NEW DELHI/KOCHI: Putting a temporary halt to the dispute between Jacobite and Orthodox factions over worship at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church Kolenchery, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Ernakulam District Collector and police superintendent to facilitate worship by both factions.
The Bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi has asked the officials to hold discussions with higher authorities of both the churches to decide on shifts for worship. The SC passed the order on a petition filed by the Jacobite faction challenging an order of the Kerala High Court permitting the Orthodox faction alone to conduct worship at the church.
In its interim order, the SC noted: “The court is inclined to take the view that one sect/faction should not have an exclusive claim or an advantage over the other to the extent that the other faction is denied benefit of services within the church.” Hearing on petitions regarding the ownership of church will resume on March 16.
The present arrangement for worship in separate shifts will continue till then. “Though the Kerala HC order was in favour of the Orthodox faction we could not take over the possession of the Church as the Jacobite faction filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. Following this, the Orthodox faction approached the HC seeking police protection to enter the church and conduct worship. This was prevented by the Jacobite faction and led to a clash and they moved SC again seeking permission for worship,” said Fr Johns Abraham Konat, priest trustee of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, head, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, welcomed the SC order: “The Jacobite Church has been demanding a permanent solution for the stand off with the Orthodox Church. Jacobite Church wants to find a solution through talks and by settling cases,” the prelate said.