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Author Topic: Reason for split  (Read 6174 times) Average Rating: 0
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Nigula Qian Zishi
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« on: May 13, 2003, 11:56:10 AM »

Patiarchal or Independent faction?

Could someone explain the differences and how the split happened?
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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2003, 12:05:02 PM »

Either side can post his account.  We admins won't get involved unless name calling commences.  Mor Ephrem might response with his personal opinions, however.  I will butt out so as to not cause further misunderstanding.

In Christ,

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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2003, 06:37:43 PM »

note:  this is not intended to offend, but inform.

There are two groups, the Syrian Orthodox Church (hereafter referred to as the SOC), also called the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Indian Orthodox Church (hereafter referred to as the IOC), also called the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

Phil is a nice guy and I've known him long before I started posting on this board. And I agree with him that this issue is spiritually taxing.  I will try to answer Nik's question as briefly as possible.

However... on Phil's other post, he suggested that "To boil the situation there down to "nationalism" is to do it a serious injustice."  This statement is inaccurate.

The split originated because of Indian nationalism in the early 20th century.  A very small minority within the SOC in India sought to distance themselves from any foreign, and as a result, tried to break the entire SOC in India from the rest of the SOC.  This movement was not the will of the majority of the SOC in India, so rather than stand down and submit to their bishops, this new movement arose.  It continued to gain favor along with the tide of Hindu nationalism (India had been under foreign occupation for several hundred years).  

Aside from disobedience to their bishops, there were other uncanonical events, which occured, causing the IOC to officially be excommunicated from the Body of Christ.  In the 60s, the SOC forgave the sins of the IOC, and the IOC was accepted back into the SOC.  Because they were accepted back in spite of their sins, many in the IOC presumed this to be validation of their actions, so within a few years, hostilities broke out again and the IOC has since been anathema.  

The bottom line is this... the Church in India is split over GREED.  People on the SOC and IOC sides may sugar coat it another way, but in the end, it is about a certain group of people owning properties and collecting tithes.  It has little to do with autocephalacy or autonomy.  The idea of bringing the entire Church under the canonical Catholicos and bishops in India, then completely breaking it from the SOC has been discussed, yet the IOC are vehemently opposed to this also.  Why?  Because it is about personalities.  

The position of the SOC is simple.  If there are Indians in India who wish to have nothing to do with the SOC, that's fine, they have a right to exist and be in communion with us, and we respect that.  HOWEVER, they must likewise honor and respect the rights of those who wish to maintain their spiritual relationship with the greater Antiochian SOC of their ancestors.  We respect their right to exist, but they do not respect ours.  The first step to beace is respecting everyone's right to exist.

That being said, I must disagree again with Phil who thinks the IOC needs no defense.  

So to summarize:

SOC in India = Autonomous, in charge of itself and of temporal issues.  The Patriarch of Antioch is her spiritual head.

IOC = Autocephalous, not in official communion with the SOC.  The Patriarch of Antioch is listed as the spiritual head in their constitution.

The only real difference (aside from a few doctrinal teachings) is that the Patriarch of Antioch can be ordained (as was the case with our last patriarch) by the Catholicos of the East, who has been an integral part of the SOC since the 2nd century.

Ironically, this whole situation has been a blessing to the SOC in India, though it is sad that the persecution is coming from another Orthodox group and not Muslims or Hindus.  ACTIVELY PRAY FOR PEACE IN INDIA
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2003, 12:26:57 AM »

Christ is Risen!

So, while the SOC and IOC are not incommunion with one another, are both the SOC and the IOC in communion with the Copts, Ethiopians, and other orientals/NCs?
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2003, 12:35:05 AM »

Yes and no, from what I can ascertain.  An Armenian and a Coptic priest told me they do not ask which side an Indian is on when he visits.  As far as concelebrations, I don't know, I am writing to several bishops now to get an answer.

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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2003, 01:23:37 AM »

I spoke with H.G. Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox about this and his answer was "we don't want to interfere in the affairs of the Syrian Church."  But by offering communion to someone from the IOC, they essentially do interfere by sanctioning the IOC.  I then asked His Grace about the situation in Ethiopia, and he said they only recognize H.H. Paulos.  Considering the Coptic Church's stance on this, I then asked for an elaboration on the situation with the SOC/IOC and he changed the subject... so, I think most other OO who are not in either the SOC nor the IOC are pretty much oblivious.  

I do know that H.H. Pope Shenouda and H.H. Kerakin, at the request of H.H. Moran Mor Ignatyos sent a letter to the IOC Catholicos to bring about the peace.  This didn't go over so well.  The IOC Catholicos then approved a certain deed which set off a chain of events, leading to the SOC finally ordaining our Catholicos (we had waited some 6 years hoping that a peace would come so that we would have a Catholicos for a united Church).  

The tragedy of this all is that peace can be achieved fairly easily (relatively speaking I suppose).  It would only take the IOC's recognizing our right to exist, leaving our parishes and parishoners alone, and then repenting and asking for the Church's blessing to recognize their own structure.  It would be an act of humility, but that is what Christianity is about.    

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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2003, 02:22:12 AM »

Crude parallels are never welcome, but let's throw this one on the table for exploration: M.P. and Ukranian Orthodox jurisdictions.  Any similarities whatsoever here between these two arenas?

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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2003, 08:03:49 AM »

Dear Friends,

I had hoped to avoid this sort of conversation because of the effects it sometimes has on me.  Nevertheless, the conversation has begun, and because of what's been said already, I reluctantly will enter it, if for no other reason than to present "the other side".  Hopefully, after my exam this afternoon, I will be able to offer some comments on Mikho's posts.  Thanks for your patience (and prayers for my exam would be welcome too!).
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2003, 03:27:40 PM »

I spoke with H.G. Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox about this and his answer was "we don't want to interfere in the affairs of the Syrian Church."  But by offering communion to someone from the IOC, they essentially do interfere by sanctioning the IOC.  I then asked His Grace about the situation in Ethiopia, and he said they only recognize H.H. Paulos.  Considering the Coptic Church's stance on this, I then asked for an elaboration on the situation with the SOC/IOC and he changed the subject... so, I think most other OO who are not in either the SOC nor the IOC are pretty much oblivious.  

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

I don't really want to interfere in this whole mess. I would merely like to say that you can't compare the India situation with the Ethiopia one. The issue with Ethiopia is differnet because basically the government virtually appointed the other Patriarch, it wasn't an intrachurch thing of the same context as the India issue. All of the Oriental Orthodox are sad that fighting over such things is still occuring.

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« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2003, 03:31:40 PM »

Crude parallels are never welcome, but let's throw this one on the table for exploration: M.P. and Ukranian Orthodox jurisdictions.  Any similarities whatsoever here between these two arenas?

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It isn't ideal, but it would be a start and isn't necessarily unheard of.  The Armenians have two distinct, competing Catholicoi, yet they remain in communion.  The Ethiopian situation is a bit different from what I understand, as one group is excommunicated from the other, much like the situation in India.  

It would really be great if there was another ecumenical synod to sort through all these issues.
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2003, 03:34:06 PM »

The situation isn't really comparable to the Ukraine situation I think because Patriarch Filaret's Ukrainian KP Church is not even in unoffical communion with anyone else.

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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2003, 04:04:16 PM »

The situation isn't really comparable to the Ukraine situation I think because Patriarch Filaret's Ukrainian KP Church is not even in unoffical communion with anyone else.

To go one step further, Filaret Denisenko has been formally suspended and defrocked for reasons of immorality by the Moscow Patriarchate.  AFAIK, he is now, from the Orthodox side, only "Mr. Denisenko," a layman.

