Kundara Seminary Synod And Origin Of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

David Daniel

Vattasseril Mar Dionysius discussed the Bethany Metropolitanís flirting with the roman catholic Church in a meeting of the Episcopal Synod held at the seminary at Kundara in either late 1929 or early 1930.The invitees were Catholicos Baselius Mar Geevarghese II, Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Of Pampady, Mar Ivanios and Mar Theopilos, Fr. Abraham Poothakuzhiyil, E. J. John and E. J. Philipose. Mar Ivanios did not attend the Synod meeting since he had objection to the presence of non-Synod members, although they were special invitees at the instance of Malankara Metropolitan. Mar Theopilos followed his Masters voice.

The major decisions of the Synod were i. The permission given to Bethany to start parish churches under itís control was withdrawn.

ii. Mar Ivanios was forbidden to start new parish churches under the control of Bethany.

iii. In case Mar Ivanios acted in contravention of these decisions, the assistance given by individuals and parishes will ordered to be with held.
Mar Dionysius communicated these decisions to Mar Ivanios.

Management of M. D. Schools- M. D. School Case

Mar Ivanios was earlier entrusted with the management od 60 odd Mar Dionysius Schools run under the auspices of the Church. Immediately before Mar Dionysius had proceeded to Mardin in 1923. Following the decisions of the Synod afore mentioned, Mar Dionysius asked the Bethany Metropolitan to hand over the management, which he refused. In this situation Mar Dionysius filed a a suit in the Munsiffís court at Thiruvalla against Mar Ivanios for release of management of the schools to his care. Mar Ivanios, shrewd as he was, had informed the Trusts in the names of his brother and relatives and transferred the Bethany institutions to the charge of these Trusts. The church had to proceed with the legal suit.

In 1926, mar Ivanios had sent a memorandum to Rome which proposed a union of the Malankara Church with the catholic Church.

1. preserving the ancient rites and rituals.
2. retaining for the Holy Synod and for the individual Bishops their jurisdiction over all the Jacobite Syrians that come into re union and
3. accepting the supremacy of the Holy See, the Pope being the successor of St. Peter, the chief of Apostles of Our Lord.

The Holy See answered the memorandum on 5th August 1929 which inter alia clarified:

(i) As regards rites: In conformity with the declaration already made in January, 1929, the principle on which the Holy see deals with the adherents of a historic rite sanctions the retention of that rite on their return to catholic unity. This principle will be applied to returning Jacobites in so far, of course, as their rites and ritual books contain nothing that is contrary to catholic faith and morals or inconsonant with ecclesiastical decorum. This principle is is natural subject to exception where particular circumstances of person or place render the retention of a certain rite practically impossible.

(ii) In reference to the desired assurance that Bishops returning to unity to the unity of the church together with a notable part of their priests and people shall be confirmed in their government of their flock, this again is the ordinary rule on which the Holy See proceeds given , of course, the required guarantees regarding Orthodoxy of faith, validity of Orders and personal repute in those concerned , and this is the rule which the Holy See proposes to follow in regard to the reunion of Jacobites in Malabar.

(iii) On the question of hierarchical organization, it is to be considered as settled that Jacobites of Malabar returning to the unity of the Church either individually or in groups, are to be in no way dependent on the Syrian Catholic Patriarch of Antioch.

Final Decision
The Catholic Church took a final decision in the plenary session of the sacred congregation for the Oriental churches on 4th July 1930. The proceedings of the sacred congregation is reported as under." In the plenary session on the July 4th last, Their Eminences the cardinals of the congregation for the Oriental Church have duly examined the question of " The Desiderata" exposed by the Jacobite Bishops of Malabar, belonging to the Metran party, and especially of the Most Rev. Mar Ivanios, Metropolitan of Bethany and Mar Theophilos his suffragan, about their reunion with the catholic Church....."

It was therefore, convenient to meet the desiderata of the aforesaid two Bishops, as it has already been done in greater part.

1. Assuring that the pure Syrian Rite of Antioch will be maintained and that , therefore, they will not be confounded with Syrio Malabars whose Rite of Syrio Chaldean origin

2.More over, assuring them that, having verified the validity of the baptism and of the S. Ordination and consecration of the above said two Bishops, they will be kept in their respective office and jurisdiction, ie, Mar Ivanios will remain Bisop of Bethany with the personal title (ad personam) of Arch Bishop Metropolitan and Mar Theophilos Bishop of Thiruvalla.

3. As for the title of the Catholicate and or Catholicos it is not advisable to touch this question. In view also that, as the present Catholicos is not going to be converted, it is premature to decide now what should be done in case of his conversion. Te Arch Bishop of Bethany and the Bishop of Thiruvalla (in presenibus return adjunctis) will at present depend directly on the Holy See, without any dependence on the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch.

4.Regarding the liturgical books (Missal, Ritual, Pontifical which are those coming from Propaganda, the same will be kept, correcting, however, the expressions not proper and erroneous, which eventually have been introduced.

5. regarding the name, these new Catholics may be called"Syrio-Malabar catholics of the Antiochene Rite" or Syrio Malabar Church" or "Malabar Antiochene Church" or "Syrio Malabar Church".In this way they will be distinguished from the Malabar Catholics of the Chaldean Rite...."

The above decision was communicated to Mar Ivanios. It was also made clear to him that Mar Ivanios and Mar Theophilos would depend directly on the Pope and that the uniting people will be received into catholic Churches a particular church. In this manner, "Mar Ivanios of Bethany and his suffragan Mar Theophilos, Bishop of Thiruvalla, accepted the decision of the Holy See and thus on 20 Sept. 1930, together with the representatives of their followers, were received into the Catholic church after having their profession of Faith before Msgr. Benziger O.C.D.; Bishop of Quilon.

Mar Ivanios was made the Arch Bishop Metropolitan of the new community with residence at Thiruvanthapuram and Mar Theophilos, Bishop of Thiruvalla. Later through the Apostolic constitution (Christo Pastorum Principi) Pope Pius XI constituted a special hierarchy on June 1932, with the ecclesiastical province for the reunited Syrio Malankara group"