Malankara World

Church Politics

Frictions in Orthodox believers in India

by Abraham Paul

The Orthodox Christians (both factions included) in India continue in the situation to which it has been degraded, reduced and ridiculed, with their irrelevant religious sideshows of factional quarrels and in drastic need to be reformed. The way the factional tradition been formulated here by them, irrespective of who started what and when, no longer has credibility and meaningless to discuss as well as pondering reasons to find out solutions is a wasted effort.

The fundamental problems in the orthodox religious set ups in India in the earlier days are different from other institutions, organization that are of pyramid formation in its structure. Unlike other institutions, the bottom of the pyramid of the Church is always the congregations formed by the laity by whom the places of worships and other physical & material assets around it are created in the first instance, in which the spiritual heads at various hierarchical levels have little part.

Nevertheless, in Orthodox Church as in other faith orders of top-down ecclesiastical structure and the philosophy of spiritual control emanate from the top and flow downwards through various hierarchical levels. The congregations at the bottom of the pyramid cannot exist by itself and therefore, the laity and the hierarchy need to be mutually supportive and inter-dependent.

However, n course of time many Churches, moved out of its precincts of ecclesiastic spiritual leadership position and assumed control on the the avenues of material and physical assets of the congregation in the bottom of the pyramid that solely belonged to the laity.

As can be seen in some prominent Universal Church, there is a healthy meld of spiritual power with material power done successfully for itself and harmony and development of the humanity in general. Such an ideology has its own merits like the Church can directly indulge in works of compassion through its laity as worship and compassion are two sides of the coin, one has no value without the other.

It is only natural that, the local leaders in the hierarchy of Orthodox Church in India also decided to move on to such ideology and in the process decided to break away from the Universal Orthodox Church to keep the benefits locally within themselves. In that process, the leaning was more on taking over of the physical & material assets that belonged thus far to the laity from them in a non bi-partisan way. This had caused disintegration and great loss of physical and material assets belonged to the major portion of the laity who decided to remain with the top Hierarchy of Universal Syrian Orthodox Church.

The need of the day in Orthodox Christian Hierarchy in both factions India is to take cognizance of these facts. As the split is beyond repair, and both factions have chosen to continue their own way, a common solution cannot be found with judicial intervention, which is evident from various judgments that are vague and contradictory in its interpretations by either side according.

It is evident that the SC verdict was devised by the court with the hope and good intention of patching up the differences. If followed in letter and spirit of the dispute could be solved in no time. As can been, this is never going to happen if left to the decision of the leaders of the Hierarchy without involving the people in the affected congregations.

Therefore, the only way is to do away the legacy of confrontation, engage with the representative of the laity in the aggrieved congregations, and explore the path of re-conciliation in a democratic way up keeping the interest of the laity in the base of the pyramid on whom the Church is founded and belong, and united they shall move on to share the Essence of Christianity harmoniously amongst themselves without prolonging this and making all of us true believers hang our head in shame for no fault of ours. Let us sincerely hope the true believers in the laity across Church stand united, and strive overcome the to disruptive forces will fade out and the hierarchies will be compelled to fall in line.

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