The Koonen Cross Oath

Written By: on Jan 5th, 2010 and filed under Columns.

other Church. India and China were known to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Maphrian of Tigris. The claim of Patriarch of Antioch as Patriarch of India and China is, however, not true to reality.

It also advises the Malankara Christians to “proceed according to the rite of the holy Roman Church”. At the same time it does not refer either to the retention by the Jesuits or to the call to make preparations to release him when he arrives at Cochin. On the whole, the letter quoted by Malancharuvil does not agree with the Kerala tradition on many points and hence it is open to question. A copy of this letter is at Appendix.II.

The Orthodox Church of Syria, however, does not reckon Mar Ahatallah as the Patriarch of Antioch. Neither was there any Patriarch of his name nor had any Patriarch of his name died in 1653 or near about that year. The Patriarch in 1653 according to the Syrian Church was Simaun (1640-59), the 124th Patriarch *8

Mar Thoma I

The aggrieved Christians assembled at Alangad near Angamalee on May 22, 1653 and raised their leader Arch Deacon Thomas Parampil as the head of the Church with the title of Mar Thoma (1) n the strength of Mar Ahatallah’s letter. It is said that twelve priests consecrated him by imposing their hands.

At the assembly, a Committee of four priests namely, Kadavil Alexander Kathanar of Kadamattom, Abraham Thomas Kathanar of Kallicherry (Aanjilimoottil Itty Thomman)9, George Kathanar of Vengur and Palliveetil Alexander Kathanar of Kurvilangad, was appointed to assist Mar Thoma I.

Carmelite Mission

On hearing these developments, Pope Alexander VII was vexed and tried to reconcile Mar Thoma to Arch Bishop Garcia. Also, “Two Apostolic Commissaries Guissepe a S. Maria a.C.D. (known to the Christians of Malabar as “Sebastiani”) and Hyacinth (Giacinto) de Vicentio were sent to Malabar by the Roman Congregation of Propaganda Fide endowed with special powers from Pope Alexander VII to investigate and settle the matter. *10 But the efforts proved futile.

In the meanwhile, Garcia had influenced the Raja of Cochin and Raja of Purakkad to issue specific orders that the Syrian Christians should submit to none other than himself. Soon after their arrival in 1657, the Carmelite fathers told the Syrian Christians in a conference summoned by them that they have come to set right the grievances which they had written to the Pope and also that “not only was the Archdeacon (MAR THOMA)’s consecration sacrilageous but that all his subsequent acts were null and void. The Syrian Christians replied that the whole matter could be set right by arranging for the proper consecration of Mar Thoma whom the whole community had hosen as their prelate. The missionaries had to reply that this was impossible”.*11

This tactical struggle between the Carmelite Missionaries on one side and Mar Thoma on the other continued for a few years more. “The result of these disputes was to divide tbe Christians of St. Thomas sharply, some remaining loyal to the Holy See, others insisting that the Church must return to its former obedience. In many places the opposing parties resorted to violence.”12 To bring out an acceptable formula for everyone concerned, a meeting was convened at Cochin on September 23, 1657 which was attended by the Carmelite Fathers, the Syrian Christians and the vicar of Arch-bishop and his supporters. “The deposition of Mar Thoma was not discussed; but it was agreed that Fr. Joseph should assume the Govt. of the Christians. Objection was made to this by the Portuguese who said that the Christians must be told to obey the archbishop but this was over ruled and the Christians accepted the Father as their prelate, embraced him and took him back to his house in procession.”13 Fr. Joseph in such circumstances persisted in his efforts to bring a complete acceptance of Pope by the reluctant parishes. These parishes were invited for a final meeting in Co chin in

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