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CHAPTER 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CATHOLICATE IN MALANKARA - CAUSES



The establishment of the Catholicate in Malankara had its historical and local reasons. Though the establishment of the Catholicate took place only in 1912, a situation conducive to it existed here for a long time before. The Catholicate was established here in a historical background special to the Malankara Church. An attempt is made here to analyse this background and its remote and immediate causes.

  • Remote Causes

    • The Antiquity and Historicity of Malankara Church
      • St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ came to India and preached the Gospel. That he converted many people into Christianity, founded churches, ordained ministers and was finally martyred and buried here - is a belief held by the Malankara Church through generations.

        The Malankara Christians have held for centuries that this Church has a foundation which is as ancient and apostolic as that of any other ancient church in the world. The Nazrani community was always proud of its antiquity and traditions. This church which existed on the Indian soil for centuries had a place of honour in the Indian society.

        Although this church grew independently in India, it existed almost in isolation from other ancient Churches. This church had a very good relationship with the ancient Persian Church. Afterwards it came into contact with the Roman Catholic Church and with the Antiochan Syrian Church and the Anglican church from 17th century onwards.

        Whenever the Indian church came into contact with foreign churches, it tried hard to retain its identity and freedom for internal administration. This sense of freedom handed down through generations grew more intense by the turn of the 20th century.

    • The Persian Connection
      • The Malankara Church had established a live relationship with the Persian Church, its leadership as well as its traditions. The church looked up with enthusiasm and reverence to its relationship with the Persian Church, which was ancient and had attained phenomenal growth in history. Therefore the Malankara Church reckoned the Persian Church traditions along with or in the place of its own ancient traditions, without changing them.

        At least from the 5th century, Malankara Church was under the supervision of the Persian Catholicos or Patriarch. It was from this historical relationship that this church gained information regarding the Catholicate and its authority and powers.

        From the 16th century onwards the Romans, and from the 17th century the Antiochans portrayed the relationship between Malankara Church and the Oriental church (Persian) wrongly and with derision as heretical. Under these circumstances, Malankara Church was forced to deny and forget its ancient relation with the oriental church. Anyway, the Catholicate established in India in 1912 may be viewed as an outgrowth of its relation with the Persian Church

    • Archdeacon and Malankara Metropolitan
      • The Catholicate in the Malankara Church is the result of the indigenous growth and development of the native positions of Church leadership here - viz. "Archdeacon Metropolitan" and "Malankara Metropolitan".

      • a. Archdeacon
        • The position of "Archdeacon" with elaborate powers and authority is unique in the administrative structure in the Eastern Syrian church. This position reached the Indian Church through its connection with the Persian Church. This position grew and developed and remained in its indigenous form and stature till the 19th century in the Malankara Church. Mar Thoma VIII (1809 - 16) while answering some questions of the Madras government said that the Malankara church was ruled by Archdeacons of the Pakalomattom family from 345 to 1308 A.D, and that there were seven bishops and one Metropolitan (Archbishop) in that family. Thus the position of the Archdeacon was very important and valuable in the history of the Malankara Church.

          The administration of the Malankara Church had been done for centuries by the Archdeacons. The Persian bishops who came to Malankara had only oversight over spiritual matters like ordination of the clergy. Even such things were done as per the direction of the Archdeacon.

          The Archdeacon was the nucleus of an administrative set up in which the Malankara Church had full internal administrative freedom. They were uncrowned kings of Nazranis and were members of families of high economic and social status. They even had a small militia of their own. The oversight and rule of the political, religious and cultural life of the Malankara Nazranis were vested with the Archdeacon. He was known as the "Ruler of the people" and "The door of India".

