Catholicos of the East

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Catholicos of the East is an ecclesiastical title used by Eastern Churches. The term "Catholicos" is derived from the Greek word Katholikos (Καθολικός), meaning "Universal Bishop".[1]

The title Catholicos, is used in several Eastern Christian churches and implies a degree of sovereignty and autocephaly. The designation "Catholicos of the East" originated in the see of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the capital of Persia, center of the Church of the East since the early days of Christianity in Persia, which was re-establish in India (Malankara) in the year 1912 by deposed Patriarch Ignatius Abded Mshiho II and the primate of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church as the Catholicos of all the East, Later the Syriac Orthodox Church established the Catholicate / Maphrianate of the East in India as the Catholicos of India of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.[2][3]

History[edit]

In the Church of the East, also known as the Nestorian Church, "Catholicos of the East" was one of the titles borne by the Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, who was the designated Patriarch of the Church of the East. It is still used in two successor churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East, the heads of which are known as Catholicos-Patriarchs.

Later, in the seventh century, the minority Syriac Orthodox Christians who lived in Persia began using the title for its Catholicate / Maphrian, who was originally the head of the Syriac Orthodox Christian community in Nestorian-dominated Persia. This office ranked second in the Syriac Orthodox church hierarchy after the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, until it was abolished in 1860. Today, the title is known as Catholicos / Maphrian of India.

In the 20th century the title "Catholicos of the East" was resurrected in the context of the Malankara Syrian Church, the ancient Indian church founded by the Apostle St. Thomas. Later Methran Faction(Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church) ordained the Metropolitan Paulose Mar Ivanios as Baselios Paulose I as Catholicos of the East on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas in 1912 by excommunicated Patriarch Ignatius Abded Mshiho II creating fear in the Malankara Church that he would attempt to take control of the church, reversing the decisions of the Council of Mulanthuruthy in 1876,[4] then dioceses and parishes led to a rift in the community. The church divided into two factions, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, led by the Catholicos, and the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, who supported the Patriarch. In 1934, the Malankara Syrian Christian Association, which is the parliament of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church decided that the titles Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan should be vested in the same person. Ever since, the Supreme Head of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church holds the title Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan.

In 1958 the church was reunited but split again in 1975. The split survives to this day, the faction supporting Catholicos known as Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the supporters of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Known as Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, under the Syrian Orthodox Church continue the lineage of Catholicate / Maphrian of East in India. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, also known as the Indian Orthodox Church, is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church centred in the Indian state of Kerala. The spiritual head of the church is the Catholicos of the East the head over church assets is the Malankara Metropolitan. Since 1934, both the titles vest in one person. The official title of the head of the Church is the "Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan". Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II was enthroned as Catholicos of the East on 1 November 2010 at Parumala Church by the Holy Synod, the 91st Catholicos of the East in the lineage of Apostle Thomas, the eighth after reinstatement in India, and the twentieth Malankara Metropolitan.and the church have 2 million members.

The title Catholicos of the East during the early Christian era[edit]

Catholicos is the title of the primates of various Apostolic churches traditionally used outside the Byzantine empire. The word "Catholicos" means "Universal".

The Catholicos of the East is the head of the Eastern Syriac Churches. Eastern Syriac Church includes the Assyrian Churches of Persia, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church), and the Jacobite Syrian Church used this title, later used Catholicos of India of the Syriac Orthodox Church had established the Maphrianate / Catholicate in 410. The minutes of the Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (also known as Synod of Mar Isaac), convened in 410 AD under the presidency of Mar Isaac, the Archbishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon disagree with this, saying that it conferred the title "Catholicos" on the Archbishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and made him the head of the bishops of the east.[5]

Catholicos of India (Syriac Orthodox Church)[edit]

The Catholicos / Maphrian of the Syriac Orthodox Church (known locally as Jacobite Syrian Christian Church) holds the title Catholicos of India.[3]

The Catholicos/Maphrian is the title given to the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of the East. After the Maphrianate was reinstated in Malankara in 1964. The jurisdiction of Catholicos was in India of the East, Hence Syriac Orthodox Catholicos of the East was renamed the Catholicos of India in 2002.[3]

The Catholicos / Maphrian ranks second to the patriarch in the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Syriac Orthodox Church.[3] Present Catholicos of India / Maphrian is Baselios Thomas I consecrated by Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Patriarch of Antioch to be head of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.

