The paper discuses about the introduction of the Antiochean rite into the Malankara Church were a gradual process. Examining this process closely we see that the Antiochene liturgy with its rituals was fully adopted, though gradually, and declared officially in 1836 to be the liturgy of the Malankara Church. Later the then Antiochene prelate Mar Cyril completed the evolution, leaving no room for other liturgical elements to exist in it.
As for the disciplinary system, very few innovations were made, though a few elements that were properly Antiochene and intimately connected with liturgy and its rituals were introduced at various stages. However, the discipline of the Malankara Church was declared formally Antiochene and the transition was complete as it had adopted the “Nomo-Canon” of Bar Hebreus as the code of laws for it, although the church-government was left to be regulated, for the most part, by the traditions and customs of the Malankara Church drawn and influenced from the cultural elements, the local administrative system and other different sources and developed through the various stages of its history.
Church Administrative System
The administration of the local church is carried out by the parish assembly called Edavaka yogam , consisting of the priests and adult members of the church. Among the parish assembly a board of consulters and the trustees (In the Malankara Catholic Church instead of trustees as in the Syro Malabar Church, usually there is only one trusty and secretary) who are looking after the temporal affairs.
The paper fundamentally focuses to establish that the church-government and disciplinary system was based mainly on the ancient Indian ecclesial tradition.
The Malankara Catholic Community as a Major Archiepiscopal-Catholicate Church
The Malankara Catholic Community is a tiny group of Christian faithful who trace their origin to the apostolic preaching of St. Thomas the Apostle and who, passing through many hurdles in their history, established complete communion with the Church of Rome. Now this Church is a Major Archiepiscopal Church within the Catholic communion. According to the Eastern Canon Law there are four degrees of ecclesial status-the Patriarchal Churches, the major-archiepiscopal Churches, the Metropolitan churches and other Churches governed by an episcopes. The Malankara Church stands in the second place as a major archiepiscopal Church next to the Patriarchal Churches. As a Major Archiepiscopal Church it is an independent autonomous church under the general governance of the Pope. Though there is a difference in the title of the Patriarchs and the Major Archbishops, the powers of these two ecclesiastical dignitaries are almost the same. The only significant difference is that when the Major Archbishop is elected, his election can be declared only after receiving confirmation from Rome. In other matters especially those concerned with the administration of the church the Major Archbishop and the Major Archiepiscopal Church under him have the same canonical rights with the provision for Episcopal Synod and independence in deciding and executing the daily affairs of the Church as the Patriarch in the Patriarchal Churches. This means that the Malankara Catholic Church has now become a full-fledged sui juris church from canonical considerations with its own rights and responsibilities. But Canon law does not constitute a church; rather it only provides the framework for an existing church to function. Accordingly it becomes clear that the Malankara Catholic Community has received a canonical framework within which it has to live and establish itself as a church of Christ. What is the nature of the church that should exist and function within the canonical framework? This question leads us to the history of the community in the past, the values for which the community has been struggling through the centuries, the sociological situation in which this community finds itself today and its theological and spiritual responsibilities.
To Look Back into the History
Christianity in India traces its origin from the preaching of St. Thomas, one of the Apostles of Jesus. The history of the Church up to the coming of the Portuguese in 1498 is the shrouded in mystery. All that we know for certain about this Christian community during the fifteen centuries from the time of St. Thomas (52-72) to the arrival of the Portuguese is that this community was somehow related to the Chaldean Church[i]. The arrival of the Portuguese marked a new phase in the history of this community. The Portuguese missionaries having knowledge of only one from of church life, namely the Latin form, wanted so to say, to ‘convert’ these Christians to the ‘true’ form of Christianity. They wanted to introduce the Latin Church and also the Latin customs. The Christians of this land had a very high self-esteem and were not ready to give up their traditions and customs and to yield their independence to the newcomers from Europe. The struggle for independence resulted in the so-called Coonan Cross Oath by which this community pledged to be independent of the Portuguese missionaries who wanted to have dominion over them. All the available sources relating to the pre-Portuguese era of the St. Thomas Christians in Kerala prove emphatically that this community was, through the Church of the East (the Chaldean Church), in communion with Rome. The Coonan Cross Oath also was not a revolt against Rome; rather it was a movement of protest against the illegal and unwarranted intervention of the Portuguese in the affairs of the Christians of St. Thomas. But since the Portuguese missionaries were Catholics and had a better say in church affairs, this movement was interpreted as an anti-Roman movement. When Rome intervened, it was too late and it resulted not in winning back the St. Thomas Christian to the Catholic communion; rather it resulted in a rift in the church, the majority supporting the Roman authorities and the minority (almost one third) choosing to remain as an independent community. This is the first major division in the history of the St. Thomas Christians. After many attempts to restore the Episcopal succession of the Church, this group received Bishops from the Jacobite Church and completed in 1836 at a solemn declaration of faith in a synod known as the second Synod of Mavelikkara. Thus the St. Thomas Christians were divided into two churches, one Catholic and another Jacobite. The Jacobites were known as the ‘new allegiance group’ (puthen koottukar) and the Catholics as the ‘old allegiance group’ (Pazhaya kootukar).
The history of the new allegiance party is the history of a series of subdivisions and fractions. The first such subdivision occurred in 1772 when Mar Koorilos who received Episcopal consecration from a Jacobite Bishop residing in Kerala without the knowledge and permission of the ruling Bishop, was compelled to leave the church by the court order of the Kerala Government. A few of the faithful joined him and he became the founder of a new church, the Malabar Independent Syrian Church of Thozhiyoor. Though the followers of this church have the same liturgy and discipline as the Jacobite Church, they remain as an independent church without communion with any of the ancient churches in the world. They have a very democratic system of self-governance under a Metropolitan. They are one of the smallest groups of Kerala Christians numbering about 5000 individuals.
Another rift in the new allegiance party occurred in 1875. The leader of the revolt was Mathews Mar Athanasios, a Bishop consecrated by the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch but rejected by the Kerala Government authorities and the majority of the Jacobite Christian faithful. With this second major division in the new allegiance party, a new church was born, the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church known also as the Reformed Church.
The third in the new alliance party happened in 1930 under the leadership of Mar Ivanios. This rift gave birth to the Malankara Catholic Church. When there was a legal battle among the Bishops of the Jacobite Church of Kerala and divisions within it, Mar Ivanios, one of the Bishops of this Church, wanted to re establish communion with Rome and to restore unity among the St. Thomas Christians. His aim was to go back to the pre-Coonan Cross situation in which all the St. Thomas Christians were in ecclesial communion with the Church of Rome. He did not succeed fully in his attempt. But he was able to take away a section of the Jacobite Christians and to get united with Rome. Now this is the third division in the new alliance group of St. Thomas Christians and it marked the birth of the Malankara Catholic Community.
The Struggle for Values
The above history points not only to the upheavals in the life of the St. Thomas Christian, but it also reveals the values for which the Church was struggling. It is a fact that those who gave leadership for the Coonan cross Oath had only one aim in doing that, namely to affirm the independence of the Church which traces its origin from an Apostle of Jesus. They wanted the St. Thomas Christian community to be a Church ruled by its own leaders and to preserve the customs and traditions that they held in high esteem. When the Portuguese missionaries intervened in the affairs of the church, the later could only show their protest through Coonan cross oath. It was not a section of Christian faithful that perpetrated the revolt, rather all the St. Thomas Christians were behind it. Even before during the revolt the church was standing as one body. The nature of self governance of this church in the pre-Portuguese period is very unique in the history of Christian churches. According to the documents available to us, St. Thomas the Apostle consecrated certain indigenous persons as his successors. But how long this Episcopal succession continued in the Church is not clear. In the 4th century (345) a group of Persian Christians under the leadership of Thomas of Cana reached this land. The successors of this group are now known as the Southists (thekkumbar). One of the opinions of historians is that Thomas of Cana came with Bishops for the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala who had long last apostolic succession. Any way one as thing is sure, that at least in some periods of the pre-Portuguese era, the St. Thomas Christians were governed by Persian Bishops and followed the Chaldean Liturgy. But this governance by the Chaldean Bishops was not a total dependence on this church. We have very clear evidence that the Persian Bishops had only spiritual leadership of the St. Thomas Christians. The Archdeacons of the Church looked after all the temporal affairs of the church. It seems that these Archdeacons had jurisdictional power over the whole India because they were known as the Archdeacons of all India. The Archdeacons were indigenous priests and were like rules of the people. There was another arrival of Eastern Christians in between the ninth and tenth centuries with two Bishops, Mar Sapore and Mar Prothe. During this time also the role of these Bishops was nothing more the spiritual leadership. There is no record, which gives us any hint about the questioning of the authority of the Archdeacon of India. -This means there was clear division between the spiritual authority, which is vested on the Bishop, and material authority, which is handled under the leadership of the Archdeacon.
