Two conflicting denominations of the Orthodox church in Kerala met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking help to work out a formula for reconciliation based on the Supreme Court's 2017 judgment.

Delegates of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church met the Prime Minister after Mizoram Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai, who hails from the state, volunteered to mediate between the two groups.

Jacobites seek freedom of worship

The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church delegates raised the issue of denial of religious freedom and justice. The delegates said that a dissident group, the Indian Orthodox Church who separated from the church are creating issues by misusing the Supreme Court verdict.

They claimed that members of the Jacobite Syrian Church have been evicted from their churches and even denied burial rights in their cemeteries. 

Prime Minister Modi told the delegation, "The biggest duty of humans is to care for the fellow beings. Brotherhood is integral to our culture and hatred should be avoided. Serving the poor is pertinent."

Orthodox Syrian Church seeks unity

On their part, the Orthodox Syrian Church delegates brought to the Prime Minister's notice the Supreme Court decision which determined that based on the 1934 constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Church there should be a united Church.

They stated that as a public trust, there could not be a division or separation of churches with the Church.

The Prime Minister told the delegation that he was hopeful of a formula of reconciliation would be worked out on the basis of the Apex court judgment.

Over a century-old issue

Jacobites and Orthodox denominations of the Malankara Syrian Church have been contesting over control of 1000- odd churches and their properties.

The long-standing rivalry between the two groups of the dates back to 1912 when the Malankara Syrian Church split.

In 2017, the Supreme Court had upheld the 1934 constitution of Malankara church and gave the Orthodox group control over more than 1000 parishes and churches in Kerala but Jacobites, who were controlling the majority of these shrines, were not ready to give up. 

Jacobites, who consider Beirut-based Patriarch of Antioch as their supreme leader, claim to have more followers.