The Byzantine Forum
Newest Members
jsunseri, Andrew_the_Ascetic, Giovanni1, SeekingTruth, friendly_pilgrim
5,863 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
2 members (griego catolico, 1 invisible), 79 guests, and 23 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Photos
Holy Saturday from Kirkland Lake
Holy Saturday from Kirkland Lake
by Veronica.H, April 24
Byzantine Catholic Outreach of Iowa
Exterior of Holy Angels Byzantine Catholic Parish
Church of St Cyril of Turau & All Patron Saints of Belarus
Byzantine Nebraska
Byzantine Nebraska
by orthodoxsinner2, December 11
Forum Statistics
Forums26
Topics35,191
Posts415,118
Members5,863
Most Online3,380
Dec 29th, 2019
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 978
Member
OP Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 978
I wonder if anyone knows anymore about this letter?


Quote
Indian Orthodox Church Sent Letter to Pope, Major Archbishop and Roman Catholic Prelate [theorthodoxchurch.info]


Copy of the Letter

His Excellency Mar Cleemis Metropolitan

Major Arch Bishop

Thiruvanathapuram Major Arch Diocese.

July 28, 2009

Our beloved Brother in Christ,

I am immensely delighted to see that Your Grace’s ministry progresses well by the grace and mercy of our Savior Lord Jesus Christ. I implore the Almighty to strengthen you to impart the best leadership so as to take the Church, the Body of Christ, to new heights overcoming all the challenges of the new century.

The basic reason for this letter is some misleading statements seen in the official website of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, under your Grace’s spiritual leadership (www.malankaracatholicchurch.net/major_archbishop.html [malankaracatholicchurch.net]), which are not in consonance with the lofty Christian witness and unity of the Church, and which overtly misuse the titles of other ecclesiastical heads.

I strongly believe that those statements included in the website are not with Your Grace’s knowledge and permission. If they are published in the website with Your Grace’s permission, let me write some important points for a rethinking and favorable action from your side.

1. In the website, beside Your Grace’s picture, the first title ascribed to you is “Successor of the Apostolic See of St.Thomas”. Any Indian Christian can, with a sense of pride, claim that St.Thomas is the founder of the Indian Church. But the “Successor of the Apostolic See of St.Thomas” cannot be unilaterally claimed and used by all. The title “the Apostolic See of St.Thomas” gives more emphasis on the Apostolic character of the See than on the St.Thomas character. This Apostolicity is granted to various Churches in various places through various persons by the grace of God. How can the Syro Malankara Catholic Church under the Holy Father the Pope, the successor of the Holy See of St. Peter, who emphatically holds that this Apostolicity was given only to the Roman Church through St. Peter, claim its succession to St.Thomas? If somebody under the Catholic Church claims St.Thomas succession, it is against the fundamental dogma of the Roman Church. Right from the advent of St. Thomas in Kerala we have an unbroken priestly succession of St.Thomas through the renowned ‘Marthoma Metrans’, the Malankara Metropolitans and the Catholicos of the East. His Holiness the Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, who

bears the very name ‘Marthoma’ (St.Thomas) now leads the Indian Church as its great shepherd. The title Successor of the Apostolic See of St.Thomas in India is the prerogative of His Holiness only. It sounds illogical that the Catholic Church has several Apostolic Sees at a time.

2. The second title given to the Major Arch Bishop in the website cannot be justified by any person with a sense of history. Had Your Grace studied the history of the Church prior to 1930 when the Malankara Rite got separated from the Church, Your Grace being only a steward of a regional rite of the Roman Catholic Church, would not have ventured to add this title to your name. The historical progression of ‘Jathikku Karthavyan’, Arch Deacon, Marthoma Methran, Malankara Metropolitan