What was the role of the people in the appointment of the Bishops? Did they have any say in this matter or did the patriarch of the Chaldean Church directly appoint them without any consultation with the people of the land? From the little evidence we could collect from the history of the church, it seems that the role of the people was not totally limited to the material affairs of the church; rather they had a say in deciding who should be their Bishop. There is a book by Ibn-At-Tayib, by name the “Law of Christians” which is an important document in this regard. In this book a letter written by Patriarch Timothy I to the Kerala Christians is reproduced. This letter is deals with the election of the Metropolitan. There the Patriarch asks the people to elect their Metropolitan in the presence of the suffrogan Bishops and to get approval from the Patriarch and then only to refer the matter to the local kings. This means that the people had a definite role in deciding who should be their Metropolitan. There is still another evidence showing the role of the people in electing the Bishop and also the nationality of the Bishop. There was the tradition among the Indian and Chinese Bishops of ordaining their Metropolitans by “placing the letter of the Patriarchs on their head”2.If this evidence is to be believed, then we can be sure about to aspects of the Episcopal authority in the Indian Church: First of all the indigenous faithful had a say in the election of the Bishops. Secondly at least some Indians were consecrated as Bishops in the pre-Portuguese phase of the history of the St. Thomas Christians. Another reason to think positively about the involvement of the people in choosing their Bishops is the letter (though forged by interested parties) permitting 12 priests to consecrate the leader of the Coonan Cross Oath as the Bishop. There is no doubt about the spurious nature of this letter. At the same time we cannot dismiss the event lightly, because the whole church could be made to believe this letter as a genuine communication from the patriarch of the East. If there was no tradition of the people choosing their Bishops, and if, as is sometimes presented by certain historians, the Patriarch sent all the Bishops, how could the whole congregation be cheated with such a spurious letter? It stands to logic, on the other hand, that the tradition was that the people elected the Bishops, and the forged letter was taken seriously because the people understood it as permission to elect the Bishop. Later when the priest proceeded to consecrate him, dissention started to precipitate in the community. Thus the role of the laity in deciding about their Bishops was one of the values the St. Thomas Christians cherished and struggled to preserve.
Another important value that was preserved by the St. Thomas Christians was a healthy distance between the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Church. Even when the Church was depending on the Chaldean Church for Episcopal ministry, the Bishop“ exercised the powers of order only which included blessing of the foundation stones of churches, consecration of churches and altars, ordination of clerics and solemnization of Baptism”3. The Bishop spent the rest of the time in prayer and study and led a very austere life. The archdeacon, who had the title of “Archdeacon of all India”, managed all the temporal matters. Here also a true democratic system was followed. The archdeacon could not deal with the temporal affairs of the church at his will, but had to be authorized in all serious matters by the general assembly of the faithful known as the pothuyogam, which was represented by delegated sent from all the parishes of the church. Those matters, which affect the parishes, were decided and executed not by the priest in his personal authority; rather everything was decided according to the majority opinion of the parishioners assembled in the parish assembly known as the idavaka yogam.
In this connection we have also to make mention of a technical expression frequently used by the St. Thomas Christians, namely ‘the Law of Thomas’. By this expression is meant the particular tradition of the St. Thomas Christians, which includes mainly the healthy distancing of the spiritual and material aspects of the church life and full involvement of the people and their participation in the decision making of the church in its common affairs and affairs of the parish.
The Values which Prompted Reunion in 1930
The immediate background history of the historic reunion movement under the leadership of Mar Ivanios in 1930 which laid the foundation for the Malankara Catholic Community speaks in unequivocal terms about the values which prompted the movement.mar ivanios was the main figure in establishing the catholicate in the Syrian orthodox-jacobite church in 1912. His intention was to stabilize the hierarchical system of governance in the malankara orthodox-jacobite church and to free it from its dependence on the patriarch, of Antioch. This was in other words, an ecclesiastical independence movement.when, after deterioration of the relationship with the Antiochean Jacobite Patriarch, the new alliance party seriously thought about establishing communion with an ancient church with unbroken apostolic succession, it had many option before it.
- There was the syro-malabar church, consisting of their own brothers and sisters who trace their origin from St.Thomas communion with the Syro- Malabar church would have been the most natural and easiest step if by communion the new allegiance party wanted only the preservation of the St.Thomas Tradition and catholic communion. But the syro-malabar church had kept only the social and community ties with ties .St.Thomas tradition, and they had lost very much of traditions of the ecclesiastical disciplines which gave active participation to the ordinary clergy and laity in the administration of the church. 2. A second possibility was to establish ecclesial communion with the Syrian Catholic Church of Antioch, which was Catholic and had the same liturgy as the liturgy of the Jacobite Church, which these people were using. if the preservation of the Antiochean liturgy and Catholic Communion were their only aims in establishing relationship with an ancient Church the natural and easiest way was to get linked with the Antiochean Syrian Catholic church
- A third possibility was to relinquish their liturgy for the sake of Catholic communion and become part of the Latin Catholic community of Kerala.
The history of the immediate background of the reunion clearly shows that all the above-mentioned possibilities were seriously discussed. But when reunion actually took place the Church opted for direct communion with Rome. This option was taken because the Church wanted to preserve all the tradition handed over from St. Thomas and the liturgy inherited through ties with the Jacobite Church of Antioch. It also wanted to preserve the individuality of the Church under its own Catholicos, but under the universal Primacy of the Bishop of Rome
The Law of Thomas and the Non – Catholic St. Thomas Christians
The New Allegiance party to which the reunited Malankarites also belong, consists today of three independent individual Churches. The Malankara Syrian Orthodox –Jacobite church is the biggest with regard to the number of faithful. Now this Church is in a crisis, with the members divided over the role of the Jacobite patriarch of antio in the Church. Then there is the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church, a reformed community and the finally the independence Syrian Church of Thozhiyoor. All these Churches keep the Law of Thomas in its integrity with sight adaptations to suit the situation of these Churches.
The Malankara orthodox- Jacobite Church functions according to the ‘Constitution of the Malankara Church’ Promulgated and approved by the General Council of the Church in1934 and finally approved by the Supreme Court of India in1958 .According to this Constitution the administrative structure of the Church consists of three levels of responsible bodies. There is at the top the Malankara Metropolitan, who is also the Catholics, and in the second place in the ladder of importance is the Episcopal synod, which though second in the ladder is the supreme legislative body. In the third level comes the Malankara Syrian Christian Association, which may be considered as the general assembly of the Church. The Association consist of all the metropolitans, all the parish priests and two elected laymen from each parish. This Association elects a managing committee and for the immediate execution of the decisions of the Association approved by the Episcopal Synod a working committee is elected this working committee is the body that is immediately responsible for the execution of all the decisions of the Church. According to this system of governance we can notice three characteristics of the administration
1. The laity receives a major role in the administration of the temporalities
2. The ordained members are mainly concerned with the spiritual affairs of the church
- The laity has a significant role in the election of the Bishops
Another St. Thomas Christian community that preserves the Law of Thomas is Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church .This Church functions with a three level administrative system. There is a Metropolitan at the stop. Then there is t5he Episcopal Synod. In the third place is the House of Representatives known as Prathinidhi mandalam consisting of the Metropolitan, all the Bishops, Vicars General, Representatives of the Clergy and Lay Parish Members. Of the members of this house 65%consist of lay members. This house is the apex body and it decides all spiritual and temporal matters of the Church. After receiving the approval of Episcopal synod the decisions are executed by the executive committee of the mandalam known us the church council
Episcopacy and the Ramban consecration
In this regard an item of the Sacred Tradition of all the new allegiance groups deserves special consideration. When a Bishop is elected, he is first consecrated as a Ramban before the actual Episcopal Consecration. This is a tradition inherited from the Antiochean Jacobite Church and is now followed by all the Churches mentioned above, all the factions of the new allegiance group. This particular liturgical rite makes the Bishop before his consecration a confirmed monk with monastic ideals, totally dead to the world and concerned only with things divine. The Churches and ecclesial communities of the new allegiance group keep up this tradition because in the St. Thomas Tradition, which they follow, the Bishop is primarily a spiritual leader and the material affairs of the Church are looked after by the Archdeacon according to the directions of the pothuyogam (the general assembly) of the Church.
