English translation of a letter written jointly by Mar Ivanios Metropolitan of Kandanadu (later His Holiness Baselios Paulose I Catholicose and Blessed Alvares Mar Julius Metropolitan in 1911, addressed to St. Dionysius Vattasseril.
Mar Ivanios Metropolitan of Malankara Kandanadu and Mar Julius Metropolitan of India, Ceylon jointly write(Seal)To our dear brother Your Grace Mar Dionysius Metropolitan of Malankara Church,We have read in the encyclical issued by His Holiness the Patriarch dated the 18th of the month of Edavam, year 1911, sent to us on the 26th , whereby Your Grace have been excommunicated from the episcopal position and the clerical blessings that were bestowed upon your ordination to priesthood been debarred. Having read it we were shocked and pained beyond words. Our astonishment and sorrow multiplied greatly when we learnt the reason for such severe excommunication in the encyclical. That the Antiochian throne only has spiritual power over the Malankara Church and it (the Malankara Church) is an independent one was well established by the Royal Court judgement. Contrary to the opinion and understanding displayed at the Synod convened at Kottayam last year, in other associations and public meetings, His Holiness pressurized Your Grace to sign an agreement approving to be subjected to the temporal authority (of the Patriarch). Bava Thirumeni had extreme hostility towards Your Grace as Your Grace did not agree to such a demand. We know that this is the chief reason of excommunication. Though we got to hear from several sources that Bava Thirumeni was thinking of excommunicating Your Grace, we never thought the aforementioned reason will be cited as a factor to debar a Metropolitan. We can say with absolute surety that the reasons for excommunication as noted in the encyclical are baseless (allegations).Firstly, no specific reason is noted and the allegations against Your Grace are cited in general and obliquely. Secondly, the accusations levelled against Your Grace include public money not being managed properly, doing whatever Your Grace wants, following the path of unlawful means to attain independent authority, creating divisions and disputes in the church, defy the church hierarchy, teaching doctrines contrary to the faith of the Church etc. Having known Your Grace and being familiar with Your Grace’s activities as having closely worked together, we can confidently say that Your Grace cannot be the subject of the unjust claims.Thirdly, it specifically alleges that Your Grace has a quivering hand. We were aware prior that Your Grace has had such an issue. However, this cannot be cited as an impediment to the (ecclesiastical) position. The canon commands as noted below:“if a person has physical disability, is one-eyed, or lame, but is worthy to hold Episcopal position then let him hold that. Because what matters is not the inadequacy of the physical body but the impurity of soul” (Hudaya canon, 7th Kafalayon, 5th Passoka).As stated above, it has been proved that the physical deformities do not make one unworthy to the Episcopate and hence, we do not think that such shortcoming cited by His Holiness Bava Thirumeni as a reason for excommunication follows the laws and regulations.Fourthly, even if we assume that the allegations stated in the encyclical is true, we say with much grief that the excommunication does not conform to the canon regulations.The Hudaya canon which governs our church related activities notes the following concerning the procedure to excommunicate a high priest. We see in the Hudaya canon 7th Kafalayon, 2nd Passoka:- (Apostles 77): The Episcopas should call the Episcopa on whom the charges have been levelled by the eligible faithful. If he (the accused Episcopa) comes (presents himself to the other Episcopas) and confesses to his fault on being reprimanded, then the verdict will be decided. If he doesn’t come, then he should be called again in the second and third instance by sending two other Episcopas. Even after these attempts, the accused Episcopa neglects to come then he should be excommunicated. (Constantinople): Unless the heretics and guilty prove that they are innocent themselves, they should not be allowed to press charges against the Episcopa. The acceptable allegations should be levelled in the presence of all local (state) diocesan bishops. If the local (state) diocesan bishops are unable to verify the allegations against the accused Episcopa then such bishops should present the matter in front of the great Synod (of the church). (Antioch 14): If the local (state) diocesan bishops are in disagreement concerning the accused Episcopa as few may say that he (the accused Episcopa) is guilty whereas the other section may say