The Orthodox faction of the Malankara Church in Kothamangalam has withdrawn from the peace talks initiated by the Kerala government to settle the dispute between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the church. Orthodox faction leaders told the media that the decision comes after the Home Secretary and the Ernakulam District Collector submitted affidavits at the High Court, in connection with the Kothamangalam church case. At a press meet organised by the Orthodox faction on Friday, Yuhanon Mar Diascoros Metropolitan, church Episcopal Synod Secretary, said that they would like to know if the affidavit was filed with the knowledge of the Chief Minister, who had been involved in the peace talks.
"The Chief Minister has left it to us to talk to each other. Without accepting the Supreme Court order (2017 order allowing a takeover by Orthodox faction) and abiding by the Constitution, there is no point in going forward with the talks," said the metropolitan, asking how the Home Department, which is not a party in the case, could submit an affidavit in this case.
On Thursday, the Kerala government filed the affidavit to adjourn a contempt of court proceeding in implementing the court order of taking over the St Thomas Church and handing it over to the Orthodox faction by three months. The affidavit was filed after the court criticised the government in delaying the implementation of the December 2019 order.
The High Court on Tuesday observed that the state government was not implementing its directive to take over the church and hand it over to the Orthodox faction, as ordered more than a year ago. Last year, the Supreme Court had criticised the Kerala High Court for passing an order that allowed the Jacobite faction to conduct prayers in the church, which went against the apex court order of 2017.
In 2017, the SC allowed the Orthodox faction to administer 1,100 churches and parishes under Malankara Church. The dispute between the factions, however, got uglier over the burial of the dead.