Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Network
Controversial St. Thomas Throne
Very Rev. Kuriakose Moolayil Corepiscopos
Georgy's 'Myth' continues to explore the history and the authority of the 'St.Thomas' throne as claimed by the Catholicose faction. It is really funny to read his conclusion which highlight the fallacy of the 'long' history of the controversial throne attributed to St.Thomas. First read his conclusion. I quote,
"From all the above, we can see that the term `Throne of St Thomas' has a long and illustrious history and was not suddenly sprung from Devalokam in the 1970s. As early as 1959, the Patriarch had objected to its usage. This gives the lie to the urban legend that the reference to the throne of St Thomas was unheard of before the 1970s."
We have to see this statement at different levels on the ground of Georgy's arguments. But before elaborating such a discussion I would like to remind the readers that the Catholicose faction was received into the SO Church and the 'peaceful co existance' came into effect only in 1958. Georgy agrees that in 1959 Patriarch objected to it. Let us look into the time gap between these incidents. It was on Dec.16 that the Catholicose was accepted by the Patriarch. The reply of the Catholicose was also of the same date and it reached the Patriarchate and the reply from the Patriarch reached Kottayam in four months time. The time gap between the acceptance and the questioning of the usage took only four months. Remembering the slow mail moving of those times we can be sure that the Patriarch's disapproval to this usage was comparatively very immediate.
Eventhough Geevarghese Bava resisted at the beginning to the disapproval of the Patriarch we can see that he too slowly withdrew from this usage, I believe for the scope of unity. We see Augen Bava almost completely refraing from using this title till the time of controversy. This being the fact, Georgy tries to 'spin', 'spin' and 'spin' to 'prove' that St.Thomas throne is not a controversy that started in '1970 'but was a controversy even in '1959' onwards !. We will see further details below.
Now let us see the threads that he used to spun his myth.
1. He quotes the verse Matt.19:27-28. Georgy says that St.Thomas has a throne because the Lord promised all the twelve apostles twelve thrones. The contention to Georgy's argument on St.Thomas throne is very evidently stated in that reply to Peter. There it is said about the reward that they receive for following Him forsaking everything. It is said there "in the regeneration... when son of man sit on the throne of his glory..." the apostles also "shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel". Georgy concludes this argument with the following words.
"St Thomas, being one of the 12 apostles, had his own throne according to the scheme of Our Lord Jesus."
It would be a correct statement if he could change the statement from past perfect tense to future perfect by changing 'had' to 'will have'. Then it will be 'St.Thomas ...will have his own throne ... ' to sit with the Lord to judge the twelve tribes. This will be the sharing of the glory by the apostles at the final judgement. St.Thomas will have a throne there to sit to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, including the community and society in which Peter and his fellow apostles forsook eveything to follow the Lord. This is the promise of the sharing of the eschatological glory. This throne has nothing to do with the apostolic throne of succession of priesthood nor to the controversial claim recently originated in Malankara..
2. I quote fully the next argument raised by Georgy.
Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286 CE). In the Hoodoyo Canon (Book of Directions,
Paris, 1898), Chapter VII, Section I, Bar Hebraeus uses the term throne with
respect to Patriarchs,
In the first statement he was saying that St.Thomas had a throne because he will have a throne in the final judgement day. When he quotes Bar Ebroyo and his Nomocanon he justifies his wishful thinking that St.Thomas has a throne because all bishops have a throne. Bishops de facto have thrones by 'Sunthroneeso' (enthronement). By this argument Georgy is 'degrading' the Apostle Thomas to the level of a bishop or is he equating the throne of the Catholicose to the level of an episcopal throne!
He also affix a note to the Nomocanon, known as Hoodaya canon in brackets, 'Book of Directions, Paris 1898'. This note is a big twist to revert the authentic version of the canon. Paul Bedjan a Roman Catholic Syriac scholar priest has printed an edited version of the Nomocanon in 1898 and was published in Paris. Thus came the name Paris canon. He has written an introduction to this edition in French saying that he has edited (modified) the manuscript of Bar Ebroyo to suit the Roman ecclesiology. Examples are the directions in this version authorizing all bisops to consecrate Holy Mooron, proclaiming Patriarch of Rome as the general head of all Patriarchs.(Reesh Patriarch) Upholding the Roman edition of the Nomocanon and repudiating the directions in it is another 'spin' and a twist of fact by the Catholicose faction. The whole 1934 constitution becomes a paradox if someone takes an affirmative stand that this Paris canon is to be followed seriously in IO administration.
