Hopes for positive response from Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church Ignatius Aphrem II has called for peace between the two factions of the Malankara Church based on dignity and respect for each other.
On his second apostolic visit to India, the Patriarch told a press conference here on Tuesday: “I will do all I can to achieve peace based on respect, dignity and mutual acceptance.”
The Patriarch of Antioch said he had extended an invitation for talks to Catholicos of the East Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and though there was no reply so far he expected a a positive response. He said he was deeply concerned about the ordinary members of the Church. “We are not the Church, we are its servants,” he said noting the “sufferings” undergone by the believers whose weddings, funerals and other services were disrupted on account of the dispute between the two factions of the Malankara Church.
Catholicos of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church Baselios Thomas I and Synod secretary Joseph Mar Gregorios were among those present at the Patriarch’s interaction with the press.
The Patriarch said he would skip visiting the Parumala pilgrim centre. He said he wanted to underline his deep desire for peace between the two groups of the Malankara Church as he was the spiritual father to all the believers.
He said he would be travelling to New Delhi to meet the President and the Prime Minister, whose interventions would be sought to achieve peace in the Church in India.
He said he did not expect New Delhi to directly intervene in the matter but to be facilitators of a process of achieving permanent peace.
He thanked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for encouraging him to visit the State in a bid to achieve peace in the Malankara Church.
He said the government had made arrangements for his visit as a guest of the State.
Referring to the Supreme Court verdict in the standoff between the two groups of the Malankara Church, the Patriarch described his visit to India as following several “difficult and painful events”. Here is a group of people who have been deprived of their churches and places of worship, he said, as he pointed out that he had extended an invitation to all to sit down for talks to achieve peace and to draw up the future course of action.
On possible leadership changes in the Jacobite church, he said it would be left to the local Synod to decide. He would not impose or force any changes, he added.
On the situation in Syria, he said that the government forces had recently achieved much success but a vast majority of the Christians had fled the country. He did not expect most of these Christians to return. Even if 5% of them returned it would be a good result, he said.
Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, head of the Jacobite faction of the Malankara Church, has called for replicating what he called the “Malabar model” of peace between the two groups of the Malnakara Church.
He said that though the Orthodox faction of the Malankara Church was numerically quite strong in the Malabar region, the two groups had forged peace among themselves.