Factional Feud In The Malankara Church

Written By: on Jul 15th, 2010 and filed under Columns, Features, Opinions.


Thereafter in the same year itself letter No. 203/1970 dated 27.06.1970 from Patriarch Jacob III reached the Catholicose, which denied even the priesthood of Apostle St. Thomas. The letter said as follows: Long before your letter I wondered very much at noticing another letter with the letterhead, which carries the title ’Throne of St. Thomas’ … As it becomes clear from the Gospel according to St. John (20:21-24), Apostle St. Thomas had never become a priest. By not being even a priest, how did he become an Episcopos? When not an Episcopos, how did he establish a throne? Throne of Apostle St. Thomas that the letter No. 203 mentioned again sawed seeds of quarrel in the Church of Malankara.


Holy Synod of Malankara pondered on the said letter in detail and as it contradicted the faith of the Church as well as the divine word of God, the Holy Synod declared it as worthy to be renounced and the decision was informed to the Patriarch.


Church of Malankara never assumed any income from the tomb of Patriarch Elias III at Manjanikkara and maintained that the income from there be utilised according to the wishes of H.H. the Patriarch. The Patriarch had appointed Remban Aprem Aboodhi as caretaker of the tomb of H.H. Elias III at Manjanikkara and at this crossroad rumours started to spread that the Patriarch had intentions to consecrate him as Metropolitan and to send him to Malankara as his delegate. No sooner the Catholicose got a clue on this, than he convened the Holy Synod of Malankara and the Synod decided to inform the Patriarch by means of a letter that he shall withdraw from appointing and sending Remban Aprem Aboodhi as Patriarchal delegate. Happens that he sends Remban Aboodhi as his delegate, that would cause to spoil the good relation between Malankara and the Throne of Antioch, the letter warned. It is specially noteworthy that both Mar Philoxenos (who later became His Beatitude of the Patriarchal faction) and Mar Clemis (of Knanaya Diocese), who have hailed from the former Patriarchal faction have signed this letter. Patriarch, on the contrary, having not even bothered to reply to the letter of the Synod of Malankara, consecrated Remban Aboodhi as Metropolitan and sent him with an order to the Church of Malankara to receive him as Patriarchal delegate.

Consequently, the Catholicose ordered all parish churches, as decided by the Holy Synod of Malankara, not to receive him at all. However, favouring the Patriarch some churches have received Metropolitan Aboodhi and those meetings urged people to revolt against the Catholicate. In this predicament leadership of the Church beseeched the Central Government to expel him out of India. He had to leave India on 8th July 1973.

After Metropolitan Aboodhi had left India, the Patriarch Jacob III retaliated by summoning some priests to Damascus, to his abode, and after consecration sending them back as Metropolitans to Malankara. Thus, Kadavil Paul Remban, Cheruvallil Fr. Thomas and Perumpillil Fr. Geevarghese arrived at Malankara as Metropolitans.


On 03.08.1974 the Holy Synod of the Church in Malankara withdrew every acceptance to the Patriarch, which was in craft from 1958, citing various charges, namely, sending a delegate to Malankara from 1970 onwards; denial of even priesthood to Apostle St. Thomas, the founder of the Church in Malankara; consecration of Metropolitans violating constitutional stipulations etc. On 16th June 1975 the Patriarch summoned his supporting Metropolitans from Malankara to Damascus and the combined synod of Damascus condemned the Catholicose as well as all Metropolitans of his Synod. In the month of September of the same year the Patriarch consecrated Paulose Mar Philoxenos, Metropolitan of Kandanad, as counter Catholicose. Patriarchal faction formed a counter association named ’Malankara Yacobaya Association’ to install a parallel arrangement. These actions paved way to fights and legal procedures between the factions like in the times before 1958. As we are now awaiting the final verdict on these issues from the Honourable Supreme Court, some questions are relevant, it looks like.

1. The Patriarch and the Catholicose accepted each other in 1958 as per the relevant clauses of the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Church. Then, is it not a rightful claim from the Catholicose faction that the Patriarch shall involve himself in the Church of Malankara as per that Constitution alone?