Finally coming back to Bar Ebroyo, I would like to transliterate the reference from him quoted by Georgy to state that St.Thomas was referred to as the first bishop of the east. 'Thooma Sleeho reesh kohne kadmoyo de madanho'. Reesh Kohne means high priest, kadmoyo= first and de madanho = of the East. (St.Thomas the first high priest of the East) Payne Smith dictionary differenciates between 'Reesh Kohne' and 'Reesh Abohoso' (=Patriarch). This difference is having very important meaning in reference to our topic of discussion. Reesh Kohne is a bishop, not a Patriarch. What does it mean? There is no reference here that he consecrated his successor Adai nor he has established a succession line . Bar Ebroyo himself says later in this book that the bishops of the east received investiture from Antioch. His Canon testifies that the Council of Nicea confirmed the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch over the East.The Church in the east was included in the Patriarchate of Antioch and hence there cannot be any to duplication of authority in one church. This excludes all possibility of the existance of a throne in the church of the east. Throne in the ecclesial meaning is the apostolic priestly succession. It is not at all mentioned there. Surely, Bar Ebroyo gives no hint to the apostolic throne of St.Thomas.
3. Georgy's reference to the judgment of the Kochi Royal Court and E.M. Philip are discussed together in this reply. In both cases the reference is to the episcopal throne. The 'throne in Malayalam' is referring to the episcopate in Malankara. All episcopos are 'enthroned' to the episcopate and no one has ever protested to the use of throne in this context. All bishops have thrones of their episcopal sees. E.M. Philip also uses a figurative language to refer the church in India as the church of St.Thomas. His book is also titled the 'Indian Church of St.Thomas'. He refers by this usage only to the St. Thomas tradition, apostolic origin and antiquity of this Church to which the SOC upholds with high esteem. This honor is given to the Metropolitan in Malankara. It is never intented to refer to any equal status with the Patriarch or refers to any autocephalous church in Malankara.The Tablet at Rakkad Church gives this honor to none other than the delegate of the Patriarch. The 1972 declaration of St.Thomas throne was not at all in this line. It was the declaration of independence from the Patriarch. This is the core issue. You have to address this point of the relation of autocephaly to St.Thomas throne. Do any of your reference on St.Thomas throne prove to the autocephaly of Malankara Church or the equal status of the Malankara Metropolitan/Catholicose to the Patriarch?. St.Thomas throne was equated to the claim of autocephaly. It is in this context that all the judgments in the recent church case flatly denied the case of autocephaly. Goeorgy yourself has stated that the Malankara Church is not autocephalous de jurie.
4. Next is another controversial document which has not been ratified by any other contemporary translation or even proper publication. H.G. Dr. Thomas Mor Athanasius has discussed in detail about this in his book, 'Ithu Viswasathinte Karyam'. (See page 40,41 or for relevant quotation on page No.218 and 219 of my book, 'Perumpilly Thirumeni'.) Before going into the details of this I would like to refer to the more known Abdul Messiah document of Kumbhom 8, 1913. It admonishes all not to "slacken your Petrine faith". Here he says not to the 'Thomite Apostolic faith' . For the better unprejudiced understanding of my readers I am quoting Georgy in full.
" 1912. From the letter issued on September 17, 1912**, by HH Abdul Masih Patriarch from St Mary's Church, Niranam: ``…By virtue of the order of the office of the Shephard, entrusted to Simon Peter by our Lord Jesus Messiah, we are prompted to perpetuate for you Catholicos or Mapriyana to serve all spiritual requirements that are necessary for the conduct of the order of the holy true Church in accordance with its faith.... With Geevarghese Mar Dionysius Metropolitan, who is the head of the Metropolitans in Malankara and with other Metropolitans, Ascetics, Deacons and a large number of faithfuls, we have ordained in person our spiritually beloved Evanios in the name of Baselius as Mapriyana, i.e., as the Catholicos on the Throne of St.Thomas in the East, i.e., in India and other places, at the St.Mary's Church, Niranam on Sunday, 2nd Kanni, 1912 A.D. as per your request.''
