KOTTAYAM: The Church of South India (CSI) has come out with a robust denial in the wake of a newspaper report of the Church severing ties with the Kerala Council of Churches (KCC), a non-Catholic regional ecumenical organisation. CSI moderator Bishop Thomas K Oommen clarified the church had never taken such a decision. In an exclusive chat with Express, Bishop Oommen said the CSI decided not to cooperate with the KCC on the grounds of its induction of K P Yohannan’s Believers Church into the council, shrugging off the CSI’s submission on the matter.
As part of strengthening its stance, a pastoral note will be read out in CSI churches this Sunday explaining the position of the church to its congregation.Bishop Oommen said he, as a moderator, ruled in the first Kerala region synod held in Kottayam recently that CSI members should take a non-cooperative stance towards the KCC as the council hurt the CSI’s sentiments in its triennial assembly held on August 25, 2016, disregarding the CSI’s stand not to include the Believers Church in the council. The synod comprises members of six CSI dioceses in the state.
“I asked our members to keep alive their KCC memberships. We will never withdraw our membership as we are the founder members. At the same time, since the KCC took a decision against the CSI, our members should not participate in KCC activities and not let out our premises for its functions in the prevailing situation. This will be our stance till the KCC rectifies its mistake,” he said, adding the CSI and other Kerala Churches wanted the continued existence of the Kerala Council of Churches.
“While ecumenism is the focal point of the CSI, we also demand a discipline in ecumenism. We expect more discussion on the induction of the Believers Church into the KCC before its next assembly,” he said.
He came out vehemently against self-made bishops and, according to him, the CSI never considered Believers Church head K P Yohannan a bishop. “Episcopacy has always been a sublime position theologically and historically. The CSI never consecrated Yohannan who is a layman. A bishop can be consecrated only with the decision of the church committees concerned and with the authorisation of the moderator.
“Since the CSI synod executive had never taken such a decision, Yohannan’s consecration was null and void. He is still a layman. “As per the constitution, decision and resolution, CSI have no links with the Believers Church or K P Yohannan. If they are confident, they can prove the constitutional authorisation after submitting authentic documents in this regard,” he said.Bishop Oommen added he reiterated this stance when Yohannan came to meet him in person, and his stand was appreciated by other churches. “A vast majority in various churches are dissatisfied with the KCC’s decision to include the Believers Church as its member,” he said.