Catholicos Baselios Thomas I offers to step down

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Cites non-cooperation from managing committee

Catholicos Baselios Thomas I has offered to step down from the leadership of the Jacobite group of the Malankara church reportedly on the ground that the managing committee was not cooperating with him.

Church sources said that the Catholicos had communicated his decision to Patriarch of Antioch and head of the universal Syrian Orthodox Church Ignatius Aphrem II.

The Catholicos had cancelled a meeting of the managing committee of the church scheduled for Wednesday apparently following differences of opinion with the working committee, sources said. However, Father Sleeba Vattavelil, priest trustee of the church, denied any rift between the managing committee members and the Catholicos.

Differences

The sources said that differences of opinion had cropped between some members of the new managing committee and the Catholicos over some administrative issues. The new managing committee members were elected in November last through a secret ballot.

Father Vattavelil was elected priest trustee. Peter K. Elias was elected the lay secretary and Shaji Chundayil was elected as the lay trustee of the church. Bishop Thomas Mar Themotheos was elected the synod secretary.

Patriarch visit

Meanwhile, the apparent request of the Catholicos to step down comes as the Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II is scheduled to pay a three-day visit to Kerala from May 24. His visit acquires significance in the wake of the running quarrel between the Orthodox and Jacobite faction over control of parishes and the Supreme Court verdict of 2017 handing over control of churches to the Orthodox church.

Father Vattavelil said that the Patriarch would attend functions at Manjanikkara and Malakkurisu. However, he said that there was little chance of the Patriarch meeting leaders of the Orthodox church. The Patriarch may meet representatives of the State government in the wake of the continuing stand-off between the two factions over the control of parishes in Kerala.

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