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Episcopal Election 2010: Alexander Daniel IPS Appointed as the Returning Officer

Mount Horeb Ashram Sasthamkotta, the venue of Malankara Syrian Christian Association 2010 held on February 17

KOTTAYAM: Alexander Daniel IPS, the additional Director General of BSF has been appointed as the returning officer to the Episcopal Election 2010 at Sasthamkotta on February 17, 2010 by the Malankara Metropolitan who is the president of Malankara Association.

Alexander Daniel was the additional director general in the Telecom department in UP on the year 2003 and then the DGP of Uttar Pradesh. He is an IPS officer of UP cadre -1969 batch.

Alexander Daniel IPS hails from Pampurethu family, Kulanada, Pandalam.

Returning Officer is responsible for overseeing election until the result is being published. As the returning officer Alexander Daniel IPS will explain the election procedures to the 4000 plus members of the Malankara Association before the voting begins.

For the last three Association meetings and Elections O.P.Sosamma IAS from Madras was the chief returning officer.

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Episcopal Election 2010 : Flagpole Rally to Sasthamkotta on February 12

SASTHAMKOTTA: The Flagpole Rally to mark the beginning of the Malankara Syrian Christian Association will commence from Thiruvithamkodu Church near Thiruvananthapuram. St. Thomas, the Apostle founded seven and half Churches in India and Thiruvithamkodu Church is famed as the half Church. Metropolitan of the Thiruvananthapuram Diocese, Dr. Gabriel Mar Gregorios, Fr. Baby Thomas and I.C. Cherian will lead the rally. The rally will pass through Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kundara, Kallada to reach Mount Horeb Ashram.

The ceremonial Flag Rally commences from Mattanchery on the same day itself under the auspiciousness of Kochi Diocese. Mattanchery is the place where the Coonan Cross Oath took place. Metropolitan of the Kochi Diocese Dr. Yakob Mar Ireaneios will lead the flag rally.

Association Torch Rally will begin from Parumala Seminary under the auspiciousness of Mavelikara Diocese. Metropolitan of the Mavelikara Diocese Paulose Mar Pachomios and Fr. Abey Philip will lead the torch rally to Sasthamkotta.

The Catholicose Elect Paulose Mar Milithios had installed the Tent Pole for the Malankara Association back on February 2nd.

Sabha Managing Committee will hold a special meeting on February 16 to evaluate the arrangements for the Malankara Syrian Christian Association, which is to be held on February 17 at at Mount Horeb Ashram, Sasthamkotta.

The main agenda of the Malankara Association is to elect 7 priests to the episcopate to fill the vacancies of various dioceses. From among the official panel containing 11 Episcopal Candidates the Malankara Association through voting will find out the new Episcopas.


Episcopal Election Opinions

Episcopal Election 2010: Candidate’s Profiles

Among all ancient Christian churches the Malankara Church is one with a strong democratic footing to elect her leaders.

Malankara Syrian Christian Association consisting more than 4000 members representing the whole Malankara Church is her supreme legislative assembly. Historians, therefore, depict this assembly as the parliament of Malankara.

Malankara Association elects the Malankara Metropolitan, the Catholicose, Priest Trustee, Lay Trustee, Metropolitans and Church Managing Committee members. The constitution of the Malankara Church can be amended or new by-laws can be introduced only through getting them passed in this apex body.

Episcopal election demands, however, at least 50 percent and one vote separately from the clergy and lay members, who are legally entitled to vote and be present at the Association site, to declare a candidate elected.

Members are elected to represent parishes at the Malankara Association. This election at parish level is according to the proportion of families in each parish basing the Supreme Court directives. Representatives from each parish are issued with a certificate of legitimacy (Adhikaara Pathram) on a specified format, which is sent from the Church Secretariat. Attendees then have to produce and submit this certificate of legitimacy validated by the vicars to enter into the Association Site.

Here below is the list of 11 official candidates for the Episcopal election to be held at Sasthamkotta on February 17, 2010.

Click on the names of the candidate to view their profile and photo. (The names are mentioned below according to descending order of age).