and Catholicos is an explicit example of the evolution of governance in the Church over the centuries. The importance each of these titles as understood by the faithful, and which carry even now, these nuances very well explains the intrinsic significance, universality and independence based on a spirit of nationalism and the autocephalous nature of the Church. The powers vested in the Malankara Metropolitan and the Malankara Syrian Christian Association of which the Malankara Metropolitan is the President, are far beyond the rights ascribed to the regional heads of any Rite of the Catholic Church or any other leader of breakaway faction of the Church. Further, it has been unquestionably established by the Malankara Syrian Christian Association held on 20.03.2002 at Parumala, to which Justice V. S. Malimat was the observer appointed by the Supreme Court of India, that His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Mathews II, the Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan and his successors will be ‘the Malankara Metropolitans’. This decision has been duly approved by the Supreme Court. May I humbly remind Your Grace that by the same reason the illegitimate use of the title ‘Malankara Metropolitan’ by any other ecclesiastical authority is a challenge to the judiciary of our nation.

3. Another title attributed to Your Grace in the website is ‘Catholicos’. We do not Understand who bestowed this title to Your Grace. The description given in the Website on the powers and authority of the Catholicos is also misleading and an Explicit display of the gross distortion and twisting of historical facts for selfish Ends. For example, we read a statement that ‘the authority of Catholicos is below to that of the Patriarch’. May I advise Your Grace to correct this historical inaccuracy. The bishops of the important cities like Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem were called Patriarchs while the bishops of the important cities outside Roman Empire like Persia, Armenia, Georgia were called “Catholicos”. All these Churches were both universal and regional at the same time. History does not suggest that one was subservient to other in administrative matters or in any other respects. The Catholicos of the East is not the Maphriana of Tygris under the Patriarch of Antioch. The Catholicate, which was established in 1912 in Malankara, was the Catholicate of the East existent in Selucia –Ctesephonia. There is a faction in Malankara which claims the succession of the Maphrianite of the Tygris. To claim even that title, the incumbent should be subordinate to the Patriarch of Antioch. The Catholicos of the East, the Supreme Head of the Indian Church of St.Thomas, is the Supreme authority in all respects. There is no power centre above the Catholicos of the East except the Almighty God.

Your Grace who is subject and subordinate to the His Holiness the Pope, the successor of the See of St.Peter, has no right to claim or use the title ‘Catholicos of the East’ or ‘Mapriane’ under the Patriarch of Antioch. (This action from Your Grace may invite disciplinary action against you from Rome). May I also remind Your Grace that your name is included in the Synod Register in Rome only as His Excellency Dr.Issac Thottunkal. As it is an unequivocally proven fact both historically and eccesiologically that the positions Pope, Patriarch and Catholicos are equal in the common history of the Church, we hope that Your Grace will initiate steps to remove the incorrect statements from the website. When Your Grace’s predecessor His Grace Cyril Mar Baselios was elevated as Major Arch Bishop, he proclaimed that he had been given the Catholicos title also and started using it. It is really shameful that this self proclaimed status of Catholicos has continued to be used by Your Grace and misguiding the whole community of Kerala. In the letter (Port.N. 2581/2005/h) sent on 18th June 2005 by His Excellency Cardinal Walter Kasper, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity to the late Metropolitan Philipose Mar Eusebius, the President of the Secretariat for Inter Church Relations of Malankara Orthodox Church, it was categorically stated that the head of the Syro – Malankara Rite H. G. Cyril Mar Baselios was not given the title ‘Catholicos’ as there is no mention of the title ‘Catholicos’ in the Vatican Documents and in the Code of Canon Law of Eastern Churches. The relevant portion of the letter is reproduced here for

Your Grace’s reference. “I can only confirm that the title of Catholicos has not been given by the Holy See to His Grace Cyril Mar Baselios (1) that the title of << Major Arch Bishop >> is the only one mentioned in the Decree of Elevation issued by the Holy See, and in all Vatican Messages or Publications regarding this nomination” (2) that the title of Catholicos does not appear in the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches. I have also been informed that H. B. Cardinal Mousa I Daoud did not use the title Catholicos during his stay in Kerala, on the occasion of the celebration for the elevation of His Grace Cyril Mar Baselios.”

