Post- Pandemic Election of Catholicose of Malankara Orthodox Church: Pre-requisites

“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!! 

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