox Churches. Instead, the Marthoma leadership has taken joy in establishing communion with Anglicans and they are in dialogue with Lutherans and other Protestant bodies. The question remains – why did they fail to establish a formal and direct dialogue with Orthodox Churches? We mention the same by keeping in mind that the Marthoma Church has ‘some sort of dialogue’ with the Syriac Orthodox Church. But this will not help the Marthomites to qualify as an Orthodox Christian Church. Marthoma Church pretends to have all qualities of an Orthodox Church but in reality, it is a Reformed Eastern Christian ‘High’ Church.

As one of our friends commented on FB, there are no two kinds of things, You are either Orthodox or not!

4. Orthodoxy – A Way of Life
At least a few reformist people think that Orthodoxy is all about intercession and venerations of saints. Orthodoxy is not about intercession of saints, veneration of icons, or prayer ropes. It is a way of life and it is has a comprehensive approach. All minor and majors like icons, prayer ropes, intercession, contributes to the total essence of Orthodox faith.  Hence an Eastern reformed Church like Marthoma cannot be considered Orthodox, just because  some of her faithful keep icons at home.

5. Malankara Church and the Oriental Orthodox Communion
Though most Oriental Orthodox Churches trace their origins back to the apostles, the forming of a common platform was the brainchild of Met. Paulose Mor Gregorios of the Malankara Orthodox Church. It was his grace who appealed to Emperor Hailee Selassie of Ethiopia to call a conference of the churches which share the same faith and practices, thereby laying the foundation of the present Oriental Orthodox communion. Claims of Abel Joshua of the Marthoma church, that Malankara Orthodox church was accepted to the Oriental Orthodox communion due to the influence of the Jacobite church is unfounded. More information here: 

Let us consider the case of the Georgian Church. Georgian Church was not a participant in the Chalcedonian Synod and they accepted the Council of Chalcedon later. The delay was due to relations with the Armenian Church and political reasons. However, the Georgian Church was accepted and respected as a full member of the Byzantine Eastern Orthodox communion. Hence, it matters naught if the Malankara Church was accepted into the Oriental Orthodox communion at a later period of time.

Mural Painting of Kottayam Cheriyapllay.
Mural Painting of Kottayam Cheriyapllay.

6.Malankara Church and Iconography
Imageries and Iconography typical to Malankara heritage can be found in old churches were such murals are still preserved. Prominent examples are the murals in Cheppad Church, Paliyekara Church, and Kottayam Cheriapally. Over the period of Colonization starting from Portuguese to Antiocheans ; mural painting in Malankara transmuted to roman catholic imageries.  However, Malankara Nasranis were never shy of imageries. The reformist faction, however, maintained a disdain towards imageries. One of the major reforms was the removal of images from churches and homes. Most of their churches and sanctuaries are still not adorned with the paintings of Jesus or his saints. The claim that removal of imageries is to avoid laity placing importance for them over God lines with iconoclastic allegations which were addressed by the church during the Iconoclastic controversy.

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Murals of Cheppad Church. Source- https://agiosikona.wordpress.com

7. Malankara Church and Public Confession
The public confession which the reformist author claims to have heard in an Orthodox Church in Bombay is the preparatory prayer seeking remission of sins before partaking the Holy Mysteries.

Armenian Apostolic Church, a member of the OO Communion, did have auricular confession before the Armenian Genocide. After the genocide, probably due of the scarcity of priests general confession became a norm. The Armenian Church does not, however, prohibit auricular confession.

8.Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan on the Malankara Church
Those Marthomites who harshly criticize the Malankara Church may read the below. Our friend Abel seems to be really unhappy with some of the Indian Orthodox faithful. Hence it is good for him and others to read the below statement from Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan himself.

“There are several attempts from the foreign Churches to take us under their fold and I congratulate the Orthodox Syrian Church which has resisted that kind of attempts and declared struggle for independence several times in the past history. So the Marthoma Syrian Church a co-runner with the Orthodox Syrian Church in this struggle greet you and besiege all grace and blessing from God our Lord in our declared projects to commemorate this great event of the centenary of the establishment of the Catholicos of the East in the Kerala soil. About ninety percent of the declaration that our Metropolitan has readout and you have affirmed, we the Marthoma Church join with you, but at the same time we must remember that there are some differences, and that is quite natural. –  Speech by  Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan, at the Catholicate Centenary celebrations, 2012.

Probably the reformist writer is disillusioned about Malankara Metropolitan receiving a warm welcome in Russia. He calls for creating better relations with churches in India. Bilateral relations are a two way process, the Orthodox church has never meddled in the internal affairs of any churches in India. Those who jeopardize our goodwill by affirming support and sympathy to one faction in the ongoing dispute and those churches (Eastern Catholics in particular) that indulge in sheep stealing are not in the right position to be judgmental about us. We however did not witness any support or sympathy from Marthoma church when four of our faithful were brutally murdered by the Jacobite faction and when our faithful were violently evicted from 300 odd churches. The present Marthoma Metropolitan had previously invited a controversy when his bull with fictitious claims about the Orthodox church was read out in all Marthoma churches. Such callous attitude embittering faithful of other churches is unwarranted and does bode well for the position he holds.

We make friends with Russian Orthodox and other Orthodox churches cause they are the closer to us in faith. For any Orthodox church, better relations with other Orthodox churches is important than with heterodox.

We are more than happy to see Marthomite church which claims to be an Orthodox church receive a warm welcome in any Orthodox country, similar to the historic visit of Malankara Metropolitan in Russia.


Marthoma Metropolitan’s arrogant behavior

9. Who is really toxic?
Abel thinks that IOC faithful and her leadership is toxic. However, we do wonder how toxic the leadership of Marthoma Church is? The Marthoma Metropolitan himself showed his kind gesture at one of the funerals of a Marthoma priest. The Marthoma Assembly failed to elect bishops and the internal politics is widely known to the public.

10. The Anglican Communion on the Marthoma Church
‘While retaining many of the traditional characteristics of the ancient Eastern church, the Mar Thoma Church keeps very close relations with Christian churches in other parts of the world. It is in full communion with the churches of the Anglican Communion and maintains special relations with the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican churches in Australia and Canada, as well as with the Uniting Church in Australia.’   From the official portal of the Anglican Communion.

It is interesting to note the statement’ While maintaining many of the characteristics of an Eastern Church’… Not all characteristics of an Eastern Church are maintained by the Marthoma Church, which is nothing but a ‘Reformed Eastern Church’.

