Sunday, February 21, 2016

Speech by St. Dionysius Vattasseril - Conscience and Peace

Conscience and Peace

Vattasseril Thirumeni with Puthencavil Kochu Thirumeni (Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos)

Below is an excerpt from Vattasseril Thirumeni's speech when the Church was in the midst of trials and tribulations and its autocephaly was in danger. Here Thirumeni is admonishing the faithful that one should not act against his conscience and faith to attain peace, as that will only be short lived.  
Source of the speech: "Malankara Sabha Pithakkanmar" by Dr. Samuel Chandanappally.

O Blessed in the Lord,

The children of our Church are tearfully praying to God for peace in the Church due to the troubles that have happened in the Church during the past 14 years. However, if anyone thinks, ‘let peace be attained in whatever manner,’ then that is not the path for ‘true peace’. Peace should be based on truth and justice. Nobody should think that peace should be attained by compromising one’s beliefs.

You know our Alvares Methrachen (Metropolitan). It is only a few months since he passed away. He died when he was very old, 90 years or so. He was steadfast in his faith. Towards the end of his life, he lived in the city of Goa. There was no one from the Orthodox faith in that town. Most of the people who lived near him were Roman Catholics, but he did have some Hindus and high ranking officers as his friends. He told these friends before his death, “When I am on my deathbed, some Roman Catholic priests may come and advise me to renounce my faith. Due to fatigue or so I may move or veer my head. Having seen that, they will proclaim that I have accepted what they said. To ensure such things will not happen, I am saying the following with you as witness: I will never renounce my faith, even on my deathbed. If anyone says that I have renounced my faith, then you are witness to the fact that it is not true.”

You must understand how firm his faith was. No one should give up give up his faith, or act against his conscience. Be it anyone, even a Patriarch or a Metropolitan, no one can do that. Our Lord came to reconcile the world with God the Father. However, when He was seized by the Sadducees and the Pharisees, He could have done whatever they demanded, for the sake of peace, but He did not. If He had done so, it would not have been possible to obtain the greater peace that was to come i.e., the reconciliation of God the Father with the world. Hence, the Lord decided to bear all torments for that greater peace. If anyone says there can be peace only if everyone does what he says, then that is pride. However, it is commendable, after properly comprehending truth and faith, if one stands steadfast and firm in them without compromise.

If one closes the door for true peace by saying there are court verdicts, this way and that way, against the faith of the Church, then that is not in concordance with God’s will. How can there be peace with one who says that the issues will be resolved only if the 18 akkam (numbered) canon[1] is accepted. You all know that the 18 akkam canon is a false canon. If one insists that there can be peace only if the 18 akkam canon is accepted, then that is not the right path for establishing peace. Such a peace will not last. 

Our young methrachans’ (metropolitans’) ordinations are valid. No other Church will deny that. If people say that their ordinations are not valid, that they do not have the gifts of the Spirit, or that the person who ordained them does not have the gifts of the Spirit or priesthood; if they say that there will be peace only if a registered deed[2] is given and that there are court verdicts supporting this stance, then that is not acceptable to us. These things are contrary to the foundation and beliefs of the Church. Beloved, for these reasons, 'we' are not foreseeing the path for peace. However, there is nothing impossible for God. May God show us the path for peace. Pray for that with tears. May the grace and blessings of God increase in you all! Amen.

[1] 18 akkam (numbered) canon – The Hudaya canon produced in the Kottayam District Court by Patriarchal faction for the vattipanam (the interest money) suit was numbered as Exhibit 18 by the court. This canon was rejected by the District Court as it was found to be forged. The Hudaya canon produced by the Orthodox Church (Exhibit A) was accepted by the District Court and the said order was upheld by the Travancore High Court.
[2] Patriarch Abdulla II (1911) issued excommunication bull to Vattasseril Thirumeni for refusing to sign a registered deed, essentially giving up the independence of Malankara Orthodox Church. The excommunication was declared invalid by Patriarch Abdul Mesiha, the District Court and the Travancore High Court.