The fact that the word ‘Catholicos’ is not seen in the Papal Decree, which is the official document elevating the Shepherd of the Thiruvananthapuram Arch Diocese as Major Arch Bishop, and the fact that there is no mention of ‘Catholicos’ in any of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church or in the Order of Presidency existent since 1815 is crystal clear for any body who examines these documents. Besides this, it is clearly mentioned in the Minutes of the Synod of Diamper that the since the meaning of the title Catholicos is

“the Head of the universal Christian community” as per the Canon of the Catholic Church, this adjective is the prerogative of the Pope alone. I believe that Your Grace is also convinced about the fact that the heads of the Chaldean and Armenian Rites are given the title ‘Patriarch’ only. As the Pope and the Catholicos are equal in ecclesiastical authority,

Your Grace cannot deny the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has not, and will not, recognize an equal authority under the supreme authority of the Pope. Yet another fact about the authority of the Catholicos mentioned in the website is ‘His decisions are final’. For a genuine and real Catholicos, this statement is correct. But in the Roman Catholic Church, as per its hierarchical structure, the decisions of the Pope alone are final.

By your self appointment as Catholicos, if you mean to establish that you are equal to the Pope of Rome, invariably you are committing an unpardonable sin against the Holy Father

which you up now, as was done by your predecessors, to the Mother Church. On the contrary, if Your Grace’s decisions are not final in the Church, it is to be admitted that Your Grace’s title of Catholicos is only a farce.

Finally, it is seen that the adjective ‘Moran Mar’ is prefixed to your name. In the Syrian tradition ‘Moran Mar’ is used in the sense of ‘His Holiness’. This adjective can be used only by a spiritual head who has absolute authority. In the Roman Catholic Church, only the Pope is entitled to use it. Even the Patriarch of the Antiochian Rite does not use the prefix ‘Moran Mar’. Since the adjective ‘Holy Father’ is the prerogative of His Holiness the Pope alone, the use of the Syriac equivalent adjective ‘Moran Mar’ by a subordinate bishop who has no power of self governance, is against the ecclesiology of the Roman Catholic Church. The most suitable and maximum adjective that Your Grace can use is ‘Aboon Mar’.

Therefore, with the commitment to the unity of the Church in Jesus Christ’s love, I request you to publish these facts in the website with the necessary corrections. With a sincere hope that you will take necessary steps, let me conclude the letter with prayer.

Your brother in Christ,

H. G. Dr. Gabriel Mar Gregorios Metropolitan

President – Department of Ecumenical Relationsof the Indian Orthodox Church

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,658
Likes: 3
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,658
Likes: 3
This is an old letter written with lots of misinformation from the Indian Orthodox Metropolitan.

1) The Head of the Malankara Syriac Catholic Church is the Successor of the Apostolic See of St.Thomas for Malankara Catholics. The Heads of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, and the Syro-Malabar Church are Successors of the Apostolic See of St.Thomas.

2) The old claim via extra-ecclesial juridical judgement. We can just ignore it outright.

3) The role and function of Catholicos is the Syriac equivalent to the Latin title "Major Archbishop" which has no precedent in the Malankara Syriac Tradition. He is supreme Head of the Synod, He is father and head of all Malankara Syrian Catholic faithful worldwide. The title has been written into the particular Laws of the Malankara Syriac Catholic Church and accepted/approved by the Universal Church.

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 978
Member
OP Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 978
Thank you Michael_Thoma,

I didn't realize how old it was until after I posted it. The letter surprised me with its lack of understanding of Catholic Ecclesiology.

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,698
M
Member
Offline
Member
M
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,698
Originally Posted by Michael_Thoma
This is an old letter written with lots of misinformation from the Indian Orthodox Metropolitan.

