Malankara World

Faith of the Church

Malankara's Mythical Minefields

Myth 9: HH Patriarch Abdul Masih II didn't have the authority to consecrate a Catholicos for Malankara in 1912.

Fact: by Georgy S. Thomas, Bangalore:

After the Malankara Orthodox Church split into two factions in 1911, there has been a series of litigations between the two sides. The first of these was actually initiated by the government of India when in 1913 the Secretary of State for India filed the interpleader suit in the District Court of Trivandrum seeking a declaration from the court as to which of the two rival sets of trustees were entitled to draw the interest on the 3,000 Star Pagodas deposited with the British treasury by Mar Thoma VI. This is known as the 'Vattipanam Case'.

The point I would like to make is that in the 92 long years which have passed by since the Vattipanam Case was first initiated, and despite the fact that time out of number the legality of HH Patriarch Abdul Masih's consecration of a Catholicos in Malankara in 1912 was questioned, various courts in this country - from the lowest to the highest - have consistently held the view that the withdrawal of the firman by the Ottoman Sultan did not affect the patriarch's ability to exercise his spiritual functions.

At the time of the Vattipanam Case itself, our Jacobite brothers conceded that the withdrawal of the firman by itself didn't affect the exercise of purely spiritual functions by a Patriarch. I quote: "It was conceded on both sides (in vattipanam suit) namely that the firman issued to Abdul Messiah was withdrawn and that such withdrawal itself has no effect on the exercise by a Patriarch of purely spiritual functions." (Judgement of Chatfield C.J. in the Vattipanam Case quoted by Justice Jeevan Reddy in his majority judgement). Justice Jeevan Reddy also quoted from another judge's (Parameswaran Pillai) ruling in the same case: "The fact that temporal govt. withdrew his (Abdul Messiah's) recognition cannot affect the spiritual standing and position of Abdul Messiah. It is also pointed out in Para 42 of the judgment under appeal that no plea has been raised in any of the pleading alleging the invalidity of, or the grounds of invalidity of, Abdul Messiah continuing to perform his spiritual functions as the Patriarch. The judgement under appeal also refers to the canonical position when there are two Patriarchs." Thus we find the Travancore High Court judge pointing out that no plea had been raised on the invalidity of HH Abdul Masih continuing to perform his spiritual functions. If the Jacobites had material on the invalidity of HH Abdul Masih performing spiritual functions due to the insinuations now being made in internet forums, surely they would have presented it.

Was Patriarch Abdul Masih II excommunicated by the Syriac Synod?

My research on this topic was constrained by the absence of a first hand visit to the theatre of action - the Tur Abdin area of Turkey - to secure authentic information through interviews with local experts, and possibly the descendants of Patriarch Abdul Masih II's immediate family. A search in the Ottoman archives is also necessary. But based on the information I've got through library research, I am nevertheless ready to stick my neck out and reveal the most surprising conclusion I've reached. But I will leave that for the last. Let me first share with you my thoughts on as to why excommunications by church synods in Ottoman Turkey carried no value.

Synodal Excommunication Carried No Value In Ottoman Turkey.

The Turkish government at that time followed a most venal and corrupt system in confirming the legal status of various Christian religious heads through the issue of firmans. Very often, the Porte (the government) issued it to the highest bidder. Even after this process was over, it was not unusual to find a rival contender paying more money to have the incumbent deposed. The Britannica Encyclopedia in its entry on the 'History of Greece', talks about how this system corrupted and spiritually degraded the Greek Orthodox Church. I quote: "...The Orthodox Church, however, fell victim to the institutionalized corruption of the Ottoman system of government. The combining of civil with religious power in the hands of the ecumenical patriarchate and the upper reaches of the hierarchy prompted furious competition for high office. This was encouraged by the Ottomans, for it was soon the norm for a huge peshkesh, or bribe, to be paid to the grand vizier, the sultan's chief minister, on each occasion that a new patriarch was installed. Thus, despite the fact that, in theory, a patriarch was elected for life, there was a high turnover in office. Some even held the office more than once. Grigorios was executed by the Ottomans in 1821 during his third patriarchate, while during the second half of the 17th century Dionysius IV Mouselimis was elected patriarch no fewer than five times. It was this kind of behavior that prompted an 18th-century Armenian chronicler to taunt the Greeks that they changed their patriarch more frequently than they changed their shirt. Bribes had to be paid to secure office at all levels, and these could be recouped only through the imposts placed on the Orthodox faithful as a whole..."