An Extract from the Episcopal Church-Marthoma Agreement
The Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church shall notify the Presiding Bishop and the local Episcopal Bishop of the appointment of priests to serve Mar Thoma parishes and congregations in the United States at the time of their appointment. Such priests may be licensed by the Episcopal Bishop to function in the Episcopal diocese where they serve and invited to participate in activities and fellowship in that diocese.

Is it permissible for an ‘Orthodox’ Church Priest to serve in an Anglican-Episcopal Church? If Marthoma is true ‘Orthodox’ then their priests should be licensed to serve in the Oriental Orthodox parishes or at least at any of the Syriac Orthodox Parishes? Will the same be acceptable for the Syriac Orthodox Church?

WCC on the Marthoma Church
‘It is in full communion with the churches of the Anglican Communion and maintains special relations with the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican churches in Australia and Canada, as well as with the Uniting Church in Australia.’ From the official portal of WCC.

None of them recognize or consider Marthoma as an Orthodox Church, rather they clearly state that the Marthoma Church is in communion with the Anglican, Episcopal Anglican Church and Uniting  Churches (Protestant Church).

The reformist author claims how ahead of their Church is with regard to inter-church relations. Good for them. However, for the Orthodox,  Orthodox unity is more significant than improved relations with the heterodox.

11.Maramon Convention and Orthodoxy
It is worth noting that Marthoma Church invites Malankara and Syriac Prelates to speak at the Maramon Convention (organized by the Marthoma Evangelistic Association) as part of the ecumenical gesture. Even  Patriarch Aphrem II of Antioch once spoke at the convention.  However,  it is also interesting to note that the major speakers throughout the years at the Maramon Convention were from the Anglican, Methodist backgrounds. What Orthodoxy is propagated at the Maramon convention? If the Marthoma Church truly claims the Orthodox faith, then they should at least invite an Oriental or Eastern speaker for the convention?

Hence we repeat the fact that the Marthoma Syrian Church of Malabar is a reformist Protestant Christian community that is Eastern in origin that does not adhere to Orthodox Christian faith and practices, heavily influenced by Anglican and reformed doctrines, practices self-reformed Eastern Liturgy, propagates protestant ideologies, and falsely claims Oriental Orthodox traditions. 

Additional Reading – Metropolitan Paulose Mar Gregorious on the Marthoma Church

According to Metropolitan Paulose Mar Gregorious (PMG)  the Mar Thoma Church is unique in the sense that it is at once Eastern and Reformed. This church still maintains aspects of its Eastern Orthodox heritage but has undergone a thorough reformation along the lines of the ‘English and Continental Reformations’.

PMG states that the Marthoma movement was ostensibly an effort to restore the purity of faith and practice of the original apostolic church which had been corrupted by the Syrian Orthodox. The liturgical tradition of the Mar Thoma Church thus follows very much the patterns set by the Syrian Orthodox tradition.

The Marthoma Church has revised the prayers, Liturgy. There have been several revisions of the prayers, especially in the eucharistic liturgy. The changes – l. To take out all intercessions to the saints or the Blessed Virgin Mary since Christ is the only mediator; 2. to take out all prayers for the departed, since there is no biblical teaching that tells us that the dead will be benefited by our prayers; 3. to take out elements in the liturgical prayers which over-emphasize the sacrificial element in the eucharist; 4. to revise prayers which may seem to imply a doctrine of transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord; 5. to revise texts which over-emphasize the powers of the priesthood.

According to PMG the Marthomistes were guided by the interpretations of the English Reformation and Church Mission Society. In the revisions, the basic allusions (indirect or passing reference) of the Orthodox text have been maintained wherever possible.

Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Thoma, the late Head of the Mar Thoma Church, to the final revised (1954) text of the eucharistic liturgy, gives these basic principles of the revision:
1. removal of all prayers addressed to the saints; 2. removal of all prayers for the departed; 3. removal of the prayer (at the time of communion) 4. change of the prayer ‘we offer thee this bloodless sacrifice for thy Holy Church throughout the world . . . ’ to read ‘We offer this prayer for the Church; 5. change of the prayer ‘we offer this living sacrifice’ to read ‘we offer this sacrifice of grace, peace, and praise’; 6. removal of the statement ‘this eucharist is … sacrifice and praise’; 7. removal of the declaration that the Holy Spirit sanctifies the censer; 8. omission of the rubric about blessing the censer; 9. alteration of the epiclesis, giving freedom to say ‘(may the Holy Spirit sanctify it) to be the body of Christ’; or ‘to be the fellowship of the body of Christ’; 10. insistence on communion in both kinds separately; 11. abolition of auricular confession to the priest; 12. prohibition of the celebration of the eucharist when there is no one besides the priest to communicate.

Changes along Similar lines were made in all the forms of prayer and administration of sacraments. Since the revision has not yet been carried out in a thorough manner, elements of the Orthodox tradition now co-exist with definite Reformation features. In the canonical offices, the use of incense has been largely discontinued. The prayers for the offering of incense are retained, however, the word ‘incense’ is replaced by the word ‘service’ or ‘prayers.’ That typical Syrian Orthodox pattern of proemion (introductory doxology) followed by a sedra (long meditative prayer) is retained, but the invariable reference to the departed at the conclusion of the sedra is either omitted or replaced by a reference to ‘all believing members of the church.’

The Mar Thoma Church remains Eastern in not adding the filioque to the Nicene Creed, in insisting on the celibacy of bishops, investments and church utensils, in full congregational participation in worship, in the use of the mother tongue in worship. At the same time, there has been a liberal acceptance of and accommodation to Western Protestant or Evangelical forms of worship. The eucharistic service is not obligatory on all Sundays, and quite often the priest or presbyter presides over a meeting around the preached word and prayer alone. The traditional seven canonical offices have been reduced to two (morning and evening), following the reformers at this point. A form for compline has, however, been retained. There are special offices for Sundays and certain feast days, but different forms for the different days of the week are no longer in use.

Non-ordained women take part in the reformed Marthoma Liturgy. Orthodox Churches only allow ordained Deaconess for Church Services.

References:

Gregorios, P. (2014). Worship in a Secular Place. 3rd ed. Kottayam: Paulose Mar Gregorious Foundation.