Here Georgy is attracted only to the mention of St.Thomas throne in this document. Forgetting the aprehensions about the authenticity of this document I am convinced to say that it is really argueing all against Georgy's claims. See my pointslisted below.
1. The alleged author (!) of this letter writes this on his authority as the Shepherd in virtue of the Petrine authority. Here it is evident that, even if we agree to all the 'rights and privileges' of this DEPOSED Patriarch who acted without any knowledge of the Synod and the Church at large, had no authority over the 'independant, autocephalous' Thomite Church in India. Even if he refers to a St.Thomas throne what he can do is nothing beyond his capacity as a (deposed) Patriarch of Antioch. He cannot transfer a St.Thomas throne from his Church because there is no such throne there. He cannot consecrate in Malankara a Mafrian from the SOC without the knowledge of its synod and the ruling Patriarch. He cannot again de facto consecrate anyone to a Catholicate in the line of the Nestorian Church. He cannot also create a St.Thomas throne all by himself here in Malankara. Whatever he could do was, even though illegally and illicitly, act to the whims and fancies dictated to him at Niranam and the result was to create a 'moth eaten' and illegitimate Mafrian with the title Catholicose. He did that at the same time strongly admonished not to 'slacken' its bond with the Patriarchate.
2. Abdul Messiah in this Kalpana equates the Catholicose to a 'moth eaten' Mapfrian all against the arguments made by Georgy earlier that the Malankara Catholicose is not in the line of the mafrianate.
3. Abdul Messiah in the above quoted document instructs the Catholicose to perform his duties 'in accordance with the faith and the Malankara Metropolitan who is the head of the Metropolitans..." Here the cat is out! It clearly says about the concept of Metran faction of that time. Here it is evident that the Malankara Metropolitan is the actual head of the Church and it makes very clear that the Catholicose at that time was only a titular position. The fact was that the Catholicose of the IO faction was above the Malankara Metropolitan on Sundays and the vice versa on all other days of the week.
4. Here again this document saysthat he has ordained "in person ...Mor Ivanios.. on the Throne of St.Thomas". Even if we agree to all claims of Georgy, this document clearly says that it was the deposed Patriarch who "in person" ordained Mor Ivanios on the alleged throne. The 'apostolicity,long history and antiquity' of this 'illustrious' throne is well exposed in this document. Thank you georgy for referring to this.
5. A few of the next citations are from the Notice Kalpana and peace Kalpana from Geevarghese 1 Bava bearing the St.Thomas throne. His argument is that these were all exhibits in the SC court of India and so they all have sanctity and legal appeal. The curse of even our intelligentia is the fallacy of the notion about the approval of the courts and the sanctity it gets being an exhibit in the court. But here I am happy that Georgy has quoted the reference to the 1957 Kalpana of Yacob111 Bava. It makes very clear that Yacob 111 intended for peace and as many think the peace initiative was not a surrendering after 1958 judgment. I quote,
" Patriarch HH Yakub III issued a Bull to Geevarghese Bava, which among other things, included the following words: ``…We also were longing for peace in the Malankara Church and the unity of the organs of the one body of the Church. We have expressed this desire of ours very clearly in the apostolic proclamation (reference is to the proclamation dated November 11, 1957) we issued to you soon after our ascension on the Throne. This desire of ours gained strength with all vigor day by day without in any way slackened and the Lord God has been pleased to end the dissension through us. Glory be to him. To bring forth the peace in the Malankara Church we hereby accept with pleasure Mar Baselious Gheevarghese as Catholicose. Therefore we send our hearty greetings...''