The Ottomans didn't care two hoots for what any synod decided. As far as they were concerned, Patriarchs could be deposed either due to political reasons or after receiving bribes. Church synods soon learned to stay neutral because they stood to lose face, if for instance, they excommunicated a deposed Patriarch and that worthy then went ahead and successfully bribed the grand vizier handsomely to make a comeback! This time by deposing the incumbent who had got him deposed in the first place!!

Let's illustrate this using the example given in the Encyclopedia Britannica of ecumenical patriarch Dionysius IV Mouselimis. According to the website of the Greek Orthodox Church, his terms of office ran somewhat like this:

First appointed 1671
Deposed 1673
Appointed patriarch again 1676
Deposed again: 1679
Appointed patriarch for the third time: 1682
Deposed for the third time: 1684
Appointed patriarch for the fourth time: 1686
Deposed for the fourth time: 1687
Appointed patriarch for the fifth and last time: 1693
Died or Retired: 1694

Imagine what would have happened if the Greek Orthodox Synod excommunicated him each time he was deposed? They would have ended up excommunicating him four times, and he would have still returned as Patriarch even after the fourth excommunication!! Church synods thus learned to play it safe. The message we should take from this is that synodal excommunication of deposed prelates by various Christian denominations in Ottoman Turkey carried no value.

Abdulhamid II the serial deposer

During the period in question when HH Abdul Masih II was deposed, Turkey was ruled by Sultan Abdulhamid II (reigned 1876-1909). In his time, Patriarch Joachim III of the Greek Orthodox Church was deposed in 1884. Seventeen years later, the Porte lifted him from obscurity and appointed him once again as the ecumenical patriarch. This time by deposing Patriarch Constantine V.


In this case, the motive seems to have been money, since if a Patriarch is removed for political reasons, it's unlikely that he would be reinstated during the reign of the same sultan. But Abdulhamid had also deposed Patriarchs due to political reasons. In 1896, he deposed Matteos III Izmirlian, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, for denouncing the massacre of Armenians that year, says this web page.

The serial deposer Abdulhamid received his comeuppance when he himself was deposed by the Young Turks! That's another story. But we know that Sultan Abdulhamid II has deposed at least four Patriarchs of various Christian churches. Given this context, isn't it reasonable to assume that HH Patriarch Abdul Masih II was just the victim of a pernicious system?

Rival Patriarchs: Some Curious Developments

a.) There are some other curious developments in the case of HH Abdul Masih. Throughout his tenure, the de jure Patriarch Abdullah II was either travelling or resident at the Dayro d-Mor Margos in Jerusalem, while the deposed Patriarch continued to stay in Turabdin, either at the Kurkmo Dayro, the then official seat of the Patriarch, or at Mor Gabriel in Midyat! On his death, the official patriarch was buried at Jerusalem, while the so-called excommunicated patriarch was buried at the Kurkmo Dayro, just as all patriarchs were honored. We should not read too much into all this, and there could be other reasons for the same, but at the least it raises questions about the excommunication story.

b.) I could be wrong, but the available information I have indicates that Patriarch Abdul Masih II was a native of Qala'at-el-Mara, a small village located between Mardin and Kurkmo Dayro. In his book, Six Months in a Syrian Monastery, Oswald H Parry (Gorgias Press) has given a description of this village which he places a mile into the five-mile trek between Mardin and Kurkmo Dayro. In the book, he describes the great church of Mar Yakob at Kurkmo Dayro, and of a staircase leading to a terrace, on to which opens a number of rooms, including the Patriarch's winter retreat. Parry says it has the "most glorious view to south and west across the plain and up the Qala'at-el-Mara Valley". This means that HH Abdul Masih's supposed native village was only a stone's throw away from the Patriarchal seat. HH Abdullah, on the other hand, was a native of Saddad, a village near Homs. If this inference is true, it's reasonable to assume that Patriarch Abdul Masih could draw upon considerable strength in the area surrounding the patriarchate. Surely, he would have been the pride of his people. This perhaps explains his continued residence there as a rival patriarch. Readers of Mundukuzhy achen's Catholicate history would know that rival patriarchates were not an uncommon occurrence in the Syriac Church.

