KOCHI: Tired of having witnessed several fights between the two warring Malankara Church factions in which even the dead are not spared, a Jacobite family here on Saturday handed over the mortal remains of their beloved to a medical college.
The family members took the decision after the Orthodox faction, which controls the St John’s Church, Kanniattunirappu, Ernakulam, where the burial was to be held, refused to allow a Jacobite priest from conducting funeral prayers as per family’s wishes, according to church vicar Fr Jibi Echikkottil.
It was on Friday that Sara Varkey, 86, a member of St John’s Church, breathed her last at her residence in Vandipetta near Tripunithura on Friday.
“As a member of the Church, everyone will desire for a burial as per the Church order in their family grave. The family desired the burial rituals to be conducted by Jacobite priests, but the Orthodox faction didn’t allow it. To avoid a tense situation, the family decided to hand over the body to the Ayurveda Medical College, Tripunithura,” said Fr Jibi.
The family said they do not prefer to be part of any tussle. “We did as per our mother’s death wish. We don’t want to create any fight over it,” said a family member.
According to a High Court verdict in March, the members of both Jacobite and Orthodox factions have equal rights to attend church or bury family members in the cemeteries. However, only the clergy appointed in accordance with the 1934 Constitution is entitled to do the burial.
“By denying proper burial to the faithful, the Orthodox faction is violating fundamental rights of people,” said Jacobite Almaya Forum working president Paul Varghese.
Meanwhile, Orthodox faction spokesperson Fr Johns Abraham Konat, said: “We weren’t against the burial of Sara. But we can’t allow Jacobite priests to conduct services in our church.”