Catholicos of the East (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church)[edit]

The St Thomas Christians believes that Apostle Thomas founded the Church in India, a tradition strongly held by the Church from ancient times.

Catholicos of the East is the primate of Malankara Church (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church). According to sacred tradition, the Malankara Orthodox Church originated in the missions of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The autocephalous Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan enthroned on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas headed the church, presently Moran Mor Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II. As Catholicos of the East, the Supreme Primate of The Malankara Church consecrates bishops for the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (the Indian Orthodox Church), presides over the synod, declares and implements its decisions, conducts the administration on behalf of the synod, and consecrates the Holy chrism (anointing oil).

As Malankara Metropolitan, he is the head of the Malankara Church, the President of the Malankara Syrian Christian Association and the Managing Committee. The prime jurisdiction regarding the temporal, ecclesiastical, and administration of the Malankara Church is vested in the Malankara Metropolitan subject to the provisions of the Church constitution adopted in 1934.

Autocephaly associated with the Catholicate[edit]

The Catholicate was officially substantiated by the Synod of Markabata in 424AD, presided over by Catholicos Dadyeshu, confirmed the Independence of the Persian church.[6] The Synod proclaimed:

"By the word of God we define: The Easterners cannot complain against the Patriarch to western Patriarchs; that every case that cannot be settled in his presence must await the judgement of Christ...(and) on no grounds whatever one can think or say that the Catholicos of the East can be judged by those who are below him, or by a Patriarch. He himself must be the judge of all those beneath him, and he can be judged only by Christ who has chosen him, elevated him and placed him at the head of his church".

Over time, the relations between the Maphrian and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch became increasingly strained, and at times lead to schisms and interference into the election of both maphrian and patriarch. In 869, the Council of Capharthutha was held to regulate the relationship and resolve the differences between the two positions. The Council agreed that just as the patriarch consecrated the Maphrian, the consecration of a new Patriarch would be reserved to the Maphrian and that both would avoid interfering in the administration of the other. The canons are given below:

  1. The bishops and the monks in the Mar Mathai's Monastery, should submit to and obey the Maphrian whose seat is in Tigris.
  2. The Patriarch should not interfere in the administration of the Church in Tigris, unless when invited. In the same way the maphrian should not interfere in the Patriarchal See.
  3. When the Maphrian is present along with the Patriarch of Antioch he should be seated immediately at the right hand side of the Patriarch. The name of the Maphrian shall be mentioned immediately after that of the Patriarch, in the liturgy; and he should receive the Holy Qurbana after the Patriarch.
  4. When a Maphrian is alive, a Patriarch should not be installed without his concurrence, otherwise, the orientals shall have the right to install the Maphrian by themselves. The question of who should perform the laying on of hands on the new Patriarch — i.e., the Maphrian or the President of the Synod, shall be decided by four bishops, two each elected by the orientals and the westerners (Antiochean) respectively.
  5. The Archdiocese of Kurdu, Beth-Sabdaya and also Najran, provided, the Arabs agree to it, shall vest with Tigris administration.
  6. The mutual excommunications between the orientals and the Antiochans shall be withdrawn.
  7. A final decision was taken about the three bishops consecrated by the Patriarch in the see of the Maphrian.
  8. A bishop excommunicated by the Maphrian shall also be considered as excommunicated by the Patriarch.

According to historian Mar Gregorios Bar Ebraya (Bar Hebraeus), Apostle Thomas is the first in the Apostolic succession of the East.