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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2003, 05:00:00 PM »

The situation isn't really comparable to the Ukraine situation I think because Patriarch Filaret's Ukrainian KP Church is not even in unoffical communion with anyone else.

To go one step further, Filaret Denisenko has been formally suspended and defrocked for reasons of immorality by the Moscow Patriarchate.  AFAIK, he is now, from the Orthodox side, only "Mr. Denisenko," a layman.

Hypo-Ortho

I certainly understand your reasons for saying that but I think it's premature to call him "Mr. Denisenko."  I'll still call him Patriarch Filaret because 1) he has a large Church and he functions as its head, and is recognized legally by that title 2) his deposition by the MP was political, in my opinion.  Too many rumours and innuendos flying around.  I'll just call him a schismatic bishop.

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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2003, 05:07:38 PM »

OK I think I wasn't clear in the last post.

What I should have added is this: yes he was "deposed" by the MP but that could easily be reveresed.  That period was full of intrigue, nationalism, etc., and everyone acted in haste. I'd like to see them reconcile.  Doubt it will happen, but it might, and Patriarch Filaret does have a sizeable Church, which is why i still call him Pat. Filaret, even though he is schismatic.

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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2003, 12:30:25 AM »

Well, finals are over, so I will add my view here. Forgive me if this does not come out right; I really don't mean any offence.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Mikho for his compliment at the outset. Mikho and I have exchanged emails in the past regarding the situation in India, and it has always been (for me, at least) a very rewarding experience to converse with him on a friend-to-friend basis, and hear his views as I try and formulate my own view of things as they are.

The split originated because of Indian nationalism in the early 20th century. A very small minority within the SOC in India sought to distance themselves from any foreign, and as a result, tried to break the entire SOC in India from the rest of the SOC. This movement was not the will of the majority of the SOC in India, so rather than stand down and submit to their bishops, this new movement arose. It continued to gain favor along with the tide of Hindu nationalism (India had been under foreign occupation for several hundred years).

Church historians for the Syrian Orthodox Church see it as Mikho writes here. Church historians for the Indian Orthodox Church, as you can imagine, see it a bit differently. I've never been a "My Church: Right or Wrong" person, and so I can admit that, from my limited knowledge of the events in question, the origins of the IOC were not immaculate (although I will not go so far as to say they were thoroughly rotten or treacherous).

From what I have been able to gather (and it's been a while since I've seen my sources because, thankfully, I haven't had to do this in a while), the Church in India around the nineteenth century was governed by Syrian (read: Middle Eastern) bishops, although the priests and deacons were indigenous. There was a clamour for Indian bishops; certainly, this request is a reasonable and understandable one. The Indian Church wanted some say in who was selected to be a bishop, but this was denied by the Patriarchate, which chose and consecrated someone that the Indian clergy specifically asked not to be consecrated because they knew who he was and what he was up to.

He, along with some others, were preparing to found the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, a "reformed" offshoot of the Orthodox Church, with a reformed, stripped down Syrian Liturgy that could only be classified as a "Novus Ordo" type service and Protestantised doctrines. Ordaining a man as bishop who is going to start such a group is a mistake. Nevertheless, it was done by the Patriarchate (I think the bishop in question was Mathew Mar Athanasios) against the wishes of the Indian clergy who knew this man's intent. He promptly left the Orthodox Church, starting his group: the Liturgy was translated (in a bastardised form) into Malayalam, was very much simplified, and Protestant doctrine began to be promoted. Because the Liturgy was in the vernacular for the first time, many people were attracted, and through this fell for the Protestant doctrines as well, with the full support of the Church Mission Society of the Anglican Church (I think that's what they were called).

The situation didn't get much better, and so in 1912, Patriarch Abdul Messiah came to India and consecrated Vattasheril Mar Dionysios as Catholicos of the East. This Patriarch was formerly Patriarch of Antioch, but was ousted from the throne and replaced, if I'm not mistaken, by Patriarch Abdullah, who I've heard was a convert from the Roman Catholic Church. Why was Abdul Messiah kicked out? I've heard all sorts of different stories, depending on whom you ask, and so it is hard for me to establish whether or not his ousting was legitimate. For argument's sake, however, let us assume that he was legitimately deposed. This would make his actions in Malankara in 1912 uncanonical, and the resulting Church would be an uncanonical group.

In 1934, the new group, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (or IOC, for the sake of this thread) adopted a Constitution to govern ecclesiastical affairs. This Constitution recognises the spiritual primacy of the Patriarch of Antioch, although it gives temporal authority over the administrative affairs of the Indian Church to the Metropolitan of Malankara (an office fused with that of the Catholicosate).

Around 1957, the Patriarchate of Antioch accepted the Constitution of the IOC as it was, making, to my knowledge, no changes. The two factions of the Church were reconciled, and there was peace in a united Church, recognising the spiritual primacy of His Holiness the Patriarch, and the administrative authority of His Holiness the Catholicos. The Patriarch visited India and consecrated our Catholicos (on a personal note, it was during that visit that, among other places, he offered the Holy Liturgy in my mother's parish church, and my mother and her family were communed by him).

In Addis Ababa in 1965, there was a meeting of the heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches summoned by His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. The Indian Church was represented by His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Augen I, who in the documents of that council was recognised as Catholicos of the East, Metropolitan of Malankara, and "of the ancient See of Saint Thomas".

Hence, while in 1912 you had a Church one might legitimately be suspicious of, all was reconciled by the late 1950's, making the Church in India unequivocally canonical, under the Constitution which was approved as is by the Patriarch. In 1965, we see the Oriental Orthodox Churches, gathered in council, recognising us as an independent Church (and, it goes without saying, canonical).

However, shortly after this, problems arose again, and the Church was divided. What exactly the problems were I haven't been able to figure out (much of the history is written in Malayalam, and although I know the language, I don't know it well enough to read official documents for these purposes). The basic jist of things seems to be that the Patriarch was trying to do something that was overstepping the bounds agreed to in the 1934 Constitution ratified by the Patriarchate in 1957.

Related to this, much ado is made of a Patriarchal Bull sent to our Catholicos which allegedly said that the Apostle Thomas did not possess the powers of the Episcopacy/Priesthood, although the Apostle Peter did (special mention was made of Saint Peter, IIRC). I have not read the Bull; I trust it is written in Syriac, and I have not seen a translation in either of the two languages I'm comfortable with. Nevertheless, there are people who have seen it at least in translation, and can even cite it by its number, and so I have no reason to believe that it is a lie (why would you lie about something that apparently is easy enough to confirm one way or the other?). This was seen as an attack on the authority of the Metropolitan of Malankara, who sits "on the ancient See of Saint Thomas", even if this See cannot definitely be linked to a particular city. Furthermore, it was viewed as somewhat heretical to deny these things of the Apostle Thomas. It also flies in the face of longstanding tradition, among Indians and Copts, that the Apostle, before his glorious martyrdom, consecrated at least one bishop, in addition to priests and possibly deacons.

All of these things came together, and Catholicos Augen excommunicated the Patriarch (this is what I hear anyway...I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure it was a personal excommunication) for these things. This excommunication was returned, and there were two Churches, and at some point the Syrian Patriarch consecrated a Catholicos for the faction faithful to him. With little change, this has sadly remained the case to this day.