1. Fr. Dr. John Mathews (57) (Old Seminary)
2. Dr. Nathaniel Ramban (57) (St.Pauls)
3. Fr. V. M. James (56) (Mt.Horeb Ashram)
4. Thomas Yohannan Elavukattu Ramban (56) (Cathilicate center-Kozhuvaloor)
5. Fr. Zacharia O.I.C (55) (Bethany Ashram)
6. Fr. Mathukkutty (49) (Chengamanadu Ashram)
7. Yoohanon Ramban (47) (Ranni Ashram)
8. Fr. M. K. Kurian (45) (Madras)
9. Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose (43) (Devalokam Aramana)
10. Fr. Dr. George Pulikottil (42) (Nagapur Seminary)
11. Fr. Dr. V. M. Abraham (40) (MGOCSM)

These candidates are filtered out through two levels of screenings from 27 nominations received towards the seven Episcopal vacancies at the beginning of the process. The Church considers this 11 member panel as the official one and wants to elect seven candidates to be consecrated as bishops out of this panel.

Although campaigning is forbidden through an official bull from the Malankara Metropolitan, pamphlets are circulating freely and there exists a fear among the faithful as well as the church administration that this anti-campaigning might considerably reduce the chance of getting seven bishop elects from this official panel.

Observes from Kottayam smell solitary voting and invalid voting being planned at various corners. This will jeopardize the election process and thereby making the results unpredictable. Therefore, IOH also thinks that chance for getting elected can be limited to between three to five candidates at the Sasthamkotta Association.


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Episcopal Election 2010: The Tribunal has been Appointed

KOTTAYAM: A “Tribunal” has been appointed by the Catholicose and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Marthoma Didymos I in connection with the Episcopal Election 2010, to deal with the complaints related to the election.

Catholicos Elect Paulose Mar Milithios will be the chair person to the ‘Tribunal’. Fr. K. A. Abraham, K. T. Chacko I.A.S, Adv. P. G. Jacob and Adv. K. K. Thomas will be the other jury members of the ‘Tribunal’

Complaints from parish level regarding the representation in Malankara Association, or other related issues to be set right before the election will be handled by the ‘Tribunal’ and their verdict will be considered final. The Tribunal room is set up at Devalokam Aramana and will be in force until the election is over.

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Episcopal Election 2010: Eleven Candidates to Malankara Syrian Christian Association

KOTTAYAM: Sabha Managing Committee held at Kottayam Old Seminary today finalized the official panel of the Episcopal candidates for the 2010 election.

The Committee began at 11.30 am and presided by the Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Didymos I. After completing the regular business affairs, at 12.15pm voting was conducted to select 11 candidates from the 14 names submitted by the screening Committee. Fr. Dr. O. Thomas, Dr. George Varghese and Adv. Biju Oommen Muringasseril represented the Sabha managing Committee in the Screening Committee.

Rtd. Justice John Mathews was appointed by the Catholicos as the Chief election officer to conduct the election in the managing Committee.

After the lunch break the counting was started. Finally at 4.40pm the names of the first 11 candidates with highest votes were declared as the official candidates of the Church.

Candidates declared as the official panel of the Church were as follows.

1. Fr. Dr. George Pulikottil
2. Fr. V. M. James
3. Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Ramban
4. Rev. Thomas Yohannan Elavukattu Ramban
5. Fr. Zacharia O.I.C
6. Fr. Mathukkutty Chengamanadu
7. Rev. Yoohanon Ramban
8. Fr. M. K. Kurian
9. Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose
10. Fr. Dr. John Mathews
11. Fr. Dr. V. M. Abraham

Trikkunnathu Seminary issue was also discussed in detail at the Sabha meeting.

Catholicos Elect Paulose Mar Milithios, Metropolitans Thomas Mar Athanasius, Dr. Mathews Mar Severios, Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, Dr. Thomas Mar Athanasius, Yuhanon Mar Milithios, Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Paulose Mar Pachomios, Kuriakose Mar Clemmis, Dr. Gabriel mar Gregorios, Mar Anthonios, Dr. Yuhanon Mar Chrysostomos, Yuhanon Mar Polycarpos, Mathews Mar Theodosius and Abraham Mar Epiphanios attended the Sabha Managing Committee.

Sabha Secretary Dr. George Joseph, Priest Trustee Fr. Dr. Johns Abraham Konatt and lay Trustee M. G. George Muthoot gave leadership to the proceedings of the Managing Committee.

Other than the Metropolitans, 85% of the 129 elected and 30 nominated members of the Sabha managing Committee were present in the Managing Committee

Episcopal Election

Episcopal Election 2010: Post Your Opinion and Participate in the Exit Polls

“The election process is governed by the criteria and code of conduct approved by us and which has subsequently come into effect.

As per this code of conduct, campaigning, overtly or covertly, by any candidate is sufficient reason for the disqualification of his candidature.

