KOCHI: Three priests of the Orthodox faction of the Malankara Church were hurt in fisticuffs at the St. John’s Church at Vadakara, near Koothattukulam, in the early hours of Wednesday. Fr. John V. John, Fr. Joy Kadukukmmakkal and Fr. Mathew Abraham, all belonging to the Orthodox faction, were hurt in the incident and admitted to the Kolencherry Medical College Hospital, said a spokesman for the Orthodox faction here. The Koothattukulam police said that investigation was on and no case had been registered.
Muvattupuzha Revenue Divisional Officer held talks with the Orthodox faction on Wednesday. Talks are expected to continue on Thursday. According to a spokesman for the Jacobite group, the melee occurred after the three priests locked themselves up in the church with a view to preventing the Jacobite priest from celebrating the holy Eucharist at 7.30 a.m.
There are four priests at the church. Three of them owe allegiance to the Orthodox faction and the fourth to the Jacobite group. They take weekly turns to celebrate the Eucharist. It is the turn of the Jacobite priest to celebrate the Eucharist this week. The Jacobite spokesman said that since Fr. K.J. Thomas of the faction was admitted to a hospital, his son, Fr. Paul Thomas, had taken his place for the week. However, the Orthodox group objected to the substitution and allegedly tried to prevent Fr. Paul Thomas from celebrating the Eucharist.
Thomas Mar Athanasius, Metropolitan of the Kandanad East diocese of the Orthodox Church, alleged at a press conference here that three of his priests were badly beaten up by a group comprising a priest and laymen. He claimed that the three priests took refuge in the church after seeing a group of armed men. These armed men broke into the church and beat up the priests. The Metropolitan said that the church belonged to the Orthodox faction and fell under the Kandanad East diocese.
Meanwhile, Catholicos Baselios Thomas I said the Jacobite group would resist any attempt to create law and order problems in churches that belonged to the group. He said in a statement that an attempt was made to prevent a Jacobite priest from celebrating the Eucharist at St. John’s Church, Vadakara. He appealed to the authorities to take note of such incidents and to mete out justice to the Jacobite faction.