The Jacobite faction of the Kerala Malankara Church started a relay hunger strike to claim their rights over the church on Sunday. "Justice has been denied to the Jacobite church and the days to come are for protest," said Thomas Alexandrios Metropolitan, general convener for Action Council of Jacobites. The faction has decided to intensify its protest by entering the churches for prayers on December 13.
The Orthodox versus Jacobite battle in the Kerala Malankara Church has been ongoing for several decades. In July 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered that the disputed churches belong to the Orthodox faction, and not the Jacobites. Since then, there have been several instances of Jacobites being denied entry into Malankara churches, including for funerals. The latest standoff comes after the Kerala High Court in November criticised the state government for not implementing the court’s 2019 December order. The HC in December 2019 had directed the state government to take over the St Thomas Church at Kothamangalam from Jacobites and give it to the Orthodox faction. The demand of the Jacobite faction is that the state government should bring in legislation to prevent further taking over the churches currently retained by them.
Thomas Alexandrios Metropolitan on Saturday in a press conference said that they would set up pandals in front of all churches taken over by the district administration and handed over to the Orthodox faction. The church also said that the laity and the priests would begin a relay hunger strike from Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Orthodox faction has said that they would wholeheartedly welcome the parishioners of Jacobite churches if they want to offer prayers. In a press meet, synod secretary of the Orthodox Church Yuhanon Mar Diascoros and Church spokesperson Johns Abraham Konatt said that would legally deal with any attempt to vitiate peace or close down the churches.The rivalry over the ownership of the churches persists for over half a century.
Read this to understand the history of the feud.