A senior functionary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday gave audience separately to the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Church who have been locked in a bitter fight over ownership of parish churches in central Kerala.
Sources said RSS joint general secretary Manmohan Vaidya, who was in Kochi, held back to back meetings with Geevarghese Mar Yulios and Yakoob Mar Irenios, the metropolitans respectively in charge of the Ahmedabad and Kochi dioceses of the Orthodox Church, and Joseph Mar Gregorious, the Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Church, along with Jacobites Church secretary Peter Elias, priest trustee Sleeba Paul Vattavelil and lay trustee Shaji Choondayil.
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) Episcopal Synod secretary Yohanon Mar Diascoros Metropolitan said the Orthodox metropolitans had met the RSS leadership to express the church’s gratitude to the organisation in protecting the St. George's Orthodox Church at Cheppad in Alappuzha.
The church, a centuries-old monument that faced the risk of demolition for widening of National Highway, is now set to be protected as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India.
“The two metropolitans, who have been officially designated by the MOSC Synod to hold discussions with the various leaders of social importance, met the RSS leader to convey the church's gratitude for intervening in the issue. The meeting had nothing to do with the upcoming Assembly elections,” said the synod secretary.
Besides the Cheppad church, matters relating to an attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the church dispute too came up for discussion.
According to the metropolitan, the Orthodox Church was yet to decide on its political position during the upcoming elections. “There is enough time left for us to decide on this as the parties have not even decided on their candidates,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Jacobites said the meeting was a follow-up to the discussions they had with Mr. Modi. “In about an hour and a half, we presented the issues we faced, including our ouster from the parish churches. We were assured of all help in resolving the issue amicably,” Kuriakose Mor Theophilos Metropolitan, spokesperson of the Jacobite Church, said.
Sources said there was perfunctory talk on the Assembly polls on April 6 as well. While the Orthodox faction had traditionally sided with the Congress, the Jacobites were believed to have been aligned to the Left front.