History of the Christian Church – From The 1st To The 19th Century. (2014). [ebook] Delmarva Publications. Available at: https://www.amazon.com/History-Christian-Church-Century-Volumes-ebook/dp/B00HS862WC/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=History+of+the+Christian+Church+-+From+The+1st+To+The+19th+Century&qid=1571398950&s=digital-text&sr=1-1 [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].

Oikoumene.org. (2019). Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar — World Council of Churches. [online] Available at: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/mar-thoma-syrian-church-of-malabar [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].

Episcopal Church. (2019). Mar Thoma Church-Episcopal Church Agreement. [online] Available at: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/mar-thoma-church-episcopal-church-agreement [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].

Office, A. (2019). Anglican Communion: Churches in Communion. [online] Anglican Communion Website. Available at: https://www.anglicancommunion.org/ecumenism/churches-in-communion.aspx [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].

Gregoriantv Parumala (2012). Catholicate Centenary Celebration – Benedictory Address by Most Rev. Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvvwiwyj9so [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].

Gillispie, R. (2018). Celtic Orthodox Church Documentary. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOqHTbZ_Mgg&t=7s [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].

Spc.rs. (2014). Oriental Orthodox Churches Concelebrate the Feast of St. Gregorios of Parumala in Dallas | Serbian Orthodox Church [Official web site]. [online] Available at: http://www.spc.rs/eng/oriental_orthodox_churches_concelebrate_feast_st_gregorios_parumala_dallas [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].

Syriac Patriarch Elect – Mor Osthathios Kyriakos – Deposed?

Mor Osthathios Kyriakos. Pic courtesy- FYK.

Editor – TMUNT – 10/10/2019

The story of the late Archbishop Mor Osthathios Kyriakos of the Syriac Church is worth understanding in the on-going conflict between the Malankara Church and the Patriarchal faction.  He was the Archbishop of Jazirah and Euphrates. He ruled the Archbishopric from 1943 until his death in 1988. 

 He was chosen as the locum tenens to the Throne of Antioch after the demise of  Patriarch Aphrem Barsoum I and later elected as the Patriarch of Antioch and All East. What makes his story interesting is that despite his election to the Syriac Patriarchal throne, he was not consecrated as the Patriarch. However, it was reported from Homs, Syria that Mor Osthathios ‘voluntarily gave up’ his ambition and that too out of his ‘sacrificial’ mentality. Hence, a second-round election was held, and Severios (Ignatius Yacub III) was chosen to lead the Syriac Church (in 1957). 

Ramban Kadavil Paul met Mor Osthatios and had a conversation as well. Kadavil Ramban in his letter states that Mor Ostahthios was an able and well-mannered personality. He was elected to the Patriarchal throne, but ‘gave up’ his selection.

Kadavil Paul Ramban stated that  Mor Osthathios Kyriakos rebuild an ancient Church in the name of Holy Theotokos.

‘At Derik on the eastern end of North Syria, a Church was excavated about twelve years back. The said church was partly destroyed about six hundred years ago and gradually got buried under the earth. The present Orthodox Syrian bishop of that area, Mar Kuriakose Osthathios, rebuilt the old church, completing the old mutilated edifice.’ –  Rev Dr. Kadavil Paul Ramban.

With Ignatius Yacub III in Malankara. Pic courtesy- FYK.

Some historians believe that Mor Osthathios Kyriakos was threatened by a group of people within the Syriac Orthodox Church as part of the internal turmoil. Z M Paret in his book ‘Malankara Nasranikal’ quoting the letter of Panackal Iyakku Mathu reports that  Mor Osthathios was threatened by a group of  ‘mysterious’ goons, and hence gave up his Patriarchal ambitions, even though he was rightfully elected as the Primate of the Syriac Church. The same was reported by the Malankara Catholic magazine ‘Sathyadeepam’ (March 26, 1958). There were also allegations that Severios (Ignatius Yacub III) or his gang threatened Mor Osthathios.   

‘Malankara Nasranikal’ by Z M Paret.

It is worth noting that Archbishop Mor Osthathios Kyriakos has accompanied Patriarch Ignatius Elias III and Patriarch Ignatius Yacub III to Malankara. Supporters of the Syriac Church argue that there were no problems between Mor Osthatios and Yacub III and even if anything existed, they reconciled.  Z M Paret thinks that it was nothing but a tactful move by Yacub III to ‘bring’ Mor Ostathios with him to Malankara. Moreover, Catholicos Baselios Geeevarghese II was of the opinion that Mor Osthathios voluntarily gave up his ambition.  However, Z M Paret was not satisfied with the opinion of Catholicos Geevarghese II.  He believed that the letters from Kadavil Paul Ramban, Panackal Iyakku Mathu and the news published in Sathyadeepam stated that something was ‘rotten’ in the Syriac Patriarchate with regards to the election of Mor Osthathios Kyriakos.

With Patriarch Ignatius Yacub III, Catholicos Baselios Augen and the Prelates of Malankara Church. Pic Courtesy- Historic Image of MOSC, FB.

Few curious questions remain: Why did not Mor Osthatios refrain himself from participating in the Patriarchal elections?  If he was not interested, then he should have avoided himself from the whole process.  Being an able man, why did he give up his ambitions,  after getting elected to the Throne?  Did he really give up voluntarily or was he forced to give up?  Who was really behind the group of goons that threatened him? Who led the conspiracy against Mor Osthathios?  What was the role of Ignatius Yacub III?

Many among the Patriarchal faction believes that every single thing is perfect with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch and the Syriac Church. But we should understand that none is perfect except God Almighty. They also criticize  Patriarch Abded Mshiho I and the unfortunate controversies that surrounded his life. Historically, the Syriac Church had its own share of canonical and ecclesiastical controversies that cannot be denied.  

Mor Osthathios with a group of unrecognized priests and faithful. Pic courtesy- FYK.


References:
PARET, Z. (2015). Malankaranasranikal. Kottayam: MOC Publications.  

Chaillot, C. (1998). The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East. Geneva: Inter-Orthodox Dialogue.  

Paul, K. (1973). The Orthodox Syrian Church – Its Religion and Philosophy. 1st ed. Ernakulam: K V Pathrose.  

Sor.cua.edu. (2019). Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III (1912-1980). [online] Available at: http://sor.cua.edu/Personage/PYacqub3/index.html [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].  

The Marthoma Church – Anglican, Protestant or Oriental Orthodox?

An Altar of the Marthoma Syrian Church. Pic- Wiki.

