The Koonen Cross Oath

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

December, 1657 which was represented by forty-four parishes. “The St. Thomas Christians at the meeting then declaring their adherence to Rome, executed a document for Fr. Joseph to take with him (to Rome) explaining why they could not submit themselves to the Jesuit archbishop.”l4

Bishop Joseph

On January 7, 1658 Fr. Joseph left [or Rome and submitted his report to the Pope in due course. The position in Malankara was reviewed. Pope acting wise, consecrated Fr. Joseph as a bishop, for the Romo-Syrians, on December 15, 1658. Bishop Joseph returned to Malankara after three years on May 14, 1661.

During the period Fr. Joseph was away from 1658 to 166 I, the Malankara See was administered by another Carmelite Fr. Hyacinth. He died in 1660 before Bishop Joseph’s arrival. Archbishop Garcia too had expired on September 3, 1659.

With the arrival of Bishop Joseph, there appeared a shirt in the attitude of a good number of Syrian Christians. The Bishop set out on a visitation of the parishes on August 22, 1661 and wherever he went, Bishop Joseph first made the clergy and the parish members take an oath of obedience to the Pope of Rome. Consequently, Kadavil Chandy Kathanar and Palliveetil Chandy Kathanar and eighty two parishes went back to the fold of Roman Catholic Church and only thirty-two parishes remained loyal to the Koonen Kurishu Sathyam. Those who went back to the Roman Catholic fold styled themselves as the Pazhaya koottukar (Members of the Old Faith) in the sense that those who betrayed Mar Thoma disregarding the Koonen Kurishu Sathyam were allegedly adherents of the Roman Catholic Church prior to the episode and called the latter the Puthen koottukar (Members of the New Faith) just because they broke off the Papal yoke and jurisdiction of a bare span of fifty years beginning with Udayamperur Synod of 1599.

Mar Thoma and his supporters, however, stood committed to their integrity. “Neither negotiations, nor threats, nor forcible measures” admits Tisserant, “used by the Portuguese authorities curbed in any way the resistance of the archdeacon’s party”.l5

Arrival of the Dutch and Decline of the Portuguese

At this juncture, the supremacy of the Portuguese in the Indian waters was challenged by the Dutch, another maritime power of Europe. This resulted in the waning of the Portuguese in Malabar also. The Dutch captured Quilon in 1661, Cranganore in 1662 and Cochin in 1663. Immediately after the capture of Cochin, the Dutch ordered all foreign priests and monks in their jurisdiction to leave the country.

First Schism – Romo-Syrians 1663

Before leaving the shores of Cochin, Bishop Joseph consecrated Chandy Kathanar of Pakalomattom family, a cousin of Mar Thoma from Kuravilangad with the title of Alexander de Campo on February 1, 1663. At the consecration of Alexander, Bishop Joseph excommunicated Mar Thoma. This wounded the Syrian Christians and led to a complete separation of those who accepted the Papal

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