11-12 December 2018


The Joint Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church held its meeting at the Spirituality Centre, Manganam, Kottayam, on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 December 2018.

            His Grace Bishop Brian Farrell commenced the meeting with prayers and with the acknowledgement of the letter from His Holiness the Catholicos on the importance of continuing the dialogue. Bishop Farrell announced that His Eminence Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Demetrios will be the new Co-Chair on the MOSC side. Bishop Farrell then gave an update on the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the past year, especially highlighting the work carried out jointly with the Lutheran Church. He particularly highlighted the principle guiding this dialogue: that even though history cannot be changed one can certainly rethink the way one remembers the past. Bishop Farrell subsequently provided an update on the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern and Oriental family of Orthodox Churches.

            Metropolitan Demetrios was not able to be present at the opening session. Metropolitan Yakub Mar Irenaios replaced him in his absence. Mar Irenaios in his opening remarks appreciated the courageous and willing journey carried out by the Catholic Church in stretching out its hands in dialogues. He further updated on the Kerala floods of August 2018 and on how the Christian Churches in Kerala stood together in participating in the relief and rehabilitation of the affected. Mar Irenaios also mentioned on how seriously the Orthodox Church in India is looking forward to the visit of His Holiness the Pope to the UAE in February 2019. Mar Irenaios welcomed Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle, the new Co–Secretary of the Joint Commission. He also thankfully acknowledged the prior contribution of Metropolitan Gabriel Mar Gregorios as Co–Chair and Msgr Gabriel Quicke as Co–Secretary. Mar Irenaios welcomed Fr. Filix Yuhanon of MOSC as the new member of the Joint Commission. Bishop Farrell also acknowledged the contributions of Mar Gregorios and Msgr Gabriel Quicke. The opening remarks were followed by a self–introduction of Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle, who has worked for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for the past five years. Welcoming the new members of the Commission, Archbishop Powathil also expressed his encouragement to the Joint Commission.

            The Report of the Meeting of the Joint Commission in 2017 was read and passed. As planned in the Report of the 2017 meeting, the Commission discussed updates on various practical projects.

            Progress on the Source Book on Ecclesiastical History was presented by Fr. Dr. Xavier Koodapuzha and Fr. Dr. Jose John. The project aims at the documentation of all available data on Indian Christianity until the 17th century.

            Advancement on the Common Patristic Readings for 365 Days was presented by His Grace Dr. Thomas Mar Koorilos and Fr. Dr. Koshy Vaidyan. Progress on the "Website Creation" was presented by Fr. Abraham Thomas.

            “Proposals for pastoral cooperation by meaningful ecumenical interventions” were proposed by Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt and Metropolitan Yakub Mar Irenaios.

            Papers on the theme of the Fullness of Communion and Degrees of Communion were presented by Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Dioscoros and Revd Dr Mathew Vellanickal, and on Participation of the Faithful in the Life of the Church by Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt and Father Dr Reji Mathew.

Main Decisions

The Joint Commission should explore the possibility of publishing a circular in ecumenical perspective for chaplains in hospitals and educational institutions. Possibilities should also be explored in setting up ecumenical counselling centres. Initiatives should be made in organizing meetings of chaplains and counsellors of both the Churches. The possibility of establishing ecumenical guidance centres for the youth was also recommended. Media trained clergy of both the Churches should be encouraged to co-produce short films with themes of social interest. The possibility of presentations from the laity of both the Churches in the meetings of the Joint Commission should be encouraged. The youth ministers of both the Churches should have platforms to meet and share experiences. It was also recommended to explore the possibility of publishing biblical texts, starting with selected Gospel excerpts, for the use of ecumenical gatherings. For the recommendations on practical implementations of all these points the Joint Commission has formed a Sub-Committee constituting His Grace Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, His Grace Yakob Mar Irenaios, Fr. Philip Nelpuraparampil and Fr. Abraham Thomas. This Sub-Committee will formulate an Agenda and road map for future meetings.

Proposals for the Next Meeting

The meeting will be hosted by the MOSC preferably at Parumala on 10-11 December 2019.

  • Proposals for having an Agreement on Marriage should be presented from both the Catholic and Malankara Orthodox sides. The proposal from the Catholic side will be prepared by His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakatt, His Grace Thomas Mar Koorilos, His Excellency Selvister Ponnumuthan and Fr. Philip Nelpuraparambil, while the Malankara Orthodox proposal will be prepared by His Grace Yuhanon Mar Dioscoros, Fr. Johns Abraham Konat, Fr. O. Thomas and Fr. Abraham Thomas.
  • One paper from each side on ‘Koinonia’ to reflect on whether it is ontological or canonical will be presented by Fr. Augustine Kadeparambil and Fr. Reji Mathew.
  • His Grace Thomas Mar Koorilos and Fr. Koshy Vaidyan will continue to work on the text of readings of Patristic Texts for 365 days. His Grace Yakub Mar Irenaios will write a brief prayer for each day. Fr. Xavier Koodapuzha and Fr. Jose John will continue to work on the source book for Ecclesiastical History.

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church delegation comprised: His Grace Metropolitan Dr Yuhanon Mar Demetrios (Co-Chair), His Grace Dr Yakob Mar Irenaios, His Grace Dr Youhanon Mar Dioscoros, Father Dr Baby Varghese, Father Dr. Johns Abraham Konat, Father Dr. T.I. Varghese, Father Dr O. Thomas, Father Dr Reji Mathew, Father Dr Jose John, Father Dr Koshy Vaidyan, Fr. Dr. Filix Yohannon and Father Abraham Thomas (Co-Secretary).

The Catholic Church was represented by Bishop Brian Farrell (Co-Chair), His Grace Mar Joseph Powathil, His Grace Mar Mathew Moolakatt, His Grace Thomas Mar Koorilos, His Excellency Bishop Dr Selvister Ponnumuthan, His Grace Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, Revd Dr Mathew Vellanickal, Rev. Dr Xavier Koodapuzha, Rev. Dr Jacob Thekkeparampil, Revd Dr Augustine Kadeparambil, Rev. Dr Philip Nelpuraparampil and Rev. Father Hyacinthe Destivelle (Co-Secretary).