I really didn't intend to write this much merely on the first quotation, but I got carried away. At any rate, the original quote dealt with how the IOC gained steam with the rise of Hindu nationalism. I do not deny that, among some, perhaps among a good number, nationalistic concerns are a part of this. What I do deny, however, is that this is the only thing. What I wrote before still stands: in my considered opinion as the person here most immersed in the situation, nationalism is low on the list of reasons why this is all going on. Mikho speaks of India being under foreign occupation for several hundred years; I don't see what that has to do with the Malankara Church, however, since, unless I am grossly mistaken, the entirety of (present day) Kerala was under the governance of native Princes, and not under the British Raj.

To be continued...
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2003, 12:31:50 AM »

The bottom line is this... the Church in India is split over GREED. People on the SOC and IOC sides may sugar coat it another way, but in the end, it is about a certain group of people owning properties and collecting tithes. It has little to do with autocephalacy or autonomy.

There are other issues involved in what's going on in India. I really don't think the situation is done justice by boiling it down to nationalism or greed. However, I am more prone to agree with Mikho here than on the nationalism issue. There is greed on both sides; sadly, no one is innocent of this. I wish, for the sake of peace, we could just let go of all the property disputes. However, it seems to me that the Catholicos of the IOC has a point. Church property in India does not belong to individuals or parishes, but to the Church, and the head of that Church is the Metropolitan of Malankara, per the agreed to Constitution. So the churches technically belong to the IOC, and this is something which the courts in India have recognised. I suppose there is something to be said for standing up for what's right, but I'd personally rather see the whole thing settled, so we can avoid the fights, the court cases, and the bloodshed (recently, the situation became deadly, as a leading layman of the IOC was basically hunted down and murdered by members of the SOC). I am glad that, even though we disagree on certain things, Mikho and I can both agree that the SOC, too, has its share in the greed, whether it is in quarrelling over properties with the IOC, or the so-called Simhasana ("Thronal") churches, etc.

The idea of bringing the entire Church under the canonical Catholicos and bishops in India, then completely breaking it from the SOC has been discussed, yet the IOC are vehemently opposed to this also. Why? Because it is about personalities.

It is about personalities, but perhaps not the way you think.

After the death of Catholicos Baselios Paulos II (SOC), the new SOC Catholicos in India was not consecrated, in hopes that the ecclesiastical situation could be rectified. The following is what I've been able to gather from my sources (my sources, by the way, are a mix of IOC and SOC documents, news articles, and personal contacts here and in India...you really cannot form a balanced picture by listening to only one side).

At some point, the Catholicos-designate of the SOC came to the IOC with a proposal. He would bring himself, his Synod, and the rest of the faction, into the IOC, thus reuniting the Church; the one stipulation was that he had to become Catholicos. Our Synod refused this, because it saw the offer as a power play, and not a genuine attempt at reunion. When that failed, he offered that the same deal could be made if he was made Catholicos-designate (this is the second most senior bishop in either Synod, who, upon the death of the current Catholicos, has the right of succession), replacing the current Catholicos-designate of the IOC, H.B. Thomas Mar Timotheos. That, also, was rejected, since it seemed to be a power play. The ideal offer would've been to convene a common meeting of both Synods and set the matter to a vote. This, however, was rejected by the SOC.

Later on, in March of 2002 if I'm not mistaken, the IOC Catholicos invited members of both Synods to convene and put the matter up to a vote. He offered to step down if the vote was not in his favour. Most of the SOC Synod boycotted the meeting and vote, which was witnessed by government officials to assure that there were no illegal voting practices. The only members of the SOC Synod who attended the meeting were bishops who chose to join our Church. That meeting voted overwhelmingly for the current IOC Catholicos (even the SOC bishops voted this way, if I'm not mistaken). Presumably, it was because of fear that this would happen that the SOC refused the meeting. The IOC has over twenty bishops, while the SOC, at least at that time, had only about half that number, I think. The outcome of the vote would probably not have come out in their favour, and then they'd look bad if they still refused union.

Soon after that, the decision was made to consecrate the SOC Catholicos-designate as Catholicos. The IOC Catholicos allegedly contacted the Patriarch of Antioch asking him not to consecrate this man as Catholicos of the East (the title the previous SOC Catholicos had) because, among other things, there already is one. The Patriarch agreed, but probably not the way the IOC Catholicos thought he would (as I've heard it, the intent of the call was to put a stop to the consecration of the Catholicos). Instead, the Patriarch consecrated him "Catholicos of India". Apparently, from what I've heard, this was done after the Patriarch was asked by other Oriental Orthodox leaders not to do this.

To be continued...
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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2003, 12:34:00 AM »

The only real difference (aside from a few doctrinal teachings)

I would be interested to hear Mikho explain this. What doctrinal differences separate the IOC from the SOC? I don't think we have ever changed the faith.

is that the Patriarch of Antioch can be ordained (as was the case with our last patriarch) by the Catholicos of the East, who has been an integral part of the SOC since the 2nd century.

I think, but could be mistaken, that the 1934 Constitution recognises the power of the Patriarch of Antioch, upon the death of the Catholicos of the East, to convene the Holy Synod of the IOC and consecrate the new Catholicos.

As for the Catholicosate of the East being a part of the SOC since the second century, I'd like to know what you mean here and your sources for it, because, honestly, you're the only person I've ever heard claim this. Even secular historians (as far as I can tell) seem to keep the Catholicosate of the East (a post originally claimed by the Persian Church) separate from the Patriarchate of Antioch.

I spoke with H.G. Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox about this and his answer was "we don't want to interfere in the affairs of the Syrian Church." But by offering communion to someone from the IOC, they essentially do interfere by sanctioning the IOC.

Of course, this statement seems to work from the assumption that the IOC is non-canonical, schismatic, etc., and so communing its members is equivalent to recognising them as canonical, Orthodox, etc.

The general view of the other Oriental Orthodox Churches seems to be that of His Grace; namely, that they don't want to interfere. However, I think it would be more accurate to say that it seems that the other Churches maintain communion with both sides, rather than to say that they sanction the IOC by communing her members, even though their policy is to view the IOC as schismatic. This latter view is not held up by my experience.

I have been assured by an Ethiopian Orthodox friend, for instance, that we have been in communion and maintained cordial relations with their Church. All the Armenians I've ever spoken to have said similar things. Anastasios mentions that an Armenian priest and a Coptic priest said they don't ask what side an Indian is on if they visit, which seems to say to me that we are in communion, even through the present situation (otherwise, what good reason would they have not to ask, especially if they want to receive the holy mysteries?). I myself visited a Coptic parish last week, and when I told them which Church I specifically belonged to, that didn't stop the priest from asking me if I wanted to serve at the altar and receive the holy mysteries that day. There are other things I could mention, but I think these suffice for now.

(Incidentally, I wrote to H.G. Bishop Youssef recently, and in a letter that was very clear to the point of sounding redundant, I asked him of the Coptic Orthodox Church's perspective, and he answered that they recognise both Churches.)

I would think the more "troubling" matter is why even in the SOC, the formal state of excommunication that exists against the IOC isn't always respected by its members. In India and in the Indian diaspora, faithful of either Church often avail themselves of the sacraments at parishes of the other Church, even if the priests know the ecclesial status of the persons involved. This happens in my own parish, as well as in countless others on both sides, and no one seems to have a problem. I've seen priests of both sides concelebrate together in churches of both sides, and no one seems to have a problem with that. I know people who "switch" back and forth, and that's not considered a problem (ex. SOC man marries IOC woman, family is automatically SOC, they join a IOC parish, one child is baptised in a SOC church in India, the other in the IOC parish in America, both children are ordained deacons by bishops of the IOC, but serve at the altar of the SOC church of their father back in India when on vacations, with the blessing of the priests of the church, as well as at the IOC parish of the mother, etc.). It is not a strange site to see parishes of one group inviting parishes of the other group to join them for their patronal feast days, and to see people avail themselves of the opportunity to celebrate, receive the sacraments, perhaps concelebrate, etc. Even among the non-Indian SOC, sometimes you can see these things (ex. a pilgrimage group from my parish went to the Holy Land a couple of years ago, and my priest secured permission to celebrate the Liturgy in the church in Saint Mark's Monastery in the Holy City, even after he made it clear to the abbot of the monastery which side he was on; our pilgrimage group communed that day, as well as some of the monks residing there, presumably with the blessing of their abbot). Formally, the SOC has excommunicated the IOC; that these types of things go on openly in spite of that excommunication should be of more concern, I would think, than whether or not Armenians or Copts who are "oblivious" to the situation "sanction" the IOC by communing her members.