          After the synod of Diamper ((1599), there was a conscious attempt to neutralise and nullify, the position of the Archdeacon and the system of Church administration. Subsequently Roman system of administration with the Latin Archbishop at the centre was established. The status and authority of the Archdeacon was thrown to the winds. The Coonan Cross (leaning cross) Oath of 1653 was a reaction against such extreme provocative actions. Through this the Malankara Church threw away the Roman yoke and re-established the time-old system of church administration with the Archdeacon as its nucleus. However, the relationship with the Eastern Syrian Church was virtually cut off at this time, and a situation arose where the Archdeacon was almost helpless, being without the support of the Persian connection. Undaunted, the Malankara Nazrani's, made the Archdeacon a bishop and went ahead with their destiny.

      • b. Mar Thoma Metropolitans
        • Not long after the Coonen Cross Oath of 1653, as per the decision of the Malankara Church, the Archdeacon was raised as bishop Mar Thoma I by twelve priests. During this period the Portuguese power in India declined and the Dutch began to establish their authority. This situation was favourable to Bishop Mar Thoma I with the help of the Dutch, bishop Gregorios of the Antiochan Church reached Malankara in 1665, on an invitations from Mar Thoma I. Mar Gregorios regularised the position of bishop Mar Thoma I and helped him in his battle against the Romans. From 1665 to 1816, 'Mar Thoma' Metropolitans from the Pakalomattom family ruled over the Malankara Church.

          The Mar Thoma Metropolitan had more status and elaborate authority than the Archdeacon. The Archdeacons who were the leaders in the political and community matters of the Nazranis could not ordain the necessary clerics for the church. But this inability was removed once Archdeacon Thoma was consecrated bishop. It marked the beginning of a new era in the Malankara Church history and a giant leap in the growth and development of the Church. During the time of the Mar Thorna Metropolitans, the Antiochan bishops who came here had tried to establish spiritual and temporal authority in this church. But the Mar Thoma Metropolitans strongly resisted such unwanted moves of the Antiochans. They protected the Malankara Church from the intervention of outside powers in its internal administration. However, it must also be noted that even though they could guard the freedom of internal administration they could not keep safe the Eastern Syriac traditions. As a result, the West Syrian traditions could intrude into the faith and worship-scheme of the Church. This influence later on became even a threat to the freedom of administration of the Church itself. Any way, by abouf 1816, the position of Mar Thoma Metropolitan who grew into the stature of the highest authority of the Church, was recognized by the native rulers by issuing royal edicts in his favour. Mar Dionysius II was the first to receive such a royal edict.

      • c. Malankara Metropolitan
        • We cannot say that the status of Mar Thoma Metropolitan and Malankara Metropolitan were entirely different. However we can see the position of Malankara Metropolitan as a new stage in the growth and development of the status of the head of the Church. Even though Mar Thoma Metropolitans were not known as Malankara Metropolitans, they were actually so. While Mar Thoma VIII was still alive, Pulikkottil Ittoop Ramban got consecrated as bishop by Mar Dionysius of Thozhiyoor and got the tittle "Mar Dionysius", in 1815. He got the support of the C.M.S. Missionaries who were working here and also the British authorities. Thus there were two bishops in the Church in the same time, and there was controversy regarding their authority. Therefore the Travancore and Cochin governments issued a royal proclamation that Malankara Nazranis must accept Mar Dionysius II as their Metropolitan and obey him. This was in 1816. Before long, the rule of Mar Thoma Metropolitans came to an end the administration of the Church came in to the hands of Mar Dionysius II and Mar Dionysius III. They ruled the Church as Malankara Metropolitans. They had the support of the royalty and acceptance of the people. By the time of the synod (Council) Mulanthuruthy (1876), the Malankara Metropolitan had vast authority and was the nucleus of a strong administrative set up. Mar Dionysius V (who was known as Pulikkottil Mar Dionysius) was the Malankara Metropolitan in 1876. Peter III, Patriarch of Antioch, who visited Malankara during his time only tried to diminish the status of the Malankara Metropolitan and bring it under his foot. Mar Dionysius V resisted it with all his might. The people of Malankara even wanted Mar Dionysius to be raised to the position of "Maphrian", in a popular recognition of the heroic and valiant fight that he put against those who were out to destroy this Church.

