Kerala Malankara Church's Jacobite Faction Says It Will Support BJP If PM Modi Resolves Its Dispute With Orthodox Group

Kerala Malankara Church's Jacobite Faction Says It Will Support BJP If PM Modi Resolves Its Dispute With Orthodox GroupPM Narendra Modi.
Snapshot
  • The dispute between the factions cropped up due to a split in the Malankara Church in 1912 into the Jacobite and Orthodox groups. They reunified in 1959 but the unification lasted only until 1973.

    Since then, both the factions have been disputing over the churches and properties of the Malankara Church.

The Jacobite faction of Kerala’s Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, which is locked in a dispute with the Orthodox faction, has said that it will support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if the Narendra Modi government resolves the long-standing feud in the church.

The Jacobite faction protest committee convenor Thomas Alexandrios Metropolitan had told this to Prime Minister Modi when he invited them for discussions to find a solution to the dispute.

Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi reported the convenor saying what he told the Prime Minister. He also termed the Centre’s efforts to hold peace talks “a blessing”.

“So far, the Prime Minister has not informed us his response after holding talks,” Metropolitan said.

Earlier, the Centre’s stand favoured the Orthodox faction but now the believers of the Jacobite faction think it has changed, he said.

“Those who help the Jacobite church will get our support. We have proved our strength in the local bodies polls,” the convenor said when questioned about BJP’s motive in trying to settle the dispute.

On the other hand, Metropolitan said that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) had helped the Jacobites by promulgating an ordinance on burial at Christian cemeteries.

He added that the Pinarayi Vijayan government had assured to settle the issue “with conciliation”.

However, the convenor said that if the Centre takes initiative to settle the dispute, “we will support them irrespective of the politics”, he said.

The statement comes on heels of Prime Minister Modi holding talks with both factions last week to settle the dispute, dating back to 1973, over the control of about 1,000 churches and properties between them.

The issue has become more acute after a 2017 Supreme Court order asked the Kerala government to take over the Jacobite churches and hand them over to the Orthodox faction.

The Kerala Chief Minister had welcomed the Prime Minister’s mediation efforts and ruled out any politics being involved in Modi’s role.

The Prime Minister has assured to study the situation and revert to find a cordial solution.

The Orthodox faction of the Malankara Church has objected to the Jacobites seeking an out-of-the-court solution despite the Supreme Court ruling, while the Jacobites complain that they are being alienated from their own churches.

The Orthodox faction wants the dispute to be settled within the framework of the apex court order, but the Jacobites point out to some issues arising out of the ruling need to be addressed.

In particular, it has pointed out that its members are unable to even bury the bodies of their near and dear ones in cemeteries of the churches their forefathers had built, after the Supreme Court ruling.

The Jacobite faction, in particular, is seeking the Prime Minister’s intervention to give them "religious freedom, freedom of worship and justice to the problems the Jacobite Syrian Church is undergoing".

It has said that disputes, especially related to faith, cannot be resolved through endless litigation and there should be other means to find solutions to the issues.

The Kerala government has been in talks with both the factions since September this year but in vain.

The dispute between the factions cropped up due to a split in the Malankara Church in 1912 into the Jacobite and Orthodox groups. They reunified in 1959 but the unification lasted only until 1973.

Since then, both the factions have been disputing over the churches and properties of the Malankara Church. Regarding the dispute over 1,000 churches, a few of them have remained closed for years now and some are in dilapidated condition.

The Supreme Court’s ruling came after the Orthodox Church petitioned it, demanding that all churches under the Malankara Church be governed as per the Church Constitution of 1934.

The validity of the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church to govern the parishes under the church had already been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Orthodox Church has been following this constitution all along.

The dispute has resulted in law and order problem in Kerala.

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