Kerala church feud: Five-member ministerial panel to mediate

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 1 (IANS) A five-member ministerial committee headed by Kerala Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan was set up on Tuesday to resolve the ongoing row between the Orthodox and Jacobite church factions.

The development has come a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government would do its best to bring an end to the dispute.

The committee led by Jayarajan, the number two in Vijayan’s cabinet, also includes A.K. Saseendran, E. Chandrasekheran, K. Krishnankutty and Kadanapally Ramachandran.

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

Last month, tension prevailed at two prominent churches at Vaikom and Kothamangalam when angry supporters of the rival factions clashed.

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 the verdict from being implemented.

On Monday, Vijayan promised that the government would make necessary interventions to sort out the issue.

According to a source in the committee, they are first going to talk to the rival factions separately and then will invite both the factions and will try to iron out the difference between them.

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 were no grounds for Jacobites to claim any of the churches of the Orthodox section.

–IANS

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