  • Immediate Reasons

    • The historical background of 1912 was conducive in everyway to the establishment of the Catholicate in Malankara. The Mulanthuruthy Council and the Royal Court judgement (litigation with the reformers - ie; Mar Thoma Church) gave the Patriarch spiritual authority over Malankara Church which was simply not there at any time before. The attempt to free the church from such external authorities culminated in the establishment of the Catholicate in Malankara. This is an important point to be noted while listing the factors which led to the establishment of the Malankara Catholicate.

    • Mulanthuruthy Council (Synod) and the Establishment of the Patriarch's authority
      • Subsequent to the establishment of the authority of the British in India, CMS Missionaries started their work here by the end of the 19th century. To begin with, Malankara Church and the missionaries worked together, especially because the missions gave much importance to educating the masses. Thus it was a period of co-operation from 1815 to 1836, from which, the Malankara Church benefitted in many ways. The missionaries helped in the establishment of the Theological seminary, and also in programmes aimed at the uplift of the clergy and the laity. However what began as a mutual co operation between the Malankara Church and the missionaries took a bad turn when the latter tried to infiltrate protestant teachings into the Church. The Malankara Church started suspecting the motives behind the missionaries trying to help this ancient church. By about 1836, the relationship with the missionaries almost went out of gear, when the missionaries openly attempted to bring in the protestant faith and worship scheme to the Malankara Church.

        Under these circumstances, a council of the Church assembled at Mavelikara in 1836, and officially severed all connections with the CMS. But, as usual there was a section of people and clergy here who agreed to the Protestant way of thinking and worship. This group was later nursed by Palakkunnath Abraham Malpan and the result was the birth of a new 'reformed' church here. The official church, under Mar Dionysius could not agree to their movement. Further, Mar Dionysius excommunicated Abraham Malpan and his parishioners at Maramon, who accepted and implemented the reformist ideas in this parish. Following these developments, in order to lead them, Abraham Malpan sent his nephew - Deacon Mathews - to the Patriarch of Antioch to get him consecrated as a bishop. The Patriarch, without enquiring about the whereabout of the candidate, consecrated Deacon Mathews as bishop Athanasios and sent him back to Malankara. This unprincipled action of the Patriarch was not only a historical blunder, but proved too costly for the unity and integrity of the Malankara Church. Mar Athanasios who reached Malankara in 1843, tried to grab the position of Malankara Metropolitan. Consequently in 1852, a royal proclamation was issued recognizing Mathews Mar Athanasios as "Malankara Metropolitan". The official faction of the Church, realizing that they needed a Metropolitan who was strong enough to resist Mar Athanasios, sent Pulikkottil Joseph Kathanar* to the patriarch. The Patriarch consecrated him as bishop with the title Joseph Mar Dionysius and sent him to Malankara in 1865. Mar Dionysius tried to retain authority over the churches and properties; but his attempts were foiled, since Mar Athanasios had the backing of the British. When everyone of his attempts failed, Mar Dianysius appealed to the Patriarch to come to Malankara and resolve the crisis.

        Accordingly Patriarch Ignatius Peter Ill came to Malankara in 1875, and he made the authorities repeal the royal proclamation that was earlier issued in favour of Mar Athanasios. The Patriarch excommunicated Mar Athanasios. The Patriarch who won the day called a Council (Synod) of the Malankara Church at Mulanthuruthy in 1876.

        On the whole, the Council took two significant steps, which had far reaching consequences.

        1. Malankara Association and Malankara Managing Committee were formed to assist the malankara Metropolitan, Mar Dionysius in administration and also in the litigation with the Reformist group.


        2. It was declared that the Malankara Church accepts the supremacy of the patriarch and that it keeps the Jacobite faith (of the Antiochans).