Through this Kalpana we inform you that we have appointed a Monitoring Committee with H. B Paulose Mar Milithios, the Catholicos Designate as Chairman to observe such activities and report to the Holy Episcopal Synod.

In case any Episcopal candidate who has submitted his nomination engages in any sort of campaigning directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, the matter should be reported to the Chairman of the Monitoring Committee in writing with the name and address of the person reporting.” (Kalpana No. 482/2009 dtd November 24, 2009 from the Catholicos)

While reading this (the Kalpana does not define the implementation dates -when to when)

1. Many think that this Kalpana is not in force after the screening committee published the list of 14 candidates as instructed.

2. If the Kalpana is still in force, many wonder then what the meaning of the word “Election” is.

3. Some may think that it is a kind of Episcopal activism, sidelining the authority of Managing committee and the Malankara Association. Ultimately the very democratic nature of the church and its administration will be overturned. A kind of constitutional lapse.

Article 64 of the Church constitution says ” The Catholicos in consultation with the Malankara Association Managing Committee and according to the recommendation of the Malankara Episcopal Synod allocate Dioceses to the Metropolitans”

On the contrary, the official website of the Church says “The bishops rule the diocese assigned to them by the synod”. Is this a deliberate move to sideline the authority of Sabha managing Committee? Is the church itself violate the constitution?

What do you think on this? Post your opinions here and participate in the exit polls on this page and check back every day for new polls.

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Malankara Syrian Christian Association: History

Pampakuda Association -2008
Pampakuda Association -2008

The Mulamthuruthy synod summoned by the patriarch peter III in 1876, resolved to have an elected body called the Malankara Syrian Christian Association to manage and control all the religious and social concerns of the Malankara church.

The constitution of 1943 has clearly defined the composition and representation of the association. In article 71: a priest and two laymen elected by each parish general body and the members of the existing managing committee shall be members of the association. This was later amended in time with Supreme Court directive. Now the representation of the lay people is based on the number of parishioner

The Malankara Metropolitan is the president and the Metropolitans with administrative charge of Diocese shall be vice-presidents of the Malankara Association.

The Malankara Syrian Christian Association is the parliament of the church where it elects the members of the Sabha Managing Committee, Episcopas, Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan for the Church.

Pre-Mulamthuruthy Meetings

1. 1653 at Alangad elected Ach deacon Thomas as designated Metropolitan. This meeting also had set up an advisory council of four members.

2. 1836 at Mavelikara on January 16 at St. Mary’s Church. This meeting was presided by the Malankara Metropolitan Cheppad Mar Dionysius. This meeting rejected Bishop Wilson’s proposals and decided to sever connections with CMS. The decision is know as Mavelikara Padiyola.

3. 1843 at Kandanad. Presided by Mathews Mar Athanasius. Appraised the appointment of Mar Athanasius by the Patriarch.

4.1869 presided by Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V. Elected Punnathra Chacko Chandappillai Kathanar as Priest-Trustee and Kulangara Ittychan Piley as lay-Trustee

Mulamthuruthy Synod and after

1.1876 (1051 Midhunam 15-17) at Mulamthuruthy and presided by Patriarch Peter III. This meeting constituted a Church Managing Committee with 8 clergy and 16 laity. Decreed 18 Canons and established Malankara Syrian Christian Association.

2. 1886 (1062 Chingam 31) at Old Seminary Kottayam. Presided by Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V. Elected Konat Korah Yohannan Kathanar as Priest Trustee and Kunnumpurathu Kora Ulahannan as lay Trustee

3.1892 (March 30 – 1067 Meenam 19) at Old Seminary, Kottayam. Presided by Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V. Elected Konat Kora Mathan Malpan as Priest Trustee.

4. 1895 (November 21 – 1071 Vruchikam 7) at Old Seminary, Kottayam. Presided by Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V. Re-elected Konat Kora Mathan Malpan as Priest Trustee.