Shocking Revelations By Two Historians

Before I conclude, I thought it was apt to delve a bit on what two historians have to say on these two rival patriarchs. An allegation that keeps coming from the IOC side is that HH Patriarch Abdullah II was a defector to the Catholic faith in between. So far, I am yet to see any refutation of this allegation by the Jacobites, but I thought it merited a look only if I found some historian supporting the contention. The search finally led me to two books. One, The Lesser Eastern Churches by Adrian Fortescue (Gorgias Press) and two, Muslim-Christian Relations and Inter-Christian Rivalries in the Middle-East by John Joseph (SUNY Press).

This is what Adrian Fortescue wrote about Patriarch Abdullah:
"The present Jacobite Patriarch is Lord Ignatius Abdullah Sattuf. His holiness was born at Sadad, a village about six hours south of Homs, where many Jacobites live. His original name is Abdullah Sattuf. Having entered a monastery, he became bishop of Homs and Hama, taking the name Gregory. Then he was Metropolitan of Diyarbakr. He came once to England (as Bishop of Homs and Hama), collected money and imbibed here some Protestantizing ideas. He also went to look after his co-religionists on the Malabar coast, and there fraternized with Protestant missionaries. Returning to Syria he had already begun to agitate against the use of holy pictures, and otherwise spread Protestant ideas when, as a result of some obscure quarrel, he surprised everyone by turning Uniate in 1896. He was a Syrian Uniate for nine years, and held the Uniate see of Homs. Then in 1905, he went back to the Jacobites, received again his see of Diyarbakr and a promise of the Patriarchal throne, when it should be vacant. Soon after, in 1906, the former Patriarch Ignatius Abdulmasih was deposed and went to Malabar. In spite of the promise it cost Sattuf much intrigue and úT350 (borrowed from the Jacobite bishop at Jerusalem) to secure his own election; eventually he had to spend altogether úT500. He was enthroned on August 15, 1906 (O.S.). As an exception, he has never been Mafrian. There are discontented Jacobites under him who say that His Holiness stains the Patriarchal throne by various faults, of which excessive avarice is the chief. Many hope for and expect his deposition." He adds in a footnote: "I should perhaps add that I have these details from first-hand sources in Syria. I regret that they are more curious than edifying."

But wait a minute, even Patriarch Abdul Masih doesn't come smelling of roses. Fortescue says that on May 3, 1913, i.e. just three months after he wrote to Malankara granting authority to Metropolitans to consecrate a Catholicos, HH Abdul Masih was "reconciled to the Catholic Church by Ignatius Ephrem Rahmani, the Uniate Syrian Patriarch of Antioch. Two other Jacobite bishops had already done so in January".

This is what John Joseph has to say about both:

"When the old patriarch died on October 7, 1894, there began a rivalry among the bishops in a race for his vacant chair. The government interfered and, according to the American missionaries, intimated which of the bishops were acceptable, while in the meantime it held the "office before the remaining eligible candidates subject to the highest bidder." Abd al-Massih II was elected in 1895; his chief rival, Abd Allah Sattuf, embraced Catholicism the year following the election. Sattuf, however, was enthroned as Jacobite Patriarch in 1906 when he renounced his Catholicism. This time, Abd al-Masih himself became a Catholic, in 1913."

Adrian Fortescue was a British Catholic historian. The Lesser Eastern Churches, first published in 1913, formed part of a trilogy* on eastern Christianity which was well received. Fortescue bases his information about HH Abdullah and HH Abdul Masih on personal sources.

John Joseph, a native of Iraq with degrees from Princeton University, was Audenried Professor of History and Archaeology at Franklin and Marshall College, US. He sources his information on HH Abdullah and HH Abdul Masih primarily from a Syrian Catholic author by name Ishaq Armalah, particularly his book Kitab al-Zahrat al-Dhakiyah fi al-batararkiyah al-suryaniyah al-antakiyah

According to the above authors, both the prelates had made forays into Catholicism. Like HH Abdullah, HH Abdul Masih too would have returned back to his mother church since he was after all buried at Deir-el-Za'aferan. I don't know how reliable the information is due to the Catholic connections of the authors. But nevertheless, it may reflect some kernel of truth.

