Road Map for peace & unity in the Indian Orthodox Church: Agenda for Patriarch

Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim

Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East
Damascus-Camp- Beirut—USA
Dear Holy Father,
1) This is Dr KM George. Hope you do recall my three earlier emails – sending my felicitations in your election as Patriarch and also my own special concerns expressed in terms of your opportunities to become the prince of peace making in the Malankara Church.
2) Kindly know that it is a God given opportunity for you to occupy the seat of peace maker in the history of our church. Winner you think, yes winner you will become Holy Father.
3) I need not harp on the need and importance of unity and peace in our Church. We do have the same sacraments and the same worship service. Are we not one in letter and spirit? How are we different? Two halves should be at least as good as one whole! Let us see ourselves in a dispassionate historical perspective. And it becomes imperative for us to recall the commission of our Lord. “As Father and I are one, you too are one brethren”. If we partake in the same blood and flesh of the Lord, we need to be one in faith and order Holy Father.
4) The witness to day in the Indian Church is clearly anti-witness-killing each other, making a mockery of the entire Christian culture by resorting to street vendetta and even atrocities associated with burial of the faithful departed, and the list can be quite exhaustive to make us feel ashamed to address ourselves as Christians. Is it our creed of liturgy after liturgy??
5) Holy Father you being well educated, young and with adequate exposure to both East and West including the intricacies of the Malankara Church politics, is this not anything for your stewardship to see the moral compulsions to have lasting peace in our church? We are not for sinking the ship and solving the problem. Let us have confidence Building Measures -CBM- in place to begin with to reach permanent peace and unity. You need to issue a clarion call to be the harbinger of peace in the Malankara Church on decent terms where there is no victor or vanquished. Reconciliation is key to success. People want respect, not shame. People look for grace, not condemnation. People want reconciliation, not alienation.
6) May I remind you that compromise can be kingly? It is the mark of humility too. If you can dream it God can do it for us.
7) The strategy must be a combination of both short term and long term. But during 2014 and 2015 we must emerge as a united church with redoubled energy to serve the millions and to shepherd our people to the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal saviour. As part of short term strategy we may engage in negotiations at the apex level where the Patriarch and Catholicose would interact person to person without aides with clear one point agenda to re-establish peace and unity in our church. Later on under the joint chairmanship of both, we need to have contact groups to discuss the modalities of peace woven around the single agenda of unity. We need one bishop from each group of Indian Orthodox church and the Jacobite church to discuss the process of quickening the peace efforts, not to thwart it. They must be proactive and positive men with conflict resolution skills and knack.
8) In order to assist them, we need to identify moderate clergy and even laity to facilitate the process of peace and unity with grass roots level support and appreciation for the real Christian witness.
9) In order to make sure that we are with pro-peace makers, contentious issues are to be kept outside the purview of contact group discussions. Such issues are to be addressed leisurely by designated core groups. As a matter of policy , among the same believers of faith and order hardly any such issues would create any impasse, as cardinal issues are not at stake.
10) Care may be taken to address only policy issues at the top level as operational mechanics are to be left to the lower level functionaries like how to accommodate various bishops in different diocese or to make new dioceses, etc.
11) Long term policy strategy among others would include respect for each other as spiritual heads as per the constitutional requirements and imbibing the essence of the Indian Supreme Court verdicts. It is only a guiding road map for remaining as good brothers and wonderful Christians with vertical and horizontal linkages.
12) Holy Father if you desire I may come to pay a visit to you. May be later we may rope in the CC Member of the WCC H G Zachariah Nicolovos from USA along with HG Dr Thomas Athanasius from the Orthodox Church as they are for peace, justice and development on respectable terms with all and for inclusive Christian testimony too. May be later based on informal discussions we may keep the dialogue on to have more active players who are for permanent peace in the Church. These bishops on account of their exposure to both factions, may be the right ones to brief and update you Holy Father as how to go about to negotiate lasting peace with integration.
13) Please do remember the old adage, “include and prosper, exclude and perish”. We as Christians and you as the Holy Father are bound by the teachings of our Lord to include all in sojourn to His Kingdom.
14) HB Thomas the 1st-Mapriyano- though is a difficult person on account t of his old age, ailments and obstinacy, can be brought about by your authority and a bit of arm twisting with the help of those bishops from the Jacobite faction like HG Joseph Gregorios. The theory of confrontation becomes part of rhetorical political baggage and as such must be discarded. It will be a sad situation which may confront the Jacobite faction after the demise of the present Catholicose HB Thomas 1st.The church would split vertically into two factions and anarchy becomes the order of the day. It raises questions both subtle and profound. It is common knowledge that among the Jacobite even among the bishops there is a lot of discontentment to the leadership of the Mapriyano. Some of the well meaning bishops want peace and unity too. How can we turn away our face from such an overwhelming desire and demand as we are in the third millennium? You need not and must not give in to the designs of the mad caps or the terrorists. This is of paramount importance for you to intervene to bring in unity and peace in Malankara.
15) May I urge and appeal to you Holy Father not to consecrate any successor to HB Thomas 1st in the event of his standing down by resignation or by natural demise. Please make only ad-hoc arrangements to oversee the day to day administration. This would facilitate the long desired peace efforts with least resistance of the incumbent, as most of the aspirants are relatively young to become the Mapriyano.
16) I would also urge and appeal to you Holy Father to delay your maiden visit to Malankara till such time your peace mission is achieved. If you visit India prior to that, you need to align with the some faction or the other of the Jacobite church, which may kill the peace process as you get involved Willy nilly. People of Malankara expect and pray for high degree of initiative and integrity from you as you are the promise of future.
17) I wonder if you would send an olive branch to the Catholicose of the Indian Orthodox Church conveying your desire to establish peace in the Indian Church. Please do consider writing to the Catholicose conveying your concern and interest to have lasting peace and unity in Malankara. His e-mail address is It would give you extra mileage as a person of proactive peace and as an ambassador of peace as per the sermon on the mount!!! In effect you would be throwing the ball into the court of the Orthodox Church to respond and to show how genuine they are too. Why not be a strategic action packed thinker to be statesman like. Hope I am not carrying coal to Newcastle Holy Father.!
18) Please be reminded that the challenges of tomorrow cannot be handled by the tools of yesterday. We need to be proactive and our creed to be one of possibility thinkers. Malankara Church peace and unity must be your challenge and opportunity to begin with. You must play the game with the will to win, thus make a lasting difference in perception and performance.
With love and prayers,
Your spiritual son in Christ Jesus.

Dr K M George,
9th July,2014.