5. 1901 (April 24 – 1076 Medam 12) at Old Seminary, Kottayam. Presided by Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V. Elected Kunnumpurath Ulahannan Kora (C.J.Kurien) as Lay Trustee)

6.1908 (February 27 – Kumbaham 15) at Old Seminary, Kottayam. Presided by Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V. Re-elected Kunnumpurath Ulahannan Kora (C.J.Kurien) as Lay Trustee) Elected Vattasseril Geevarghese Kathanar to episcopate. Designated  Vattasseril Geevarghese Kathanar as Malankara Metropolitan, succeeding Pulikkottil Joseph mar Dionysius

7. 1911 September 7 at M.D.Seminary, Kottayam presided by Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius. Elected Palappallil Paulose Kathanar as Priest Trustee and Chirakadavil Kora Kochu Korula as Lay Trustee. Elected 4 Metropolitans. 1. Kochuparambil Paulose Ramban. 2. Vakathanam Geevarghese Ramban. 3. Kallacheril Punnose Ramban. 4. Pampady Kuriakose Ramban

8.  1925 On May 1 at Niranam St. Mary’s Church, presided by Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius Elected Vakathanam Geevarghese Mar Philexinos as Catholicos Elect.

9.  1930 On September 4 at Old Seminary, Kottayam presided by Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius Elected 5 priests and one lay man to episcopate. 1) K.T.Geevarghese Ramban Kizhakkethalackal, Puthencavu. 2) Valakkuzhiyil Ouseph Kathanar, Mallappally. 3) Paret Mathews kathanar, Puthuppally. 4) Fr. Alexios of Bethany, Ranny Perunadu. 5) Cheriya Madhathil Scaria Malpan 6) K.C. Chacko. Also Elected 33 members to Sabha Managing Committee. Elected more members to the constitution committee. Decided to submit the draft of the constitution within one year. Appointed a committee to draft the constitution with O. M. Cherian as the convener.

10.  1931 On July 10 at M. D. Seminary, Kottayam presided by Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius Elected Erikat E. I. Joseph as the lay Trustee and decided to establish a Theological College.

11.  1934 on December 26 at M. D.Seminary, Kottayam presided by Catholicos Geevarghese II. Elected K. M. Mathen Mappilla as Secretary. Decided the office of the Malankara Metropolitan to be vested in the Catholicos. Adopted the Constitution. Introduced the Catholicate Fund.

Episcopal Election Opinions

Episcopal Election : Norms Vulnerable to Manipulations

Of course with good intention that the new rule and regulations and procedure were adopted by the church for the episcopal election. But when the process is seen, it seems to be manipulated by the people with vested interests to eliminate the deserving candidates on personal grudge. The church loving people watching all these games all over the world can not sit as silent spectators. This is the second experiment just completed with the new selection system. The experiments have proved beyond doubt that the system is not fool proof. Last time the church leadership has already admitted that there had been lapses. It is time to look back and identify the faulty area to rectify them.

Norms and loopholes
In the norms published, the term referring- ‘confidential report’ and ‘medical exam’ are the two clauses which are vulnerable to manipulations, the weapons which can be used to hack down outstanding candidates if it happens to go in wrong hands. There should be a lie detecting system with the monitoring committee to test the reporter and the candidate if any candidate complaint to this effect. If a judge can be bribed as we hear now a days and a doctor can make false postmortem reports at the instance of highly influential people the medical exam reports may not necessarily be genuine.

But what more medical fitness needed for a bishop than a priest. It is meaningless without follow up medical exam for all bishops at least every five years and relieves them from the diocesan charges if they found unfit. They are not going to participate in march past, or fly an aircraft. Of course they fly all over the world for collection, which should be discouraged-with no doubt. The main duty of a bishop should be looking after the diocese, priests, people and parishes under him. All charitable activities should be entrusted to the priests. All donations for the charity should be routed to the mission board of the church under a bishop with independent charge to run the charitable institutions of the church. But people should not hesitate to support the bishops in charge of backward dioceses who deserve help abundantly.

One new suggestion for the election norm is that there should not be limitation for the number of candidates and the screening committee should not be allowed to select the candidates using ballot system which curtail the democratic right of the association members to elect their bishops. Even the managing committee also should not act as judges of the next elimination round. For example it is said that there were 18 eligible candidates and the screening committee members used their votes to find 14 candidates. They should have forwarded the list of all the 18 candidates to the managing committee for approval as official candidates to be elected by the association. In case more number of candidates won the majority of votes than the required number of bishops the remaining candidates from the list prepared on the basis of votes could have been kept as candidates in the waiting list for next time.

Keep the faith and principle
There is a request to the candidates who could not make it through this time not to get frustrated and act like those bishop candidates who were in fray some time back, out of which one defected to the opposition party like in politics and the other is fighting with the church like using his pen. One should keep the faith and principle in tact.

Mr.Thomas Kuttikandathil, Houston,Texas,USA is one of the Trustee members of IOH.

