KOTTAYAM: The official inauguration of the Catholicate Centenary Lecture series, which is to be held simultaneously in 1500 stations, including a few selected Churches, across India, was officially inaugurated by H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulos II, Catholicose of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, at 3.45 pm at Mar Elia Cathedral, Kottayam.
Metropolitan Youhanon Mar Polycarpose presided over the meeting and exhorted the listeners to make the grand meeting at Marine Drive, Ernakulam on 25th Nov a great success.
There were many priests and hundreds of faithful from various Dioceses from south to north of Kerala as participants of the unique function.
In the inaugural address His Holiness stated : “The year 2012 is a milestone in the history of the Church. Until the 16th century, our Church was enjoying full freedom and it was sabotaged by the intervention of the foreign churches, which came one after the other. But our Church Fathers as well as the faithful fought against such attempts with prayer and fasting and succeeded finally in 1912 by the establishment of the Catholicate. For us, it is symbol of freedom, autocelaphy and integrity.” His Holiness expressed satisfaction in organizing the inauguration of the series of talks in various stages so grandly and applauded the organizers and the large gathering representing almost all Dioceses in Kerala.
The key note address was delivered by Fr. Dr. Jacob Kurian, the well-known orator, Theologian of reputation, Scholar and above all the Principal of Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam. A gist of the thought provoking speech is given hereunder.
“The centenary celebration is to provide awareness of the significance and greatness of the Catholicate to the growing generation.
Malankara Orthodox Church is the only Church, which was established in 1st century, in a region outside the Roman Empire, which could claim the vast and bright history of continuous existence for such a long term.
In other regions, the Christian Church remained withstanding the persecutions, objections etc. from the natives whereas in Kerala, the Church was accepted with open hands and with broadminded attitude of the local inhabitants and the same sort of love and care is enjoyed still from the fellow inhabitants of India. Whereas the Church in India suffered a lot when Christians from foreign countries came and dominated the Church for about 400 years. Our Church Fathers as well as our ancestors resisted with staunch faith and hope and finally we achieved the final freedom in AD 1912.
When we feel proud of the achievements due to the establishment of Catholicate in India, we must take care to achieve more opportunities with farsighted visions. There exists a dount among many of us: whether the Catholicate was established or reestablished.
In the Church constitution it is mentioned that it was a reestablishment of the Catholicate, which was prevelant in the Eastern Orthodox Church. We could say that the Catholicate in Celucia of the third century (in the Persian Orthodox Church originally established by St. Thomas) and the Catholicate/Maphrianate established in Tigris were amalgamated and was reestablished in Malankara in AD 1912 If so, we could address it as reestablishment. In such circumstances, is the Catholicate in Malankara is under the Patriarchate of Antioch? For the reasons mentioned below, we could boldly say that the Catholicate in Malankara is not under the Patriarchate.
1) The Catholicate in Tigris was independent and there was freedom of administration according to the agreement in Capharthutha Synod of the 9th century.
2) According to the two bulls of the Patriarch, who was the chief celebrant of the establishment in 1912, it was free and was not under any other power or regime.
3) It was clearly spelled that it was on the throne of St. Thomas in India.(as announced by the celebrant Patriarch during the function)
4) It assures fellowship with the Patriarchate as well as the share of the global Christian heritage. 5) When the Chaldean Catholicate was in existence in old Persian province, it was the reestablishment of the Orthodox Catholicate, which was free. In short, we use the term reestablishment in the meaning of ‘continuation and completion’ and in such a sense there is no reason for considering being under some other powers.
While considering the freedom and autocelaphy of the Indian Church, we could use the term ‘established.’ The term established denotes something new and which has the originality. The prominence of the Catholicose being the head of the Holy Synod is to be realized as a new theory. By the establishment of the Catholicate, we were declaring the amalgamation of the Apostolic succession of the priesthood that existed here from the first century with the principle of autocelaphy. It approves the fellowship with the Patriarchate and at the same time it stands for the freedom of Malankara Church.
In short it is a reestablishment denouncing the argument of a position below some other position as well as the establishment of new chances of the independent church including the position of president in general. We have to convert the throne of St. Thomas in India and its originality to the perfection of the heritage of Marthoma.
Immediately after the establishment of Catholicate, our Church is recognized and honored by the other Christian Churches elsewhere globally”.