The Present Social Standing of the Community
The Malankara catholic community, which numbers nearly 400000 individuals, is made up of around 65% of its population coming from the Kerala Christians of St. Thomas origin and the rest coming mainly from the Nadar community of Tamilnadu and Kerala and few converts from the different dalit and other groups. Since the church traces its origin from St. Thomas and since the St.Thomas Christians are considered an upper social group in the Indian society, all the Malankara irrespective of their origin, are considered as an upper caste community by the Indian government, denying them any reservation in government jobs, which the Nadar and Dalit Hindu communities are enjoying today. This situation takes us to the social and economic backwardness of these communities, which the Church has a duty to address.
The Catholic Identity
Though in the past the Catholic Church had earned for itself the ill reputation as a Church totally monitored by Bishops and priests, the present situation in the Indian Catholic Church is very different. Some of the recent decisions of the CBCI shed light on the mind of the Church in regard to the participation of the laity in the administration of the Church and the priorities the Church should have in its social and educational services. Some examples may be cited here. From1970 there are repeated statements of the CBCI concerning the need for greater and more responsible lay participation in the affairs of the Church. In the declaration of 197, the Bishops said, “The CBCI stands committed to lay participation in the Church affairs”. Then in the 1986 meeting of the CBCI the Bishops qualified the active participation of the laity as a “right and duty” and discovered the source of this right and duty as coming not from the generosity of any Church authority but from the Lord. The Bishops also discovered the fact that “pluralism in the ministry is not a concession granted by the hierarchy and the clergy but belongs to the very nature of the church”2
About the social and educational services rendered by the church to the Indian society, the Bishops in the CBCI meetings have voiced their concern for social justice, preferential option for the poor and revolutionary changes in the educational undertakings, which must conscientize the people against exploitation and rule of the privileged minority. The Bishops wanted to give “priority to out –of-school and non –formal education” which “would have a method and content that is in keeping with the best in Christian Tradition”3
To be Catholic and Malankara
After these historical and ecclesiastical considerations, let us look into the present fabric of the Malankara Catholic Community, which has now been raised to major archiepiscopal rank. The Malankara Catholic Community is one of the smallest groups of Christian Communities and the smallest group within the Catholic Communion in India. The total number of its faithful in all the 5 dioceses comes near 400000 individuals only. There is no prospect of any significant growth in its membership in the near future. The two sources through which the church was growing in membership are mission ad gents and reunion of the separated brothren of the other Christian Communities of St.Thomas Tradition. The present social and religious situations in India and in Kerala in particular are detrimental to both conversion and reunion. There is also the threat of loosing its members because of the pressure from other communities. This means that the Malankara Catholic Community will have to continue as the smallest group of Christians in India in the indefinite future. But is it a humiliation to be the smallest Catholic Community? No, if it has a reason to exit and a message for the world. But as we have seen earlier, Catholicity cannot be the sole raison d’etre of the existence of this community because Catholicity could be preserved through many other ways. Therefore, from the past, which from the fabric of this community, we can identify the areas that need to be attended to so that this community will be a church in the real sense.
To be a Malankara Church with much stronger sister churches in the non-Catholic camp, the Malankara Catholic Community has:
To be faithful to the 17 centuries before the Coonan Cross Oath, to be able to stand with the present Non-Catholic St. Thomas Christians. And in particular, to be faithful to the Liturgical Tradition which compels the Bishops to be really monastic, there is need for a distancing of the temporal and spiritual powers exercised by the church, giving more responsibilities to the laity in the decision making process especially that touches temporal matters and in the execution of these decisions. If this does not happen this community will be giving rise to a contradiction within itself by projecting a sign, especially the head covering of the Bishops, which will be a mute sign that does not signify anything.
- To be faithful to past history in which the Church was an Indian Church with jurisdiction over the whole subcontinent, and to preserve the Diaspora Malankarites from the dangers of secularism, the Church should regain jurisdiction over the whole territory of India.
- To take care the multi-community nature of its people, or in other words, since the Malankara Catholic community is made up of people coming from different social groups, the following steps are immediately to be taken to make it a Church.
- There is need for a revision and adaptation of the liturgy so that it includes certain aspects of the social life of all the different communities that make up the church, the new allegiance group of St. Thomas Christians, the Nadar Community and the various subaltern groups. The liturgy should be such that all these communities should feel that it is the celebration of their own lives.
- There is need for an integral social action programme which caters to the needs of the under privileged people and makes up for the economic and social problems in the community. The institutions of the Church cannot concentrate only on highly technical and professional education, neglecting the most pressing needs of certain sections of its membership. In the same way those immediately responsible for these institutions should be made answerable not simply to the hierarchy but also to any member of the Church.
iii. To counteract and to transcend the divisions within the Church into the various social and caste groups, the leadership of the Church should encourage inter-caste marriages with the aim of slowly making the church a casteless society. This is not an easy thing, but as the Church of Christ, it has a duty to direct its attention, its energy and also its financial resources to attain this aim. When this aim is fulfilled, this Church will have a relevant message for Christianity as a whole and to the Indian human conscience which is still not free from caste feelings
To be a Catholic Church in the true sense, the Malankara Catholic Community needs better cooperation with other Catholic Communities in India and has to learn from these communities as well as to contribute its own share in bettering their lot. The Catholic Communities are fast adapting themselves to the social and political situation in India. But the Malankara Catholic Community seems to be unaware of these changes. The self-esteem the members of other communities have is far from being realized in the Malankara Catholic Community. In the same way, while being faithful to its liturgical traditions, it has to adapt certain prayers, at least the most repeated prayers like the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary” so that in common gatherings of Catholics the Malankara Catholic faithful may feel at home with their brothers and sisters of other Catholic Communities.
Above all the Malankara Catholic community is in urgent need of a theology of its own. Actions and life style proceed from thought. The actions and life style of a Church proceeds from its theology. Until and unless a theology is developed which takes into account all the aspects of the Church’s past and the present and has a clear perspective for the future, this community will only remain a community and never a Church. But this is not possible unless the hierarchy positively encourages diverting and directing the Church’s resources, both financial and human, for this purpose.
The Ecclesiality of the Malankara Catholic Community is something yet to be realized. The Major Archiepiscopal rank of the Church has no meaning if it does not exist in a community which has become a Church. To become a true Church, a Malankara Catholic Church is the challenge before this community. But a question may be asked in this context,“ Is it possible with the present Eastern Code of Canon Law” This is a relevant question, because within the Code a church Sui luris can make its own particular laws and implement them only in areas where these particular laws do not go against the general laws At the same time the Code has provided the first principle on which to work out a law suited to the particular situation of the churches Sui Iuris. In Canon 11 the Code clearly says, “In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality with regard to dignity and the activity…” If there is such an equality, the natural conclusion is that the present concentration of power in the Episcopal Synod, in which only the Bishops have a right to cast votes, is not on the basis of their right but only an adjustment. But what could be the reason for such an adjustment that excludes the clergy and laity from the decision making process of the Church, especially in the election of the Patriarch or Major Archbishop? The famous canonist Victor J. Pospishil thinks that it is to avoid “secular and political considerations in the election of Patriarchs”. This is a just reason. But it cannot be a permanently valid reason. This means that the Malankara Catholic community has two duties to perform with regard to making it possible to give better participation to the clergy and laity in the decision making process. First of all the Church has to constantly ask for a revision of the Code to suit its historical past and its responsibilities as an Apostolic Church. Canon Law is not eternal truth that cannot be amended. Therefore it needs changes. The present Code has taken very little consideration of the history of the Syrian Churches. The title major archbishop itself is foreign to the tradition of the Syrian Churches. Therefore the Code needs to be changed to make it more Syrian, on the one hand. On the other hand the Malankara Catholic community has a duty make particular laws in such a way that every loophole in the Code is used to ensure an administration according to the apostolic heritage of this community.