Editor- TMUNT – 7/10/2019

Recently, we have been observing a lot of comments by a few Marthoma Church faithful on various social media platforms, especially in the light of the on-going Malankara Church conflict and Supreme Court verdict. We have observed that the Marthoma faithful side with the Jacobite Patriarchal faction and the Patriarchate of Antioch and they harshly criticize the Malankara Church. Some of their faithful even claimed that the Marthoma Church is an Oriental Orthodox (OO) Church. Moreover, the head of the Marthoma Church has publicly announced his support for the Jacobite Patriarchal faction. Hence we thought of making a brief analysis of the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church.  

The Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church of Malabar

Even though the Marthoma Church claims its origin from the evangelical mission of St. Thomas, the exact origin of this Church lies in the reformation movement started by  Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan and Kaithayil Geevarghese Malpan who were members of the ancient Malankara Church. The Marthoma Church separated from the Malankara Churchin 1898, as a result of the reformation movement and assisted by the British missionaries. The consecration of Thomas Mar Athanasius and the rest of the history is well known to everyone. We are not going into the historical aspects of the Church.

A Protestant Eastern Christian Church 

These Churches cherish Eastern Christian heritage and traditions but adhere to Protestant and reformed theology, doctrines and worship. Apart from the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, Saint Thomas Evangelical Church of India, Believers Eastern Church, Assyrian Pentecostal Church, Assyrian Evangelical Church, various Ethiopian and Eritrean Evangelical (P’ent’ay) movements, Russian Evangelical Church, Evangelical Orthodox Church and few other denominations fall under the category of Protestant Eastern Churches. Sometimes they are also called ‘Reformed Orthodox’. Technically this usage is challenged by the Orthodox Christian theologians as they categorically state that Orthodoxy cannot be reformed.  

Aspects that Separate the Marthoma Church from Oriental Orthodox Christianity 

The history and origins of the Marthoma Church are Eastern in its essence. However, this aspect will not qualify the Marthoma Church to be considered as a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion. It is a reformist Church with Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant influences. 

Communal and Structural Aspects

The Marthoma Church is not part of the ancient Oriental Orthodox Communion, (officially or unofficially). The Marthoma Church is in communion with the Anglican communion and the ecumenical dialogue is in progress with the Old Catholic Churches and the Lutheran World Federation. In India, it is in communion with the Church of South India (CSI) and Church of North India  (CNI) that are low Anglican Churches. There is no official dialogue between the OO communion and the Marthoma Church. However, there is an active official OO-Anglican Church commission for dialogue. Considering the independent nature of the Marthoma Church, it is not sure whether the agreements made between Anglican Church and OO Churches are applicable to the Marthomites. WCC and other ecumenical platforms act as a platform for OO Churches to interact with the Marthoma Church. However, the Malankara Church engaged in a series of unofficial dialogues (under the leadership of the late lamented Metropolitan Paulose Gregorious of the East) with the Marthoma Church between 1968 – 70. It did not fetch any desired results. 

Marthoma Worship and Practices 

These are the most important aspects that totally segregate the Marthoma Church from the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The reformist Marthoma Church does not use icons or images. They are core aspects of Orthodox Christian worship.   Liturgy, the core area of the worship was altered and a reformist style is in practice. The Marthoma Church disregard prayers for the departed and also stopped using candles for prayers. Communion under both kinds is distributed separately, and importantly the Church discontinued auricular confession. The first communion similar to that of the Roman Church is in practice. Intercession prayers and feasts of saints are not in practice. The Church acknowledges them and their contributions. Marthoma Church has not officially made a statement on its position on the Holy Theotokos. She is respected and the Church considers her blessed and Holy but intercession prayer in her name is rejected. There are no canonical instructions on fasting even though the Church instructs its faithful to observes the Great Lent, Nativity, Fast of Apostles, Nineveh fast and in some cases the Dormition fast of the Holy Theotokos. 

All Oriental Orthodox Churches have definite teachings and clear canonical instructions on the above-mentioned aspects of worship and practice.  It is clear that the Marthomites follow reformed worship and practices which is distinct from Oriental Orthodox Christianity. 

A High Eastern Reformed Church – Theological and Doctrinal Outlook

The Church recognizes the teachings of the first three ecumenical councils and considers itself neither Nestorian nor Monophysite. According to its teachings, the Marthoma Church is neither Protestant or Anglican. Even though some theologians consider the Marthoma Church as a high Eastern Church, it doesn’t qualify for at least some of the characteristics of the Anglo-Catholic High Church as well. In this case, the Church is going through a serious identity crisis. 

The Thozhiyoor Church  

This is an independent Church based in Malankara, that is in communion with the Marthoma Church but practices Oriental Orthodox faith. The faith, doctrine, and practices of the Thozhiyoor are very much Oriental Orthodox, in comparison to the reformist doctrines propagated by the Marthoma Church. 

Even Though the Syriac Patriarchate has openly condemned the Marthoma Church in the past. The relations have improved in modern times though. The Marthoma Church side with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and their faction in Malankara, because of its historical relations with the Syriac Church. The current primate of the Marthoma Church has openly embraced and supported the Patriarchal faction. Many Marthoma faithful openly supports and sympathizes with the Patriarchal faction as well.  

An Excommunicated Church by the Syriac Patriarchate?

In his recent speech, Mor Barnabas Geevarghese (Auxiliary Metropolitan of the Jacobite Patriarchal faction of Niranam) stated that Marthoma Church is an excommunicated community. Several historical documents state that the Syriac Patriarchate has condemned (excommunicated?) the Marthoma Syrian Church (Marthoma Church historians reject excommunication. For reference, one may read ‘Edvazhikkal Diary’ in which it is mentioned that Patriarch Ignatius Peter III condemned Mar Athanasius of the Marthoma Church. Not only Patriarch Ignatius, but his successors namely Ignatius Elias III and Ignatius Yacub also repeated the condemnation on the Marthoma Church. In the inaugural speech of the Mulanthuruthy Synod, Patriarch Peter III strongly condemns Palkunathhu Athanasius. Malankara Nazranikal (Vol- III), Kandanadu Granthavary etc are worth reading to obtain more information. 

Chorepiscopos Paulose Parekkara of the Jacobite Patriarchal faction taking part in the Marthoma Liturgy and serving communion to the Marthoma faithful. It is unusual for a Syriac Clergy to take part in the liturgical services of a Protestant Eastern Christian Church.  Photo- https://www.facebook.com/Saint-Johns-Orthodox-ValiyapallyPalakuzha-432686543927889/

Palakunnathu Mar Athanasius Against the Syriac Patriarch 

An Encyclical of Mar Athanasius of the Marthoma Church (published in the book Nazrany Kesari Akkara Kurian  Writer) questions the authority of the Syriac Patriarch in Malankara. 

