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Tension in Kerala’s Piravom St Mary’s church as police enter to implement Supreme Court order

The situation at Piravom church came to a head on Thursday when the Orthodox faction tried to take control and Jacobites refused to budge.

south Updated: Sep 26, 2019 15:34 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Thiruvananthapuram
Jacobites and Orthodox factions of the Syrian church in Ernakulam have been fighting for the control of 1000 odd churches and their rich coffer. (HT Photo)
Jacobites and Orthodox factions of the Syrian church in Ernakulam have been fighting for the control of 1000 odd churches and their rich coffer. (HT Photo)

Tension prevails at Piravom St Mary’s church in Kerala’s Ernakulam districts after police entered the premises to implement an order of the Supreme Court granting control to the Orthodox faction in their showdown with Jacobites.

Jacobites and Orthodox factions of the Syrian church in Ernakulam have been fighting for the control of 1000 odd churches and their rich coffers. In 2017, the Supreme Court had upheld the 1934 constitution of Malankara church and gave Orthodox group control over 1100 parishes and churches in Kerala but Jacobites, who were controlling majority of the churches, are not ready to give up.

The situation at Piravom church came to a head on Thursday when the Orthodox faction tried to take control and Jacobites refused to budge. Scores of Jacobites stood inside the church compound, guarding the gate. Amid suicide threats, District Collector S. Suhas rushed to the spot and tried to reason with the protesters, telling them that the police was there to implement the top court’s orders. The police finally entered the church and started arresting protesters. The court has sought a report by 1.45 pm Thursday of the action taken on their order.

On September 7, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on a judge of the Kerala high court for issuing orders purportedly in contravention to the top court’s direction in the church dispute case. It took strong exception to the HC’s tinkering of its 2017 verdict on right to conduct administration and prayers in churches in a dispute between two factions. The top court set aside the Kerala High Court order that prayer services at the churches should be performed alternately by the two rival factions of the Malankara Church. The apex court in 2017 said that prayer services have to be performed in consonance with the 1934 Malankara Church Constitution and guidelines.

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