In Canon 15/3 the Code says, “In accord with the knowledge, competence and position which they possess, they (the Christian faithful) have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the pastor of the Church their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church…”. If it is a duty of the Christian faithful, then the hierarchy has a duty on their part to create a forum in which the faithful, especially those with competence in different field, to manifest their opinions. The various commissions coming under the Episcopal Synod are not able bodies to do this because the members of these bodies are appointed by the hierarchs and they do not represent spontaneous and non-coerced opinions. The Code speaks of the patriarchal/ Major Archiepiscopal Assembly. But the present Code does not suit the aspirations of the Malankara Catholic Community because there is only very little representation of the laity on the one hand and it is only a consultation body, the decisions of which can very well be overlooked by the patriarch and the Episcopal Synod. What Malankara Catholic looks for is an assembly of the type of the Malankara Association of the Malankara Orthodox- Jacobite Church in which all the parishes are represented, all the pastors have membership and the decisions binding on the Bishops so much so that these decisions become the matter for the discussion in the Episcopal Synod. Some such system can be evolved in the administration of the Malankara Catholic Community.
The present Code limits the power of the Major Archbishop to the territory allotted to him. In the present situation, only Kerala, the Kanyakumary, Coimbatore, Nilgiris and Thiruchirapally districts of Tamilnadu and Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Coorg, Chikmangalore, Shimoga and South Kanara districts of Karnataka come under the territory of the Malankara Major Archbishop. This means that there is almost no means to cater to the spiritual needs of the Malankara Catholics who reside in other parts of the country. This situation detrimental to the existence of this community, which is already the smallest, and there is a constant flow of population in this country. The Malankara Catholic Community should constantly fight for regaining the right it enjoyed in the pre- Portuguese period. Many are the areas which need attention. The canonical status as the major archiepiscopal church is only a framework. But if all concerned work together with humility and in a spirit of love and cooperation, with the help of thinkers and experts in the different fields, this community will be able to achieve aspirations and be able to become a true church, the Malankara Catholic Church.
1 Cf. X. Koodapuzha, Bharatha sabha Charithram, (Mal), Kottayam, 1980, pp. 126-131.
2 Cf. A. M. Mundadan, Indian Christians: Search for Identity & Struggle for Autonomy, Bangalore, 1984, p.11.
3 cf. E.R. Hambye, “Medieval Christianity in India”, Christianity in India, (ed.) Perumalil and others, Alapuzha, 1972, pp. 30-35.
4 Cf. A.M. Mundadan, op. cit. p. 16.
5 cf.T. Inchakkalody, Archbishop Mar Ivanios, vol.I, Trivandrum, 1957, pp.112-124.
6 Cf. G. Chediath, “ The Malankara Catholic Catholicos and the Catholicate”, Aikya Samiksha, vol 2,(2000) . No. 2, p. 24.
7 A.P. Urumbackal, The Juridical status of the Catholicos of Malabar, Rome, 1977, p. 106.
8 As quoted in J. Desrochers, The Social Teaching of the Church in India, Bangalore, 2006, p. 100.
9 J. Desrochers , p. 101.
10 Ibid. p. 110.
11 V.J. Posobishil, Eeastern Catholic Church Law, New York, Saint Maron Publications, 1996, 153.
- d) Witness of Ashram Spirituality
Ashram life and spirituality is characteristic of the Indian tradition. The missionary dynamism of the Church of the East was primarily due to the asceticism and monasticism cultivated in their ecclesial tradition. Hence a recapturing of the spirit of asceticism and monasticism will enable our Church to be more effectively missionary in its outreach.
Mar Ivanios founded the Order of Imitation of Christ as an Instrument for the evangelization of India. Therefore he adopted truly Indian way of life in mentality, life-style, dress and simplicity of life. But today, we have to ask ourselves, whether the maxims of the world are influencing our monastic communities?
Kurisumala Ashram founded by Francis Acharya and Bede Griffiths at Vagamon tried to marry western spirituality with Indian spirituality. A great contribution of the Kurisumala Ashram was in the translation of Penquito from Syriac to English and then popularizing it. Various attempts for inculturation of Liturgy and ‘Sannyasam’ are to be appreciated, although it has not come to a full fruition for various reasons.
- c) Witness of a Culturally Integrated Community
In the context of the cultural pluralism of India, evangelization should take the form of living one’s faith and ideals in the local cultural situation. When you live your faith in conformity with your major culture that will be a homogenous community, not a foreign element. St. Thomas Christians lived in conformity with the Indian traditions of language, food, clothing, building, ideas, ethics etc. The inculturation is the way of life of the people, not an artifact of a few theologians
- f) Witness of a Community in Dialogue
In the context of the religious pluralism of India, the Malankara Church, its missionaries and the ecclesial communities should be open to dialogue with Major Religions and Non-Catholic Churches of India. This demands respect for other religions and readiness to acknowledge truth in them. However this does not mean watering down one’s own faith. Dialogue will help us ultimately to rediscover the authenticity of our own faith.
- g) Witness of a Community Committed to Service
In the context of injustice and oppression on various levels in the Indian Society, the Christian Community should take on the character of a Servant-Church, committed to the liberative mission of Christ. The educational and social involvement and activities of the Church should be characterized by truth, justice and integrity and should be authentic expression of love and service as revealed in Jesus Christ.
- Promotion of Priestly and Religious Vocation
To motivate and recruit young men and women for priestly or religious life is also a Missionary activity; because promotion and nourishment of vocation is a necessary condition for future sustenance and development of missions. Paucity of children in families and purely economic calculations about children from the part of the parents is today a great handicap to Evangelization.
How could the New Evangelization be implemented in parish settings
The implementation of evangelization in parish setting should aim at a radical conversion of all the faithful leading to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ and a renewed vigor to proclaim the Good News to all. Individuals, families and parish communities should be re evangelized in the light of the Church’s renewed commitment to evangelization, leading to a spiritual renewal and zeal for evangelization. Communities should be shaken from their present slumber of maintenance to a renewed consciousness of mission. Programs should be planned according to the situation and the challenges present in each culture.
Keeping in mind the words of John Paul II, that “in future evangelization will depend largely on the domestic Church, special attention should be given to evangelization of the families so that the pastoral care of the families will become the focus of the new evangelization. Anew evangelization of the families is a necessary prerequisite for the evangelization of the world. Catechetical Christian formation of children and young adults is a very important area demanding the attention of pastors and catechetical leaders. It is important to initiate some evangelizing activities that will attract everyone in a spirit of belongingness at parish and community level to counter the individualistic mentality that is prevalent in today’s culture, (keeping in mind that belonging is as important as believing!). All efforts should be taken to make the liturgical celebrations more meaningful to the life of the people, a fountain of spiritual nourishment.
Chapter – 5
SPECIAL CALL OF THE MALANKARA CATHOLIC CHURCH
- Assets of the Malankara Catholic Church for Evangelization
The Syro-Malankara Church, is one of the smallest individual churches in Catholic Communiion, but we are one of the most vibrant churches, which made giant strides in the last eighty years in the field of Mission Work, Education, Health Care and Charitable Works. It is politically and socially active in the Society. We have to remember the Apostolic heritage of this Church, originating from Antioch the first Center of Christianity. The Petrine and Pauline heritage of Antioch is beautifully blended with the Apostolic traditions of Saint Thomas in Malankara. We have one of the most beautiful Liturgies in the world, very rich Patristic Literature, deep Spirituality and Asceticism, and a well-defined Church Law. We have educated and cultured Laity, numerous Priests and Religious Congregations. Several thousands of people have migrated to other States, Countries and Continents, which offer great opportunities for evangelization. Politically the Indian Constitution and Governments allow the practice and propagation of religion, and many poor sections of Scheduled Castes and Tribes are still looking for missionaries to make a change in their spiritual and cultural life. The great Culture of India is not in contradiction to the Gospel, but very much attuned to it, provided the Church is presented in its Oriental and Asian character. The modern facilities of travel and communications are also a plus point for evangelization. Are we aware of these assets and gifts which are showered on us by the good Lord? It is time to deliberate whether we are doing justice to our task of evangelization within and without the boundaries of our Church.
- An anomalous Mission Situation in India
The Second Vatican Council in its Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches states, Individual Churches, whether of the East or of the West… are of equal dignity so that none of them is superior to the others by reason of rite. They enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, even with respect to preaching the Gospel to the whole world (Cf. Mk. 16:15) under the guidance of the Roman pontiff (OE 3). The Second Vatican Council rejected the theory of those who claimed a sort of precedence of the Roman rite over the others, and the strange situation of Oriental Missionaries being forced to adopt Roman Rite to undertake missionary apostolate in some territories of India.
The purpose of preparing these Guidelines was to reawaken in the Syro-Malankara Church the awareness of being an Apostolic Church with a special mandate in the Universal Church. The awareness is generated through the word of God and rekindled with the Spirit of God. Our rich Liturgy and the teachings of the Holy Fathers of the Church provide constant motivation for dedicating ourselves as a church to the mission task.