The Arthat Church Verdict

The legal documents of the ArthatChurch judgment reveal that the Marthoma Church has clearly stated that the Malankara and Syriac Churches are two separate entities and the Syriac Patriarch does not have any right to consecrate priests or Bishops in Malankara. 

The condemnation of the Marthoma Church by the Syriac Church was never lifted and the Marthoma Church has clearly stated that Patriarch doesn’t have authority in Malankara. The current Marthoma leadership and faithful seem to disregard the above mentioned historical facts. Considering the theological and dogmatic nature of the Marthoma Church, it is very unlikely that the Syriac Church will withdraw its condemnation. However, the Marthoma Church seeks closer cooperation with the Syriac Church in the current socio-political and religious scenario. 

Metropolitan Joseph Mar Thomas and Philipose Metropolitan Chrysostom with Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II. Pic- Wiki.

None of the Oriental Orthodox Churches recognizes the validity of the Myrrh used by the Marthoma Church. Malankara and Syriac Church recognizes the baptism. However, Marthoma faithful is ‘chrismated’ before being accepted into the Malankara and Syriac Churches. There is no official statement from the rest of the OO Churches with regards to the recognition of the sacraments  and priestly orders of the Marthoma Church  

On the whole, we may say that the Marthoma Syrian Church of Malabar is a reformist Protestant Christian community that is Eastern in origin that does not adhere to Orthodox Christian faith and practices, heavily influenced by Anglican and reformed doctrines, practices self-reformed Eastern Liturgy, propagates protestant ideologies, and falsely claims Oriental Orthodox traditions.  

References:

Works Cited “Heritage – Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church.” Marthoma.In, 2017, marthoma.in/the-church/heritage/. Accessed 6 Oct. 2019.

Anglican Communion Office. “Anglican Communion: Churches in Communion.” Anglican Communion Website, 2017, 

www.anglicancommunion.org/ecumenism/churches-in-communion.aspx. Accessed 6 Oct. 2019.

‌Smit, Peter-Ben. “Tradition as Renewal: An Old Catholic Perspective on Renewal in Church and Theology.” Review of Ecumenical Studies Sibiu, vol. 7, no. 1, 1 Apr. 2015, pp. 70–93, www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/ress.2015.7.issue-1/ress-2015-0005/ress-2015-0005.pdf, 10.1515/ress-2015-0005.

Varghese, Paul, and M Thommen. Orthodox -Marthoma Conversations. 1st ed., Kottayam, 1971.

Edavazhikaldiary.blogspot.com. (2019). Edavazhikal Diary. [online] Available at: http://edavazhikaldiary.blogspot.com/ [Accessed 7 Oct. 2019].

M.facebook.com. (2019). Aby Mathew. [online] Available at: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10206347623405351&id=1710237372 [Accessed 7 Oct. 2019].

The ‘Status’ of the Malankara Church In the Oriental Orthodox Communion

Editor – TMUNT – 3/10/2019

Primates of the Indian-Malankara, Syriac and Armenian Orthodox Churches in Germany.


We have been reading a lot of blind accusations and criticisms on the ancient Malankara Church, especially in the light of her ongoing conflict with the Jacobite Patriarchal faction. Many people have been stating that the Indian Orthodox Malankara Church is not at all a part of the Oriental Orthodox(OO) communion. They bring out several reasons for their arguments as well. As per them, the Malankara Church has been excommunicated by the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, hence she is not canonical. They claim that the Malankara Church is not an autocephalous Church. Moreover, she is not part of SCOOCH, a regional Oriental Orthodox conference in North America. Let us briefly examine the case of the Malankara Church and her relationship with the ancient Oriental Orthodox communion.

The Ancient Oriental Orthodox Communion

The Oriental Orthodox churches (Old Oriental Orthodox Churches) preserve the faith and teachings of the first three ecumenical councils namely Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus.

Member Churches of the Oriental Orthodox Communion 

The Churches who are members of the ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches – Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria – the Church of St. Mark the Evangelist (Dependent Church – the French Coptic Orthodox Church), the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East – the Church of St. Peter the Apostle (Dependent Church – Jacobite Syriac Church, Knanaya Syrian Church), the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church – the Church of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, St. Jude the Apostle and St. Gregory the Illuminator comprises of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Catholicosate of the Greater House of Cilicia and the two Autonomous regional Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Constantinople, the Indian Orthodox Malankara Church – the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – the Church of St. Philip the Deacon and Evangelist and St. Frumentius, and the Eritrean Orthodox Church – the Church of St. Philip the Deacon and Evangelist    

The Structure and Functioning of the Oriental Orthodox Communion

There is no definite structure for the Oriental Orthodox communion.  Each local member Church is autocephalous and manages its own internal-external affairs. The Coptic Pope is considered first among equals. There is no global Pan-Oriental Secretariat to monitor the engagements of the OO Churches. There is no annual get together or meeting of the Oriental Orthodox primates nor their representatives. The only time the representatives and theologians of the Oriental Orthodox Churches gather is for the annual Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic dialogue. Apart from that, they take part in WCC and other ecumenical events. 

Unity in Diversity

The beauty of Orthodox lies in Unity in Diversity. For example, the Armenian Apostolic Church uses unleavened bread (whereas the rest of the Churches use leavened bread) and the vestments and skull caps of their clergy are a bit different than that of the rest of the OO Churches. The diversity of the Armenian Church is fully accepted within the Oriental communion. 

Autocephaly

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church gained her autocephaly in 1948 (agreement reached with the Coptic Church, the first Patriarch Abuna Abuna Basilios was consecrated in 1959). The autocephaly of the Ethiopian Church has nothing to with her origin and antiquity. Likewise, the Malankara Church received her Catholicate in 1912 and it has nothing to do with her origin and antiquity. The Eritrean Church gained her autocephaly from the Coptic Church in 1994. It is interesting to note that even though the Ethiopian Church harshly criticized the manner in which Coptic Church granted autocephaly to the Eritrean Church. However, the Ethiopian Church fully recognizes the autocephaly of the Eritrean Church and they remain in communion. The Ethiopian Church has also rejected the illegal deposition of the canonical Patriarch Abune Antonios of Eritrea.

