KOCHI: The Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, through its priest Fr John Moolamattom, has approached the Ernakulam District and Sessions Court with a petition demanding exhumation of the body of Joseph Paily, 74, whose funeral was conducted at St John’s Church at Kanniattunirappu in Thiruvaniyoor village on August 22, stating that the funeral rites were performed without the permission of the vicar and with police assistance.
Apprehending untoward events during the funeral service, Joseph’s family, which belongs to the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, had sought police assistance to ensure that the rites proceeded smoothly. Joseph, resident of Kidangayam in Ernakulam, passed away on August 20. His funeral rites were conducted by Jacobite priests, which the Orthodox faction opposed. “The funeral rites had to be conducted by the Orthodox priests and it was not done in this case. The Orthodox faction is the custodian of St John’s Church as per the Supreme Court verdict of 2017 and the Jacobite faction had forcibly conducted the burial,” said a source.
In his petition, church vicar Fr John Moolamattom alleged that the burial was done in the church without his permission and asked the court to order exhumation of the body from the cemetery, following which the court sent a notice to the relatives of the deceased.
“To dig up the grave of a dead is inhumane. We belong to the Jacobite faction and the funeral rites were done by our priests. He was buried in our family grave. Now with the petition to exhume the body, they are insulting the departed,” said Jose Kolannayil, a family member of the deceased.
However, Orthodox Church spokesperson Fr Johns Abraham Konat said let the district court take a decision on the issue. “It is the vicar who has submitted the petition and since the case is being taken up by the court, let it decide,” said Fr Johns.
Meanwhile, Fr Sleeba Paul Vattavelil, priest trustee of the Jacobite Church, said the action of the Orthodox faction is inhumane and beyond explanation.