Pinarayi slams Orthodox Church for tepid response to peace overtures

Pinarayi slams Orthodox Church for tepid response to peace overtures
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

Malappuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has slammed the Orthodox Church for being cold to the government's efforts to find an amicable solution to the old dispute with the Jacobite faction. Significantly, the chief minister also made it clear that the government cannot consider Orthodox faction's demand for handing over churches in which they have just three members.

Pinarayi targeted the Orthodox Church during his interaction with invited guests at a meeting held as part of the chief minister's Kerala tour here on Monday.

"Whenever the state government tried to find an amicable solution to the church row, the representatives of the Orthodox Church adopted a totally non-cooperative stand which was evident from their reactions," Pinarayi said.

He also said the representatives of the church refused to come on board when the government formed a cabinet subcommittee to discuss the issue.

"Even proposals for bringing in mediators from other Christian denominations acceptable to them and bilateral talks between the two factions were not considered. They didn't even bother to respond when asked to suggest a date for holding bilateral talks. Despite the indifferent attitude the government has not shut the doors for an amicable resolution of the row," the CM stated.

The chief minister's comment was made in the presence of Orthodox Church Malabar Diocese secretary Fr Thomas Kurien Thazhayil who was in the audience.

Even though the church Secretary made an attempt to give a clarification in the midst of the CM's speech, the latter declined to entertain him.

The Diocese secretary expressed his strong resentment after the meeting.

On ordinance

Referring to hurdles raised by the Orthodox faction in burying deceased Jacobites in church property that came in the former's control, Pinarayi said the goverment had no other option but to bring in an ordinance for facilitating burial when it became unbearable to see people wearing religious attire showing disrespect to the dead.

Interestingly, the chief minister's criticism came on a day when Orthodox Church representatives held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi to seek amicable resolution to the problem.

So far the Orthodox faction has stuck to its demand that the 2017 Supreme Court order should be implemented, but the Jacobite faction alleged the former was "misinterpreting" the order and "taking over" their churches unethically.

In 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered to hand over 1,000 parishes and churches of the Malankara Church to the Orthodox faction. The court had relied on the 1934 constitution of the Malankara Church while delivering the verdict. Earlier this year the apex court had chided the Kerala government for not implementing its 2017 judgement.

The old dispute is over the right to own church property and conduct prayers in churches.

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