        The Patriarch demanded that each parish church should give a registered document accepting these decisions to the Patriarch, and the council accepted it. Besides, it was also agreed that a fixed amount would be collected from every grown up man and woman and forwarded to the Patriarch every year. (Resheesa)

        However the greatest damage done to the Malankara Church by this Council was that it declared that "The Malankara Church had accepted the Supremacy of the Patriarch from very ancient times" which, to say the least, was untrue and had no historical basis. Such a resolution may be placed in the context of those difficult times, but it was going to prove disastrous for this church, as the subsequent developments in the Malankara Church history bear witness.

        The Patriarch who stayed in Malankara for almost a year Attempted to establish his authority here by hook or by crook. But he could not succeed in it; and he believed that Mar Dionysius was standing in his away in achieving this aim.

        Then the Patriarch devised certain schemes to curtail the authority and influence of Mar Dianysius. He arbitrarily divided Malankara Church into seven dioceses and consecrated six Metropolitans to look after them. Before consecrating them the patriarch obtained registered agreements from them declaring the acceptance of the authority of the Patriarch.

        This unauthorised, unlawful and arbitrary action of the Patriarch was aimed at making it appear that the churches and assets in Malankara Church were under the authority of the Patriarch. This action was also against the historical status of the Malankara Church. He made it impossible to have a synod of all bishops of Malankara, and a Malankara Metropolitan function as their head. By consecrating six more bishops and by dividing Malankara Church into seven dioceses, the Patriarch wanted to reduce the Malankara Metropolitan as only one among the bishops, with no special significance.

        Mar Dionysius V, who brought the Patriarch to Malankara to fight and achieve victory over the Reformist group could achieve that aim to some extent, but had to silently agree to the establishment of the overlordship of the Patriarch. The later history of the Malankara church is an account of its attempt free itself from this foreign authority and the establishment of the Catholicate is an important milestone in this endeavour

    • Royal Court Judgement
      • When the churches, institutions and properties owned by the Malankara Church came under the rule of the Reformists, Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius of Pulikkottil filed a case the Alappuzha District Court in 1879 to redeem them from the Reformers' possession and administration. This litigation known as "Seminary Case" was decided in favour of Mar Dionysius. An appeal preferred in the High Court by the Reformists Group was dismissed. However the Reformists petitioned the Maharaja of Travancore against the High Court judgment, and an appeal court consisting of three judges was constituted by the Maharajah to hear the appeal. One of the judges of this "Royal Court" was an Englishman, and the other two natives. The two native judges upheld the judgement of the lower court, while the foreigner dismissed the appeal. This was in 1889. The majority judgement said that the Patriarch never had any temporal authority in Malankara and has only general oversight in spiritual matters. But the British judge wrote that the Patriarch has neither temporal nor spiritual jurisdiction over Malankara. The Court also ruled that Mar Dionysius who had accepted the authority of the Patriarch was the real Malankara Metropolitan. The Maharaja accepted the majority judgment and sealed it and thus it came to effect. This judgement is significant for two reasons.

        1. Contrary to the ancient history of the Malankara Church, the Court ruled that the Patriarch has got spiritual authority over Malankara Church. Consequently, those who did not accept the Patriarch could not have an independent entity.


        2. The Court ruled that the Patriarch had only spiritual oversight, and no temporal authority which he tried to establish through the Mulanthuruthy Synod.


        The Patriarch was not satisfied with the Royal Court judgement. He held that spiritual and temporal authority were indivisible, and even a judgment by all the judges in this world questioning or denying this God-given authority will have no effect. Ignoring this judgment, the Patriarch continued to exercise temporal authority, and the Malankara Church resisted his move. From 1909 onwards both the Patriarch's attempt towards this end and opposition to it were intensified.

    • Move to Establish Maphrianate
      • The Malankara Church was well pleased with Mar Dionysius who defeated the Reformists (Mar Thoma Church) through the Royal Court Judgement and brought victory to the Church and the Church wanted to recognize his great services and increase his ecclesiastical status. But it was thought that such an elevation should be with the knowledge and blessings of the Patriarch. The Church leaders wanted to establish the maphrianate in Malankara and elevate Mar Dionysius to that position. Maphrianate was an ecclesiastical position in Persia under the Patriarch. In those days, people here had no clear idea about the difference between Catholicate and Maphrianate and the origins of these hierarchial positions.

