“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”.
Thus says the Holy Bible. Let us face the reality that with the emergence of the social media it is open to all that we are all subjected to every day social audit by the community at large. Hence our private life, family life and public life all must be transparently at zero variance. We had very many tall spiritual leaders as the head of our church. They were known sages.
The seat of the Catholicose was decorated by many illustrious doyens like Gheevarghese the I and II, Mathews the I and II to mention a few. However, in an introspection, it is clear like day light that our brethren are not living in unity for nearly one and half century. Is it not anything for our Christian calling?
Lost decade or Dark era
Nevertheless for the last one decade, the church was like a floating ship without any discernible direction or destination. It was at best be called as the lost decade where the Indian Orthodox Church was isolated fully and totally from the general fabric of the Kerala society and even championed the cause of anti-witnessing. Immediately after the historic verdict of the Hon Supreme court of India, the Church handled its victory most foolishly despite many well-meaning people had advised the leadership to be proactive with sagacity and prudence. Hence we had the saddest period of the church—dark era for the last ten years since the incumbent Catholicose came to the helm of affairs.
Who to Lead the Church Forward
It is an ancient church dating back to the disciple of Jesus. Why to squander such a great legacy in the name of orthodoxy? The need and importance of the church to have a forward looking spiritual head is critically a pre-requisite today than ever before. He must be a decision walker, prudent, visionary, thematic, contemporary, widely accepted and respected person of integrity and inclusiveness. He must be a practitioner who undergoes self-circumcision of thoughts and actions, eucharist after eucharist. He must be wedded to the philosophy of green environment and ecumenism and must take the church along with the SDGs of the United Nations. We want a health conscious Catholicose who is concerned about the poor and the marginalised and wedded to the gospel of charity. Emotional stability and graciousness are the twin characters of the next Catholicose and he must be devoid of petty politics of total annihilation of the voice of dissent. He must be a man of democracy in action in the church forums. For him the creed must be discussion, dissent , debate, and finally informed decision.
Catholicate, he must preserve even by shedding own blood as a vibrant institution for the extension of Gods kingdom on earth. He must lead us to a golden era in our church history with discernible synergy linkages and spread effects. We do not need a person who is seeking opportunities to settle scores with his opponents as head of the church. We are not looking for a man who suffers from the SPS—small persons syndrome. Such people must be exposed even if they do a lot of things for the poor by helping them with free food and medical care. Let us recall the bible verse, “ revenge belongs to Jehovah”.
The new Catholicose must have the fifth gospel of include and prosper—exclude and perish as his own declared creed and Magna Carta. He must be a shepherd of both micro and macro inclusiveness .
This is the Day the Lord has made
Now or never is the most crucial moment in our church history to make a forward leap in our collective decision making. It is time for a quantum jump based on our fine thinking for a vibrant church in the 21stCentury as the church is both contemporary and thematically relevant as the salt of the earth. Church for its own sake is a dead institution, unless it is demand driven and contemporary. It must be people friendly in its liturgy, worship service, mission, theology and outreach.
Who is the most Ideal Catholicose to lead us now?
After a dispassionate Situation Analysis conducted on the Indian Orthodox Church –Malankara Church- the following conclusions are arrived at.
1) He must be a tall leader both physically and metaphysically.
2) He must be well educated both secularly and theologically.
3) He must be a man seeking the will of God continually.
4) He must be good at articulation and good tempered as well as easily approachable to all.
5) He must be timely, thematic and a vision thinker and a selfless person of eminence– would command respect from within and without.
6) He must have demonstrated emotional stability and concern for the marginalised and the poor.
7) He must have the fifth gospel of Inclusiveness as his spiritual and personal creed.
8) He must be a no nonsense person of integrity, culture and empathy coupled with an approach to uplift the marginalised like the Dalits.
9) He must be healthy physically and mentally…with malice to none and good will to all.
10) He must not be a conformist antediluvian or conservative. But to be a forward looking man like Pope Francis in approach and outlook.
Who is the chosen promise of the Church?
Based on the above Situation Analysis and consultations with a wide cross section of the community, the emerging front runner is Dr. Thomas Athanasios, who is the senior most metropolitan in the church as per the website too. He is both decisive and thematic and stands for his convictions. Besides, as he is from Muvattupuzha Aramana, it has a tradition of supplying Cathloclicose at the critical juncture of the Church like the lamented HH Augen Baselious, Paulose Baseleious, etc, he fits the bill very well. It is history following the 1995 supreme court verdict, due to own conviction of legal safeguards offered he stood like rock solid despite much persecutions as faced by his predecessor HH Augen Baselious. Even by a SWOT analysis, Metropolitan Athanasius of Muvattupuzha- Kandanad Diocese- is leaps and bounds ahead as the chosen promise of the future of the Malankara Church as its next Catholicose. It may be understood that despite not being an elected office bearer of the church, it was only Dr. Thomas Athanasius was deputed by the Synod to lead the negotiating team with Hon Kerala Chief Minister and the Hon Prime Minster of India. He is a Gandhian and a yoga guru as well. Financial transparency is his hallmark. He does things differently and holistically.
What a perfect choice to lead the Church in its journey forward with reconciliation and inclusive testimony vertically and horizontally!!