Conclusion

The lowest to the highest courts in India have consistently upheld the right of HH Patriarch Abdul Masih II to exercise his spiritual functions despite the Sultan of Turkey withdrawing his firman. Therefore, he certainly possessed the authority to consecrate a Catholicos in Malankara. Ideally, we can consider him as a rival patriarch who was a contemporary of the official HH Patriarch Abdullah II.

At least two historians have written about both the prelates making forays into the Syrian Catholic church. But without more enquiries, we cannot be sure about the veracity of these charges. In the volatile tinderbox that was the Ottoman Empire for the ancient Christian churches in those days, people took decisions that they thought best assured the safety of their community. We should not judge too harshly.

The Conclusion I've Reached On Abdul Masih II's Excommunication

On this topic, there are plenty of rumours and urban legends, but little hard evidence. In the absence of such evidence, I reckon the best way to examine the topic would be through the intense rivalry which characterized the relationship between HH Patriarch Abdullah II and HH Patriarch Abdul Masih II. In his bull dated February 19, 1913, written to Malankara from Tur Abdin, Patriarch Abdul Masih II describes his rival as an "usurper". Historian John Joseph cited above, draws the picture of a deeply divided Syriac synod and uses words like squabbles, rivalry, coterie etc. to convey the idea. To complete the picture, John Joseph even says that HH Patriarch Abdullah II had "himself been excommunicated before his consecration".

Based on all this, I feel this is what could have happened. HH Patriarch Abdul Masih II had his rival Gregorios Abdullah excommunicated by the Syriac Synod when the latter left to join the Syrian Catholic Church in 1896. In return, HH Patriarch Abdullah II had his rival and former Patriarch Abdul Masih II excommunicated by the Syriac Synod when he became Patriarch in 1906. If true, what value can we give to such synodal excommunications?

The only lesson we can draw from our review of this sad chapter in the Malankara Church's history is that we didn't deserve to quarrel and separate, taking sides over the actions of these two prelates. It's saddening to realise that we as a people still do not possess the maturity to put things into proper perspective.

Notes:

* These are the books in the trilogy:
The Orthodox Eastern Church
The Lesser Eastern Churches
The Uniate Eastern Churches

Response by Very Rev. Kuriakose Moolayil, CorEpiscopa:

The Canonical Position of Patriarch Abdul Messiah II

The authenticity of the position of Patriarch Abdul Messiah 11 in his canonical position as the Patriarch of Antioch is very controversial in the Malankara in the first decade of the twentieth century and in the alleged transferring of the Catholicate/Mafrianate. I have dealt a part of this along with the discussion of the validity of the transfer of the Mafrianate and the related issues earlier in this series. Here I will be concentrating only to the juridical status of the deposed Patriarch.

Georgy as any other IO propagandist has tried vehemently to console all the fanatics that the removal of Patriarch Abdul Messiah was only a political interference and the Church was only passively accepting the removal and so outside the Turkish territory he was canonically a 'senior Patriarch' and had all privileges of his rank. Let us see his main arguments.

"Our attempt today would be to find evidence to dispel another popular myth.

Myth: HH Patriarch Abdul Masih II didn't have the authority to consecrate a Catholicos for Malankara in 1912."

To substantiate the counter argument he first relies on the judgment of the courts specifically mentioning in favor of the IO stand. He concludes by saying that

The Ottomans didn't care two hoots for what any synod decided. As far as they were concerned, Patriarchs could be deposed either due to political reasons or after receiving bribes. Church synods soon learned to stay neutral because they stood to lose face, if for instance, they excommunicated a deposed Patriarch and that worthy then went ahead and successfully bribed the grand vizier handsomely to make a comeback! This time by deposing the incumbent who had got him deposed in the first place!!