        The Malankara Church desired to have a native hierarch (Metropolitan) who will look after the temporal and spiritual affairs of the Malankara Church under the Patriarch. Konattu Mathen Malpan and Vattasseril Geevarghese Malpan wrote to the Patriarch, raising this issue. But the Patriarch flatly refused the request and replied: "No one should ask for this, he who defies will be cursed in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit". The Patriarch said, if necessary, a native syrian may be elevated as Maphrian and sent to Malankara.

        The Patriarch thought that in the instance of his authority being reduced to spiritual oversight, even that would be lost if a maphrianate was established here. Since the Malankara Church was not in a position to compel the Patriarch, the attempt to gain Maphrianate was shelved for the time being.

    • The Catholicate in Malankara
      • Before Mar Dionysius V passed away, the Malankara Association elected Vatasseril Geevarghese Malpan as the successor to the Malankara Metropolitan. On the basis of the Royal Court judgement, he was sent to the patriarch to be consecrated as metropolitan. Also he was given strict instructions that he should not on any account enter into any agreement submitting to the overlordship of the Patriarch. The Patriarch consecrated him as Geevarghese Mar Dionysius VI.

        On 11th July 1909 Mar Dionysius V passed away and Vattasseril Mar Dionysius (VI) succeeded as Malankara Metropolitan. Before long, Patriarch Abdulla II reached Malankara.

    • Patriarch Abdulla II
      • Abdulla II had usurped the Patriarchal seat in an uncanonical manner in 1906. In 1895 when Abdul Messiah was elected and elevated as Patriarch, Mar Abdulla too was a candidate but he was defeated. Thereafter in 1896, Mar Abdulla left his mother church and joined the Roman church, where he remained for almost 10 years and also as the Roman Catholic bishop of Holmes for sometime. Meanwhile, Mar Ivanios, the bishop of Jerusalem was chastised by Patriarch Abdul-Messiah for some irregularities in the administration of his diocese. But the bishop did not budge; and he was transferred out of Jerusalem by the Patriarch. Mar Ivanios, enraged by the action of the Patriarch joined Mar Abdulla to take revenge on Mar Abdul-Messiah. Both of them plotted to oust Mar Abdul Messiah from the Patriarch's throne. Adrian Fortesque, the historian says that the plotters bribed the Sultan of Turkey heavily and made him withdraw the authorization Farman, issued in favor of Abdul-Messiah by the Sultan. At this point Mar Abdulla returned to his mother church and with the support of Mar Ivanios. became the rival Patriarch of Antioch. (Later, Abdulla himself excommunicated mar Ivanios, that is another story). Since the Sultan had withdrawn the Farman in his favour, Mar Abdul Messiah could not exercise his patriarchal authority in Turkey, and remained there quietly. The authority of the Farman was applicable only within Turkey; and Patriarch Abdul-Messiah could exercise his Patriarchal authority elsewhere. And this was not the first instance in the Syrian Church when more than one Patriarch assumed title and quarrelled for authority. A repetition of this unhealthy practice was being staged at the beginning of 20th century, during Abdul-Messiah's tenure.

        Church historians are almost unanimous in stating that Mar Abdulla was unreliable, greedy and had no reluctance to throw the faith of his Church to the winds. The first thing that he did after reaching Malankara in 1908 was a nefarious attempt to extract registered agreements from the Malankara Metropolitan and the important churches stating that the Patriarch had temporal authority over the Malankara Church properties: Majority of the people and the Churches resisted this unwarranted move of the Patriarch. Mar Abdulla directly asked Mar Dionysius to give a registered document, but he refused However those who had animosity towards the Malankara Metropolitan sided with the Patriarch and this caused a tussle between those who stood by the Malankara Metropolitan and the rights of the Church, and others who aided with the Patriarch. However, except the two trustees all the members in the Church Managing Committee and the large majority of the people endorsed and supported the stand taken by the Malankara Metropolitan.