Each Eparchy and Religious Congregation should adapt these Guidelines to their particular mission situation and charisma. Each of our ecclesial units should examine their conscience and ask themselves what went wrong in our mission perspectives and orientation. In the Parable of the Vineyard in Mathew chapter 20, the Householder asks the laborers Why do you stand here idle all day? (v.6). What is the reason for the lethargy in the Church/Religious Congregation?
In discussions and group prayers the Holy Spirit will remind us of the most essential duty of evangelization. Let us end this Lineamenta listening to the admonition of Saint Paul: It is now the hour for you to wake up from sleep. For, salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed (Rom 13:11). Sleep is a state of tepidity and negligence. There is no time to waste, when there is call for evangelization, but we must stimulate our energies and increase our fervor. Let the Church Assembly be a Wake up Call for the entire Malankara Catholic Church!
- Vatican Council II: Gaudium et Spes (1966)
- Pope Paul VI, Evangelium Nuntiandi, Apostolic Exhortation, (1975).
- Vatican Council II: Christifideles Laici, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, (1988).
- Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio (7 December 1990)
- Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, (6, November 1999)
- Pope John Paul II, Orientale Lumen, Apostolic Letter, (1995)
- Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, Encyclical, (1995).
- Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, Dominus Jesus, (Roma, 2006)
- Pope Benedict XVI, Anglicanorum Coetibus, Apostolic Constitution, (2009).
- John Pellissery, Malankara Katholica Sabha, (Pellisseri Publications, Kottayam, 2000)
- Vijay Shantiraj (Ed.) Let Your Light Shine, (CBCI Commission for Proclamation, Bangalore, 2010)
- Reinhard Lettmann, Vom Glauben der Gemeinde getragen, (Butzon & Bercker, 1980)
- Varghese Vallikatt, “Theology of the New Evangelization” (Article)
- Mathew Vellanickal, “The Evangelizing Mission of the Syro-Malabar Church, Article, (May, 2009)
- Mathew G. Charthakuzhiyil, Servant Leadership for New Evangelization (Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Licentiate in Sacred Theology) Detroit, 2010.
The Sources of the Particular Law of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (MCC) is passing through an important epoch of development of its history. The dream of the Puthenkur St. Thomas Christians to be an autonomous Church in the communion of the Universal Church marked its fruition on 10 February 2005 when this Church was raised to the status of a Major Archiepiscopal Church with its hierarchical head elevated and appointed the Major Archbishop of the Church. While the nature of this Church as a fast growing Church in the world has contributed to this development, some ecclesiological and canonical aspects have also paved the way towards this brilliant status of the MCC. A noteworthy factor is the notional and canonical understanding of the nature and existence of individual Churches in the communion of the Universal Church.
The development of canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches is also a catalyst in the above-mentioned development. After centuries of confusion and uncertainty, the magisterial canonical teaching of the Church has called an individual Church in the communion of Catholic Churches a Church sui iuris and distinguished it from the Rite. The canons:
Can. 27 – A group of Christian Faithful which is joined together by a hierarchy according to the norm of law and Supreme Authority of the Church is called in this Code a sui iuris Church.
Can. 28.1 – A rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, differentiated by the culture and circumstances of history of peoples, which is expressed by each Church sui iuris in its own manner of living the faith.
These two canons give us to understand that a group of Christian faithful joined together by a hierarchy is a Church. And this Church is sui iuris, that is, it is a Church of its own law; it is a Church by its own right (it is autonomous). Hence a Church is not ritual in its characteristics. The rite is a means of express the life of faith of the Church sui iuris. What stand out in this notion of the Church is the element of law that is a constitutive of a sui iuris Church and the means of expression of its life, the rite.
The CCEO envisages four different grades of Churches in relation to the grade of the hierarchy that constitute each Church, namely, the Patriarchal Churches, the Major Archiepiscopal Churches, the Metropolitan Churches and the Other Churches sui iuris. All these Churches shall have their rights and privileges restored in accordance with their ancient tradition and the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (OE 9, 10, see also UR 16).
The desire to codify the particular laws of the Malankara Catholic Church in accordance with the directives of the Second Vatican Council and the mind of the legislator of CCEO achieved conspicuous progress as the Church is raised to the Major Archiepiscopal hierarchical status.
On the criterion for codifying the Particular Law of the MCC, Moran Mor Cyril Baselios writes:
In the process of deciding on the particular juridical provisions, and of enacting new laws and norms, we shall have to take into account the juridical sources of the Malankara Catholic Church, namely:
The tradition of the ancient apostolic Church of India
The liturgical and canonical discipline of the Antiochene Church
Traditions both of the undivided Malankara Church and the divided Church
Legitimate laws and norms hitherto given by the hierarchs of the Malankara Catholic Church and its legitimate customs
Exigencies of ecclesial life in our modern times[ii]
It is in this context that we begin to survey the sources of the particular law of the Syro – Malankara Catholic Church.[iii]
We can distinguish four different periods in the history of the Malankara Church, namely, the early period of her history from the Apostolic times to the coming of the Portuguese, when the St. Thomas Christians had relationship with the East Syrian Church or the Church of Seleucia-Ctesiphon; the period from the time of the coming of the Portuguese in 1498 to the great rupture from communion with the Church in 1653; the period of contact with the Antiochene Jacobite Church and the struggle to safeguard her autonomy; and finally, the period after 1930 when the Malankara Church entered into communion with the Universal Church. Consequently we are able to distinguish four different sources of her canonical discipline. Let us try to identify them.
1.The Early Sources
The sources of the early period could be broadly divided into two sections: those native customs and traditions which were Christianised and were in vogue in the St. Thomas Christian community and those canonical sources which might have been introduced in the St. Thomas Christian community due to her relation with the East Syrian Church. These latter are identical with the canonical sources of the East Syrian Church itself.
The native sources are mostly informative sources obtained from the writings especially of those foreign missionaries of the Portuguese period. From the decrees on the Synod of Diamper and also from the Rozian statutes, we can confirm the prevalence of many of the religious practices and customs and other allied matters.
The East Syrian could be considered as constitutive sources of the East Syrian Church and introduced among the St. Thomas Christians. But we cannot make an assessment of its influence among the St. Thomas Christians. Therefore its impact itself could be determined only from the informative sources that are available both among the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala and abroad.
1.1.The Native Source
About the native sources springing from the Christianised local customs and traditions[iv], we haven’t any records; but much of it could be reconstructed from the reports of travelers and other writers who have recorded them then or later
Therefore these sources are not constitutive in the sense that they directly from the part of a corpus; but they are informative sources in the sense that they give information towards a highly probable state of affairs.
In short, we are left with practically nothing to retrace the juridical system of the Indian Church before the coming of the Portuguese. Therefore, we search for the juridical foundation of the various institutes of the church in the customs and traditions that were prevalent in the community, as a “custom is the best interpreter of laws” (CCEO c. 1508). It is believed that these customs and traditions were formed into a kind of ‘codex’ or ‘corpus’ called the law of Thomas” or “Thoma marga”[v].
By term ‘law of Thomas’ we mean the customs, privileges and the liturgical and disciplinary norms of the Indian Christians of St. Thomas, conveyed through tradition since the time of their apostle Thomas. These as consuetudines have received legal force in the community. Although mostly unwritten, they can be compared to the Nomocanons of East Syrian (Chaldean) and of the West Syrians (jacobites).[vi]
1.2 The East Syrian sources
We know from history that East Syrian Church itself was, in the early century of the Christian era, under the Antiochene Church[vii] and therefore it had a common source with the letter. These churches flourished in the same cultural milieu although there were a few dogmatic differences that developed later. The West Syrian Church fell into Monophysitism while the east Syrian Church embraced Nestorianism. However, in effect they have much in common.
This relationship extended until 410 A.D.[viii] and from then on the patriarchs or Catholicos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon convoked their own Synods, legislated and the acts and deeds of these Synods are another source for the East Syrian canonical discipline.[ix]
The St. Thomas Christians came into definite contact with the East Syrian Church at the beginning of the fourth Century with the Person colonization. What were the normative principles, which guided the early community? Certainly, it was guided by the Christianised native customs and traditions, as any other early Christian communities. To this might have been added the East Syrian norms of institutes and rites, but occasionally.[x] Only in those matters in which the local usages and practices had no provision, they (the Thomas Christians) relied on the Seleucian laws.[xi]
- The Sources of the Portuguese Period
The Portuguese managed to gain authority over the St. Thomas Christians. It was mainly through the Synod of Diamper that the Portuguese finally managed to dominate the St. Thomas Christians. The Archbishop of Goa, Dom Menezes who visited the vacant see of Angamali, managed to make the Archdeacon agree to a ten-point formula. And one out of the ten points was to confess the Law of Thomas to be the same as the law of Peter[xii]. But instead of understanding the Law of Thomas to be the same as the Law of Peter, his real aim was to substitute the Law of Thomas with the Law of Peter. For, “it has been proved that the Latin missionaries, not grasping accurately the Eastern concept of life and ritual, it necessary to substitute foreign customs instead of local ones.[xiii] In order to achieve his aims, he convoked a Synod at Diamper.
