The representatives of the Jacobite faction had reached Delhi to hold talks with top leaders of the BJP on Friday but have now returned to Kerala.

Bishop Kuriakose Mor Theophilos in black robes holding a golden cross in his right hand and standing near a microphone
news Church Monday, March 15, 2021 - 14:49

The much-awaited meeting between Home Minister Amit Shah and representatives of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church failed to take place on Sunday. According to sources from the church, their representatives who had travelled to New Delhi did not get any clear assurances about the meeting and finally returned to Kerala on Saturday evening. The representatives of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church had reached Delhi to hold talks with top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday. The Union government has been trying to end a bitter battle between the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church for possession of over 1000 churches and their properties. 

Jacobite Church Synod secretary Thomas Mar Theemothiyos, metropolitan trustee Joseph Mar Gregarious, resident metropolitan seminary Kuriakose Mor Theyophilos, Thumpamon Bishop Yoohanon Mar Milithiyos, priest trustee Sleeba Paul Vattavelil, lay trustee Shaji Chundayil and lay secretary Peter K Elias were part of the team that reached Delhi for the talks. 

"Some unexpected turn of events took place when we reached Delhi. We didn't get any assurance of the proposed meeting and finally, we decided to return to Kerala," said a source from the church.

According to sources, the BJP central leadership received information that if they conducted any talks with the Jacobite faction, it might antagonise the Orthodox faction and would reflect in the upcoming Assembly polls in Kerala. The BJP expects the support from the Orthodox faction, especially in Thiruvalla.

Resident Metropolitan Bishop Kuriakose Mor Theophilos told the media that the Jacobite Church would continue its equi-distance policy in the Assembly election. "Whoever helps the church in this period of crisis, the church will help them in the election," the Bishop said.

Church sources said that they had decided to announce the church’s stand for the Assembly elections after the meeting with Amit Shah. But when the meeting failed, the church decided to continue its stand of equi-distance in this election.

After a Jacobite Church synod meeting last Tuesday, church spokesperson Kuriakose Mar Theophilos said that the church is open to the BJP also in the upcoming election. "It is a matter of survival of the Jacobite Syrian Church and our faith. The church has no untouchability towards any political front including the BJP. The earlier discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders have been fruitful. The church supports whoever would ensure justice to the Jacobite Church. The church is providing an opportunity for the BJP to solve the issue," the Bishop said.

The statement was made days before the proposed meeting with Amit Shah.

Kerala's ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democartic Front government had also made an attempt earlier to mediate between the two factions but the efforts by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to cobble together a peace formula acceptable to both sides did not yield a result. While the Orthodox faction has stuck to their demand that a 2017 Supreme Court order should be implemented, the Jacobite faction has alleged that the Orthodox faction was "misinterpreting" the order and "taking over" their churches unethically. 

Also read: Kerala Church and the BJP: A shift towards the right or seeking patronage?