        Mar Abdulla was at Parumala during the Annual Day celebration of Parumala Mar Gregorios. The Patriarch demanded that all the offerings at the tomb be handed over to him (There was about 3,000 rupees as offering). The Metropolitan politely replied that it was not right to do so without the concurrence of the members of the Managing Committee. When the Patriarch came to Malankara, among the four Metropolitans here, only Mar Coorilos took a stand in favour of the moves of the patriarch. In December 1910, the Patriarch called a meeting of the Church representatives at Kottayam and tried his best to make them give registered documents accepting Patriarch's authority over the temporal assets of the Malankara Church. But the Patriarch failed miserably in this attempt. Next he devised another plan to consecrate a few new Metropolitans and get registered agreements from them. Some prelates who were desirous of becoming bishops got consecrated, upon producing such documents.

        Then the Patriarch tried to visit the major parish churches and obtain registered documents. He was successful in two or three churches but had to abandon this plan hastily following the clashes and a police case at Karingachira Church.

        Now, matters came to a head and the Patriarch thought that if Geevarghese Mar Dionysius, who refused to give registered document accepting the temporal supremacy of the Patriarch, was excommunicated, then he would be without any authority in the Malankara Church. This was done also due to the wrong advice given to him by some people who had some axe to grind against the Malankara Metropolitan. The Patriarch issued a letter on 31st May 1911 excommunicating Geevarghese Mar Dionysius (Mar Dionysius VI). The Patriarch also planned to get this letter read in the Old Seminary Chapel, which was the headquarters of the Malankara Metropolitan, the next Sunday. This was clearly aimed at snubbing the Metropolitan in public. But the letter could not be read in the Seminary Church, since a huge throng of people who were supporters of the Metropolitan was present in the chapel. The Metropolitan who was also present in the seminary church was escorted back to his room, amidst jubilant cheers from the large crowd of people present there.

        The visit and actions of Patriarch Mar Abdulla was so damaging as to wound the whole Church and cause a serious division in it. These unfortunate events were reported to Mar Abdul Messiah, the senior Patriarch of Antioch, by the Malankara Church leadership. Mar Abdul Messiah was the canonical and rightful Patriarch of Antioch.

        The excommunication of Vattasseril Mar Dionysius caused much turmoil in the whole Malankara Church. This excommunication which was uncanonical and against the principle of natural justice was neglected by the large majority of Malankara parish churches, people and leaders of the community and all of them stood firmly and solidly behind Mar Dionysius. They unanimously resolved that problem should be solved and adequate measures be taken so that there shall never again be such unnecessary interventions in the Malankara Church affairs by the patriarch of Antioch.

        Accordingly the Church Managing Committee met at the M. D. Seminary with Mar Dionysius in the chair and held elaborate discussions on this and decided that canonical measures shall be taken as to conduct the consecration of bishops in the Malankara Church without depending on the Patriarch. It was decided at this meeting to call a session of the Malankara Association consisting of representatives from every parish to chalk out the future programme.

        Meanwhile the senior Patriarch Abdul Messiah was informed of the misdeeds of Mar Abdulla, and he sent a telegram to Mar Dionysius stating that the excommunication of Mar Abdulla was invalid and that Mar Dionysius and those with him are blessed. The Malankara Association decided to invite the canonical Patriarch Mar Abdul-Messiah to Malankara and with his help install the first Catholicos of the Malankara Church. The meeting also resolved to maintain a healthy relationship with the Antiochan Patriarch. It was on the basis this envisaged relationship that Patriarch Abdul-Messiah was invited to help Malankara Church to establish the Catholicate of the East in Malankara, by shifting it from the Middle East. Accordingly, as per the request of the Malankara Church Patriarch Abdul Messiah arrived here on June 13, 1912.

        As an aside, it may be mentioned that Mar Abdulla, after staying in Malankara for about 2 years, causing the maximum possible damage to the Church, left Malankara, only to die on the way in 1915, without being able to reach the Patriarchal abode.

