Friday, July 7, 2017


Syrian Orthodox CHURCH gets control of disputed churches

In what should hopefully end a fractious standoff and decades of protracted litigation over control of around 2,000 individual churches, the Orthodox faction of Syrian Orthodox Church will be allowed to conduct administration and prayers in around 1,400 churches -- including the famous Kolenchery St Peter's and St Paul's Church -- contested between it and the Jacobite faction. This follows a Supreme Court judgment upholding a Kerala high court order that the issue be resolved in accordance with a 1934 constitution of the Malankara Association.
Addressing a press conference in Kottayam, Baselius Mar Thoma Paulos II, head of the Orthodox faction, formally known as Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, said he welcomes the Supreme Court judgment. Terming it a significant verdict, he said he expects the state government to take immediate steps to implement the judgment but warned believers not to indulge in excess celebration over the court order.
The rival Jacobite faction (Jacobite Syrian Christian Church) said they are yet to get a copy of the court order. "We haven't gone through the court order. The issue being one related to belief, we won't be able to accept any decision which harms the faith. So, we will be holding meetings to discuss about it. We would be meeting the chief minister of Kerala also," said Thampu George Thukalan, secretary, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.
It was in October 2013 that the high court upheld Ernakulam additional district court's order allowing the Orthodox faction to conduct administration and prayers at the church. The court had cited orders of the Supreme Court in 1958 and 1995 while upholding the lower court's order.
The Jacobite faction had sought administration of the church and conduct of prayers as per a charter signed in 1913. However, the district court had found that the Malankara Association should conduct administration of the church as per the 1934 constitution.Following the apex court's order in 1958, both the factions had been conducting prayers jointly since 1959 to 1974.

Prof. John Kurakar

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