The Addis Ababa Conference -1965

The Addis Ababa Conference and Catholicos Augen I 

In the year 1965, all OF Primates came together on a common platform for the International Addis Ababa Conference (Pan-Oriental Orthodox). The Malankara Church was represented by the late lamented Catholicos Moran Mor Baselios Augen I of the East. He was given a cordial reception in Addis Ababa and was seated together with the primates of the Coptic, Syriac, Armenian and Ethiopian Churches (the Eritrean Church was not yet granted Autocephaly during the time). Please note that the Addis Ababa Conference took place before the mutual ‘excommunications’ between the Syriac and Indian Malankara Churches. A lot of decisions were taken during the Addis Ababa conference. Despite the follow-up sessions, none of the decisions were put into practice. Since 1965 there have been mutual visits (by the primates of the Churches) and pan-oriental exchange, but these were nothing similar to the Addis Ababa conference.  Hence there is no common cannon or written rules for the Oriental Orthodox communion. The most important aspect is that the member churches confess the faith of the first three ecumenical councils. 

Armenian Church Anniversary. Pic source- SCOOCH

Armenian Church Anniversary and Catholicos Baselios Mathews II

In 2001 the late lamented Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Mathews II of the East took part in the celebrations of 1700-Year Anniversary in Yerevan. The Malankara Church delegation took part in the celebrations with the rest of the Oriental Orthodox delegations. 

Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria Hugs Cathoilcos Baselios Paulose II of o the East

Consecration of the Coptic Pope and Ethiopian Patriarch 

Catholicos Baseilous Paulose II of the East took part in the consecration events of Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (2012) and Patriarch Abune Mathias of Ethiopia (2013). Catholicos Baseilous Paulose II was the chief guest for the consecration of the Ethiopian Patriarch. 

Consecration of the Ethiopian Patriarch
The Historic Brotherly Encounter

The Yerevan and Cilicia Events 

In 2015, Catholicos Baseilous Paulose II of the East and the delegation from Malankara Church took part in the 100th-anniversary events of the Armenian genocide. Catholicos Baselios Paulose II and Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II had their historic brotherly encounter in Yerevan.

Meeting in Yerevan

Oriental Primates Meeting in Yerevan

The heads of the four Oriental Orthodox Churches (Coptic, Syriac, Armenian and Indian-Malankara) met at the Mother See in Yerevan as part of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Patriarch of Ethiopia and representatives from the Eretrian Church was absent for the occasion.

Catholicos Baselios Paulose II in Cilicia. Pic Source- Catholicosate of Cilicia
The German Gathering

Oriental Orthodox Primates in Germany

In 2017, the Primates of the Oriental Orthodox Churches (Coptic, Syriac, Armenian and Indian-Malankara) took part in the 100th Anniversary of Christian reformation in Europe and participated in the international conference titled  ‘Middle East Christians’. 

Eastern-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue Committee members in Thessaloniki

Pan-Orthodox Dialogue and the Malankara Church 

The Malankara Church is a full member of the Joint Commission for the Dialogue between Eastern Orthodox & Oriental Orthodox Churches. The last meeting was held in 2014 in Thessaloniki. Fr. Dr. K M George represents the Malankara Church. 

Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholovos  of the Malankara Church leads the One Conference

The One Conference

The One conference began with an Indian Orthodox deacon being invited to a Coptic Orthodox Church to lead a youth bible meeting. It is a regional Pan-Orthodox conference based in the US and it aims at bringing Eastern and Oriental Orthodox youth on a common platform. The annual gathering of the conference is attended by Easter and Oriental Orthodox Prelates and faithful.    

Delegation of the Oriental Orthodox – Roman Catholic dialogue with Catholicos Baselios Paulose II.

Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue 

The Malankara Church is a full member of the Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue. The dialogue is held every year.  

Oriental – Anglican Dialogue. Pic source- Anglicancomunion

Oriental Orthodox-Anglican Church Dialogue

The Malankara Church is also a full member of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox Commission.    Fr. Dr. K M George represents the Malankara Church. The last Communiqué was published in 2018. 

The Malankara Church and Ecumenical Movements

The Malankara Church is an active member of WCC, NCCI, global Christian forum, and various other ecumenical bodies.   

Theological Contributions

Great theologians of Malankara Church namely (Gregory of the East), Fr. Dr. V C Samuel has made extensive contributions in the field of theology, ecclesiology, ecumenism and Church unity. Fr. Dr. V C Samuel, Paulose Mar Gregorious were instrumental in organizing the Addis Ababa Conference. At present, the Malankara Church is blessed with a bunch of theologians like Fr. Dr. K M George, Fr. Dr. Jacob Kurien, Chorbishop Mathew Vaidhyan, Fr. Dr. Baby Varghese, Fr. Dr. Jossi Jacob, Fr. Abraham Thomas, etc.

 Who Decides for the Oriental Orthodox Communion      

One Church or a group of Churches cannot decide for the entire Oriental Orthodox communion. Any decisions regarding the communion shall only be taken in a Pan-Oriental Orthodox Synod. As of now, there is no Pan-Oriental Orthodox Synod in existence. What we have is the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the UK and Ireland (COOC, which is almost defunct), the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in America (SCOOCH) and the Oriental Orthodox Church Council in the Middle East. These are regional councils and they cannot decide for the entire OO communion.  

The canonicity of the Malankara Church is not a point of dispute for any Church, except for some of the Patriarchal Jacobite faction in India. The mutual ‘excommunications’ between the Syriac and Malankara Church has not affected their status within the Oriental Orthodox Communion.

For example, the Russian Orthodox Church broke communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over the problems in Ukraine. However, both Churches remain as an integral part of the Eastern Orthodox communion. There was a breach of communion between the Romanian and Jerusalem Patriarchate over the issues in Jericho (the communion was later restored). Both Churches remained as a part of the Eastern Orthodox communion even during the breach of communion. A solution for the mutual excommunications between two local Churches is handled by their respective synods. However, finding an appropriate solution through a Pan-Orthodox council is highly recommended.

Decisions by Conciliarity and Not by Supremacy

The problems and schisms between local Churches (over jurisdiction and other aspects) may happen and these may result in the breach of communion. However, it is not a reason for the conflicting Churches to be removed from their common communion. None of the Primates can unilaterally decide on the entry and exit of a local Church from the common communion. None of the local Churches are allowed to interfere in the internal affairs of her sister Church, unless invited. Only a joint conciliar Pan-Orthodox council can decide the fate of a Church or the common communion, only if the situation demands.

