The St Mary’s church in Piravom, a municipality located in Ernakulam district, saw a rare event of Christians attending the Sunday mass. There was one section of Christians - the Orthodox faction - inside the church, attending the prayers by Orthodox priest Skaria Vattakkattil. And then, just outside the gates of the church, there was another large gathering of Christians - the Jacobite faction - conducting their religious service.
This comes after the Kerala High Court on Friday stated that the clergy of Orthodox faction can conduct religious services in the church. And so, finally implementing the Supreme Court verdict after two years, the Orthodox faction of Kerala’s Malankara Church conducted the mass at the historic church. This is one of the main churches that was under the Jacobite faction.
After a dramatic standoff on Thursday, the Kerala police broke open the gates of the church, even while many Jacobites stood inside the church compound, holding off the officials. On Sunday, Jacobite faction, however, didn’t oppose, but conducted prayers on the road, just outside the church. Prayers by both the factions were conducted amidst tight security.
The High Court had directed to arrest anybody who tried to stop the officials from implementing the SC order and not to grant them bail until further orders from the court.
The Supreme Court had flayed the High Court for allowing Jacobites to conduct prayers inside the church, which was against its order of July 2017. The judgement had handed over the control of the 1,100 churches and parishes under the Kerala Malankara Church to the Orthodox faction, as per the 1934 Malankara Church guidelines.
The Kerala High Court, in turn, set September 26 as the deadline to implement the SC order. This had put the state government also under pressure, which was asked to submit a report by 1.45 pm on Thursday.
The Ernakulam District Administration will be in charge of the church until further orders. Collector S Suhas, on Saturday, had submitted a report before the court in this regard.
On Thursday, September 26, the Church witnessed dramatic scenes when the police tried to open the gate of the church to allow the Orthodox faction to enter.
The fight between the two factions of Malankara Christians - the Orthodox and the Jacobite - is more than half-a-century-old. The dispute exacerbated after the 2017 judgement, which aggrieved the Jacobite faction. Both the groups engaged in constant fights with each other, which ultimately took a toll on the parishioners of the church.