PIRAVOM: Piravom witnessed two sets of emotions on Sunday, the day that saw members of the Orthodox faction celebrating Holy Mass in St Mary’s church after 42 years.
While it was a joyous occasion for the Orthodox faction, sadness and dejection were writ large on the face of Jacobites who vowed to continue their “fight for justice”.
On Sunday, as per the directive of the Kerala High Court, the church was opened by the RDO for Holy Mass to be celebrated by the Orthodox believers in the presence of a huge posse of cops.
Even as the laity took part in the Holy Mass offered by vicar Fr Skaria Vattakkattil inside the church, right outside at Pallikavala Junction, Jacobite faction members had set up a makeshift altar where Fr Varghese Panachiyil celebrated Holy Mass.
The High Court had said the parishioners and those who accepted the 1934 Malankara Church constitution can attend Holy Mass in St Mary’s church.
The court had directed the police to arrest and detain those who cause trouble without bail until its next hearing. The HC directive acted as a deterrent and the situation at Piravom was by and large peaceful.
According to Fr Skaria, it was a victory of truth.
“The SC ruling upholds the power of truth. This shows that this is a country where justice reigns supreme. We had been kept out of our church for the past 42 years. But justice prevailed and we thank Lord Almighty for helping us achieve victory,” he said.
According to him, they don’t want to keep their brethren out of the church. “All they have to do is sign the forms that show that they are ready to abide by the 1934 constitution,” said Fr Skaria.
However, the members of the Jacobite faction were inconsolable. “They are asking us to ditch our belief to get permission to enter the church that is rightfully ours,” said a parishioner.
After offering Holy Mass at Pallikavala Junction, Fr Varghese exhorted all Jacobite believers to boycott everything associated with the Orthodox Church.
“We have been feeding their coffers by depositing offerings at pilgrim centres owned by the Orthodox faction. And they have been using this money against us,” he said. “Let’s stop helping them,” he added.
After the Mass, members of the Jacobite faction took out a protest march to the town centre. According to the members of the Jacobite faction, they will be continuing their protests and the future course of action will be drawn up in the coming days.
The latest developments come after the Supreme Court flayed the High Court for allowing Jacobites to conduct prayers inside the church, which was against its order of July 2017.
The judgment had handed over the control of the 1,100 churches and parishes under the Kerala Malankara Church to the Orthodox faction, as per the 1934 Malankara Church constitution.
The Kerala High Court, in turn, set September 26 as the deadline to implement the SC order. This had put the state government also under pressure, which was asked to submit a report by 1.45pm on Thursday. Collector S Suhas on Saturday had submitted a report before the court in this regard.
On Thursday, September 26, the church witnessed dramatic scenes when the police tried to open the gates to allow the Orthodox believers to enter. The fight between the two factions of Malankara Church - the Orthodox and the Jacobite - is more than half-a-century old.