To be continued...
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2003, 12:35:00 AM »

I do know that H.H. Pope Shenouda and H.H. Kerakin, at the request of H.H. Moran Mor Ignatyos sent a letter to the IOC Catholicos to bring about the peace. This didn't go over so well. The IOC Catholicos then approved a certain deed which set off a chain of events, leading to the SOC finally ordaining our Catholicos (we had waited some 6 years hoping that a peace would come so that we would have a Catholicos for a united Church).

Mikho, I honestly don't know what the "certain deed" was. Would you please explain this?

The tragedy of this all is that peace can be achieved fairly easily (relatively speaking I suppose). It would only take the IOC's recognizing our right to exist, leaving our parishes and parishoners alone...

As far as "parishes" go, it is the position of the IOC, if I am not mistaken, that the existing properties belong to the IOC because they come under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Malankara. This seems to be recognised by the state. Parishioners? I don't think anyone is seriously bothered if they don't want to be in the IOC. However, my personal opinion is that, in order for there to be peace, everyone should just take what they've got and leave it alone. I feel that way because I'm willing to accept compromise in order to see a resolution: then again, this was also the position taken by the "fake" mother in the OT story where King Solomon had to judge between two mothers to determine who was the real one. So, while I would prefer compromise, I can understand why others would want to struggle for what's right.

...and then repenting and asking for the Church's blessing to recognize their own structure.

But the Church already recognised that structure, in 1957 and in 1965 in the wider context of the entire Oriental Orthodox communion. Opinion seems to vary throughout the communion, and it hardly seems like an open and shut case. With all due respect, I don't think this can be boiled down to "Whatever Antioch says goes".

I don't like writing long tomes about a subject that hits close to home, especially since it just opens up more conversation which will take even more time, but in this case I felt I could only do the situation justice by writing a lot. I may disagree with some positions, but I hold no animosity towards anyone. I hope I haven't offended Mikho or anyone else in all this: such is not my intention. I do find myself agreeing with Mikho in what is most essential right now, and I hope others will join us in that; namely, let us pray for the peace of the Orthodox Church in India.
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2003, 10:25:29 AM »

His Beautitude, the Patriarch, seems quite aloof in all this.  If you could elaborate more on his involvement in this issue, Mor, it would be appreciated.  Anything concerning the current Patriarch and his predecessors would be welcome.

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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2003, 07:14:47 PM »

Dear Samer,

Unfortunately, I do not know much about the patriarchs of the past century and a half, so I really do not know if I can give you anything useful, but merely things I've picked up along the way.  

I've heard from a few people that Patriarch Abdul Messiah, who was deposed in the late 1800's/early 1900's, was deposed for the wrong reasons.  Whether this is true or not, I cannot say for sure, but it is the reason why the SOC sees him as "deposed" and the IOC, for the most part, sees him as the "Senior Patriarch", something like a "Patriarch Emeritus".

The Patriarch Abdullah who replaced him is rumoured to have been a Roman Catholic prelate who became Orthodox in order to become Patriarch.  Whether that is true or not, I cannot say for sure.

One person posted on another board that the Patriarchs of Antioch in recent years can be linked to the Ba'ath party.  This poster said that one could predict who the next Patriarch would be by finding the bishop with the strongest links and the most money.  I don't know if this is true, and I don't know enough about Middle Eastern politics to know what this would mean, but because this person, to my knowledge, has no stake in the SOC/IOC debate, I do not know why someone would make that up.  

The one thing I can say for sure is that there has been in recent decades a certain trend in the SOC regarding the Patriarchate and its relationship to Saint Peter the Apostle.  The Patriarch of Antioch is the successor of Saint Peter.  Although that is a great honour, in itself, it is somewhat meaningless; that is, it does not confer anything other than the honour of succeeding the Apostle on the throne of Antioch.  

In recent years, however, one can see a disturbing trend in that the "Petrine" origin of the Antiochene see is being emphasised in very "Roman Catholic" ways.  To sum it up, there are many who are teaching things about the Antiochene "successor of Peter" which are very similar to Roman Catholic teaching regarding the Roman "successor of Peter".  "Papal infallibility" is not among those things, thank God, but things like jurisdiction, supremacy, "headship" over the Church, etc. are taught.  I don't know how widespread it is.  I've seen SOC faithful write about the subject, and they may as well have been with the FSSP.  I've read catechetical texts which begin to approach that.  I've spoken with people who sounded like that.  Some "official" statements I've read sound like that.  So I don't know how popular it is, but I've seen enough of it to know that something doesn't seem right, at least in some quarters.  

There are "policy" issues that come from this, in my opinion.  The "Simhasana" or "Thronal" churches I mentioned earlier, for example, are parishes that are under the immediate jurisdiction of the Patriarch, and not under the local bishop.  I don't know how common this sort of thing is in Orthodoxy, but I've only heard of such things happening in the Roman Catholic world, with dioceses and religious orders coming under the direct authority of the Pope.  Even though the SOC in India is autonomous, its bishop in the US, to my knowledge, is not a member of the SOC's Indian Synod, but of the Patriarchal Synod, making all the parishes under him also under the Patriarchate, and not under the SOC in India.  I've heard that the Indian parishes in the Western US are under the Syrian bishop there, and not the Indian SOC bishop in America.  If the SOC is autonomous, I do not understand why this is the case; the parallel might not exact, but it reminds me of the Eastern Catholics outside of the "traditional territories" who came/come under Roman bishops.  At any rate, those are two examples of things that I'm not so comfortable with.  Perhaps there is precedent for them, I'm willing to hear the other side.  But to my knowledge, there isn't.
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« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2003, 08:14:16 PM »

The situation didn't get much better, and so in 1912, Patriarch Abdul Messiah came to India and consecrated Vattasheril Mar Dionysios as Catholicos of the East. This Patriarch was formerly Patriarch of Antioch, but was ousted from the throne and replaced, if I'm not mistaken, by Patriarch Abdullah, who I've heard was a convert from the Roman Catholic Church. Why was Abdul Messiah kicked out? I've heard all sorts of different stories, depending on whom you ask, and so it is hard for me to establish whether or not his ousting was legitimate. For argument's sake, however, let us assume that he was legitimately deposed. This would make his actions in Malankara in 1912 uncanonical, and the resulting Church would be an uncanonical group.

Yes, I haven't inquired much as to why he was deposed, however I will inquire my priest and archbishop.  Nevertheless, if he was illegitimately deposed, then the entire SOC illegitimately deposed him, which would then only leave the IOC as the canonical body of the Syriac Church.  From the perspective of the SOC, the solitary actions of the former patriarch without any confirmation of/by the synod, would nevertheless be non-canonical.

