THE SYRO-MALANKARA CATHOLIC CHRUCH: HISTORICAL OVERVIEW Minimize
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turbulent situation Fr. P. T. Geevarghese (later Archbishop Mar Ivanios) played a vital role in reinstating the position of the excommunicated Metropolitan and in regaining the self-governance of the Malankara Chruch. To ward off the undue interference of Patriarch Abdulla in the administration of the temporalities of the Chruch, Fr. P. T. Geevarghese with the blessing of Vattasseril Mar Divannasios contacted Abded M'siha, the Patriarch of Antioch from whom Mar Abdulla usurped the Patriarchal See of Antioch, and invited him to visit Malankara and to establish a Catholicate here. Accordingly, Patriarch Abded M'siha came to Malankara in 1912 and established the Malankara Catholicate. Thus the Malankara Chruch in India became an autonomous Church under its head the Catholicos. Moran Mor Baselios Paulos I (1912-1913), the first Catholicos, was called to eternal rest after a short period of five months on 13 May 1913.

After the demise of Catholicos Baselios Paulos I, the See remained vacant until 1925. That was a period of litigations in the Malankara Church and also a period of spiritual renewal. The litigation for Vattippanam (a fixed deposit of money in the name of the Church) and its after-effects in the community was at its zenith. Fr. P.T. Geevarghese who loved his Church was moved by the Spirit of God. He realized that only a spiritual awakening of the Church would give a lasting solution to the problems of the Church. He himself took to sanyasa (Religious Life) and founded the Order of the Imitation of Christ also called Bethany Ashram in the year 1919. The first Ashram was erected at Mundanmala of Ranni Perunad in Kerala. In 1925 he founded the community of the Sanyasins, the Sisters of the Imitation of Christ also called Bethany Madhom. From these two religious communities winds of spiritual fervour and renaissance blew across Malankara. By a decision of the Episcopal Synod, on 30th April 1925 Moran Mor Baselios Geevarghese I was installed as Catholicos. On the following day, the Catholicos consecrated Fr. P.T. Geevarghese with the name Geevarghese Mar Ivanios as the Bishop of Bethany.

Malankara Reunion Movement

On 1st Nov 1926, the Episcopal Synod held at Parumala near Tiruvalla, Kerala, decided to open negotiations again with Rome for communion with the Catholic Church in order to establish peace in Malankara. The Synod authorized Mar Ivanios, the Bishop of Bethany, to make necessary correspondence with Rome regarding communion. He earnestly followed up the mandate of the Synod.

The 2nd Catholicos expired on 17th Dec 1928. Moran Mor Baselios Geevarghese II succeeded the late Catholicos. On the day following his installation, he consecrated Mar Theophilos of Bethany and Mar Gregorios of Pampady as Bishops. In the meantime, the civil court's decision on the litigation for Vattipanam was declared in favor of the Malankara Orthodox Church. This was a civil legal backing up for the Malankara Orthodox Church and consequently it stepped out from the endeavors of communion with Rome.

After prolonged negotiations, the plenary session of the Sacred Congregation of the Oriental Churches, which met on 4th Jul 1930, took the final decision on the issue of the communion of the Malankara Church. But only Mar Ivanios the Metropolitan of Bethany and his suffragan Jacob Mar Theophilos stood by the early decision of the Synod. Mar Ivanios and Mar Theophilos along with Rev. Fr. John Kuzhinapurath OIC, Deacon Alexander OIC and Mr. Chacko Kilileth made their profession of faith before Bishop Aloysius Maria Benziger OCD of the Diocese of Quilon and entered into full communion with the Catholic Church on 20th Sept 1930.

Metropolitan Archbishop Geevarghese Mar Ivanios (1930-1953)

His Holiness Pope Pius XI made an interim canonical provision for the administration of the reunited faithful through the papal document Magnum Nobis dated February 11, 1932. As the Reunion Movement gained momentum, Archbishop Mar Ivanios made three personal visits to Holy Father Pope Pius XI on 26th Apr, 2nd May and 11th May 1932. The Holy Father vested Mar Ivanios with sacred pallium on 2nd May, 1932.

Pope Pius XI through the Apostolic Constitution Christo Pastorum Principi of 11th June 1932, established the Syro-Malankara Hierarchy for the reunited community and erected the Archieparchy of Trivandrum with the Eparchy of Tiruvalla as its suffragan. Thus, the Malankara Church re-entered into the hierarchical communion with the Catholic Church. The Syro-Malankara Catholic Hierarchy came into existence through the inaguration of the Metropolitan Eparchy of Trivandrum on 11th May 1933 and His Grace Mar Ivanios was enthroned as its first Metropolitan-Archbishop. His Grace Mar Augustine Kandathil, the Archbishop of Ernakulam, His Excellency Bishop Aloysius Maria Benziger OCD, the Bishop of Quilon, His Grace Mar James Kalassery, the Archbishop of Changanassery. His Excellency Mar Alexander Choolaparambil, the Bishop of Kottayam and His Excellency Jacob Mar Theophilos were present on the occasion. The Eparchy of Tiruvalla was inagurated on 6th Nov 1933 and Most Rev. Jacob Mar Theophilos was enthroned as its first Bishop.

The reunion of Archbishop Mar Ivanios with the Catholic Church was a historical event in the universal Church, which inspired many of the Malankarites including the Bishops of the Orthodox Church. On 29th Nov 1937, Most Rev. Joseph Mar Severios, Metroplitan of Niranam of the Malankara Orthodox Church reunited with


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