I don't know whether Georgy had a look to the Judgment of the Kerala High Court (1946 T.L.R). There we can have ample reference to the Synodal excommunication of Mor Abdul Messiah. The technical reason of the court for not relying on this exhibit was the rules and regulations in the Travancore evidence act. The Exhibit presented was the certified copy of the Synod decision. The decision was then published in Syriac and in Malayalam in various publications. The court's finding was that the 'synodal removal was not satisfactorily proved beyond doubt' in accordance with the regulations of Travancore Act. In fact the decision of the synod certified and attested by the first class Magistrate of Mousul was submitted in the court. The court did not accept it based on the restrictions in the Travancore Evidence Act. There are also ample evidences other than this. The first and most reliable source is from the direct report of a person present there in turkey at that time. It is none other than Mor Augen Bava, then T.A.Mathai Semmasan, a student and deacon. He wrote to Malankara headquarters and his letter was published in the official monthly, the 'Malankara Edavaka Pathrika?, (1906 Karkkidakom). He writes, "...especially Mor Gregoriose Abdulla Bava is elected as the new Patriarch. All the people elected him without any dissension and have unanimously and in full unity..." While being a Metropolitan, Mor Theemotheose Augen has given under oath statements in the court. The 1946 TLR judgment has quoted his statements. He has witnessed about the synod that assembled there for this purpose. Moreover he has pledged to repudiate all the uncannonical acts of the excommunicated and deposed Patriarch Mor Abdul Messiah. The only 'reciprocity', if any, I can find here is the attraction of getting consecrated as the Metropolitan. If you rely on this 1946 TLR there are other conclusive findings of the court like the invalidity of the installation of the second and third Catholicos, etc. I am not going into such details here.

I invite again the attention of my readers to the articles and documents published by the Malankara Church at that time itself. It was much before any split in Malankara and it at least shed light to the stand of the undivided church on this issue. I have compiled,

1. A letter by T.A. Mathai Semmasan who was personally present there at the scenario and is almost like a first hand report. You can read this as Appendix No.14B in my book, Perumpilly Thirumeni..

2. The official circular letter from the then Malankara Metropolitan Mor Dionasius Joseph conforming the installation of Mor Abdulla 11 as the Patriarch. See Appendix No.14F (Ibid)

3. Another article titled, 'Pathriarkka Prathishtta' appended as 14 A (Ibid)

4. Appendix 14D (Ibid) is also another article of the Malankara Edavaka Pathrika on this issue. Here there are explicit references to the stand of Sultan asking Poulose Episcopa,( official delegate at the capital) to go in allegience to Mor Abdul Messiah. It took two more years to convince the Sultan's office on the necessity of the deposition.

The original decision of the 1903 synod on the excommunication of Abdul Messiah was published here in Malankara in the 'Suriyani Sabha' monthly and the attested copy was filed as exhibit in the court. I have also seen the copy of a letter from the foreign affairs department of the Turkish Government addressed to the Travancore Government stating that Mor Abdul Messiah was a deposed Patriarch. This is included as a document in the litigation files in our church cases.

I know it is a futile exercise to investigate on the validity of the canonical status of a deposed Patriarch. His deposing and excommunication were well accepted by the Church everywhere. There is none in his clerical or blood lineage supporting or sympathizing him anywhere in the Church. The Malankara church also wholly accepted and received his deposing de facto and accepted the substitute successor on the throne. Suppose if the untoward split and excommunication of Vattaseril Thirumeni didn't happen in Malankara, what would have been the stand taken by the Church here? So it is a very basic truth that these entire advocacy role taken by IO propagandist in favor of this poor soul is only based on the schismatic developments that happened here. So it is the ultimate 'duty' of the IOC to justify the (il)'legitimacy' of the excommunicated prelate. But it is also a fact that after the (mis)using this deposed Patriarch the IO forefathers is infamous for not keeping their word to support him to his end. Read his own letter complain on this. (exhibit No.81 in the Samudaya Case). Read the Malayalam text in my book, 'Catholica Stapanathinte Yadhartha Nila', Pages 78-80. It says that it was agreed by those here in Malankara that they would support him for all his needs. He is pleading to the IOs to keep the word. After the return from Malankara Abdul Messiah had to resort other means like joining the Romans for his sustenance. This was because of two evident reasons.

1. The mother church where he was supported till his uncanonical acts in Malankara quite naturally might have been embittered and gave little care and support. Or he himself was ashamed to rely on the church which he has betrayed. So he thought of joining the Roman Church.

2. The dissenters in Malankara who persuaded him to act against the Church did not keep their word and supported him. The Romans were also not attracted to this poor, innocent and troubled old Patriarch for reasons of their need to steal the sheep. So he was not well taken there. Finally he was taken back for support by his own mother church which he deserted and betrayed. He was allowed to spend his last days at Kurkuma Dayara and was buried there. But Georgy wrongly claims that

"it?s reasonable to assume that Patriarch Abdul Masih could draw upon considerable strength in the area surrounding the patriarchate. Surely, he would have been the pride of his people. This perhaps explains his continued residence there as a rival patriarch."