In 1238 the West Syrians installed Mar Philexnos as Patriarch without Bar Ebraya; when Patriarchal delegates arrived at his monastery with apologies, he refused to receive them. The Church in India and the Church of the East in Persia remained in one faith for many years and maintained ecclesiastical connection. In 431, the Council of Ephesus condemned the teachings of Nestorius, who was the Patriarch of Constantinople. After the Ecumenical council of Ephesus, a significant portion of the Church in Persia adopted Nestorian teachings concerning the nature of Christ.

In 544 Theodosius, the deposed non-Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria, ordained two bishops including Mar Jacob Baradaeus for the expansion of a Syriac Church weakened by Byzantine persecution subsequent to the Council of Chalcedon. In 559, Jacob visited the east and consecrated a Catholicos for Orthodox Christians who accepted the Council of Ephesus and rejected the Council of Chalcedon. Mar Jacob himself was ordained a general bishop by Patriarch Theodosius of Alexandria. It became largely a titular designation for the Syriac Orthodox Church's second highest office until being abolished altogether in a synod of 1860.

This Catholicate, which is in the succession of Apostle Thomas, was re-located to India in 1912 due to the efforts of deposed Patriarch Mor Abdul Masih II, of Antioch and Vattaserill Mar Dionysius, the Malankara Metropolitan.

The Catholicate of the East is autocephalous and is in the legitimate succession of St. Thomas the Apostle.[7] There have been eight Catholicoi in direct succession since establishing the Catholicate of the East in India. The Catholicos has jurisdiction over the dioceses and churches in most parts of India as well as in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa, Persian Gulf nations, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. As of 2015 the Catholicos of the East is Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II.[8]

Later, Syriac Orthodox Church re-established Canonical Maphrian / Catholicos of the East in India for Syriac Orthodox Church in India(Jacobite Syrian Christian Church) known as Catholicos of India.

Unification of 1958 and schism of the 1970s[edit]

The Universal Syrian Orthodox Synod decided to reestablish the Canonical catholicos after the reconciliation movement gathered momentum in the 1950s and culminated in the consecration of Augen I as catholicos by the Episcopal Synod presided over by Patriarch Ignatius Jacob III.[9][3]

In the brief peace and unity of 1958, letters of mutual acceptance were exchanged between the Patriarch and the Catholicos. When the church was unified, all Metropolitans of the Patriarchal group submitted letters of obedience to the Catholicos of the East.[citation needed]

The church later split again in 1975 as Baselios Augen I argued that "The Catholicos is equal to the Patriarch and Malankara Syrian Church have ecclesiastical throne of Thomas the Apostle and that he is seated on that throne" against reunification decisions.[9] The Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Jacob III in his bull numbered 203 claimed that "Thomas the Apostle did not establish any ecclesiastical Apostolic Throne in Malankara". The Catholicos Augen I and a his group(Catholicate Faction) refused to accept this claim. So the Patriarch excommunicated the Catholicos and his group from the Syriac Orthodox Church then the Patriarch of Antioch consecrated Mar Philexinos as Baselios Paulose II Catholicos, this is the second Maphrian / Catholicos of the Syriac Orthodox Church in India (Known as Jacobite Syrian Christian Church).[10]

In 2002 the Supreme Court of India instructed to conduct a session of Malankara Syrian Christian Association (the Parliament of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church) in which representatives from both factions were to participate. The Association was convened at Parumala Seminary, overseen by Supreme Court Justice Maleemat, with the aim of electing a Malankara Metropolitan acceptable to both factions. However, the representatives of the faction supporting the Patriarch's authority (known as Jacobite Syrian Christian Church) was boycotted, who were not happy with its overall conduct.[11] The Association confirmed the legitimacy of Catholicos of the East Baselios MarThoma Mathews II as the Malankara Metropolitan.[12]

Catholicoi after the Schism[edit]

Due to old age, Baselios MarThoma Mathews I abdicated as Catholicos in 1991. Mathews Mar Coorilos (Metropolitan of Quilon), was elected by the Malankara Syrian Christian Association, the modern form of the ancient Malankara Palli-yogam (Church Association), to succeed the Primate. He was enthroned in 1991 as Catholicos of the East Baselios MarThoma Mathews II and led the Church for almost 15 years. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I made an apostolic visit to the Indian Orthodox Church during the incumbency of Mathews II.

