Kerala Syrian Church dispute: Orthodox faction meets PM

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Kochi, Dec 28 (PTI) The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church on Monday said it had a 'cordial' meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has initiated discussions with two rival Kerala-based Syrian church groups to end their bitter battle for possession of over 1000 churches and their properties.

Modi is expected to hold discussions with representatives of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church faction on Tuesday over the issue, sources said.

Mizoram Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai, who has held several discussions with top priests of both Orthodox and Jacobite factions on the matter, arranged their separate meetings with the prime minister, they said.

After three Bishops of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church met Modi in New Delhi today, a church spokesperson said here they have informed the prime minister about the 2017 Supreme Court order, granting them possession of over 1000 churches and the properties attached to them.

'During the meeting, our representatives informed the prime minister that the Supreme Court order has to be implemented.There is no doubt about it.

The prime minister was very cordial and sympathetic (towards our cause). We have got a very positive feeling (during the meeting with the prime minister),' Fr Johns Abraham Konat, spokesperson of the Orthodox church, told PTI.

He said church leaders informed Modi that the supreme court gave its verdict granting the Orthodox faction the possession of churches in a case filed by the Jacobite faction and in its order, the apex court has clearly stated that the matter shall be settled only by implementing its order.

'They (Jacobite faction) should accept the court order first.If they are ready for that, we can think about other matters,' Fr Konat said.

Sources said representatives of the Jacobite faction have reached New Delhi for meeting the prime minister on Tuesday.

Earlier, Kerala's ruling CPI(M)-led LDF government had made an attempt to mediate between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions to end their feud over the administration of 1,000- odd parishes.

The effort by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to cobble together a peace formula acceptable to both sides did not yield the result due to the raging feud between two factions.

While the Orthodox faction stuck to their demand that the 2017 Supreme Court order should be implemented, the Jacobite faction alleged the Orthodox faction was 'misinterpreting' the order and 'taking over' their churches unethically.

The protests by both the groups have often resulted in law order issues in several parishes in the state. PTI TGB BN WELCOME BN WELCOME