Negotiations with Rome
It is true that the Holy Synod had entrusted Bishop Ivanios with the task of negotiations with an ancient Church because St. Dionysius and the Synod were very much concerned about a defeat in the court of law. If the court decided against the Metropolitan of Malankara, particularly against the Catholicate, in favor of the Patriarch of Antioch, it would permanently damage the credibility and legitimacy of the Catholicate-Patriarchate of the East. In such a situation, the recognition of the Catholicate by another ancient Church was crucial. It was for this purpose that the Holy Synod instructed Bishop Ivanios to look for avenues to establish canonical connection with an ancient Church. The Holy Synod never had the intention of establishing any alliance with Rome, that had destroyed Orthodoxy in the past, and that had many heterodox doctrines.
However, Bishop Ivanios took this opportunity to start negotiations to realize his own dreams for power and wealth. He thought that a less educated episcopate in the Synod would easily follow him and he could be the leader of them. By this time he knew that he would not be the next Catholicos, and this situation urged the ambitious bishop to seek a haven where he could find himself with power and wealth. With his contact of the western churches at Serampore, he knew very well that Rome would be that haven where he would receive a warm welcome and immense wealth to carry on establishing an eastern rite under the Pope. He also dreamed that he could establish an Eastern Rite Catholicate under Rome, and he could be the Catholicos of those following him to Rome.
While negotiations with Rome were secretly progressing he convinced Rome that the Catholicos and the other bishops with their flock would join the Roman Church, while he knew very well that it would never happen. But he knew that that was the only way to impress Rome. During this time he tactfully managed to convince the Holy Synod to consecrate another bishop as his assistant (Jacob Theophilus). A shrewd bishop, Ivanios did this for his own elevation as the Metropolitan of Bethany. Why? This was the only way to impress Rome that he was equal to an Archbishop and he had a suffragan bishop. According to the Roman terminology a metropolitan is an archbishop. He was actually preparing the way for his ascent as an archbishop or a Catholicos in the Roman Church. If he went to Rome without another bishop or without the title of metropolitan, the Pope would not have permitted a hierarchy under him. The Orthodox hierarchy was so naïve or did not have the farsightedness to understand the cunning plans of Ivanios. They trusted him, because it was in him the Church invested all her hopes, as he was the most educated among bishops. The Synod never thought that Ivanios would ever betray her, or deceive his own spiritual father, St. Dionysius, who had loved him more than any other bishops.
It is said by Roman Catholic historians that it was because Ivanios was a man who wanted to keep his promise to Rome that he joined the Roman Church. According to them the Synod of Malankara did keep its promise. The truth is that the Synod never asked Ivanios to start negotiations with Rome for union. Ivanios did it for his own advantage, which the Synod never approved.
Finally, rejecting his mother Church that nourished him in every manner, Ivanios professed the Roman faith in front of Bishop Bensiger of Quilon on September 20, 1930, assuming that the Pope will eventually make him a Catholicos. That dream did not realize. Rome clearly said a Catholicate would not be established under Rome, because the Orthodox Catholicos did not join the Roman Church. This has been the position of Rome that when there is an Orthodox Patriarchate or Catholicate, the Pope would not erect a parallel uniate patriarchate or Catholicate.
Eventually Metropolitan Ivanios was made the Archbishop of Trivandrum, and Bishop Theophilus was made the Bishop of Thiruvalla within the recently established Malankara Syrian Catholic Rite in Keralam. Ivanios really wanted to be a Catholicos, but he did not have the title, but he acted like a patriarch or Catholicos. In 1934, four years after his defection to Rome, he published the anaphoras of St. James the Apostle and St. Xystus of Rome. I am quoting a relevant part from the page of approbation. Here is the Syriac original: “Iyavanis Givargis Panikker Veettil, d’rahmav d’aloho metropulito d ’Trivandrum: bourktho shlihoitho v’shlomomo moranayo l’ahain m’yakre episcope v’labnayin habibe kurepiscope v’kashishe…” (Published by Mar Julius Press, Pampakuda, 1934).
Panikker Veetil Ivanios Givargis,
By the Grace of God
Archbishop of Trivandrum:
Apostolic Benediction and Lordly Peace to our honorable bishops and to our sons the chorbishops and priests!
The phrase “Apostolic Benediction” is used only by patriarchs and catholicoi who are occupants of Apostolic Sees. An ordinary archbishop or bishop does not use this phrase, although they are also successors of apostles. In 1934 Archbishop Ivanios had only one bishop under him, Bishop Theophilus. But the plural indicates that he claims to be the head of a Synod, who is a Catholicos or Patriarch.
The newspapers report that Bishop Isaac Clemis of Thiruvalla (the Uniate Diocese) has said that Archbishop Ivanios would have his most rejoicing moment in heaven at the declaration of conferring the title of Catholicos on his successor at Trivandrum. Let me correct you, bishop: Archbishop Ivanios must have gnashed his teeth in the belly of the Cathedral at Trivandrum, because this was the title he surely wanted to hold, but never had the blessing to hold.