Kottayam, 10 December 2018


The meeting of the Joint International Theological Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church was held in the Spirituality Centre, Manganam, Kottayam on Monday 10 December 2018.

The meeting began with the prayer led by His Grace Kuriakose Mar Theophilose, Co-Chair of the Commission. In his words of welcome, His Grace Mar Joseph Powathil reminded the Joint Commission of the role played by it in promoting the very deep understanding between the Churches and the full communion for which we yearn and have promoted through different agreements. The socio-political scenario of Kerala and India challenges us to be more united in our witness to Christian values. “The meeting is of course, a celebration of the communion between the two Churches closely associated and that gives great joy,” he added. The Commission welcomed the new Co-secretary of the meeting, Rev. Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Co-Chair of the Commission introduced Rev. Fr. Hyacinthe and conveyed the greetings of Msgr Gabriel Quicke, former Co–Secretary. He called to mind the great fruits of this dialogue, reminding members that they participate in the mission of Our Lord Christ Jesus. Metropolitan Kuriakose Mar Theophilose, Co-Chair, expressed his gratitude for the years of dialogue, reflecting that we are called to give thanks to the Lord, to be united in praise of Him and to give witness to the world. Our bilateral dialogue is very important since we, both Churches, are very closely associated, theologically, historically, socially and spiritually. Christians are facing various challenges, including secularism, globalization, self-centeredness,  etc. “Together, we have to be witness of Gospel values”, he exhorted. He also shared the great interest of His Holiness Ignatius Mar Aphrem, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, and His Beatitude Catholicos Baselius Mar Thomas I in this meeting of the Joint International Commission.

Rev. Fr. Hyacinthe, Co–Secretary presented the report of the meeting prepared by Msgr Gabriel Quicke and the meeting approved it with minor correction.

In his paper “The Church According to Mor Jacob of Sarug”, Rev. Dr. Jacob Thekkeparampil enumerated deep reflections of the Syriac Father of the Church on St. Peter the Apostle and the Church immediately after the Council of Chalcedon. The types and symbols of the Church in the writings of Jacob of Sarug communicate the rich heritage of the ancient Syrian ecclesiology. The Commission appreciated the reflections and proposed a joint study of the Fathers that may lead to deeper understanding of both the Churches.

            Rev. Dr. Cor-Episcopa Kuriakose Moolayil presented a paper “The Agreement between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite) Church on Inter Church Marriages”. In his assessment of the Pastoral Guidelines he explained the development of the agreements between the Churches from 1971 onwards that eventually led to the agreement on inter–Church marriages. He reflected that the agreement established mutual respect towards the traditions of the Churches, brought Church unity closer, strengthened mutual trust, and acclaimed it as a great landmark. After discussing the reception of the agreements the meeting proposed to prepare joint pastoral guidelines for both Churches. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Moolayil and Rev. Dr. Philip Nelpuraparampil will prepare these guidelines and circulate them to the members of the Commission.

The Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church delegation comprised: His Grace Kuriakose Mar Theophilose (Co-Chair), His Grace Mathews Mar Anthimos, Rev. Dr. Cor-Episcopa Adai Jacob (Co-Secretary), Rev. Dr. Cor-Episcopa Kuriakose Moolayil, Rev. Fr. Dr. Prince Paulose, Rev. Fr. Dr. Aji George and Rev. Fr. Daniel Thattarayil.

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

The next meeting will be held at the Patriarchal Centre at Puthencruz on Monday 9 December 2019. The following issues will be on the agenda.

  • Ecclesiology of the Cappadocian Fathers by Rev. Dr. Augustine Kadeparampil
  • Ecclesiology of Jacob of Sarug by Rev. Dr. Jacob Thekkeparampil
  • Ecclesiologial Reflections of the Fathers in the Present Context by Mathews Mor Anthimos
  • Joint Pastoral Guidelines for Inter–Church Marriages by Rev. Dr. Cor-Episcopa Kuriakose Moolayil and Rev. Dr. Philip Nelpuraparampil