Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Aphrem II
Kochi: Patriarch of Antioch, who is the supreme leader of Jacobites in India, has written to the top priest of the rival Orthodox faction urging him to acknowledge the supremacy of Antioch to establish ‘lasting peace’ in the Church.
A spokesman of the Malankara orthodox Syrian church said their Catholicos Baselios Paulose II has received the letter from the patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Aphrem II and rejected his call, saying the Supreme Court of India has found that the situation has reached to a point wherein the spiritual and materialistic powers of the patriarch of Antioch over the Malankara church in the country has come to an end.
In his letter to the Orthodox church head Baselios Paulose II, the patriarch of Antioch said the faction has to be in communion with him as he was appointed as the Patriarch by the universal Synod.
The Malankara church cannot exist or be contemplated without being in communion with Patriarch of Antioch appointed by the Universal Synod, the patriarch said in the letter.
The patriarch called upon the Catholicos to openly and categorically withdraw the decisions taken by the Synod under his erstwhile predecessor in 1975 cutting off all connection with the patriarch of Antioch.
This is required in the interest of lasting peace in the Syrian Malankara Church in India, especially the peaceful co-existence of the entire members of our Syrian Christian community, he said.
We hope and pray that you all acknowledge the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East as the Supreme Head of the universal Syrian Orthodox Church of which the Malankara Church is an integral part and be in communion with Him and thus pave way for lasting peace in our Holy Church in India, the letter said.
The letter comes amid a fight between the Jacobite and Orthodox factions over the control of over 1,000 churches and its properties in Kerala.
In its 2017 verdict, the apex court had held that 1,100 parishes and their churches under the Malankara Church should be controlled by the Orthodox group as per the 1934 Malankara Church guidelines.
The Jacobite-Orthodox row dates back to 1912 and has led to violent clashes between the two groups in Kerala.