The ‘Status’ of the Malankara Church and the Oriental Orthodox Communion 

It is clear that the Malankara Church is an integral part of the ancient Oriental Orthodox communion. The ancient Malankara Church is fully accepted and respected as a full member Church of the ancient Oriental Orthodox communion by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, WCC, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Old Catholic Churches, various Protestant bodies and rest of the world.   The Malankara Church cooperates and engages regularly with sister Oriental Orthodox Churches,  Eastern Orthodox Churches, and ecumenical bodies. The value and worth of the Malankara Church do not depend upon the ongoing local conflict with the Jacobite Patriarchal faction. Her antiquity, her origin, her tradition, and her contribution to the world remains priceless.

References:

Strickert, F. (2019). The Armenian Church Celebrates Its 1,700-Year Anniversary. [online] WRMEA. Available at: https://www.wrmea.org/001-july/the-armenian-church-celebrates-its-1700-year-anniversary.html [Accessed 1 Oct. 2019].

Oikoumene.org. (2019). Oriental Orthodox Churches — World Council of Churches. [online] Available at: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/orthodox-churches-oriental/oriental-orthodox-churches [Accessed 1 Oct. 2019].

Oikoumene.org. (2019). Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church — World Council of Churches. [online] Available at: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/malankara-orthodox-syrian-church [Accessed 1 Oct. 2019].

Orthodox Unity (Orthodox Joint Commission). (2019). Joint Commission for the Dialogue between Eastern Orthodox & Oriental Orthodox Churches Revamped. [online] Available at: https://orthodoxjointcommission.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/joint-commission-for-the-dialogue-between-eastern-orthodox-oriental-orthodox-churches-revamped/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2019].

Ethiopianorthodox.org. (2019). The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. [online] Available at: https://www.ethiopianorthodox.org/english/ethiopian/01addisababaconf.html [Accessed 3 Oct. 2019].

Ethiopianorthodox.org. (2019). 1965 Addis Ababa Conference. [online] Available at: https://www.ethiopianorthodox.org/gallery/todaysphoto/1965addisababaconference/index.htm [Accessed 3 Oct. 2019].  

Office, A. (2019). Anglican Communion: Oriental Orthodox. [online] Anglican Communion Website. Available at: https://www.anglicancommunion.org/ecumenism/ecumenical-dialogues/oriental-orthodox.aspx [Accessed 1 Oct. 2019].

Abuneantonios.com. (2019). Restore Patriarch Antonios. [online] Available at: http://www.abuneantonios.com/articles/02-biography.php [Accessed 3 Oct. 2019].

Oikoumene.org. (2019). Coptic Pope and Oriental Patriarchs on historic visit in Germany — World Council of Churches. [online] Available at: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/coptic-pope-and-oriental-patriarchs-on-historic-visit-in-germany [Accessed 3 Oct. 2019].  

The Syrian Civil War and the Malankara Church Conflict

Pic courtesy- Wiki, Pixabay

Editor- TMUD – 29/9/19

The ongoing Syrian civil war is one of the most disastrous events in the history of mankind. Christians and minority religious communities were persecuted to the maximum by ISIS and various terrorist groups. Christians supported the legitimate government under President Bashar Al-Assad. Despite the unimaginable sufferings, the Christian Churches and their leaders supported Assad. They vehemently opposed any sort of foreign intervention in Syria, their homeland.

Recognizing The Legitimate Government

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II supports the legitimate govt of Assad. While several Western groups criticized the support for Assad, the Syrian Christian Churches, and their leaderships remained in brilliant terms with the Syrian government. Patriarch Aphrem II, in particular, has been a strong supporter of President Bashar Assad. 

In response to the criticisms raised, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II stated – “We have not submitted ourselves to Assad and the so-called authoritarian governments. We simply recognize legitimate governments. The majority of the Syrian citizens support Assad’s government and has always supported it. We recognize legitimate rulers and pray for them, as the New Testament teaches us. We also see that on the other side there is no democratic opposition, only extremist groups.”

The Malankara Turmoil

However, the Syriac Patriarchate and their flocks in India has taken a different route when it comes to the legitimate verdict (in favor of the 1934 constitution) of the Supreme Court on the Malankara Church conflict. The Jacobite Patriarchal faction (who has allegiance to the Syriac Patriarchate) faithful and their leadership are reluctant to accept the legitimate verdict from the Supreme Court. President Assad is legitimate in Syria. Likewise, the constitution of the Malankara Church is legitimate in India. If Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II recognizes the legitimate govt in Syria, why doesn’t he ask his flocks India (Patriarchal faction) to recognize the legitimate Malankara Church and her constitution?

A Call to Reject Foreign Intervention

“We ask the United States and other nations to stop financing terrorist and extremist groups. Consolidated effort is needed to bring the situation back to normal. We urge all parties to make efforts for a peaceful resolution of the crisis,” – Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II.

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II has asked foreign governments and institutions to stop funding the terrorist and extremist groups and called for a consolidated effort by all parties for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Syria.  The Patriarch is well aware of the atrocities committed by various foreign groups by intervening in Syria in the name of ‘democracy’. Likewise, the Malankara Church rejects any sort of foreign intervention in her internal affairs. For the Malankara Church, any consolidated efforts for peace will be based on the 1934 constitution which is legal in India.  Malankara Church is thankful for the help provided by the Syriac Church but rejects any sort of foreign intervention. 

Irrespective of the international pressure, it is for sure that President Assad nor the Syriac Church will compromise anything to have a discussion with ISIS or any other terrorist groups (which includes a lot of Sunni Syrians) in order to allow them to occupy any territory in Syria because they fought against the legitimate government.  

President Assad and his govt are legal in Syria and the Syrians will not accept any sort of alternative administrative system in the country. In India, no one prevents the Patriarchal faction members from entering, worshiping or taking part in the administrate affairs of any of the disputed Malankara Churches. They are more than welcome, provided they recognize and accept the legal and legitimate 1934 constitution. President Assad is right for many and wrong for many others, but he is the legitimate leader of Syria. The constitution of the Malankara Church is right for many, whereas it is not acceptable for many others. However, the 1934 constitution is legitimate in India and its value and legitimacy must be respected.  Those faithful and leaders who do not want to accept the Malankara Church or the 1934 constitution are free to move out and they are totally free to build a new Church for themselves.