The Synod of Diamper was held in 1599. Ever since the conclusion of the Synod, it was held to be invalid[xiv]. In spite of the fact that the Synodal decisions were not welcomed by the St. Thomas Christians, it came to be considered in course of time as the basic code of Church legislation in Malabar.[xv] Though the Pope did not formally approve the decrees of the Synod[xvi], it came to be accepted as a sort of consuetude and thus obtained legal force. Thaliath writes. The first point to note is that the consuetudo in our case grew out of the continuous application of the decrees by the prelates who governed Malabar and who erroneously considered the Synod a valid one.[xvii]
The sources of this period consist mainly of the acts and deeds of the Synod of Diamper (1599) and the Synod of Angamali (1603). These Synod were convoked by the Latin prelates who gained control over the St. Thomas Christians and therefore, they Presuppose the decrees of the Councils of Florence, Trent, etc.[xviii] which also form part of the ius commune.
3.The Sources from the Antiochene Relations[xix]
In the history of the early Church, Antioch occupies an important place. The numerous references to Antioch in the Acts of the Apostles testify to the important role the Christian community of Antioch played in shaping the early Church. It was in Antioch that the followers of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Traditionally, it is believed that St. Peter founded the Church in Antioch and he was its first Bishop.[xx] Other Apostles like Paul and Barnabas are also responsible for the evangelization of the region. Luke, the Evangelist, is said to be born in Antioch.[xxi] It is believed that Christianity began to spread in Antioch even before the arrival of the Apostles in Antioch as a few Jews were in Jerusalem for the Pentecostal experience. Besides, when a persecution broke out in Jerusalem after the execution of Stephen, some of the followers of Jesus field from the city and travelled as far as Phoenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching to the Jews.[xxii] There are also other cultural, political and geographical reasons for Antioch to become a Christian stronghold.[xxiii]
It is believed that Peter appointed Evodius as his successor. Ignatius succeeded Evodius.[xxiv] Ignatius played a very important role in the development of the episcopate in the Church.[xxv] During the Council of Nicea (325) Antioch was recognized as the third Patriarchate after Rome and Alexandria (canon 6). Theological controversies plagued the Church of Antioch one after the other and by the council of Chalcedon in 451, the Antiochene patriarchate was divided between the supporters[xxvi] of the Council of Chalcedon and its opponents. In establishing a hierarchy for the opponents, Jacob (James) Baradai (542-578) rendered an important function and after him, they were called Jacobites.[xxvii] When the number of the Jacobites increased in the Persian kingdom, the Antiochene Patriarch established a Maphrianate there in 629. It lasted up to 1863. Bar Hebraeus was one among the most illustrious Maphrians.[xxviii]
There were attempts to bring back the Jacobites to the Chalcedonian faith during the time of the crusades, but they did not succeed. Attempts were initiated by Rome in the thirteenth Century and later even in the Council of Florence, but met with little success. In 1662, the Catholics managed to elect one of their supporters to the Patriarchate, but conflicts followed. It was only much later, in 1829, that the Turkish government recognized the Catholics.[xxix]
The St. Thomas Christians first came into close contact with the Antiochene Church after 1653 and with the coming of the Jacobite Bishop by name Mar Gregorios in 1665. Though out of circumstantial need, the spiritual supremacy of the Antiochene patriarch slowly came to be accepted and by Synod of Mulanthuruthy in 1876, it was firmly established and the Code of Canon Law of the Antiochene Church, namely the Nomo-Kanon of Bar Hebreus was officially accepted as the disciplinary code for the Malankara Church. This certainly presupposes all the disciplinary sources that preceded this code in the Antiochene Church and therefore we can rightly say that a spiritual dependence on all its spiritual and canonical sources.
We have seen that up to 410 A. D. the Church of Seleucia-Ctesiphone depended on the Antiochene Church and had a common canonical discipline. Therefore, a study on these sources can very well bring out the elements common to both the Churches. It is to be noted that the Antiochene Jacobite Church accepts the first three Ecumenical Councils and thus shares in the common patrimony of the Universal Church of the first centuries.
3.1. The Canonical Sources of the Antiochene Church
The above short historical introduction gives us an indication where or how to find the canonical sources of the Antiochene Church. Till the Council of Chalcedon, the Antiochene Church was part of the Universal Church and henece the canons of the first ecumenical councils (Nicea 325, Constantinople 381and Ephesus 431 and Chalcedon 451) [xxx]and other local councils (Ancyra 314 or 315, Neo-Caesarea 319, Antioch 332, Sardica 344, Gangra 371, Laodicea 370) accepted by the Universal Church from one of the early sources of canonical discipline for the Antiochene Church.
Besides these, the book of St. Clement and the Didascalia of the Apostles with other pseudo-apostolic writings form part of the early discipline of the Antiochene Church.[xxxi] In addition to these sources, which are also common to all Monophysite groups, there are those legislations which are proper to the Jacobites of the Antiochene Church, which evolved in their Synods down the centuries.[xxxii]
Interest in oriental studies has brought to light many of these sources though many studies have not been made in those aspects of theology and juridical discipline proper to the Antiochene Church. Many of the sources have been published in their original form or in translations. Among them the redaction and translation by Arthur Voobus published in the CSCO series (vols. 368 and 376 of 1975 and 1976 respectively) under the title the Synodicon in the West Syrian Tradition, is worth mentioning.
As culmination of the above-described sources, we have the famous Namo-Kanon by bar Hebreus, which is a compendium or corpus or canonical collection of the canons of the early Synods and Fathers up to the thirteenth Century. This came to be the accepted code of the Jacobites ever since came into existence.
3.2. The Local Sources
Besides the Antiochene sources, the acts and deeds of the local Synods held in Malankara form another source of discipline for the Malankara Church. Thus, for the rest of the canonical heritage we will have to look into the acts and deeds of the Synods of Mavelikkara, Mulanthuruthy[xxxiii], Kottayam, Alwaye, etc.
4.The Communion and Post-Communion Sources
The Malankara Church that came into communion with the Universal Church had the right and obligation to preserve the Syro-Antiochene Rite and discipline, provided there was nothing contrary to the faith of the Catholic Church. With the same purpose, the Malankara hierarchs had undertaken certain legislative activities.
4.1.The Canonicity of the New Legislations
According to Christo Pastorum Principi, the apostolic constitution establishing the Syro-Malankara Hierarchy, the Archbishop in office was granted all the rights and privileges, honours and prerogatives which by common law and the legitimate customs of the Syro-Antiochene Church belong to them.[xxxiv] With regard to the government of the Churches of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum and the Eparchy of Tiruvalla, the observance of the sacred Canons are ordained.[xxxv] Therefore, I consider these directives as a sort of guideline to the Syro-Malankara Prelates for their legislative activities. Which were these common laws, legitimate customs and sacred canons? We answer this in the words of Cyril Malancharuvil: Evidently the Latin legislation was not to be applied to the new community. And there was no common legislation[xxxvi] at this time for the Oriental Churches either. It is therefore to be understood as the actual regulations. Those were to be found in its existing disciplinary system and in the new enactments of the competent authorities concerned.[xxxvii]
The Malankara Hierarchs had the ordinary power of governance and what they legislated according to their legitimate capacity and legitimately promulgated came to be in force. In the beginning, there were certainly special circumstances due to the communion with the Universal Church and due to the absence of a well-developed juridical system in the Malankara Orthodox Church. So naturally a lot of lacunae legum were to be filled. In order to conform to the Catholic practices, it is quite possible that these Prelates had adapted many of the laws of the Latin Church, which were the only available and easily accessible source of reference in the absence of a common law for the Oriental Churches. However, having been canonically promulgated, they obtained the force of law. A close analysis may reveal the influence of the Latin theology that crept in by way of certain Latin canonical and theological terms.