        The Malankara Association Managing Committee which met at Parumala under the Presidentship of Mar Dionysius VI resolved to install Mar Ivanios, Metropolitan of Kandanad Diocese as the Catholicos of the East. The Holy Episcopal Synod requested Patriarch Mar Abdul Messiah to help in the installation ceremony by being the Chief Celebrant.

        As per the request of the Malankara Church, Patriarch Abdul Messiah, with the assistance of the members of the Malankara Episcopal Synod installed Mar Ivanios of Kandanad Diocese as the first Catholicos of Malankara Church and give him the title Mar Baselios. The installation was on 15 Sept. 1912 at the Niranam Church, founded by St. Thomas.

        Five months after the installation of the Catholicos, the Episcopal Synod consisting of the Patriarch, the Catholicos and other bishops of the Church consisted two new bishops at Vallyapalli, Chengannur, Punnoose Ramban of Vakathanam was given the title Philoxenos and Yuyakim Ramban of Kandanad was given the title Ivanios. After staying in Malankara for about nine months Mar Abdul Messiah returned to Kurkuma Dayara which was the headquarters of Syrian Patriarchs, in 1913. He passed away there on 15th August 1915 and was interred at Kurkuma Dayara.

        After the installation of the Catholicos, Patriarch Abdul Messiah issued two kalpanas (Patriarchal letters) one on 17th September 1912 and the other on 8th February 1913. The two kalpanas clearly state that, as per the request of the Malankara Church, Mar Ivanios has been installed as Catholicos of the East, ie., to the throne of St. Thomas in India and around.

        The following are the major points made by the Patriarch regarding the authority of the Catholicos in the two Kalpanas; and which have been extensively quoted and confirmed by the Supreme Court of India in its judgement on the Church Case in June 1995:-

        1. The new hierarchial installation has been that of Catholicos or Maphrian of the Malankara Church.


        2. Henceforth, the Episcopal Synod of the Malankara Church will have authority and right to install the Catholicos independently here. No one can deny this right to the Malankara Church.


        3. The Catholicos has authority to consecrate Metropolitans for the Church when necessary and also to consecrate Holy Mooron (Chrism).


        4. The relationship between the Malankara Church and Antiochan Church is not one pertaining to administration, but of love.


        Thus, self-rule within the Church which was desired for and which was in practice was consummated with the establishment of the institution of the Catholicate in 1912. One may be tempted to say that the establishment of the Catholicate was hastened by the unlawful excommunication of Vattasseril Mar Dionysius. But while acknowledging that it was one of the factors, we should not close our eyes to the fact the desire for such a supreme hierarchial head was here for centuries

        During early days the 'Archdeacon' was the head. That position grew to the status of a Metropolitan which developed Malankara Metropolitan. The status of Malankara Metropolitan subsequently developed further and reached the status of Catholicos. The position of "Malankara Metropolitan" formally amalgamated with the position of Catholicos in 1934.

        It has bqen observed that the hierarchical position of Catholicate of the East which had its headquarters in Persia or Tigris, which had dominion over the St. Thomas Christians of India, was shifted and re-established in Malankara, after its disappearance in the middle east. While noting the historical significance of such a point of view, it should also be seen as the natural consummation of the aspirations of a National Church. As per the Universal Orthodox tradition, every national Church has its own independent and supreme hierarchial head. It was only natural and necessary for the Malankara Church to opt for and establish its own hierarchial supremacy.

        Thus the different ecclesiastical administrative positions which existed in Malankara, from time to time as a symbol of its independent status grew and developed stage by stage and finally reached the, status of the Catholicate. And the Church had every right to reach this ecclesiastical position. The progressive nature of this development should be understood and appreciated in the background of the ancient history of the Malankara Church and the significant events which are the milestones in its history. With the establishment of the Catholicate, it was not merely the right to internal administration that the Church achieved, but it was the symbol of its all-round and perfect growth. The church had come of age.

      • Kathanar = priest
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