1) The Head of the Malankara Syriac Catholic Church is the Successor of the Apostolic See of St.Thomas for Malankara Catholics. The Heads of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, and the Syro-Malabar Church are Successors of the Apostolic See of St.Thomas.

Do these other Churches refer to their primate as "Successor of the Apostolic See of St Thomas"? I'm unaware of anyone claiming this except maybe the ACoE, and even they do not seem to use this terminology in quite the same way as it is used by the Orthodox in India (and most recently by the Malankara Catholics).

So while I could agree that, at least in some sense, these "lines" can all trace themselves back to St Thomas, I think it is pretty clear that what is at issue here is a different matter.

Quote
3) The role and function of Catholicos is the Syriac equivalent to the Latin title "Major Archbishop" which has no precedent in the Malankara Syriac Tradition. He is supreme Head of the Synod, He is father and head of all Malankara Syrian Catholic faithful worldwide. The title has been written into the particular Laws of the Malankara Syriac Catholic Church and accepted/approved by the Universal Church.

IIRC, there is a canonical distinction in Eastern Catholic canon law between "patriarchs" and "major archbishops". A Catholicos, at least in the Orthodox tradition, is not equal to the latter, he is equal only to the former.

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,658
Likes: 3
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,658
Likes: 3
Originally Posted by Mor Ephrem
IIRC, there is a canonical distinction in Eastern Catholic canon law between "patriarchs" and "major archbishops". A Catholicos, at least in the Orthodox tradition, is not equal to the latter, he is equal only to the former.
That is the crux of the disagreement between the Jacobites and the Indians, so far not settled.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 26,298
Likes: 21
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 26,298
Likes: 21
Dear Phil,

Great to see you here!

Well, you should know about the distiction - especially since you were consecrated Catholicos yourself by members of the Byzantine Forum some years ago!

How has your flock been keeping, Your Holiness?

Alex

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,698
M
Member
Offline
Member
M
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,698
Originally Posted by Michael_Thoma
Originally Posted by Mor Ephrem
IIRC, there is a canonical distinction in Eastern Catholic canon law between "patriarchs" and "major archbishops". A Catholicos, at least in the Orthodox tradition, is not equal to the latter, he is equal only to the former.
That is the crux of the disagreement between the Jacobites and the Indians, so far not settled.

It's not a disagreement: the Jacobites also accept this principle (e.g., Etchmiadzin, Cilicia). What is going on in India has less to do with a disagreement over what the office is and more to do with ensuring that everyone has their own little kingdom.

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,698
M
Member
Offline
Member
M
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,698
Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Dear Phil,

Great to see you here!

Well, you should know about the distiction - especially since you were consecrated Catholicos yourself by members of the Byzantine Forum some years ago!

How has your flock been keeping, Your Holiness?

Alex

Hi Alex,

I'm doing alright. Thanks for welcoming me back as I pop in. smile I hope you are doing well.

Joined: May 2009
Posts: 1,953
D
DMD Offline
Member
Offline
Member
D
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 1,953
Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Dear Phil,

Great to see you here!

Well, you should know about the distiction - especially since you were consecrated Catholicos yourself by members of the Byzantine Forum some years ago!

How has your flock been keeping, Your Holiness?

Alex

If you ask me, he's doing a great job keeping his new flock in line! But it's a tough assignment sorta like herding feral cats!


Moderated by  Father Anthony 

Link Copied to Clipboard
The Byzantine Forum provides message boards for discussions focusing on Eastern Christianity (though discussions of other topics are welcome). The views expressed herein are those of the participants and may or may not reflect the teachings of the Byzantine Catholic or any other Church. The Byzantine Forum and the www.byzcath.org site exist to help build up the Church but are unofficial, have no connection with any Church entity, and should not be looked to as a source for official information for any Church. All posts become property of byzcath.org. Contents copyright - 1996-2022 (Forum 1998-2022). All rights reserved.
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5