KOCHI: “We are not going to surrender any more churches to the Orthodox faction, as per court orders. I will personally be at the forefront of this fight for justice,” said Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, head of the Jacobite Church, at a ceremony where Joseph Mor Gregorios was elected as metropolitan trustee at the Patriarchal Centre in Puthencruz on Wednesday.
His statement comes in the wake of the churches in dispute belonging to the Jacobites being taken over by the Orthodox faction as per the Supreme Court order of July 2017. “This is not a battle, emotions of faithful are involved. The Orthodox faction is not following the legal measures. Instead, they are taking over our churches. Despite the state government seeking the original copy of the 1934 constitution, they are reluctant to produce it,” said Kuriakose Mor Theophilose, spokesperson of the Jacobite Church.
However, Paul Varghese, president of Jacobite Almaya Forum, said, “We cannot challenge the Supreme Court order. Issues can be resolved only through proper discussions between both the factions.” Over 3,000 laypersons from different churches took part in the election in which Joseph Mor Gregorios, Metropolitan of Ernakulam Diocese, was unanimously elected.
“The election is a violation of the procedure after a secret ballot. They knew that the laity would create problems and therefore they conducted the election. Many of the churches have not taken part in it,” said a source.
Joseph Mor Gregorios was elected metropolitan trustee in a secret ballot held earlier this month. The decision to appoint a bishop to this post was taken as per the managing committee’s opinion. Meanwhile, the Bishop Thomas Mor Thimothios faction alleged that this election violated the Church constitution. Nineteen members of the Synod took part in the voting. Mor Gregorios won the secret ballot with a margin of 12 votes.