4.2.The Canonical Documents of Communion
Besides the letters Mar Ivanios had received from the Holy See, the said sources consist of the letter of delegation of 20th Aug, 1930 (Prot. No. 2035/30) to receive Mar Ivanios and others into the Catholic communion; the Apostolic Constitution Magnum Nobis Dated 13 February 1932; The Apostolic Constitution Christo Pastorum Principi dated 11th June 1932 and the letter of execution of the Apostolic Delegate dated 5 March 1933.[xxxviii]
Thereafter, the decrees of appointment of Hierarchs of the MCC, various instructions from the Holy See on liturgical renewal, etc. form part of the sources of the Particular Law of the MCC.[xxxix] The two Apostolic Bulls, Ab Ipso Sancto Thoma and Cunctis Ecclesialibus Communitatibus of 10 February 2005[xl] are historic documents that anchor the foundation of the present hierarchical status of the MCC.
4.3. Canonical Legislation in the Malankara Catholic Church[xli]
It was the right and obligation of the Malankara Church to live an ecclesial life according to the pure Antiochene Rite and to be governed according to its sacred canons.[xlii] Having obtained full ecclesiastical communion with the Universal Church, it was then, the obligation of the Malankara Hierarchs to update these to bring them into conformity with the canonical tradition of the ius commune of the Oriental Churches. For this, the Malankara Hierarchs, during the course of the years undertook a series of legislative activities in shaping the disciplinary system. We describe them briefly below.
In 1933 a Table of Taxes was published in Trivandrum by Mar Ivanios, specifying fees on items and other voluntary contributions expected of the faithful. In the same year, in Tiruvalla the Diocesan Statutes were promulgated containing 33 regulations, 22 on ecclesiastical fees and 18 on marriage. On 1 January 1936, the administrative laws in the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, containing 102 rules and abrogating contrary regulations, customs, traditions, etc. came into force. The Kumpasara Shalitha containing laws on the administration of the sacrament of confession and other norms on fasting and abstinence were promulgated on the 1st of Jan., 1936. In 1941 the Malankara Hierarchs together condified the Thukasa of the Holy Qurbono, and the rubrics of the Holy Qurbono, and promulgated it. In 1942 Mar Ivanios published the Kudasavachanangal (form of the sacraments) explaining the matter and form of the sacraments and their efficacious administration. In 1941 and 1942, through circular letters the Archbishop-Metropolitan of Trivandrum gave some instructions regarding the divine office both to the clergy and laymen. In 1943 Mar Ivanios published the Thukasa for the administration of sacraments in order to ensure uniformity of celebration of the sacraments in the Malankara Church. In 1944 the Archbishop abrogated the Table of Taxes and published a new one, which came into force on 10 May 1944.
The Syro-Malankara Bishops who took part in the Plenary Council of India in 1950 issued certain regulations with regard to the celebration of more than one Holy Qurbono a day for the good of the faithful and resolving the holy days of obligation after obtaining the approbation of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
In 1957 the Bishops of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church were asked by the Congregation for Oriental Churches to bring up-to-date and complete, in the light of the new conditions and exigencies of the Syro-Malankara Church, the liturgical norms previously issued.[xliii] And instructions were given accordingly. According to another instruction of the same Congregation on 19 January 1961, the Metropolitan of Trivandrum issued new regulations of fasting and abstinence.
In the Eparchy of Tiruvalla, Bishop Zacharias Mar Athanasios revised the Leges Ecclesiae in January 1969 and promulgated it on September 15, 1969, which came into force on October3, 1969.[xliv] The Elenchus Taxarum was revised by Bishop Isaac Mar Yohanon and promulgated on 5 May 1984 and came into force on 3 July 1984.[xlv]
In the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios revised the administrative laws promulgated by Mar Ivanios in 1936 and promulgated them on 29 September 1973.[xlvi] which came into force from 4 November 1973. The same Archbishop revised the Elenchus Taxarum and promulgated it through a circular on 1 June 1985, which came into force on 1 July 1985.[xlvii]
Bifurcating the Eparchy of Tiruvalla, Pope John Paul II created the eparchy of Bathery through the Bull dated October 28, 1978 and the Eparchy was formally erected on February 2, 1979. Bishop Cyril Mar Baselios codified the Leges Ecclesiae in 1985, to which he added further instructions to the priests through the letter dated august2, 1986 (prot. No. CI.19/86). To these, further guidelines were added on January 18, 1989, through his pastoral letter (Prot. No. PL. No. 13/89).[xlviii]
We have seen in brief the canonical sources of the Malankara Church. We know that some of these sources are constitutive while the others are informative. The sources of the early period include both the East Syrian sources as well as the native sources. Of these, we have said that the East Syrian Sources are identical with the West Syrian (Antiochene) sources at least up to the commencement of the fifth century, which in turn shares the patrimony of the Universal Church. Together with the sources of the later developments in the historical evolution of the Malankara Church, we can say that the Malankara Church has a deposit of a very rich canonical patrimony that serves as sources for the codification of the Particular Law of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
Resurrection in Pauline Letters
The Conversion of Paul is, in itself an unanswerable proof of the miracle of the resurrection.In turn, the apostle gave up the Magna carta of the resurrection , Christ’s and found in 1 corinthians 15. Paul also uses the resurrection as a parable of the beginning, the manifestation and the goal of the new life in Christ.
Paul says that last of all the risen Lord appeared to him also (1 cor 15:8 ). The appearance to Paul took place in the neighbourhood of Damscus road experience. He presents his Easter experience as a special case, yet upholds its qualitative equality with other resurrection appearances. Paul presents his experiences as the personal knowledge of Jesus and as being conquered by the risen Christ. When questioned by his opponents about his apostolic authority , Paul speaks of his experience as seeing the risen Lord, which established his apostolate (1 cor 9:1). Paul speaks of his seeing the risen Lord as the revelation as the reception of Gospel and as the election and the vocation to be the apostle of the gentiles. (Rom 11:25),1 cor 12:1-7) from his Damascus experience.
As Paul concluded in 1 cor,15;17, “If Christ be not raised , your faith in vain; yet are yet in your sins . The resurrection, therefore is properly considered a proof of the person of Christ, His liety, Messiah and His power to save from sin. Upon the resurrection hangs the value and effectiveness of all His work in the past, present and future. The resurrection of Christ is also related to both the old and new testament and is demanded by the concept of the infallibility of the scriptures.
The Malankara Catholic Church and Her Administrative and Cultural Adaptations
The Existence of a Christian Community in Malabar, from very early times is admitted by historians both catholic and Non-Catholic, though they are not agreed about the exact time or nature of its origin.
The early Christian community of Malabar was of one faith and rite until its division into two Christian denominations, one remaining under Latin bishops and the other denying obedience to them. But the latter did not continue to remain in their wavering state but formed an independent Church and cherished a communion with the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch. This church we refer to as the Malankara church in this paper.
The Malankara Church made serious attempts at reunion with the Apostolic See of Rome and was ultimately successful. As a result the Catholic Malankara Church came into existence. We use the term ‘Malankara Catholic Church’ or “Syro- Malankara Church “to denote the community reunited with Rome in contradistinction to its counterpart the “ Malankara Orthodox Church” which is not in communion with the Roman Pontiff.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the juridical status of the Malankara Catholic church as a particular church with in the universal church and investigate in the course of our discussion the nature of her canonical discipline and cultural influence , thus laying a sort of foundation for further studies on a particular institute or its discipline or identity.
This paper being juridical in its purpose is not a study of the history of the Malankara Church either Catholic or Orthodox. But very often we found it necessary to bring relevant historical circumstances and facts to bear on the juridical points involved, for, without them our discussion would be incomplete. Hence much of our discussion is historico- juridical our identity.
We discuss the juridical relations of the Malankara Church with the Jacobite Patrirch of Antioch and the reunion and the constitution of the Syro- Malankara church. These discussions are necessary we believe for an understanding of the juridical status of the Syro- Malankara Church as a particular church.
The juridical status of the Malankara Catholic church as a Particular Church in the Universal Church is dependent on its juridical constitution by the Holy See, but this constitution is largely vased on the juridical nature and the status of the Malankara Church. In Fact it was the Juridical Status of the Malankara Church as an autonomous oriental church that induced the Holy See to recognize it juridical as such.