Baselios MarThoma Mathews II abdicated in 2005 due to old age and enthroned Thomas Mar Thimotheos (Metropolitan of Malabar Diocese since 1966) as his successor Baselios Marthoma Didymos I. Didymos I reigned for five years as Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan during which period he enthroned fourteen Metropolitan Bishops and consecrated Holy Mooron. After being enthroned, Didymos I visited the Holy Land and exchanged greetings with the Coptic Pope, Shenouda III. During his tenure, the Patriarch of Ethiopia Abune Paulos, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and Aram I Keshishian, Catholicos of Cilicia paid fraternal visits to the Indian Orthodox Church. The Catholicos abdicated in 2010 due to old age and enthroned Paulos Mar Milithios (Metropolitan of Kunnamkulam Diocese since 1985) as his successor Baselios Marthoma Paulose II. Paulose II was a guest of honor at the enthronement of Patriarch of Ethiopia Abune Mathias in Addis Ababa in 2013.[13] During the centenary celebrations of the Catholicate in 2012 the Dalai Lama and former President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam were the chief guests. The Catholicos was invited to pay a fraternal visit to Pope Francis, which took place in 2013;[14][15][16] Paulos II is the third Catholicos of the East to exchange greetings and hold audience with a Pope of Rome.[17] The Pope expressed hopes of cultivating a "culture of encounter" by "overcoming prejudices and closed attitudes which are part of a kind of "culture of clashes" and source of division."[18]

List of Catholicoi of the East[edit]

The Catholicos of the East was the title originally used by the Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, head of the Church of the East. The title is currently held by the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church and Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The following is a list of primates who have held that office.

List of Catholicoi of the East[edit]

List of Catholicoi of the India, Catholicate / Maphrianate of the East[edit]

For the list of Catholicoi of India of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, see Catholicos of India#List of Catholicoi of India

List of Catholicoi of the East and Malankara Metropolitans[edit]

Lineage of Catholicos of the East[edit]

Hereafter the title Catholicos of the East is claimed by both the East Syriac Rite and West Syriac Rite Churches. For the continuation of the Western Syriac lineage see List of Maphrians. For the Eastern Syriac lineage see List of Patriarchs of the Church of the East.

Other Churches employing the title Catholicos[edit]

While the title Patriarch originated in the Churches within the Roman Empire during the 4th and 5th centuries, the title Catholicos emerged in the Churches outside the Roman Empire. By the 5th century A.D., there were five Patriarchates (namely 'Rome', 'Constantinople', 'Alexandria', 'Antioch' and 'Jerusalem') and four Catholicosates (namely 'Catholicos of the East', 'Armenia', 'Georgia' and 'Albania'). At present, besides the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, other autocephalous churches employing the title "Catholicos" for their supreme primate are the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East and Georgian Orthodox Church.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Catholicos
  2. ^ Alexander P. Varghese (2008). History, Religion, Vision and Contribution to the World · Volume 1. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. ISBN 9788126909032.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (1983). The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch At A Glance. Aleppo (January 1, 1983).
  4. ^ "Mulanthuruthy Synod Decisions". www.syriacchristianity.info. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  5. ^ Malankara Sabha Vijnana Kosham (Church encyclopedia); published 1991, Old Seminary
  6. ^ http://www.magazyn.ekumenizm.pl/article.php?story=20040226132441981
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b Alexander P. Varghese (2008), pp. 368.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Supreme Court mandated election fails to resolve dispute of Orthodox Syrian Church". Kerala. 8 April 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ [3]
  16. ^ Reporter, Staff (6 September 2013). "Catholicos calls on Pope at Vatican". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ [4]
  19. ^ a b c "Nestorian Patriarchs". Nestorian.org. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2011.

Sources[edit]