2. Have not both the factions together amended and accepted the Constitution of 1934 in 1967, which was in craft during the time of mutual acceptance in 1958? Have not bishops of Patriarchal faction too sent necessary orders to respective parish churches to implement this amended constitution? Didn’t Paulose Mar Philoxenos also, who was later consecrated as the first Catholicose of the Patriarchal faction, implement this Constitution in parish churches of his diocese?

3. Is it not a serious heresy, which H.H. Jacob III claimed in his letter No. 203, that St. Thomas the Apostle was not even a priest? He himself says in his book ’Syrian Church History’ on page 149: ”During the spring season of AD 28, St. Thomas was elevated to the rank of Apostles along with other disciples”. Again on page no. 164, he says that, “After having sown the seed of Gospel in Malankara he (St. Thomas) ordained priests from four families to serve this young Church, namely from Sankarapuri, Pakalomattam, Kalli, and Kaliyankal, who have embraced Christianity from among the Barahmins”. If St. Thomas was not a high priest, how could he have been ordaining priests? Is it not amazing that a section of people from Malankara have no ill feeling for embarrassingly abjecting St. Thomas and spreading such a severe heresy?

What would have been the situation, had someone else have voiced this kind of a remark?

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17 Responses for “Factional Feud In The Malankara Church”

  1. Abraham says:


    It is the impression, your media gives that , the Orthodox church is not coming forward to solve the issues. It is always the IOC thats wants to unite.

    Your church, is the one that talks about division. Just now, you yourselves told to divide property based on the majority. It is your mentality to divide and separate.

  2. Dear Tubby,

    Court cases shall go on and on. It will never end.

    The fact is that fundamental faith regarding the church administration is different. Both the groups are unable to compromise due to their own reasons. So only better way to move forward is to have peace talks and out of court settlement.

    Why the Orthodox faction is not coming forward to resolve the issues. Orthodox faction know that church which are under case are not truly erected by Orthodox faction. It was due to small faction which made the church closed.
    Patriarch faction even declared openly to divide the property depending upon the majority of people, which is a democratic way.

    The biggest mistake in the Malankara Orthodox Church history was the unity which happened in 1958. Otherwise this much issues wouldnt have occured.

    Geogy Abraham

  3. K. T. George says:

    For the last 60 plus years, I have been inundated with speeches and articles describing us(orthodox) as angels and the others as devilish villans. As a young boy, I had been awestruck with the arguments of Nambiar and the like lawyers in Samudayam case. Little did I realize that I would be still awestruck by the arguments and jugments during my retiring years. Let me quote from the Supreme Court judgment of 1995 thus:

    R. M. SAHAI, J: – When Lord Jesus Christ was asked by a young man who was possessed of property what was the road to heaven, the Holy Bible records in Chapter 19 of the New Testament – Gospel According to St. Mathew thus:
    “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    And he said unto him Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    He said unto him, Which? Jesus said. Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
    Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
    The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
    Jesus said unto him, if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
    But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
    Turning “away sorrowful”, is the long and short of this litigation between two rival groups of Jacobite Christian Community of Malabar which has been going on for more than hundred years apparently for religious and spiritual supremacy over Church but really for administrative control and temporal powers over vast assets which have accumulated over 3000 star pagodas created in 1808 for charitable purposes by one Moran Mar Marthoma VI popularly called ‘Dionysius the Great’. (Litigation P.M.A. Metropolitan v. Moran Mar Marthoma)
    The above box is an excerpt from the verdict of the 1995 Indian Supreme Court which ruled in our favour. Judge Sahai went on to comment that ‘positions of power’ and ‘profit’ were the real reasons for continuing the litigation and vested interests contributed to its long journey. When I read this portion for the first time a few years ago I was taken aback at the non-Christian judge’s forthright observation about our combined Community’s hypocrisy, greed and viciousness in dragging the litigation.
    I have been following some of the postings in Orthodox Herald. The intensity of feelings expressed in the language of some of these postings shows why we cannot have unity and peace.
    The analogy, though crude, of Syrian hare (hamster) comes to my mind. People often adore them as cute and lovely pets. They are friendly to each other when they are young, but as adults they are quite happy kept as single animals and often fight to finish if kept in groups. So each adult Syrian hare has to be caged separately as a pet.
    It is a curious irony that we two factions have ‘Syrian’ as the common denominator. By our behavior in the sixties and seventies, we proved that we can be coexisting fairly friendly for a short period of time, but, after a certain growth in our life, just as adult Syrian hares, we cannot co-exist as one Community. So, what is the remedy?
    The remedy may have been shown by the Toronto parish of our Church. Two groups in this parish existed together for a while and then fought and separated. They came together again and existed amicably for a short period of time before fighting and separated. (Syrian Hares?) The last litigation is still in the court. The diocesan Metropolitan has issued a Kalpana a few weeks back asking the two groups to divide the assets based on the membership at the time of the split, and go as separate parishes.
    If this is a reasonable and rational solution for a parish in our Church, then the same principle is equally valid between the two factions of the ‘Jacobite Christian Community of Malabar’. Both factions contributed to the creation of assets. After all, many leaders from our own Community advocated giving them even more so that we can grow and prosper in peace. The other faction also should reciprocate.
    Putting all of them again in one ‘cage’ would start the fight all over again after a ‘gestation’ period.
    No more you-are-wrong-and-we-are-right moralistic verbal acrobatics, please.

  4. KK says:

    For all of you if you can read these two books ” Mystical Life of Jesus and The Secrect Docrines of Jesus” both written by H. Spencer Lewis. it will educate all civilized people. Even a non believer as long as you have some civility or humanity .

  5. Tubby says:

    Dear Geogy,
    Any peace talk or action surpassing the final verdict from the Supreme court of India which clearly uphold the1934 constitution of the church is invalid. The Jacobite faction is free to construct any nummber of churches under the Puthencruz society as it was done by the Mathomite section when they lost their rights on Malankara church following the Royal Court Judgement. They can collect money and feed the the Patriarch of Antioch since his own members in Syria are vanishing in a rapid pace

  6. Jigme says:

    Dr. Biju,

    I sincerely hope and pray that more people will see exactly what you’re saying and as Rev. Fr. Dr. Joy Pyngolil explains so well the futility and stifling of progress in which continued discord presents for the future of the Malankara Syrian Church as a whole. People are so blinded by ideology and narrow-focus they don’t realize the harm they are doing. It is important however that we make it clear to our church leaders that the continued path of dissent is unacceptable and we can no longer stand for it.

  7. Yes I agree with Samkodiyattu.


  8. samkodiyattu says:

    The Relation of Catholicose and The Partiarch shall be sacred/brotherly in Chirst.Christ never appointed anybody from 12 apostles to be supreme or above.In Philipians 2:3 apostle Paul says” humble towardsone another,always considering others better than yourselves” The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had( V.5)Even St.Peter called st.Paul as brother and He (st.Peter) termed himself as a co-elder among Elders of church.This means all apostles are equal and their position were the same!The problems in malankara Church will be solved when Both supreme Heads consider themselves as they are the two brothers in Christ and they should behave like Christ.

  9. Dear Mr. George,

    I do not know, rather want to know about the whole Christian Church. What I aim to know is between me and my own blood brother.

    There is no such separation possible. Hope you understand me too.


    Dr. Biju Mathew

  10. Dear Dr. Biju Sir,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you sir.

    With that there shouldn’t be any division in Christians. Then the whole Christians in the world must be under single Church with no denomination, where each one love each other, help each other etc..
    Here, in this world Christians in itself have different belief, hence they divided themselves by each other, example- CSI, Marthoma, Ethopian church Russian Orthodox, Catholics. Where in Catholics there are different groups. So in Syrian Orthodox Church in Malankara, currently have two divisions with two beliefs. People of the two groups are thinking in different manner. So, in this condition it is always better to split in a godly manner. In the division I suggested among the two groups shall not deprive their rights. See the example of Cheegari Church in Malabar. Cheegari Church must be the example for all the disputed churches in Malankara.