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Episcopal Election 2010: Screening Committee’s Proposal Published Today

KOTTAYAM: As announced earlier, on December 30, 2009 at 5pm, the list of the eligible candidates selected by the Screening Committee for the Episcopal election 2010 has been officially published at Catholicate office, Kottayam.

This proposal will be submitted before the Sabha Managing Committee to be held on January 22, 2010. The Managing Committee will further shortlist 11 candidates out of 14 who will then be presented to the Association to be held on February 17, 2010. Three of the candidates will get eliminated in the Managing Committee election process.

Official list presented by the Screening Committee

1. Fr. Dr. John Mathews
2. Fr. O. P. Varghese
3. Fr. V. M. James
4. Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Ramban
5. Rev. Thomas Yohannan Elavukattu Ramban
6. Fr. Zacharia O.I.C
7. Rev. Geevarghese Ramban
8. Fr. Mathukkutty Chengamanadu
9. Rev. Yoohanon Ramban
10. Fr. M. K. Kurian
11. Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose
12. Fr. Dr. George Pulikottil
13. Fr. Dr. P. C.Thomas
14. Fr. Dr. V. M. Abraham

Members served on the Screening Committee were Fr. O. Thomas, Adv. Biju Oommen Muringasseril, George Varghese-Delhi (Managing Committee nominees) Metropolitans Thomas Mar Athanasius – Chengannoor Diocese, Dr. Thomas Mar Athanasius – Kandanadu Diocese and Dr. Mathews Mar Severios Secretary, Holy Episcopal Synod ( Synod nominees ), Fr. T. J. Joshua – Orthodox Seminary, Kottayam, Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip – Nagpur (Nominees by the Malankara Metropolitan), Fr. Dr. Johns Abraham Konattu – Priests Trustee, M. G. George Muthoot (Lay Trustee) and Dr. George Joseph – Association Secretary (Ex-officio).

An election supplement will be released shortly by IOH with daily updates. Research articles, observations and opinions are invited from the readers. Articles can be send through the -Send Your News And Articles- link on the top of the IOH home page. Senders photo and related photos are also welcome – Editor

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Episcopal Election 2010: 14 Candidates Shortlisted by the Screening Committee

KOTTAYAM: The screening committee has reviewed all the candidates in their final sitting on December 28 and finally shortlisted 14 candidates as decided earlier. The official list of the 14 candidates will be published on December 30, 2009. This list will then be forwarded to the Church Managing Committee that is scheduled to meet on January 22, 2010. The Managing Committee will further shortlist 11 candidates out of 14 who will then be presented to the Association to be held on February 17, 2010. Three of the candidates will get eliminated in the Managing Committee election process.

An unofficial list of candidates was received in our office today from Kottayam. They contain 14 names and most likely the same will be published from the Catholicate Office this Wednesday as the final official list of the Screening committee.(The names are mentioned below according to descending order of age).

1. Fr. Dr. John Mathews
2. Fr. O. P. Varghese
3. Fr. V. M. James
4. Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Ramban
5. Rev. Thomas Yohannan Elavukattu Ramban
6. Fr. Zacharia O.I.C
7. Rev. Geevarghese Ramban
8. Fr. Mathukkutty Chengamanadu
9. Rev. Yoohanon Ramban
10. Fr. M. K. Kurian
11. Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose
12. Fr. Dr. George Pulikottil
13. Fr. Dr. P. C.Thomas
14. Fr. Dr. V. M. Abraham

Few Church loving people from Kottayam who were closely watching the screening process told IOH that, “the exclusion of Fr. Dr. M. O. John (the Chief Editor of Malankara Deepam and a Professor of Church history in UTC, Bangalore) from the list was a political move from the Metropolitans and some of the nominated priests on the Screening Committee.” Many expressed their regrets for not seeing Rev. M. S. Yuhanon Ramban’s name on the list. Both of them were considered outstanding candidates for the 2010 Episcopal election.

The names of the final 11 candidates will be announced as the official panel of the Church for a secret ballot to elect 7 Bishops for the Malankara Orthodox Church on the 22 January, 2010 at Sasthamkotta. 4000 plus members of the Malankara Syrian Christian Association eagerly await the out come of the Church Managing Committee and will then decide who to vote for.

Many observers think that there is little possibility of getting 7 bishops in the 2010 election. One of them told IOH that, “4 or maximum 5 candidates has the chance to win in the association elections.”

Readers are welcomed to leave their thoughts and reflections below by posting comment on this topic_ Editor