Kochi: Following the intervention of the Supreme Court, after 45 years, an Orthodox Church bishop led the weekly Sunday mass at the Kandanad St. Mary’s Cathedral, Church near here on Sunday.
Mathews Mar Severius, the bishop of the Kandanad West, led by various priests and a large number of the laity took part in the Sunday mass amid a huge security of policemen and top police officials.
The last time the Orthodox faction conducted the Sunday mass was way back in 1974, following which this Church was under the control of the Jacobite faction.
A non-Catholic Christian community in Kerala, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, has two factions — the majority Orthodox, who have their headquarters in Kottayam, and the Jacobites, who consider the Patriarch of Antioch in Beirut (Lebanon) as their supreme leader.
The community first split into Orthodox and Jacobite in 1912, but came together in Kottayam for a brief period between 1958 and 1970, following a Supreme Court ruling. Since 1970, they have been at war over church control.
After decades spent in trial, the apex court in its final verdict in 2017, gave the Orthodox faction the right to administer 1,100 churches and parishes under the Malankara Church and said there was no ground for the Jacobites to claim any of the churches.
Armed with this verdict, the Orthodox Church tried their best to take control over the St Mary’s Cathedral, but the Jacobite faction prevented that from happening.
Later it managed to get an order from the Kerala High Court on March 8 that the two factions can conduct the mass alternatively.
Upset with this, the Orthodox Church approached the apex court and on September 6, Justice Arun Mishra, breathed fire on the Kerala High Court judge and in the open court had said to tell the judges in Kerala that they are part of India and revoked the Kerala High Court order.
It was with this order that the Orthodox faction decided to act but again, earlier this month they were unable to perform the mass as the Jacobite faction was determined not to budge.
The Orthodox faction, not prepared to lie low, on Sunday managed to perform the mass with hundreds of police officials taking over the security of the Church, as the Jacobite faction was prevented from creating any issue.
In July 2019, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had informed the Kerala Assembly that his government was committed to implement the 2017 Supreme Court order in the ongoing row between the warring Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
But the Orthodox Church failed to accept to sit for discussions with the Jacobite Church at a meeting called by a cabinet minister’s sub committee.