    As you said if Theocracy comes into effect then there isn’t any problem with any church in the world.

  11. Mr George,

    Democracy means, as it is defined by Plato as well as emphasized by Abraham Lincoln, a rule upon people, which is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Church is not to be run and governed by Platonic/Lincolnic principles, but by divine principles. It is not the majority that governs the Kingdom of God, but the Holy Spirit, truth, life and love that are taught by the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ said that ‘they may be one in my name’, which we read in the Gospel of John. Therefore, let them may not be divided by some power and money crazy Arabs, nor by position crazy myopic Indians. May them be governed completely and purely by Indians, whom God has chosen, from among Indians. So no sooner ‘Theocracy comes into effect in the Indian Church, than democracy, problems will be solved. That will happen outside the court as you have rightly mentioned.


    Dr. Biju Mathew, Kottayam

  12. It was a quite interesting article. The matter might be correct. But now how to resolve the problems of Malankara Church properties.

    Now people of both groups must come forward to discuss the problem and shall make a solution. It is quite sure that dispute will continue if it is carried in court. Therefore, dispute must be resolved out of court among the both Synod.

    India is a democratic country and therefore must be resolved in democratic manner. The majority must rule the Church & their properties; if not property shall be divided with regards to the proportions.
    Why Indian Orthodox Church is afraid to proceed with peace talks (i.e. resolving the dispute in democratic manner) but asking to implement 1934 constitution?

  13. Edayanal Achen said it right. All the current issues have a historical fact. I believe it is not the ignorance history that is creating the current litigation but it is the lack of vision for the future. In addition to, both parties forgot about the heavenly throne and fighting for the temporal throne. I do not think St. Thomas or St. Peter is going to sit on the throne when the Supreme court (court of Law not Justice) of India identify the real person and his Christ given authority. There was a time in Roman Catholic church where three Popes existed and two papal thrones functioned well over 70 years (Avignon Papacy). However, the division did not last long (only 70 years!) due to timely intervention and creative efforts. Italy and France were not fighting.

    It is time for Indian church after 100 years of litigation to stop it and move forward with new vision. We live in a world with freedom of choice and religion. Nobody has the right to impose any religious beliefs on any one else. Ecumenical relationship, inter-communion,and internal administrative freedom must be recognized and perpetuated. Religion.church has a cultural background too. Syrian culture is different than Indian culture. Stop all litigation and mediate issues in a Christian way to bring about reconciliation.

    It is not the Syrian Patriarch or the Indian Catholicose (titles) face the real problem, but people -sometimes members of the same family. Ancient church buildings without maintenance for decades stay there weeping and the souls of those who built them curse the current senseless litigation. Wake up leaders, let us reconcile and move on to glorify His Name.

  14. Other than words of curse, destruction and negativism do you have anything to write, talk or act? What does your Viswasasamrakshakan write? Only pathetic filth. Correct yourself first and then dare to come to our publications to write something. First remove the log in your eyes and then dare to pick out the speck in your friend’s eye. May God bless you to see, know and realize this truth.

    Dr. Biju Mathew

  15. The Orthodox Church of Malankara can/will not accept the Solomonic formula to cut the living child into two and divide among the two mothers, of which one has killed her child, accidentally though. A true mother will not let her child cut.

    Then there can be a question, why do not you let the other mother take the child to save the living child? Answer is simple. There is no Solomon today, at whose court you can settle the issue. Therefore, we need to be firm on our stands and thus, the true mother, who delivered with pain, opts not to cut the child into two. Children of Malankara need to remain as one and that is our philosophy. There is love that is shown and taught by the Lord Jesus Christ behind this attitude. Please understand this line of thought and bear with us.

    Dr. Biju Mathew, Kottayam

    Dr. Biju Mathew

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