In 1934, the new group, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (or IOC, for the sake of this thread) adopted a Constitution to govern ecclesiastical affairs. This Constitution recognises the spiritual primacy of the Patriarch of Antioch, although it gives temporal authority over the administrative affairs of the Indian Church to the Metropolitan of Malankara (an office fused with that of the Catholicosate).

Temporal authority is always under the Catholicate if the Catholicos is present; such was the situation in the Persian Empire, when the Catholicos of the East shepherded the flock at that time.  Likewise, this is the position now under the Catholicos of the East, H.B. Mor Basileos Thomas I.  

Around 1957, the Patriarchate of Antioch accepted the Constitution of the IOC as it was, making, to my knowledge, no changes. The two factions of the Church were reconciled, and there was peace in a united Church, recognising the spiritual primacy of His Holiness the Patriarch, and the administrative authority of His Holiness the Catholicos. The Patriarch visited India and consecrated our Catholicos.

This is what I meant in the first post to this thread when I said, "Because they were accepted back in spite of their sins, many in the IOC presumed this to be validation of their actions."  The IOC was accepted into the SOC, not as the conquering body they understood themselves as, but as legitimatly Orthodox.  The 1934 Constitution only applied to those in the IOC, not the entire body of the SOC in India.  

At the time of the 1965 meeting, the IOC was recognized as Orthodox by all the OO.  Nevertheless, the IOC being recognized as Orthodox does not assume the SOC in India are now part of the IOC.

However the IOC in the years that followed the council, immediately moved to dominate the parishes that remained part of the SOC.  This, among other things, is what led to their excommunication.

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« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2003, 08:17:01 PM »

Related to this, much ado is made of a Patriarchal Bull sent to our Catholicos which allegedly said that the Apostle Thomas did not possess the powers of the Episcopacy/Priesthood, although the Apostle Peter did (special mention was made of Saint Peter, IIRC).

This is a bad case of spin.  From everything I've been told, it was not a bull, but a private correspondence.  The private letter from the Patriarch to the IOC's Catholicos allude to the passage in John's Gospel which recorded that St. Thomas the APOSTLE (a position far greater than the mere priesthood) was not present during the ordination of the Apostles.  If I'm not mistaken, this was presented as a rheorical question, asking the IOC's leader how he can claim descent from St. Thomas if he wasn't even present at the ordination?

The St. Thomas issue is quite irrelevant anyway, as the OO recognized the position of Nicea, which confirmed the ancient position of spirtual honor among the ancient Sees, regardless of the apostles who traveled throughout the world.  St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Barnabas, St. Thomas, St. Thaddeus and St. Matthias all ministered in areas that would be considered Syrian Orthodox territory, yet only Antioch held the position of honor among those, hence, "Patriarch of Antioch and all the East."

At any rate, the original quote dealt with how the IOC gained steam with the rise of Hindu nationalism. I do not deny that, among some, perhaps among a good number, nationalistic concerns are a part of this. What I do deny, however, is that this is the only thing.

No one said it was the only thing Azizo.  But it was the catalyst, and without it, we wouldn't be having this discussion.  

There are only four real nations left that comprise the SOC aside from Indians, they are the Arameans, the Assyrians, the Arabs, and the Kurds.  There are some Persians in the Church, but their numbers are too small to be considered a separate nation (some could argue the same for the Kurds).  You may or may not know, but there is strife between the Arameans and the Assyrians.  To them, our Patriarch had this reply: "We, in our Apostolic power, declare our distress and disapproval to the new names which have appeared lately and which have been attached to our Church and our people such as 'Assyrian', 'Aramaean' and the like. These names aim at distracting the existence of our Church, dividing its children, destroying the landmarks of its glories, and annihilating its civilization and its spiritual and humanitarian traditions."


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« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2003, 08:20:18 PM »

I really don't think the situation is done justice by boiling it down to nationalism or greed. There is greed on both sides; sadly, no one is innocent of this.

Sure, there are hurt feelings, pride, etc.  But the only real thing stopping a united communion is the fact that the IOC seeks to force into submission the SOC.  Do you see the SOC petitioning the Indian government to aquire churches, breaking into their churches, getting police escorts to force their way into churches, etc?  Sure none are innocent, but there is only one side who forces the matter, and it is the side whose thesis is, "all parish properties in India belong to the IOC."

I suppose there is something to be said for standing up for what's right,

Would it likewise be "right" for the British Orthodox Church to force all the Copts in the UK under Abba Seraphim?  Would it be "right" for the Syrian Orthodox in Syria (or Jordan or Lebanon or Palestine) to force the Copts and Ethiopians to submit their temporal and spiritual issues over to the SOC?

but I'd personally rather see the whole thing settled, so we can avoid the fights, the court cases, and the bloodshed (recently, the situation became deadly, as a leading layman of the IOC was basically hunted down and murdered by members of the SOC).

You are presenting this as if this is how the bloodshed began.  The hands of the IOC are not clean from the blood of the SOC faithful.

At some point, the Catholicos-designate of the SOC came to the IOC with a proposal. He would bring himself, his Synod, and the rest of the faction, into the IOC, thus reuniting the Church; the one stipulation was that he had to become Catholicos. Our Synod refused this, because it saw the offer as a power play, and not a genuine attempt at reunion. When that failed, he offered that the same deal could be made if he was made Catholicos-designate (this is the second most senior bishop in either Synod, who, upon the death of the current Catholicos, has the right of succession), replacing the current Catholicos-designate of the IOC, H.B. Thomas Mar Timotheos. That, also, was rejected, since it seemed to be a power play.

I have never heard such a thing.  

Nevertheless, if we are to assume for the sake of argument that this is true, how incorrect would it be?  The IOC is seen as outside the Body of Christ by the SOC.  If we use the Russian/Ukrainian analogy, should one expect the canonical archbishop of ukraine to completely fall under a former bishop whom Moscow only recognizes as "Mr. Denisenko?"  

Later on, in March of 2002 if I'm not mistaken, the IOC Catholicos invited members of both Synods to convene and put the matter up to a vote. He offered to step down if the vote was not in his favour. Most of the SOC Synod boycotted the meeting and vote, which was witnessed by government officials to assure that there were no illegal voting practices. The only members of the SOC Synod who attended the meeting were bishops who chose to join our Church. That meeting voted overwhelmingly for the current IOC Catholicos (even the SOC bishops voted this way, if I'm not mistaken). Presumably, it was because of fear that this would happen that the SOC refused the meeting.

Will you enlighten everyone as to how delegates were chosen for the IOC and the SOC?  After you answer this, can you blame the SOC for not attending?
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« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2003, 08:29:11 PM »

I would be interested to hear Mikho explain this. What doctrinal differences separate the IOC from the SOC? I don't think we have ever changed the faith.

1) Disobedience.  The IOC bishops broke their conscration oaths--the shalmootho.  

2) Claiming direct line of descent from St. Thomas.  Honorary descent, sure no problem-- direct descent, how?  That is an innovation.

3)  Removal of the anti-Chalcedonian portions of the ordination of four IOC bishops in 1970, an act done to court the Byzantine Orthodox.  

As for the Catholicosate of the East being a part of the SOC since the second century, I'd like to know what you mean here and your sources for it, because, honestly, you're the only person I've ever heard claim this. Even secular historians (as far as I can tell) seem to keep the Catholicosate of the East (a post originally claimed by the Persian Church) separate from the Patriarchate of Antioch.

If you want sources, Bar Ebroyo, the great Catholicos of the East, among several others, is a great source .... I'll make a new thread for this later, as it is a topic we can discuss independent of the topic at large.

Mikho, I honestly don't know what the "certain deed" was. Would you please explain this?

