Ordinance to bring relief to Church feud in Kerala

Ordinance to bring relief to Church feud in Kerala

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the ordinance was being promulgated as the talks initiated between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church to settle the row failed to find a consensus as one section kept off the talks despite repeated invitations.

In a bid to find a solution to the rampant disputes in the Christian community in Kerala over conducting funerals, the Kerala Government has decided to bring in an ordinance. However, the ordinance is likely to trigger further legal battles.

As per the ordinance cleared by the Cabinet on Wednesday, mortal remains of any member of the Christian community could be buried at the cemetery of the local parish where the family cemetery is located. Funeral service could be conducted at any church at any other parish with a priest of their choice by the relatives of the deceased. Violation of the norms could attract up to one year imprisonment and fine up to Rs. 10,000. It will be considered as a bailable offence.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the ordinance was being promulgated as the talks initiated between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church to settle the row failed to find a consensus as one section kept off the talks despite repeated invitations.

Over the years Kerala has been witnessing serious law and order issues over burial of members of the Orthodox and Jacobite factions  with both factions opposing funeral of members of the other faction in the churches under their control. The Supreme Court had given control of about 1,100 churches to the Orthodox faction in 2017. Even then the Jacobite faction were still having control over many churches.

While the decision to bring in the ordinance has not gone down well with the Orthodox faction, the Jacobite faction welcomed the decision. The Orthodox faction may also move legally against the ordinance.

Orthodox faction spokesperson Father Johns Abraham Konath said that it was not opposed to funeral of members of other factions in the cemetery of churches, but was only insisting that the permission of the priest in charge of the church should be obtained for conducting the funeral. After detailed examination of the ordinance, further steps would be decided.

Geevarghese Mar Coorilos of the Jacobite faction expressed hope that the ordinance may bring some relief to the existing issues with the Orthodox faction.

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