As the century-old fight between the two factions of the Malankara Church continues with full vigour, both Jacobites and Orthodox groups are now losing their sleep over a fresh issue: sheep stealing.
Of late, both factions have been witnessing a dip in the number of believers, mainly because of the fight between them over ownership of churches and properties. According to reliable sources, there are many who have embraced other faiths, especially Pentecostal Churches. Prelates of both these churches fear that a prolonged flow of believers to other denominations, would wipe out the Malankara Christians from Kerala society.
“Many psychological reasons are involved in it. If the believers don’t get what they expect from a faith, they would naturally turn to some other group which can quench their spiritual thirst. The rift has really muddled their trust in these particular faiths.
Owing to this, many traditions which were once a part of the Syrian culture has become a thing of the past. Not only faith, but a great tradition is on the verge of extinction,” said a senior Metropolitan of the Jacobite Church.
According to sources, central Kerala is witnessing a huge erosion. “Kanniattunirappu parish in Ernakulam district has witnessed an exodus of believers,” they said. “It is a sad turn of events,” admitted Catholicos Thomas Baselios I, supremo of the Jacobite Church.
Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, Head of Orthodox Syrian Church, said that not only these two factions but other denominations too are witnessing an erosion in faith. “People want miracles and easy solutions. When they get it easily, it’s obvious that they would go for it,” the prelate said.
Binoy Joseph, a resident of Mamalassery, who embraced Pentecostal faith a month ago, said that he found solace in it as they are after truth, not churches and assets.
“All this hue and cry is not to satiate the spiritual needs but materialistic desires. I could have done it much earlier,” he said.
P P Riji, another resident of Mamalassery, who became a follower of Brethren Church, said that they never got spiritual aid when they were in dire need. “One word of consolation was enough. But we could not get any from the faith we were in. None of the clerics ever tried to know our worries and resolve it,” he said.
Mar Michael Church, Mamalassery, was closed down after a clash between the two factions in May. Malankara Catholic is yet another denomination to which the believers of both factions are attracted to. “The main reason is they follow the same kind of liturgy (Antiochian liturgy), though they are under the Papacy,” they said.