"HH Abdul Masih too would have returned back to his mother church since he was after all buried at Deir-el-Za'aferan. I don't know how reliable the information is due to the Catholic connections of the authors. But nevertheless, it may reflect some kernel of truth."

The above claims are totally unacceptable. The church and the people everywhere accepted the excommunication of Abdul Messiah and very well received the newly elected Patriarch. I have quoted the first hand contemporary report of Mathai Semmasan published here. Moreover, lack of supporters or sympathizers there could be another reason for the valid background of the excommunication. Georgy has fancifully opens the windows through O.H. Parry's pages to state that,

"it has the "most glorious view to south and west across the plain and up the Qala'at-el-Mara Valley". This means that HH Abdul Masih's supposed native village was only a stone's throw away from the Patriarchal seat. HH Abdullah, on the other hand, was a native of Saddad, a village near Homs. If this inference is true, it's reasonable to assume that Patriarch Abdul Masih could draw upon considerable strength in the area surrounding the patriarchate"

But these whims are totally unfound when we see that the former Patriarch had no considerable support from anywhere. He himself not even believed and relied on the two monks who were with him and Fr. P.T. Geevarghese sent them in another ship from Bombay on their return from Malankara. Similarly none followed him when he went with the Romans. Nobody till this day has recorded anything in support of him even though Georgy fancies that "he could draw considerable strength in the area surrounding the Patriarchate". Moreover it is totally erroneous to claim that he was buried with the honor of a Patriarch. Georgy has very selectively used words to allude to this idea of the IO propaganda. He was buried among the tombs where the monks there were buried. V.Rev.Dr. Kuriakose Thottupuram from Chicago visited there last year and has recorded the truth of this. Read his article in Indian Orthodox Herald Malayalam Vol.1, No.44 - May 15, 2005. His burial among the tombs of the Monks itself will prove all the counter arguments of IO writers on his canonicity, strength and support, claims of rival/senior Patriarch, lack of synodal removal, etc, etc.

Georgy's research to find whether "Patriarch Abdul Masih II was excommunicated by the Syriac Synod?" is said to be "constrained by the absence of a first hand visit to the theatre of action," the Tur Abdin area of Turkey - to secure authentic information through interviews with local experts, and possibly the descendants of Patriarch Abdul Masih II?s immediate family."

He has disregarded all the available references about this episode and goes on to Ottoman attitude to Christians. I am not entering into the non contextual lengthy arguments raised by Georgy to say that the Ottomans tried to interfere in the affairs of the church based on the western writers to say that the same might have happened in the case of Abdul Messiah. I must also warn about the then prejudiced western writers on all Islamic rulers and Eastern Christians. Any glance through authors like Badger or Grant testifies to my apprehension. I am also of the opinion that in case of the Syrian Church no such occurrences of undue interference from the Sultan were not at all reported. In the case of Mor Abdul Messiah too the Sultan was at first not in favor of the change as I have quoted before.

Georgy's following argument is dealt before. Read him,

"There are some other curious developments in the case of HH Abdul Masih. Throughout his tenure, the de jure Patriarch Abdullah II was either traveling or resident at the Dayro d-Mor Margos in Jerusalem, while the deposed Patriarch continued to stay in Turabdin, either at the Kurkmo Dayro, the then official seat of the Patriarch, or at Mor Gabriel in Midyat! On his death, the official patriarch was buried at Jerusalem, while the so-called excommunicated patriarch was buried at the Kurkmo Dayro, just as all patriarchs were honored."

His admission that Mor Abdul Messiah stayed at Turabdin, the seat of the Patriarch while Patriarch Abdullah was travelling all around points to the wide reception to the newly installed Patriarch Mor Abdullah 11... He says this as a proof to the 'validity' of the occupancy of the deposed Patriarch. But any one can infer the fact that the ruling Patriarch cannot be idle to his 'seat' but will have to move around in his 'see' to nourish his church. The 'honor' of the tomb of Mor Abdul Messiah has been testified by their own scholar. I need not repeat it again.