An Examination of the Nature of Malankara Church in itself would have been simple had it not been complicated by the complexity of its history. For the Malankara Church had been for long in a jurisdictional relationship with jacobite patriarch of Antioch giving the appearance of some dependence and almost losing its autonomy as a separate particular church. Hence it is necessary to examine closely the nature of the jurisdictional relationship. Which it has entertained with the Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, we shall therefore find out if the Malankara Church did enjoy autonomy as a particular church before the time of reunion inspite of its jurisdictional relationship with the Jacobite patriarch Antioch.
Thus we begin with the discussion of when and how the relationship with the Jacobite patriarch of Antioch began. Later we shall examine its vicissitudes the role played by Antiochene rite in the continuation of such a relationship and in shaping the history of Malankara Church as a particular church was extremely significant. An identification of the Liturgy and the Discipline of the Syro-Malabar church is nothing but an investigation into the process of the introduction and adoption of the Antiochene rite into the Malankara Church.
Here we explain how the Holy See recognizing autonomous nature of the Malanakara Chuch acknowledged the juridical existence of the Malankara Catholic Church as a particular church with in the universal church. And once the basis of such a juridical existenceis clearly stated we can conveniently identify its liturgical and canonical rites which would on the one hand clarify the juridical status of the church itself as having a determined liturgy and discipline and on the other hand prepare the ground for further investigations in a particular institute of its discipline in the interest of the canonists. In this aspect therefore we preferred in our——– a consideration of the nature and formal aspect of its liturgy discipline and culture to an enumeration of all particular laws and customs existing in this church. This would help us, we believe to judge with the decisive norms, if a particular institute existing or to be created in its liturgical or canonical rites would be in accordance with the spirit of them. We presume that this would be in keeping with the nature of our paper as a beginning and the foundations for the further studies.
[i] Vatican Council II: Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1965).
[ii] Cyril Mar Baselios, Ecclesial Perspectives Emerging From the New Code of Canon Law for the Oriental Catholic Churches, Bathery, 1990, 8.
[iii] It is important to note that there exists a collection of the fonts of the law of the Syro-Malankara Church prepared by Placid Podipara and published in two volumes under the banner of the Codificazione Canonica Orientale (Oriental Canonical Codification): S. Congregazione per la Chiesa Orientale: Codificazione Canonica Orientale, FONTI Serie II-Fascicolo VIII, De Fontibus Juris Ecclesiastici Syro-Malankaresium, Roma, 1939 (Fonti II-VIII for short) and FONTI Serie II-Fascicolo IX, Fontes Iuris Canonici Syro-Malankaresium, Roma, 1939 (FontiII-IX for short).
[iv] See Fonti II-VIII, 36-41.
[v] Marga means way. It must be noted that the early Christians considered Christianity as the WAY, the way of salvation (Acts. 9:12; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). Therefore Christianity was considered Christu Marga, and since Thomas brought it, it was called Thoma Marga. See Andrews Thazhath, Juridical Sources of the Syro-Malabar Church, OIRSI 106, Kottayam, 1987, 8-12.
[vi] Thazhath, The Juridical Sources of the Syro-Malabar Church, 11.
[vii] See Fonti II-VIII, 26-28. It gives a list of these sources.
[viii] See Fonti II-VIII,36.
[ix] See Fonti II-VIII, 28-30; for a detailed reference see Thazhath, The Juridical Sources of the Syro-Malabar Church, 64-107.
[x] See Thazhath, The Juridical Sources of the Syro-Malabar Church, 7.
[xi] Koodapuzha, The History of the Church in Kerala in the Pre-Portuguese Period, in STCE, II, 32. We have quoted it from Thazhath, The Juridical Sources of the Syro-Malabar Church, 7.
[xii] Placid Podipara,nThe Thomas Christians, London, Bombay, 1970,138.
[xiii] Joseph Nagaroor, Marriage Legislations in the Malabar Church (Unpublished Thesis), Rome, 1971, 122.
[xiv] There are manifold reasons to consider it invalid. Even Roz, the first Latin Bishop of Angamali, soon after the Synod of Daimper considered it invalid and wrote so in 1603. In the nineteen fifties two doctoral studies conducted on it brought conflicting conclusions. Antao De Gregrio Magno (De Synodi iamperitanae Natura atque Decretis, Goa, 1952) concluded to the validity of the Synod while Jonas Thaliath (The Synod of Diamper, Rome, 1958) concluded to the invalidity of the Synod.
[xv] Jonas Thaliath, The Synod of Diamper (OCA 152; Rome: Pontificia Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1958) 157. Henceforth Thaliath, The Synod of Diamper,
[xvi] See Thaliath, The Synod of Diamper, 112-156
[xvii] Thaliath, The Synod of Diamper, 157.
[xviii] For details see Thazhath, The Juridical Sources of the Syro-Malabar Church, Chapters three and four; also Fonti II-VIII, 48-51, 54-55.
[xix] See Fonti II-VIII, 67-73, 79-82.
[xx] See G.A. Maloney, The Patriarchate of Antioch, NCE 1 (1967) 626; henceforth, Maloney, The Patriarchate of Antioch.
[xxi] Maloney, The Patriarchate of Antioch, 623.
[xxii] G. Downey, A history of Antioch in Syria Form Seleucus to Arab Conquest (Princeton, 1961)284.
[xxiii] See G. Downey, Antioch (Princeton, 1961)4-15.
[xxiv] Downey, A history of Antioch in Syria, 284-287.
[xxv] Maloney, The Patriarchate of Antioch, 623.
[xxvi] The supporters of Chalcedon later came to be called Melkites.
[xxvii] See Xavier Koodapuzha, Thirusabhacharithram (Church History, Malayalam, OIRSI 70, Kottayam, 1974)437-439. Henceforth Koodapuzha, Thirusabhacharithram.
[xxviii] See Koodapuzha, Thirusabhacharithram, 439.
[xxix] Ronald G. Roberson, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey (Rome: Editrice Pontificia Universita Gregoriana, 1986)31.
[xxx] It is very i9nteresting to note that even though the Antiochene Church rejected the Council of Chalcedon, their canonical collection includes the first 27 canons of the Council and strangely enough they are the 27 canons approved by the Catholic Church as well, although Bar Hebreus calls them the acceptable canons of the unacceptable men. See Gnayalloor Joseph, Syrian Jacobite Marriage (Unpublished thesis, Rome: Pontifical Gregorian University, 1966) 3-4; henceforth Gnayalloor, Syrian Jacobite Marriage.
[xxxi] Gnayalloor, Syrian Jacobite Marriage. 5-6.
[xxxii] For a study on the Synods, see Joseph Mounayer, Les Synodes Syriens Jacobite, Beyrouth, 1963.
[xxxiii] Malancharuvil, The Syro-Malankara Church, 58-64.
[xxxiv] AAS XXIV (1932)290.
[xxxv] AAS XXIV (1932)291.
[xxxvi] The common matrimonial legislation for the Oriental Churches – Crebrae Allatae – came into force only in 1949.
[xxxvii] The Syro Malankara Church, 150.
[xxxviii] See Fonti II-VII, 86
[xxxix] The Paper of Papal Documents to the MCC to be presented to this Seminar by SR. Dr. Ardra SIC has highlighted the content of this various documents.
[xl] See these documents in Malankara 1/1 (2005), 10-17.
[xli] For the first part of these data, see also Malancharuvil, The Syro-Malankara Church, 150-155.
[xlii] See Apostolic Constitution Christo Pastorum Principi, AAS XXIV (1932), 290-291.
[xliii] The instruction of the Sacred Congregation for Oriental Church on 25 February 1957, Prot. No. 380/51. We have quoted it from Malancharuvil, The Syro-Malankara Church, 151.
[xliv] See Zacharias Mar Athanasios, Leges Ecclesiae (Tiruvalla Rupatha Idavaka Bharanam Sambandhichulla Niyamavali, Malayalam) Tiruvalla, 1969.
[xlv] See Isaac Mar Youhanon, Elenchus Taxarum (Tiruvalla Katholic Rupata: Idavaka Bharanam Sambandhichulla Niyamavaly, Malayalam) Tiruvalla, 1984.
[xlvi] See benedict Mar Gregorios, Leges Ecclesiae ( Thiruvanandapuram Athirupathayile Bharananibandhanakal, Malayalam), Trivandrum, 1973.
[xlvii] See Benedict Mar Gregorios, Elenchus Taxarum (Thiruvananthapuram Athirupata: Thirukarmanustanam Sambandhichulla Padisadhanam) TrivaNDRUM, 1985.
[xlviii] For these details see Bathery Rupata Bulletin (Malayalam) Vol. 11, No.2, 1989.