DENYING THE PRIESTHOOD OF ST. THOMAS
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 SEIZES ACTION
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.
ANOTHER PAINFUL INCIDENT
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.
WITHDRAWAL OF ACCEPTANCE TO THE PATRIARCH
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?