Tale of church ending foreign domination

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church which established a Catholicate in Niranam on September 15, 1912, successfully fought off foreign domination even before the country became independent.
The Orthodox church which has about 20 lakh members now, with diocese in the US and Europe as well, is observing the centenary of the event with a mega rally and public meeting in Kochi on November 25.

The story of the Catholicate is filled with gripping drama that was enacted years ago both in Turkey and the state. “When the Turkey sultan withdrew the firman given to patriarch Abdedmassiah and appointed Bishop Abdulla in his place, the church ended up with two patriarchs and two power centres, because Abdedmassiah was an elected head of the church,” recounts church historian, Corepiscopa Mathai Edayanal.

When Abdulla excommunicated the Malankara Metropolitan, Mar Dionysius (Vattasseril Th-irumeni), after he refused to hand over church property to him, he sought the support of Abdedmassiah, who then arrived to preside over the Episcopal Synod of the church in 1911.

He decided to consecrate a Catholicose for the Malankara Church, to fulfill a longstanding demand and Mar Ivanios Metro-politan of the Kandanadu was consecrated as Cath-olicos Mar Baselios Paulose 1 in 1912.

All the power and privileges enjoyed by the patriarch of the church as its head were given to the Catholicose and the Indian church declared its autonomy to become a fully autocephalous (having its own head) church.

Although a small faction continued to differ with the Catholicate, it adopted its constitution in 1934. The Supreme Court upheld the constitution in 1958 and brought unity to the church. “But unfortunately this unity could not be sustained as the rival faction (Jacobites) went to court again and completely delinked from the church in 2002 by adopting a separate constitution,” says the historian. But the unity of the church remains a dream close to the hearts of many a faithful still.

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