The Number Game

President Assad belongs to the Alawite religious background. Alawite constitutes 11 percentage of Syria’s population, whereas the Sunni population dominates the country with 60 percentage (some sources states that they make up to 74 percentage of the total population). Sunni Islam is practiced by Arab speaking Syrians, Turkmen, Circassians, etc. The rest of the population belongs to Christianity, Shia Muslims, and other religious minorities. The majority of the population in Syria is ruled by the minority Alawite leader. This was one reason for the Sunni extremists to fight against Assad.

The Syriac Church, that is a minority in the country supports President Assad who belongs to a minority religious community but rules the majority Sunni community and others (because President Assad is the legitimate ruler in Syria). However, in India, the Patriarchal faction leadership proposed that the parish Churches with the Patriarchal faction majority cannot be moved under the 1934 constitution and they should be managed by themselves. The Supreme court’s verdict clearly states that all Churches in Malankara (with Patriarchal faction majority or otherwise) must be ruled by the 1934 constitution. If the Syriac Church support and approve the legitimate President Assad Syria (who belongs to a minority religious community), why don’t they recognize the legitimate 1934 constitution for all Churches in Malankara, irrespective of the number of faithful? 

It will be quite impossible for the Syriac Patriarchate to ignore the supreme court verdict and the law of the land. In Syria, India or elsewhere, the legal legitimacy and law of the land should be accepted and respected. The Syriac Patriarchate should at least make a genuine effort from their end to understand the reality that there is only one united Malankara Church.   

References:

Movsesian, M. (2019). Mideast Christians and Authoritarian Regimes | Mark Movsesian. [online] First Things. Available at: https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/06/mideast-christians-and-authoritarian-regimes [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019].

lastampa.it. (2019). “I only ask the West one thing: Stop arming our assassins” – La Stampa. [online] Available at: https://www.lastampa.it/vatican-insider/en/2015/06/29/news/i-only-ask-the-west-one-thing-stop-arming-our-assassins-1.35256736 [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019].

Cia.gov. (2019). Middle East :: Syria — The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency. [online] Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html [Accessed 2 Oct. 2019].

Manfreda, P. (2019). Critical Differences Between Syria’s Alawites and Shiites. [online] ThoughtCo. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/the-difference-between-alawites-and-sunnis-in-syria-2353572 [Accessed 2 Oct. 2019].

TASS. (2019). Patriarch Aphrem II of all East urges US to stop financing terrorists. [online] Available at: https://tass.com/world/834872 [Accessed 2 Oct. 2019].

The Malankara Church, Supreme Court Verdict and Its Violation in the God’s Own Country

An Article by CM Paudel, a Nepali Citizen on the Malankara Church conflict. The article was first published in the Fb page of the author.

Recently I was fortunate enough to travel to the South Indian state of Kerala, (the Gods own country) for a month. I stayed for a month with my Christian friend and his family. The family belongs to the ancient Malankara Church founded by of St. Thomas or Dydimos, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. I enjoyed my stay, the lovely cuisines, and the great hospitality. I was blessed enough to visit several old Christian Churches in the State. I was astonished by their antiquity and the dedication of the people in preserving their ancient faith and traditions.

However, I was deeply disturbed by the so-called Church feud between the Malankara Church and the Jacobite Syrian Church. The Malankara Orthodox Church (Primate- Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan) is one of the autocephalous Churches. The Jacobite Syrian Church (Primate-Maphriyano of India) is an autonomous Church under the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate (Primate-Patriarch of Antioch and All East). Malankara Church, Jacobite Syrian Church, and the Syriac Orthodox Church are part of the ancient Oriental Orthodox communion together with the Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches.

The age-old feud is over the control of the Church properties. I do not wish to dig the history and details of the Church feud, which can be easily found on the internet and other sources. Both Churches approached the Supreme Court. However, the verdict of the Supreme Court (June 2017) was in favor of the Malankara Orthodox Church i.e. the entire Church properties (disputed between the Malankara Church and the Jacobite Syrian Church), allied institutions and infrastructures must only be controlled and managed by the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Church. The legal custodian of the disputed Church properties is none other than the Malankara Orthodox Church. This sent shock waves through the Jacobite Syrians.

The Jacobite leadership approached the Supreme Court several times, but their petitions were mercilessly rejected by the supreme judicial power in India. The supreme court stated that it will not consider any more appeals on the Malankara Church case. The Kerala govt and the Police department find it hard to implement the Supreme Court verdict, mainly due to the opposition from the Jacobite leadership. I think that the accusations made by Jacobite fraction are tasteless. The Jacobites argue that they follow a different faith and order. This is again baseless because both Churches remain an integral part of the same Oriental Orthodox communion, even though the Syriac and the Malankara Churches have mutually excommunicated each other. Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Indian, Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches make up the ancient Oriental Orthodox communion. None of the above-mentioned Churches can remain a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion if they hold a different faith and order.

Technically speaking as per court order, the existence of the Jacobite Church is under question. Hence Jacobites are asking for ‘justice’. They want their properties and Churches to be protected. Politics, administration problems and rest of the issues prevent both churches to engage in a dialogue. As per court verdict, there is only one Malankara Church which is managed by the 1934 constitution. Jacobite constitution erected in 2002 is no more valid. All their Churches constructed before 2002 belongs to Malankara Orthodox Church which is managed by the 1934 constitution. So Jacobites doesn’t have a choice but to accept the 1934 constitution or to register a new church. It is important to note that the Malankara Church or the 1934 constitution does not prevent any Jacobite faithful to fulfill their spiritual needs from nay of the disputed Churches. Jacobites can take part in all spiritual and administrative aspects of their respective parish churches, provided they accept the 1934 constitution. It is also worth noting that Patriarch of Antioch is given respect and his name is mentioned in the 1934 constitution. The dispute is not with regards to faith-related matters, rather it is all about deciding the legal custodian of the Malankara Church. Both parties approached the supreme judiciary power in the country. The judiciary made its decision and hence both parties are bound to obey the court order.

I am an outsider and I do not have anything personal with either of the Churches. But I feel that the Supreme Court Verdict is to be highly respected and properly implemented. I do not want to side with any Church, but for me, the verdict of the Supreme court has to be respected. You had a dispute with another party and the court decided in favor of your opposition party. Is it logical to challenge the decision of the court? Is it ethical to disregard and disrespect the verdict given by judiciary? The law of the land has to be obeyed. If the law of the land is violated then it will result in great chaos.

Best Wishes

CM Paudel