Kerala Orthodox Church reads out circular in parishes against referendum bill

The Kerala Law Reforms Commission chaired by Justice K T Thomas recently proposed to the state government to hold referendums to determine the ownership of churches and their institutions.

Published: 22nd November 2021 01:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd November 2021 01:44 AM   |  A+A-

St.Thomas Orthodox Church Kangazha

St.Thomas Orthodox Church Kangazha (Representational Image | YouTube screengrab)

By Express News Service

KOCHI:  The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) read out a resolution in its parishes on Sunday expressing strong disapproval of and protest against the recent recommendation of the Kerala Law Reforms Commission chaired by former Supreme Court judge Justice K T Thomas. 

Holding referendums in parishes where there are disputes to decide on who gets control of the churches is against the existing laws of the country, said the resolution. The Church demanded the laity and others to reject the recommendations of the commission.

“The recommendations are against the 2017 Supreme Court verdict and, therefore, these will not stand legally. The recommendations included are the views expressed by Justice K T Thomas in many events organised by the Jacobite Church. Therefore, we request the state government to reject the commission’s recommendations without even considering them,” stated the resolution. 

“We hope that the state government will not implement the draft bill submitted by the commission,” said Orthodox Church secretary Biju Oommen. The Church authorities are also planning to mail the resolution to the chief minister. 

Meanwhile, the Jacobite Syrian Church urged the government to implement the recommendations in the churches where there is a dispute over the ownership at the earliest. A resolution in this regard was read out at the parishes under the Jacobite Church on Sunday as well. 

“Earlier itself, when the draft bill was published by the Commission on its website, we had welcomed the recommendation on holding referendums at the churches to end the dispute. The resolution will be passed by all parishes under the Church favouring the implementation of the recommendations and submitted to the state government,” said Jacobite Church Metropolitan Trustee Mar Joseph Gregorios. 

The Kerala Law Reforms Commission chaired by Justice K T Thomas submitted the final bill to the state government recently proposing referendums to determine the ownership of churches and their institutions. 
As per the proposal, ownership of churches should be decided by collecting the majority opinion after holding a referendum among respective parishioners. The commission had noted that there were incidents of churches being taken over from the community that had majority in the particular parishes and handed over to the group in minority.


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