Govt to mediate in Kerala church feud

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 31 (IANS) Breaking his silence, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Monday that the state government will do its best to end the ongoing row between the warring Orthodox and Jacobite church factions.

Replying to questions on the row between the two factions, which of late has led to mass protests over the control of the churches, Vijayan said that they will do the needful.

“We will make necessary interventions to see how best the issues can be sorted out. Whether both the factions will be invited together or if it would be one by one, is something that we will decide,” said Vijayan.

During this month, tension prevailed at two prominent churches at Vaikom and Kothamangalam, when angry supporters of the rival factions took on each other.

After a court ruling handing over the control of these churches to the Orthodox faction, Jacobite faction members took out mass protests and demonstrations to stop this verdict from being implemented.

The Syrian Orthodox Church has two factions — the Orthodox, which form the majority and has its headquarters in Kottayam, and the Jacobites, who consider the Patriarch of Antioch, based in Beirut, as their supreme leader.

During a brief period, between 1958 and 1970, following a Supreme Court ruling, both factions had remained under one roof with Kottayam being their headquarters.

However, since 1970 they have been at war over the church’s control.

Trouble has been simmering since 2017, when after decades of trial the apex court in its final verdict said there are no grounds for Jacobites to claim any of the churches of the Orthodox section.

Supreme head of the Orthodox Church Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, after hardening its stance against the Vijayan government in the past week, now appears to have cooled down.

Paulose II said that while they did not get any response from their ‘member’ when he was in office, he now expects things to work in favour of the church.

The Orthodox church head was taking pot shots at former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is a member of the Orthodox Church.

–IANS

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