he is innocent, then they should call the Episcopas from the other nearby states to sit together and jointly decide on the matter. (Antioch 15): If the local (state) diocesan bishops are unanimous in their decision concerning the accused then there is no need to call the Episcopas from the other nearby states. Those who are themselves pronounced guilty should not be involved in others’ investigation/verdict matters.The procedures prescribed by the canon has not been not followed prior to excommunication in this case nor this this is a valid excommunication. Following the charges levelled, Your Grace was not called for examination as per the canon laws. As noted in the canon, to excommunicate a Metropolitan, he must be examined before the Metropolitans of the ‘Hufarkiya’ (Hufarkiya- Jurisdiction/See of authority (ecclesiastical)) and the verdict should be proclaimed before such Metropolitans. We are not aware that any such due process was followed. In this ‘Hufarkiya’, except for us two, there are no other senior Metropolitans or Metropolitans entrusted with diocese administration. The other bishops in this ‘Hufarkiya’ who have given the agreement to Bava Thirumeni against the trust of the Malankara Church include those who do not have any administrative responsibilities and the ‘Theebel’ (general) Metropolitans. It has been said the bishops have confirmed the allegations against Your Grace verbally and in writing. If this statement (in the encyclical) points towards us, then we declare that Bava Thirumeni has not enquired a single word about this matter to us nor he has sought our opinion and cooperation in this regard nor he informed us about this decree (of excommunication) before issuing the encyclical. Alternatively, if the statement is about the other bishops then none of them holds any diocesan administrative responsibilities. We do not have any knowledge if such bishops were even prior consulted. As they are ‘Theebel’ (general) Metropolitans, taking an action solely based on the opinion of such bishops is not justifiable under the canon laws. Even if the opinion of such bishops had any merit, instead of examining the accused, they shared their views against Your Grace secretly and such judgement does not have any legal value. Hence, this excommunication is not as per the canon as it was implemented without informing us- high priests of the ‘Hufarkiya’ nor Your Grace was given a chance to offer defense. Sixthly, if the nature of Malankara Sabha’s trust is considered then also, we cannot say that the excommunication is justified. Everybody is aware of the ruling of the honorable Royal Court which decreed that the Patriarch does not have any temporal authority (over Malankara Church). Even if it is presumed that the court order was not right, then such action, taken while overstepping the court’s ruling and without the acceptance of the General Body, will not hold any merit in court’s view. If someone gives an agreement as per the wishes of Bava Thirumeni, he will become ineligible to be the part of the trust. Seventhly, Your Grace was the assistant to Mar Dionysius V of Malankara (of blessed memory) and unanimously elected by the General Body as the successor- to be ordained and recognized as the Malankara Metropolitan. In an encyclical issued by three brother bishops, it has been stated that Bava Thirumeni will call for a General Body meeting soon. If so, the allegations against Your Grace should be brought to notice in the General Body meeting and if found guilty, Your Grace can be issued punishment publicly with the knowledge and acceptance of the Malankara Church. Considering this aspect, the excommunication is unjustified. Overall, our opinion is that the excommunication is unjust, against canon rules and the royal laws and hence we in no way we can accept this excommunication and act in accordance with it.We and all the people know that Your Grace has been working with great zeal for the progress of the church and to ensure that the True Faith remains firm. Your Grace has worked very hard and endured great trials for the Holy Church of our Lord and would continue to do so. By the love of our Lord, we will share the tribulations coming in Your Grace’s way. Our feeble selves pray to the Lord God that He extend His unseen Right Hand and bless and protect Your Grace and our Church.
1911, 02nd of the month of Mithunam, Thursday
From Mannathur Church
Mar Ivanios (signed) Mar Julius (signed)
(The letter submitted to St. Dionysius Vattasseril on 15 June 1911 at Mar Elia Chapel).
Translated by Rincy John
Ref: Translated from Malayalam- Malayalam letter source credit to Joice Thottackad and the letter in Malayalam is posted here: https://malankaraorthodox.tv/?p=70929