The decision of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church to construct a new church dedicated to Saint Gregorios at Parumala has drawn opposition from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church which manages the nearby St. Peter's and St. Paul's church where the mortal remains of the saint are interred.

Members of the Orthodox Church, under the banner of Parumala Seminary Protection Council (PSPC), blockaded the Mannar-Chengannur road near Parumala for about an hour on Monday. Its leaders alleged that the Jacobite Church's move was aimed at creating confusion among the faithful, besides creating social tension in the area. Parumala Seminary manager M.D. Youhanon Ramban said the Jacobite Church's move to construct a church in an area where it had no members was suspicious.

The Ramban told The Hindu on Tuesday that the Orthodox Church ran as many as 12 institutions dedicated to the memory of the saint, including a major hospital, at Parumala and there was every reason to suspect a hidden agenda behind the Jacobites' proposal. The Orthodox Church is not against setting up a church in the name of St Gregorios. Its opposition is to the establishment of a church in Parumala, which, he said, is not conceived with good intentions.

He said the Jacobite faction had launched a web site (www.parumalapally.org) announcing the proposal to construct the ‘‘first church in the name of St. Gregorios at Parumala.'' The Jacobite Church has purchased 20 cents of land hardly 200 metres away from the Orthodox church.

Construction banned

Meanwhile, Pathanamthitta Collector S. Lalithambika has prohibited any construction activity in the new property until further orders, on the basis of a petition filed by the PSPC on Monday.

Youhanon Ramban said the Orthodox Church had decided to hold meetings of its managing committee and the Parumala seminary council, besides a leadership meet, at Parumala on Wednesday forenoon to chalk out its future course of action. Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Mar Thoma Didymus I will preside over the meetings, Catholicos-designate Paulose Mar Milithios and other metropolitans of the church will address the meet.

Jacobites' stance

Talking to The Hindu, Metropolitan of the Niranom diocese of the Jacobite Church Geevarghese Mar Coorilos said the Church had purchased 20 cents of land 700 metres away from the St. Peter's and St. Paul's Church at Parumala for constructing the church. The land has been purchased on the basis of a request from 30 families of the Church in and around Parumala.

Mar Coorilos said the allegations of the Orthodox Church were totally unfounded and was aimed at creating confusion and social tension in Parumala. Mar Coorilos claimed that St. Gregorios, popularly known as Parumala Tirumeni, is the saint of his Church and nobody could prevent the Church from constructing a church dedicated to the saint at Parumala after complying with all legal and official formalities. He alleged that title deeds of the St. Peter's and St. Paul's church were in the name of the Patriarch of Antioch. He said the Jacobite Church was not a party to the controversy and that it would go ahead with its proposed project.

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