KOCHI: Patriarch of Antioch Mor Aprem II on Wednesday accepted the resignation letter of Catholicos Baselious Thomas I of the Jacobite Church and relieved him from the powers of the metropolitan trustee, while directing him to remain the spiritual head of the Jacobite Church in the country.
With the Jacobite Syrian Church facing serious leadership challenges while being forced to accede quite a few churches in the recent past to the Orthodox faction, the clamour for a change at the helm has gathered momentum.
However, supporters of the incumbent Catholicos have rallied behind him, and written to the Patriarch, seeking action against the co-trustees of the Church who made the Catholicos opt to resign.
Following the letter seeking the permission of the Patriarch of Antioch, sent by the Catholicos to step down from all his duties, the Patriarch accepted his resignation letter on April 30.
In the letter sent by Patriarchal Secretary for Indian Affairs Fr Joshy C Abraham on Wednesday, the Patriarch asked him to continue as the spiritual head of the Jacobite Church and Metropolitan of the Angamaly Diocese.
He has been asked to continue temporarily as Metropolitan trustee till further arrangements are made and to act with the assistance of a committee formed by the Patriarch till then.
The committee includes Thomas Mar Timotheos, secretary of synod and Metropolitan of Kottayam diocese; Mor Severios Abraham, Assistant Metropolitan of the Angamaly region; and Mor Gregorios Joseph, Metropolitan of Kochi diocese. They will assist the temporal matters of the Church till the synod is held.
The internal rift between both the Timotheos and Catholicos factions has deepened. Sources said the majority of the working and managing committee seats were won by the Timotheos faction. It is after this the rift intensified.
Of the 22 managing committee members, nine members of the Catholicos faction have sent a letter to the Patriarch saddened with the decision of the Patriarch relieving him from administrative powers. “We are deeply saddened people responsible for the resignation have gone scot free. They used objectionable and provocative terminology to defame the Catholicos,” the letter said.
It also points out the actions of co-trustees Fr Sleeba Paul Vattevelil Cor Episcopa and C K Shaji for lack of co-operation with the Catholicos. “The kind of non-cooperation shown by the co-trustees has seriously curtailed the Church’s efforts to face the challenges in front of it and to make an all-out effort for the sheer survival of the Church,” stated the letter.
However, priest trustee Fr Sleeba Paul Vattavelil Cor Episcopa said no criticism and names were given earlier when the Catholicos attempted to resign.