Georgy's 'shock' by reading Adrian Fortescue is really without any reason. Any student of Church History knows very well that the author is a Roman Catholic who is only interested in noting anything infamous about any non- Roman catholic church. The quote by Georgy proves beyond doubt that Fortescue first blame Mor Abdullah to be a Protestant supporter and then definitely declare him to be a uniat. It is also clear that in catholic church they will not accept two bishops at the same time in a bishopric. The real catholic uniat bishop of Homs at that time was Gregoriose Georges Sahin. Moreover Georgy could also read O.H. Parry, who he has quoted before, to know about the wisdom, integrity and zeal of Mor Abdulla to his church. He had to flee from his seat out of oppression from authorities and had to seek asylum at the French consulate for political reasons. They gave protection there and he found safety with them. That is all. When the situation changed he came out and the church at large knowing his precarious situations, very well received and accepted him. It is also believed that one of the reasons for the estrangement of the church from Mor Abdul Messiah is his ill treatment of Bishop Mor Abdulla. So to me the references from Fortescue are not at all shocking! It is merely the Roman bickering!

John Joseph also is seen to repeat the same story told by the American Missionaries again based on a Roman uniat author. It is the same dish arranged in two plates. I have discussed the real picture from the internal evidences earlier. So it is ecclesiastically a proven fact that Mor Abdul Messiah was deposed and was living among the monks, died there and was buried among the monks. He had no canonical status after his removal from office anywhere in the church. He had no sympathizers from among his relatives or from the members of the church, where he served for decades.

The Church in Malankara accepted this fact and wholly received Mor Abdulla as Patriarch. (Personally I have sympathy to the IOC who cannot refrain from defending this unhappy episode.) The whole validity of IOC hierarchy is built upon this invalid and uncanonical act of this accommodated Patriarch. We must understand their position. They cannot undo what their forefathers did. These are all accomplished facts and cannot go back to rectify, reform nor refrain from justifying as a community and as a church. History cannot be undone.

Factually Abdul Messiah Mafrianate withered in 1913 itself. The so called rejunuation in 1925 was done again more uncanonically by the uncanonically installed bishops, even without the co operation of Vattaseril Thirumeni. All these unhappy episodes were cosmetised in 1958 and were mainstreamed in 1964. We need not have to look back to all these anomalies if the established peace process was reciprocated and upheld. To my dismay I was forced to look back to describe all these unhappy episodes in history only because of Georgy's discussion of the half baked 'myths'. Sorry if I wounded the feelings of the innocent IO believers who think that what they are taught are the only truth.

Epilogue

I am indebted to my friend Georgy for prompting me to write a series on these issues related to the split in the Malankara Church despite the fact it makes cool many of my warm friendships and give me a title "hard core factionalist". My appeal to all is to take these as my academic commitment and try to understand these as the perspective of the SOC to which I ardently belong and believe. This is how we see the facts contrary to the IO perspectives. I would not have dared to write this series without the provocation from the learned and well articulated presentation from Georgy. I acknowledge Georgy's zeal to the cause he is committed and his earnest research to defend his position. I am again thankful to Georgy for writing very positive to the differences of opinion I have expressed and the academic spirit he is expressing throughout. He even wrote in MOSC Forum not to ban my postings instead requested to promote patience and listening. Thank you Georgy .

I am sure none will change their allegiance based on these debates and discussions. But my request is to try to understand each other by these. At least we must learn to agree to disagree. Let us try for mutual respect, acceptance and peaceful co existence. SOCM and ICON forums have taken initiative to archive both the series for study and mutual understanding. I think this will be the first reciprocal act in both churches to compile together a debate. This it is a great leap in mutuality.

I also express my gratitude to ICON forum for publishing my first few responses in the daily digest. I thought they were disgusted with my presentations when they stopped publishing in the daily digest. But I am happy that they have presented the whole series in their documented archive section. I express my thanks for their kind words and openness to refer to my postings for reference and study.
 

Next: Issue 10: Ougen Bava conducted himself in utter disregard to the pledges given by him at the time of consecration

Previous: Myth 8: Throne of St. Thomas - The title, the 'Throne of St Thomas', was unheard of before the 1970s, when it suddenly made its appearance in Kalpanas issued by Devalokam

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