Tiruvalla: The Believers Church has filed a defamation case against the head of the southern India’s top Protestant group for allegedly issuing statements against their supreme head and constitution.
Father Sijo Panthappallil, spokesperson of the Kerala-based Believers Church, issued a statement on October 16 saying their Bishop Joju Mathew of Niranom filed the case against Bishop Thomas K Oommen, moderator of Church of South India (CSI).
The Judicial First Class Magistrate in Alleppy has admitted the case for issuing what he says are defamatory statements against their supreme head Archbishop K P Yohannan Metropolitan and other bishops.
The petition claims the Believers Church was established with historical and constitutional episcopacy. Questioning the Church’s episcopacy and making misleading and defamatory statements against their leaders were unfortunate and motivated by malice and personal hatred, it says.
The petitioner states that the ceremonial consecration of KP Yohannan as the first bishop of the Church was solemnized by none other than former CSI Moderator Bishop K.J. Samuel in February 2003. The consecration ceremony was attended by renowned personalities in the socio-political spheres.
The petition also alleged that the CSI moderator has been propagating that the CSI had never considered K.P. Yohannan as a bishop.
The consecration of K P Yohannan was held at St. Thomas Believers Church Cathedral in the presence of seven bishops, including J W Gladstone who later became the CSI moderator.
It also states Bishop Oommen has defamed and tarnished the reputation of Yohannan Metropolitan through an article published in a national newspaper saying, ‘CSI never considered K. P. Yohannan Metropolitan as a Bishop.’
Bishop Oommen’s wife had worked with Believes Church Theological Seminary as a teacher until 2010, even after the bishop’s consecration. In a souvenir the Church published on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, Bishop Oommen had given a message on his own letterhead felicitating Yohannan Metropolitan.
“It is to be believed that there is a conspiracy behind the publishing of the defamatory article after 14 years of bishop’s consecration and 14 months of membership with Kerala Council of Churches,” Father Panthappallil said.
According to him, all documents and records, including the CSI Bishops’ Council minutes, prove that the Episcopacy of the Believers Church was obtained in accordance with all prevalent norms and procedures. The Church has submitted them to the court.
Believers Church, the spokesperson added, will continue to respect and have cordial relationship with bishops, priests and members of CSI. Believers Church was forced to file the case as the CSI moderators’ remarks were aimed to defame and tarnish the Church’s reputation.