Through the month, tensions ran high at two prominent churches at Piravom and Kothamangalam.

Kerala government to mediate in Church feud CM Pinarayi Vijayan
news Religion Monday, December 31, 2018 - 15:39

Breaking his silence on the issue, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday that the state government will do its best to end the ongoing row between the warring Orthodox and Jacobite church factions under the Malankara Church.

Replying to questions on the row between the two factions, which has led to mass protests over the control of the churches ever since a controversial 3 July Supreme Court ruling, 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,” he said.

Through the month, tensions ran high at two prominent churches at Piravom and Kothamangalam, when angry supporters of the rival factions took on each other over control of the churches.

After the SC 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, physically blocking Orthodox clergymen who attempted to enter.

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 control of the churches.

Matters came have come to a head in 2017, when after decades of legal trials, 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, made some pointed remarks that appear to point at the Congress in Kerala as well. 

Taking a pot shot at former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is a member of the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox faction head Paulose II sarcastically 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.

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