A priest of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, Rev. Ramban Yuhanon, has been warned by the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in Kerala against participating in any movement supporting the nuns' protest against rape-accused Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The move comes days after Sr Lucy of the Mananthavady diocese of the Orthodox Church in Kerala was barred from participating in church activities after she lent her support to the protesting nuns.
A letter addressed by the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate to Rev. Ramban read, "...there were some complaints from some of our Bishops and people about some of your recent activities. You are known to have continuously been engaged in public demonstrations in the name of the 'Church Act Bill'. Especially your involvement and public speeches supporting the Catholic nuns who are conducting some sort of strike at High Court junction, Ernakulam, are all seemingly more than the envisaged living style of our Syrian Orthodox monks. Our system of monasticism is more of a style of confinement and concentrated in fasting, prayer etc., than public activities and demonstrations. And as such, the above mentioned activities of yours is said to have caused disgrace for the status of monasticism in our church of India. Also, these sort of activities of yours have been brought to the attention of His Holiness our Patriarch as well.
‚ÄúTherefore our Patriarch, his Holiness Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, who is in charge of all the monks in the church, has directed us to advice and instruct you to refrain yourself from the said public style of activities and to be more obedient to our episcopal system of the church."
The letter also warned the priest that if he does not heed the warning, disciplinary action will be taken against him by the church.
A prominent figure in the Jacobite church in Kerala, Rev. Ramban is a priest at the Piramadam Dayara near Muvattupuzha in Kerala. The warning came following Rev. Ramban's participation in the 14-day protest to arrest Bishop Franco held in Kochi. Rev. Ramban also demanded the implementation of the Church Act to bring more accountability in handling the Church's wealth in Kerala. He spoke at the protest to arrest rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal held in Kochi and had even participated in the solidarity protests held at Kottayam and Thodupuzha.
Reacting to the warning, he said that he woild continue his particpation in the fight for justice and stand in solidarity with the protestin Catholic nuns.
The church, claryfying their stance, said that they had not banned Rev. Ramban but had asked him to not participate in protest activities organised against church leadership.
Prior to this, Orthodox nun Sr Lucy was banned by her church from church activities for supporting the cause of the protesting nuns in Kerala. A part of the Mananthavady Diocese in Wayanad, Sr Lucy Kalappura, was reportedly banned from activities such as prayer, teaching the Bible, attending worship service and other actives in her parish including offering holy communion, for lending her support to the nuns' protest to get rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal arrested.
She later clarified to the media that she had not received any written notice on this, but was deeply saddened that she had been barred from church activities. She also pointed out that she joined the protest to support her fellow nuns, and that she had not spoken against the Church.
The St Mary's Church, however, has denied that any action has officially been taken against Sr Lucy. According to a press release, the church claimed that Sr Lucy used to be involved in the training of believers and baptism activities of the church. Some churchgoers disapproved of her recent criticism of the church through social media and other publications, and this was informed to the priest, Fr Stephen Kottakkal. Churchgoers had a problem with her training their children on faith, and being involved in baptism activities, the church said.