Another controversy brews over church ownership.

Kotamangalm Pally

15 October 2013, KOCHI: The feud between Jacobite and Orthodox factions of the Syrian church is set to turn murkier with the Supreme Court’s verdict, on the ownership of Mar Thoma Cheriyapally in Kothamangalam, expected next week.

Currently, Kolenchery St Peter’s and St Paul’s Syrian Orthodox Church premises have been witnessing prayer meetings, hartals and police presence after the verdict of the Kerala high court which upheld a lower court’s order allowing the Orthodox faction to conduct administration and prayers here on October 4.

The Jacobite group, which holds the administration of the Kothamangalam church, is confident that the Supreme Court judgment would support its claim to the church with a history that dates back to 1455 AD. The Church’s property includes colleges, schools, dental and nursing colleges, making it one of the richest among the Syrian churches. Since it is a pilgrim centre, as Saint Baselios Yeldho is buried here, the church is considered one of the most prominent parishes in India.

Unlike in Kolenchery, the presence of the Orthodox faction is miniscule among the 4,500-odd families in Kothamangalam, the church authorities claim.

“There are not more than 5-8 families belonging to the Orthodox faction here, but they wanted a hold over the administration and prayers in the church. The high court verdict too upheld our claim,” said Fr Varghese Kallappara, spokesperson of the Jacobite Church.

But the opposite faction feels that the Jacobites are creating issues citing non-existent factors. “We could not conduct services even on Sundays as Jacobites are grouped outside the chruch. The court has made it clear that we are entitled to the keys of the church but they are still creating a tense situation here,” said Fr Jacob Kurien, vicar of the Kolenchery church. While the Jacobite faction filed an appeal in the Supreme Court regarding the ownership of the Kolencherry Church, the Orthodox faction filed a caveat.

The faction feud between Jacobite and Orthodox factions of the Syrian church is set to turn murkier with the Supreme Court’s verdict on the ownership of Mar Thoma Cheriyapally in Kothamangalam next week. Currently, Kolenchery St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church premises have been witnessing prayer meetings, hartals and police presence following the verdict of the Kerala High Court which upheld a lower court’s order allowing the Orthodox faction to conduct administration and prayers here on October 4.

The Jacobite group which holds the administration of the Kothamangalam church, is confident that the Supreme Court judgment would support their claim to the church with a history that dates back to 1455 AD. The property owned by the church includes colleges, schools, dental colleges and nursing colleges, which make it one of the richest among the Syrian churches. Since it is a pilgrim centre, as Saint Baselios Yeldho is buried here, the church is considered one of the most prominent parishes in India.

Unlike in Kolenchery, the presence of the Orthodox faction is miniscule among the 4500-odd families in Kothamangalam, the church authorities claim.

“There are not more than 5-8 families belonging to the Orthodox faction here, but they wanted a hold over the administration and prayers in the church. The High Court verdict too upheld our claim,” said Fr Varghese Kallappara, spokesperson of the Jacobite Church.

But the opposite faction feels that the Jacobites are creating issues citing non-existent factors.

“We could not conduct services even on Sunday as the Jacobite people are grouped outside the chruch. The court has made it clear that we are entitled to the keys of the church but they are still creating a tense situation here,” said Fr Jacob Kurien, vicar of the Kolenchery church.

While the Jacobite faction filed an appeal in the Supreme Court regarding the ownership of the Kolencherry Church, the Orthodox faction filed a caveat.

Source: The Times Of India

About SOCMNet

SOCMNet is an internet platform of Malankara Jacobite Syriac Christians (Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church - under the Holy See of the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East.). According to tradition, Christianity in India was established by St. Thomas, who arrived in Malankara (Kerala) from Edessa in A.D. 52. The Church in Malankara has had close ties with the Church in the Near East ever since. The ties between the Church in Malankara and the Near East formalized and strengthen by, when under the leadership of the merchant Thomas of Cana and 72 families (around 400 odd persons comprising men, women and children, reached Cragananore (Kodungalloore). The group consisted of the Bishop Mor Joseph of Edessa as well as some priests and deacons traveled and migrated to India and met Christians there by AD 345. The church in Malankara is an integral part of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church with the Patriarch of Antioch [His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas] as its supreme head. The local head of the church in Malankara is the Catholicose of India [His Beatitude Baselios Thomas I], ordained by and accountable to the Patriarch of Antioch. The web sites in the SOCMNet are not official web sites of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Malankara, even though the Owners, Moderators and Webmasters owe allegiance to the hierarchy of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. However, opinions and responses of the Church leadership are posted here.
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