After H.H. Pope Shenouda and H.H. Aram tried authored a letter to reason with the IOC Catholicos, the IOC Catholicos initiated a movement to start acquiring properties here in America.  This was the straw that broke the camel's back, confirming there would be no reconciliation from the IOC's side.

Why does the IOC feel the need to conquer the historical Indian Church?  The SOC in India wants to remain with the entire Church as their forefathers before them did.  The IOC has proven that it is incabable of better ministering the Church in India.  If they want land and properties, then they can spend all their time, effort, and energy trying to appropriate these things from the Syrian Christians of India.  If their goal is also to keep us occupied with these earthly matters, they can continue filing court cases, breaking into churches, etc. OR how about the IOC leaves us alone, and focuses their energy on spreading the Gospel.  

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« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2003, 08:50:50 PM »

Temporal authority is always under the Catholicate if the Catholicos is present; such was the situation in the Persian Empire, when the Catholicos of the East shepherded the flock at that time.  Likewise, this is the position now under the Catholicos of the East, H.B. Mor Basileos Thomas I.

How?  This is not always what I see in the SOC.

This is what I meant in the first post to this thread when I said, "Because they were accepted back in spite of their sins, many in the IOC presumed this to be validation of their actions."  The IOC was accepted into the SOC, not as the conquering body they understood themselves as, but as legitimatly Orthodox.  The 1934 Constitution only applied to those in the IOC, not the entire body of the SOC in India.  

At the time of the 1965 meeting, the IOC was recognized as Orthodox by all the OO.  Nevertheless, the IOC being recognized as Orthodox does not assume the SOC in India are now part of the IOC.

However the IOC in the years that followed the council, immediately moved to dominate the parishes that remained part of the SOC.  This, among other things, is what led to their excommunication.


This is interesting.  

First of all, I'd say that I don't think the IOC saw itself as a "conquering body" the way you think.  The Patriarch accepted our Constitution as we had created it, and that was it.  I don't think it's a matter of conquest, but of living up to (or going back on) something that, with the Patriarch's blessing, united a divided Church.  

Second, I find your remarks intriguing in that they seem to imply that there were always two groups in India, separate but in communion, up till recently.  In 1957, the groups were united, and there was one Church.  In that sense, I think one would be hard pressed to show how the 1934 Constitution did not apply to the current SOC, as at that time, they and the current IOC were one Church.
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« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2003, 08:53:53 PM »

This is a bad case of spin.  From everything I've been told, it was not a bull, but a private correspondence.

Whatever it was, I've seen on more than one occasion the "serial number" of the letter, so if one had access to those sorts of things, it should be relatively easy to confirm.  If it was just private correspondence, why the number, and why to this day hasn't this been definitively established so that we could move past this?  

The private letter from the Patriarch to the IOC's Catholicos...

At the time, that Catholicos was also Catholicos of the SOC because there was one united Church.

allude to the passage in John's Gospel which recorded that St. Thomas the APOSTLE (a position far greater than the mere priesthood) was not present during the ordination of the Apostles.  If I'm not mistaken, this was presented as a rheorical question, asking the IOC's leader how he can claim descent from St. Thomas if he wasn't even present at the ordination?

To be honest, I do not know how to approach this from an "ordination" perspective.  Perhaps I illustrate my Western influences with this, but I've always thought that the injunction at the Last Supper to "Do this in remembrance of Me" was the "ordination".  No matter.  How does this "ordination" become the requirement for "descent from" an apostle?  We never hear of "episcopal succession" or "priestly succession", but only "apostolic succession", because those with the apostolic succession today, the bishops, even though not apostles, still have the episcopal/priestly charisms the Twelve had.  Either way, "descent" can be claimed.  

The St. Thomas issue is quite irrelevant anyway, as the OO recognized the position of Nicea, which confirmed the ancient position of spirtual honor among the ancient Sees, regardless of the apostles who traveled throughout the world.  St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Barnabas, St. Thomas, St. Thaddeus and St. Matthias all ministered in areas that would be considered Syrian Orthodox territory, yet only Antioch held the position of honor among those, hence, "Patriarch of Antioch and all the East."

Firstly, I don't think anyone is denying that Antioch had and has primacy.  What is debated is the question of authority.  Second, I don't think it is only/primarily because of its Petrine connection that Antioch enjoyed primacy, but because of its place in the Empire.  Perhaps I'm mistaken, but that's what I've always been led to believe.
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« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2003, 09:00:05 PM »

Would it likewise be "right" for the British Orthodox Church to force all the Copts in the UK under Abba Seraphim?  Would it be "right" for the Syrian Orthodox in Syria (or Jordan or Lebanon or Palestine) to force the Copts and Ethiopians to submit their temporal and spiritual issues over to the SOC?

Admittedly, I am not familiar with the "politics" of the other Oriental Orthodox Churches.  In the former case, the BOC is "under" the Copts, and is not autonomous (that I know of).  In the latter case, the Copts and Ethiopians are members of different Oriental Orthodox Churches, and so I would probably agree that the SOC shouldn't "take them over".  

You are presenting this as if this is how the bloodshed began.  The hands of the IOC are not clean from the blood of the SOC faithful.

I've never heard that IOC faithful have murdered SOC people.  If you've got any sources, though, I'd be glad to see them.  

Will you enlighten everyone as to how delegates were chosen for the IOC and the SOC?  After you answer this, can you blame the SOC for not attending?

I only know that the meeting occurred, and how it turned out.  I am not familiar with how delegates were chosen.  Perhaps you could tell us.  I would have to ask my uncle how things played out, since he was there.  

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« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2003, 09:09:04 PM »

1) Disobedience.  The IOC bishops broke their conscration oaths--the shalmootho.

Sorry, this is not a doctrinal difference.  It is certainly a disciplinary matter (and, if the origins of the IOC in 1912 were indeed uncanonical, I agree that it is a serious matter; nevertheless, it is not doctrinal).  

2) Claiming direct line of descent from St. Thomas.  Honorary descent, sure no problem-- direct descent, how?  That is an innovation.

First, I have never heard anyone claim direct descent.  To my knowledge, our Catholicos is the 89th successor to the throne of Thomas.  It would be pretty stupid for anyone to seriously assume that this is a direct descent in the same way that Rome can claim direct descent from Peter.  I don't think anyone claims this on our side, at least I've never heard of it.  

Second, this too is not a doctrinal difference, but a "small T" tradition.  

3)  Removal of the anti-Chalcedonian portions of the ordination of four IOC bishops in 1970, an act done to court the Byzantine Orthodox.

This may be your only compelling evidence, IMO.  I've heard of this before, but have never seen any sources/documentation that 1) this occurred and 2) it was done to court the Eastern Orthodox.  If you have any documentation or source for this, I'd like to see it.  

If you want sources, Bar Ebroyo, the great Catholicos of the East, among several others, is a great source .... I'll make a new thread for this later, as it is a topic we can discuss independent of the topic at large.

Thanks.  I probably will not discuss much about this because I don't know enough, but I'd like to learn more.  

After H.H. Pope Shenouda and H.H. Aram tried authored a letter to reason with the IOC Catholicos, the IOC Catholicos initiated a movement to start acquiring properties here in America.  This was the straw that broke the camel's back, confirming there would be no reconciliation from the IOC's side.

Again, I don't know enough about this to respond, so I'll have to look into it.  

Why does the IOC feel the need to conquer the historical Indian Church?  The SOC in India wants to remain with the entire Church as their forefathers before them did.  The IOC has proven that it is incabable of better ministering the Church in India.  If they want land and properties, then they can spend all their time, effort, and energy trying to appropriate these things from the Syrian Christians of India.  If their goal is also to keep us occupied with these earthly matters, they can continue filing court cases, breaking into churches, etc. OR how about the IOC leaves us alone, and focuses their energy on spreading the Gospel.

