Kochi: A preliminary meeting appears to have taken place between the leaders of the warring Jacobite and Orthodox factions of the Malankara Church on Dec 29. According to reports, the “compromise meeting” was held at the residence of former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, and lasted one hour. The meeting was reportedly held to initiate a speedy and peaceful resolution of the conflict currently gripping several churches across Kerala.
After a 3 July Supreme Court ruling handing over the control of about 1100 churches and parishes under the Malankara diocese to the Orthodox faction, as prescribed by the 1934 Malankara Church guidelines. Objecting to this, Jacobite faction members took out mass protests and demonstrations to stop this verdict from being implemented.
The Times of India reports that the meeting was attended by Orthodox bishop Thomas Mar Athanasius of the Kandanad East Diocese, and on behalf of the Jacobite faction, by Father Sleeba Vattavelil Cor Episcopa, the priests’ trustee, church trustee Peter K Elias and Laity trustee Shaji Chundayil. It further reports that while the Jacobite faction said that it was an official meeting called with permission from higher officials, the Orthodox faction said that it had not decided to attend any official meetings with the Jacobite faction.
The spat between the two factions got unpleasant particularly in Kothamangalam and Piravom, where Jacobite faction members barred and threatened Orthodox clergy members from entering the church and performing rituals. Some devotees even threatening to kill themselves in Piravom church if an Orthodox clergyman was allowed to enter.
In November, in Kattachira St Mary’s Church in Kayamkulam, the burial of a 95-year-old Jacobite parishioner, Varghese Mathew Pallikalethu, was delayed by 10 days due to this conflict within the church factions, and was held only after the National Human Rights Commission intervened, directing that he be buried immediately following all required rites and rituals.
source: News Minute