Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, the prelate who stood for peace, reconciliation

Even while the Orthodox-Jacobite conflicts shook the foundation of peace within the Malankara Church, the Catholicos continued to speak for a possible reconciliation

“We have a dream. We are one. We have the same faith and follow the same worship protocol. We want peace. We must live under the same roof. We must worship God as one body.”

The statement by Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, made while addressing the Catholicate Centennial Conference on November 25, 2012 in Kochi, exemplified the prelate’s stance on the fractious relationship between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Syrian Church.

The dispute between the two church factions was at its peak when he was enthroned as the Catholicos of the East in 2010. Even while the conflicts shook the foundation of peace within the Malankara Church, the Catholicos as the head of the Malankara Church stood unfazed and continued to speak for a possible reconciliation. He, however, could not see it come to fruition.

In fact, it was under him that the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) won a long drawn legal battle with the Jacobite faction, which drew to a close with the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the Malankara Church dispute in July 2017. While being able to bring a few churches under the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Church on the basis of the apex court judgment, he also took the judgment as yet another occasion to strive for the reunion of the Orthodox-Jacobite factions.

Working towards the aim of making the Malankara Church free of litigation, the Catholicos also had to face a barrage of criticism and went through several difficult patches. The firmness in his stance was amply evident when the Catholicos decided against pushing for a legal battle despite being detained by the rival factions for about eight hours while attending a service at the disputed Varikoli Church.

A votary of effective and meaningful inter-church relations, the Catholicos had also travelled to all the Oriental Orthodox Churches and had meetings with all their heads. His meeting with the present Pope of the Catholic Church also enhanced the bilateral relations between the two churches.

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