I regret that the current situation has led you to see the IOC only in terms of what's going on, with the implication that we are not capable of ministering in India and preaching the Gospel.  As someone familiar with both sides, I can tell you that you are mistaken.
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« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2003, 09:10:53 PM »



One person posted on another board that the Patriarchs of Antioch in recent years can be linked to the Ba'ath party.  This poster said that one could predict who the next Patriarch would be by finding the bishop with the strongest links and the most money.  I don't know if this is true, and I don't know enough about Middle Eastern politics to know what this would mean, but because this person, to my knowledge, has no stake in the SOC/IOC debate, I do not know why someone would make that up.  

You've been listening to the Assyrian faction (which is militantly anti-Baath).  Every Christian in Syria is connected to the Baath Party in one respect or another, just as they all were with the Hussein regime in Iraq.  The same can be said of Pope Shenouda and Mubarek.  These heirarchs live in dictatorships.

In recent years, however, one can see a disturbing trend in that the "Petrine" origin of the Antiochene see is being emphasised in very "Roman Catholic" ways.  To sum it up, there are many who are teaching things about the Antiochene "successor of Peter" which are very similar to Roman Catholic teaching regarding the Roman "successor of Peter".  "Papal infallibility" is not among those things, thank God, but things like jurisdiction, supremacy, "headship" over the Church, etc. are taught.  I don't know how widespread it is.  I've seen SOC faithful write about the subject, and they may as well have been with the FSSP.  I've read catechetical texts which begin to approach that.  I've spoken with people who sounded like that.  Some "official" statements I've read sound like that.  So I don't know how popular it is, but I've seen enough of it to know that something doesn't seem right, at least in some quarters.  

I think it is only popular among IOC people who want to try and associate Antioch with the Portuguese, who were also foreigners leading the Church (and quite unjustly).  I've never experienced these teachings at any of the Suryoyo or Mallu parishes I've been affiliated with.  The only time I've ever seen an embelished veneration of St. Peter was in Mr. Paul Philipose's letter, published on their website.

Even though the SOC in India is autonomous, its bishop in the US, to my knowledge, is not a member of the SOC's Indian Synod, but of the Patriarchal Synod, making all the parishes under him also under the Patriarchate, and not under the SOC in India.  I've heard that the Indian parishes in the Western US are under the Syrian bishop there, and not the Indian SOC bishop in America.  If the SOC is autonomous, I do not understand why this is the case; the parallel might not exact,    

Autonomy is in India, it isn't autonomy of Mallus just because of their skin color.  (While most Suryoye are white, many are also quite dark, and some would pass for Indian).  Should the darker skinned Suryoye be autonomous also?  Do they have to speak Malayalam?  What about those from India who don't speak malayalam?  For us, it isn't about skin color, or ethnicity.  I happen to attend one of our Mallu parishes in the diocese, and I can tell you it isn't different.  When I pray, I pray with Christians. Okay fine, you got me, I don't get to eat hummus and tabouli afterwards, maybe the IOC should sieze their parish on these grounds alone.  But seriously Phil, what about this can you not agree with?  The Church is Universal.  Everything about the IOC is Syrian Orthodox, both now and throughout history.  The SOC isn't one culture or ethnicity or language, and this is the spirit of the Church that I love so much.  It is spiritual, and not overly Indian or Syrian or Arab.     
   

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« Reply #29 on: May 21, 2003, 11:50:03 AM »


How?  This is not always what I see in the SOC.

What do you mean how? That is the role of the Catholicos.  Just because we aren't trying to take IOC parishes doesn't mean we don't administer our own.

Whatever it was, I've seen on more than one occasion the "serial number" of the letter, so if one had access to those sorts of things, it should be relatively easy to confirm.  If it was just private correspondence, why the number, and why to this day hasn't this been definitively established so that we could move past this?  

We have moved passed it... the only people who bring it up are the IOC. You should inquire with the Cathedral in Teaneck, get their perspective.

To be honest, I do not know how to approach this from an "ordination" perspective.  Perhaps I illustrate my Western influences with this, but I've always thought that the injunction at the Last Supper to "Do this in remembrance of Me" was the "ordination".  No matter.  How does this "ordination" become the requirement for "descent from" an apostle?  We never hear of "episcopal succession" or "priestly succession", but only "apostolic succession", because those with the apostolic succession today, the bishops, even though not apostles, still have the episcopal/priestly charisms the Twelve had.  Either way, "descent" can be claimed.  

Exactly, so why does the IOC try to relegate St. THomas to the mere priesthood?  Do you honestly believe St. Thomas has supremacy over the entire Church?

Firstly, I don't think anyone is denying that Antioch had and has primacy.  What is debated is the question of authority.  Second, I don't think it is only/primarily because of its Petrine connection that Antioch enjoyed primacy, but because of its place in the Empire.  Perhaps I'm mistaken, but that's what I've always been led to believe.

The IOC denies this in spite of the fact that their constitution explains that the Patriarch of Antioch is the spiritual leader of the Church in India...  Point two sounds right though.

I've never heard that IOC faithful have murdered SOC people.  If you've got any sources, though, I'd be glad to see them.  

The situation between Binu and T.M. Varghese, which occurred prior to the account you mentioned.  

I only know that the meeting occurred, and how it turned out.  I am not familiar with how delegates were chosen.  Perhaps you could tell us.  I would have to ask my uncle how things played out, since he was there.  

The SOC numbers were grossly misrepresented at this meeting.  I will forward you something regarding this.

Sorry, this is not a doctrinal difference.  It is certainly a disciplinary matter (and, if the origins of the IOC in 1912 were indeed uncanonical, I agree that it is a serious matter; nevertheless, it is not doctrinal).  

So are you telling me that the IOC does not specifically teach that bishops needn't honor oaths?  This would be a step in the right direction if this is not a specific teaching of the IOC.  But I'm skeptical.

First, I have never heard anyone claim direct descent.  To my knowledge, our Catholicos is the 89th successor to the throne of Thomas.  It would be pretty stupid for anyone to seriously assume that this is a direct descent in the same way that Rome can claim direct descent from Peter.  I don't think anyone claims this on our side, at least I've never heard of it.  

How can he be the 89th sucessor to St. Thomas?  Explain this.

I regret that the current situation has led you to see the IOC only in terms of what's going on, with the implication that we are not capable of ministering in India and preaching the Gospel.  As someone familiar with both sides, I can tell you that you are mistaken.  

Honestly Phil, I don't know anyone who sees it any other way. (present company excluded of course)

Everything the nationalists wanted in the beginning, that the IOC later became is now in place in the SOC in India.  Nowadays it is a matter of personalities and who owns what, so there is really no excuse for the IOC to exist anymore.  
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« Reply #30 on: May 21, 2003, 05:46:20 PM »

I think it is only popular among IOC people who want to try and associate Antioch with the Portuguese, who were also foreigners leading the Church (and quite unjustly).

I don't think anyone seriously associates Antioch with the Portuguese in one sweeping dismissal of all foreign influences.  If they did, things would be much different, I think.  I'm sure there are people like that, but I do not think they are very "serious".  

I've never experienced these teachings at any of the Suryoyo or Mallu parishes I've been affiliated with.  The only time I've ever seen an embelished veneration of St. Peter was in Mr. Paul Philipose's letter, published on their website.

I don't know what letter you're referring to, which probably means I haven't read it.  

