Tussle at St Mary’s Church in Kochi likely to continue even after intervention

K Mohammad Y Safirulla, Ernakulam District Collector, presided over the meeting held on Saturday in which both the factions took part. 

Published: 14th January 2019 02:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2019 02:23 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The tussle at St Mary’s Church, Pazhamthottam, near Kolencherry, between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions has reached a truce for the time being following the intervention of the district administration. K Mohammad Y Safirulla, Ernakulam District Collector, presided over the meeting held on Saturday in which both the factions took part. 

The Collector, Revenue Divisional Officer Muvattupuzha, senior police officials and members representing both the Orthodox and Jacobite factions took part in the meeting. 
In the meeting, the Collector directed both the factions not to disrupt the law and order. Since the Supreme Court and the district court ruled in favour of the Orthodox faction, they must be allowed to offer holy mass in the church, he said. “We do not want any law and order issues in the district and they have been directed to maintain peace,” said K Bijumon, Muvattupuzha DySP, who took part in the meeting.

As per the demand of the Jacobite faction, they have been allowed to offer holy mass at the nearby chapel of the church. “The Catholicos who was on a hunger strike from Saturday evening ended it after holy mass was conducted the following morning. In the meeting, the Collector took the decision unilaterally, and they were given full authority. We are willing to give them the church, but we will offer holy mass at the chapel,” said Sleeba Paul Corepiscopa Vattavelil, priest trustee.

Though the agreement was made earlier in 1978 between both the factions to conduct the holy mass based on timings, it came to an end with the Supreme Court verdict in favour of the Orthodox faction. With the district court allowing the Orthodox faction to implement the order of the Supreme Court, they entered the church to offer holy mass.

“We have approached the district court to implement the SC order and they have allowed us to do so, then why should we wait for others’ permission?” asked Fr Johns Abraham Konat, spokesperson of the Orthodox Church. Even the meeting with the District Collector favoured us, and the Jacobites are not allowed to enter the church premises, he added.

He also said they have no problem with the faithful attending the holy mass and in conducting funeral rites on the premises. Meanwhile, Kuriakose Mar Theophilos, official spokesperson of the Jacobite Church, said the Orthodox faction has completely betrayed them. “We have approached the High Court with an appeal regarding the church issues. When the state government is intervening to solve the cases related to the churches they are taking over the full authority of the Church.

Where will our faithful go?” he asked.
Fr Varghese Kallapara, convenor, the Quest for Peace Secular International Samithi, said the actions of the Orthodox faction clearly reveal they are not standing with the beliefs. “They cannot forcefully enter the church and take over it. They have agreed to have talks with the government and they should not insult the beliefs by implementing the law forcefully,” he said. 

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