Following many rounds of
negotiations, the reply to this letter was exchanged with the Patriarchal
representative Mar Julius Elias on December 16, 1958, at the Old Seminary in
Kottayam by Geevarghese Bava. This letter (referred to earlier), presented
as exhibit A 20
The above quotation from Georgy prove the following:
1. The 1958 Kalpana of H.H. Yacoob 111 came to India much before the actual exchange took place on Dec.18,1958. It was signed on Dec.9 at Damascus. We all know that the negotiation here was on the draft of the "Kanthari" Kalpana. Even the exchange of letters was prolonged till midnight and several calls and drafts passed in between Chingavanam and Devalokam. It was for the 'sake of peace' that the Kanthari Kalpana* was received at the eleventh hour
2. Patriarch was willing for an acceptance even before the 1958 SC judgment. See the 1957 Kalpana's full text in my book, Perumpilly Thirumeni Pages153-55.
3. The genuine approach for the sake of peace was subdued in the efforts to uphold the 'Kanthari' spirit of the reply by the Catholicose. The Two Kanthari were the Constitution and the the St.Thomas throne.
4. The controversial usage of the St. Thomas throne as well as the honorific 'His Holiness' were first used in the united church in this 'Kanthari' Kalpana and was challenged by the Patriarch on April 8, 1959, after a few months of time , leaving beside the delivery time of that time we can say it was challenged 'immediately'. Eventhough the attitude of Geevarghese 11 Bava was tough at the beginning but he also turned mild and we can see him using the heading paper without the controversial throne in the peace times.Then after Augen Bava ascended he was famous for not using this till the controversy took momemtum.
1. Georgy himself proved that the St.Thomas throne was nothing beyond the honorific throne of the episcopate. But the claims in the controversy was that it was equal to the Apostolic Petrine office and the symbol of autocephaly.
2. The claim of the apostolicity of the St.Thomas throne is negated by its alleged founder Mor Abdul Messiah himself. He says that he established the Mafrian in his authority as the shepherd on the Petrine throne. (Actually he was deposed and hence had no authority)
3. In the Church we have thrones for the Patriarch, Catholicose and the Metropolitan/Episcopa. The sees of these thrones confine to their authority in the Church and its specific jurisduction. Thrones of authority over the divisions of the universal Church were established by the Holy Ecumenical Synods.To our tradition it cannot be declared unilaterally.
4. Apostolic throne of St.Peter is upheld for the canonical validity of its succession and priesthood. The alleged Abdul Messiah document points to this concept.The Metran faction leaders of that time also held the same view.
5. The reference by Bar Ebraya says nothing about the apostolic succession in India or to the succession line of the St.Thomas Throne anywhere.
6. The documents cited by Georgy before the 1912 incident are merely in honor of the episcopate in Malankara and in the honor of the founder of the Malankara Church. It has nothing to do with the present day claims of the autocephalous throne in Malankara.
7. The alleged succession of the Persian Nestorian Catholicate has nothing to do with the 1912 Catholicate or the commonly accepted 1958/64 Catholicate in Malankara. The Malankara Catholicate is nothing but the resurgent 'moth eaten' (Sorry to repeat this quote from Georgy) Mafrianate in the Syrian Orthodox Church.
8. The Mafrianate has no apostolic succession from our Patron Saint St.Thomas. All the Mafrians in history were second in rank to the Patriarch of Antioch and were usually consecrated by the Patriarchs.
9. The biblical reference to the throne promised to St.Thomas and other apostles are the thrones to share the glory of the judgment of the 12 tribes of Israel.
10. Absence of any reference to the St.Thomas throne and autocephaly in the 1934 constitution itself points that these issues are not part of the original ideology of its factional founders. It only refers to the declaration that the primate of this church is the Patriarch of Antioch and also declares that the Church is a division of the Eastern Orthodox Church.The 1934 constitution itself speaks against the claims of autocephaly and St.Thomas throne.
*'Kanthari' is the very hot but small chilly of Kerala. When Mor Julius jokingly remarked that the Kalpana handed over to the Catholicose was 'heavy' and the one given to him by the Catholicose was comparatively very 'light', the Catholicose replied that it is like the Kanthari, small but very hot. This statement proves even in the argument of Georgy.
Original Posting of Mr. Georgy S Thomas in IOCN Malankara's Mythical Minefields-VIII