Autonomy is in India, it isn't autonomy of Mallus just because of their skin color.

I've never heard of autonomy for countries, only autonomy for Churches.  It is not because Malayalees are of a different skin colour, language, and ethnicity that they should be under their own shepherds, but because they are, wherever they go, a part of their own autonomous Church.  It is not my intention to reduce ecclesiastical affairs to matters of race.  

But seriously Phil, what about this can you not agree with?  The Church is Universal.  Everything about the IOC is Syrian Orthodox, both now and throughout history.  The SOC isn't one culture or ethnicity or language, and this is the spirit of the Church that I love so much.  It is spiritual, and not overly Indian or Syrian or Arab.

I disagree with the sense I get from you that this is merely a cultural/racial matter.  It is not.  It is about Church order, autonomy/autocephaly, etc., and that's the perspective I try to see things in.  I don't have time for racial arguments because they are stupid and pointless.  

I acknowledge that the IOC is no different from the SOC, but I do not feel it is correct to say that throughout history it was this way.  After the Portuguese, maybe (that was when our forefathers sought the aid of the Patriarch against the injustices of the Portuguese).  But before this, I think you would be hard pressed to prove that the pre-Portuguese Church in India was Syrian Orthodox.  

I do affirm that the Church is Universal, with all the implications that carries, but it is also true that the Church is Local, with all the implications that carries.  I can and do see it both ways; sometimes I wonder if you can only see it from one perspective.  
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« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2003, 06:11:52 PM »

Exactly, so why does the IOC try to relegate St. THomas to the mere priesthood?  Do you honestly believe St. Thomas has supremacy over the entire Church?

No one apostle has supremacy over the entire Church.  As far as I can tell, we have always believed that.  Christ, and not Thomas or Peter, is the head of the Church, and has supremacy over it.    

We do not relegate Saint Thomas to the "mere priesthood"; we acknowledge him as an apostle, and thus one with the fulness of the priesthood.  

The IOC denies this in spite of the fact that their constitution explains that the Patriarch of Antioch is the spiritual leader of the Church in India...

Respectfully, I think you are mistaken.  I know there are a few radicals who may think this way, but the Constitution as written then still stands, the Patriarch is still acknowledged as having spiritual primacy in the Church, and I have NEVER been to a Liturgy where he was not commemorated before our Catholicos and local bishop.  To say that the IOC as a whole denies any of this is ridiculous.  

The situation between Binu and T.M. Varghese, which occurred prior to the account you mentioned.

I'm sorry, I don't know much about this, and it would be hard for me to ask for information about the situation without information like "Binu's" last name (I'm sure you know that Binu is a common name).  

The SOC numbers were grossly misrepresented at this meeting.  I will forward you something regarding this.

Thanks.

So are you telling me that the IOC does not specifically teach that bishops needn't honor oaths?  This would be a step in the right direction if this is not a specific teaching of the IOC.  But I'm skeptical.

Do you honestly think it is an official doctrinal teaching of our Church that you can do whatever you want?  Since you view the IOC as you would probably view Protestants, this wouldn't surprise me, but since you know something of the Indian situation, I would've thought you would at least not have held this falsehood as true.

How can he be the 89th sucessor to St. Thomas?  Explain this.

I think this is based on the fact that the succession was interrupted at some point for a very long time, and "resurrected"...perhaps "restored" is a better word.  

At any rate, I think I am done with this subject for now.  Just about everything I know for sure I have written, trying to avoid using information I was not sure of; I plan on looking into the subject more as I am able.  If nothing else, I think I made some interesting points, some of which were addressed (although the ones I hoped would be addressed were not), but now I think I had better back off of the discussion for the same reasons I did not want to begin it.  Perhaps when I have some more information I will re-open the issue, but for now, I'm done.
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« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2003, 06:33:59 PM »

I disagree with the sense I get from you that this is merely a cultural/racial matter.  It is not.  It is about Church order, autonomy/autocephaly, etc., and that's the perspective I try to see things in.  I don't have time for racial arguments because they are stupid and pointless.  

I acknowledge that the IOC is no different from the SOC, but I do not feel it is correct to say that throughout history it was this way.  After the Portuguese, maybe (that was when our forefathers sought the aid of the Patriarch against the injustices of the Portuguese).  But before this, I think you would be hard pressed to prove that the pre-Portuguese Church in India was Syrian Orthodox.  

I do affirm that the Church is Universal, with all the implications that carries, but it is also true that the Church is Local, with all the implications that carries.  I can and do see it both ways; sometimes I wonder if you can only see it from one perspective.  
 

Quite the contrary.  The Church in India has always been Syrian.  The question then is, which Syrian administration?  Some will say only Jacobite, the others will say only Nestorian; the reality is that both were there.  Waves of immigrants (including bishops) are recorded from the Syrian Church at Edessa, which is typically associated with the SOC.  Likewise, Nestorians were certainly in India prior to the time of Vasco de Gama.  However, was the entire Church Syrian Nestorian?  The Persian cross monument (dated 7th century) at the St. Mary's Church in Valiapally renders language that non-Chalcedonians would use.  

Perhaps you only see me looking at things from a Universal perspective because this is what I'm emphasising in our discussions.  I am put in a position where I must stress the importance of the universality of the faith.  I have no problem with local issues.

But, if as you say the IOC is indeed Syrian in all things, and you don't have time for racial arguments because they are "stupid" and "pointless," then how can you not understand why a population of Mallus can be under a Middle Eastern bishop, and the Mallu bishop in America would be under the Patriarch?  If we are the same faith, and lo the same rite, same structure and Church, what reason would there be to split?  

I think the flaw comes in seeing the Church in India as its own working entity from the beginning, unaffiliated with Syria (except for St. Thomas).  This is probably the seed of our respective positions.
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« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2003, 06:47:59 PM »


Respectfully, I think you are mistaken.  I know there are a few radicals who may think this way, but the Constitution as written then still stands, the Patriarch is still acknowledged as having spiritual primacy in the Church, and I have NEVER been to a Liturgy where he was not commemorated before our Catholicos and local bishop.  To say that the IOC as a whole denies any of this is ridiculous.  

Good, and I'm willing to be mistaken on that, as you should be with bringing forth these Antiochian Petrine Supremacy things.

I'm sorry, I don't know much about this, and it would be hard for me to ask for information about the situation without information like "Binu's" last name (I'm sure you know that Binu is a common name).  

I thought you might be familiar with the situation.  That is all I recall from a conversation several months ago.  I'm sure if you do some research and ask around you can get the specifics.

Do you honestly think it is an official doctrinal teaching of our Church that you can do whatever you want?  Since you view the IOC as you would probably view Protestants, this wouldn't surprise me, but since you know something of the Indian situation, I would've thought you would at least not have held this falsehood as true.

I wouldn't be surprised, but how then do we go about rectifying this if one can't do whatever one wants?  Do we just say, "well whatever?"  Or we do say, "okay, I was wrong to do this, bless me and forgive me and accept me?"  

I think this is based on the fact that the succession was interrupted at some point for a very long time, and "resurrected"...perhaps "restored" is a better word.  

Successor in what respect?

If nothing else, I think I made some interesting points, some of which were addressed (although the ones I hoped would be addressed were not),

I share with you what I know, and if there are things you specifically want to know, ask again.  If it is this "Antiochian Petrine Supremacy" deal, I really am not even going to entertain that, because it is bunk.
    
Thanks for your contributions.  I don't think the past will be rectified with this issue, but I think you have the right approach to eventual reconciliation--that is, to each his own.  In God's time thereafter, there will be unification again.     
   
   
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