The Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Syrian Church have hardened their stance on the government move to hand over all Malankara parishes to the Orthodox groups in keeping with a ruling of the Supreme Court of India in early July 2017.
“Those coming to the churches to pray are welcome. We will not throw any devotee out of the parish churches. However, no attempt to capture the churches will be tolerated,” said Metropolitan Yuhannan Mar Diascoros, Orthodox Church Synod Secretary and Dr. Johns Abraham Konatt, Priest Trustee of the Orthodox Church at a press conference in Kochi on Saturday.
The press conference was called in the background of the Jacobite group issuing a warning early this week that Jacobite Church members would re-enter the churches seized by the State authorities and handed over to the Orthodox group according to the Supreme Court ruling.
Metropolitan Thomas Alexandreos, who heads the Jacobite forum heading a series of protests against the seizure of the churches and move to re-enter the seized churches and attached cemeteries for prayers, said that a 151-member committee had been constituted to coordinate and lead the protest.
He told a press conference here in Kochi on Saturday that the decision to launch the protest had the blessings of the Jacobite church working and managing committees.
The highlight of the action plan is the protest before the ‘churches captured by the Orthodox group’ on Sunday.
“Jacobite group members will, on December 13, re-enter the churches now captured by the Orthodox group and the cemeteries attached to them to offer prayers,” he said at the press conference.
He claimed that the Supreme Court ruling made it clear that each parish is a trust, and that parishioners and members of the trust do not lose their right over the parish churches.
The Jacobite group will also take out a ‘Protection of Faith Yatra’ from Meenangadi in the Malabar diocese to the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on December 15. The Jacobite group members will also submit a mass petition to the Chief Minister and the State Governor.
The church members plan to launch an indefinite fast before the Secretariat from January 1 if the demands are not met favourably, he added.
The Orthodox group maintained that the ‘Patriarch’s group’ (Jacobites), which now stayed away, were children of the same church. They are welcome but expressed the hope that the government would take appropriate measures to contain any law and order problems arising from the Jacobite group’s plan of protest.