Update on Knanaya Issue in US – Rome’s ‘Visitator’ meets Chicago Team

dr. james kottoor

                Who said there is  absolutely no progress made to resolve the unchristian “Endogamay” issue, also known as pure blood marriages promoted in Kerala’s Kottayam Diocese, and now for few years starting from 2013, also in the Syromalabar Diocese of Chicago, in US?

                Ever so many articles — pro and con on Endogamy — have appeared in these  columns, in Indian Currents, Delhi also by this writer and in many Malayalam publications, especially during the time of two Synods on Family in 2014 and 15. So many letters  and   memorandums were sent to  all concerned bishops, to Synod organizers and even to Pope. The purpose was to get  this grotesque, unchristian family practice in the Church in India, thoroughly discussed  and resolved once and for all.

                But the sad, shameful result was the petitioners never received even a word of reply from the bishops or the Church authorities till a few days ago. Instead all efforts hit the anticlimax with the circular of Bishop Angadiat, dated Sept.19th 2014, which included also the blessing and approval of “His Beatitude” Cardinal Alancherry and Archbishop Moolekat of Kottayam, for promoting the Pure-blood unchristian marriage practice. That letter was published in these colums and thoroughly criticized for its unchristian and untenable stand. It was seen as a clear example of  fence eating the crop or pastors in sheep’s skin turning out to be wolves.  Still the bishops refused to budge or respond.

                So a canonical case was filed in US  and  Civil case in Kerala to get justice done.  Both cases are in progress still. It is at this juncture that glimpses of hope started appearing on the horizon. Finally Rome has appointed a “Visitator” to take note of the complaints of the aggrieved faithful in the Knanaya community. His name is Bishop Michael Mulhall (email: bishop@pembrokediocese.com. On  February 26th he had a meeting with three representatives of the Knanaya  community in Chicago. What follows is the communication from them. Sri  Jose Kallidudckil writes for the team”

                    “A brief summary of what I got from the team. I am writing this email to start a conversation among us on this topic.

               “Mr. Joe M, Mr. Lukose P, and Mr. Tom K met with Bishop Michael Mulhall at 10:00 AM today. His Excellency was very cordial with the team.  His Excellency carefully listened to each of our three representatives experiences in the church and the humiliation they and all such non-endogamous families are facing in the church today. They all spoke about their experiences and talked about the unchristian practices taking place in the Knanaya Catholic church in this country and in Kerala.

                 “They gave examples of all the bishops in this country who have rejected this unchristian ideology. They also talked about Rome's support on our positions on including non-endogamous families in the church. Asked if the bishop needs any information and he said no he has all the past information regarding this matter and no additional information is needed. His responsibility is to study this matter and make a report to Rome and then Rome will be making the final decision regarding the practice in the Knanaya Catholic church. He also is aware that the Knanaya and the non-Knanaya does not have a distinct  physical identify other than their claim.

              “However, he sounded like he does not want to do anything to cease the existence of this community. He also understands that the current practice is unchristian. He also feels that this is not an easy solution and sounded like the decision taken by Bishop Angadiath, Arch Bishop Moolakkatt, and Major Arch Bishop Alancherry is a step closer to a resolution than excluding those that married to non-endogamous. 

             “He asked for suggestions to resolve this issue without destroying the existence of this community. The team said that they are not against endogamy in the Knanaya community but the catholic church should not deny membership to non-endogamous families. Bishop will be having this similar discussions with KCCNA and others before he gives his final report to Rome.” Jose Kalliduckil

Kalayil’s Reaction – Commenting on it Sri. Tom Kalayil, Secretary of the Knanaya  group in Chicago wrote the following:

                   “A very well put  summery. Bishop Mulhall of Pembroke, was very cordial and knows all the history of the knanaya struggle and the history of Kottayam.  He also noted  how does one identify as knanaya to be part of this age old practice? He did not have any answers to  any questions but basically he was gathering all our thoughts to be put   together for finding  a solution to this issue.We gave him a package of our important documents of the past for his review.

                    He was very concerned about the response of our Attorney Mr. Ritty regarding the September 19,2014 letter of Mar Angadiath. We informed his concern regarding the separation of family and ethnic or traditional practice must not have any role in Catholic church. He was very curious regarding the thoughts and participation of the Knanaya American born youth as it is demonstrated in almost all immigrant groups like the Italians, Irish and Germans.

                 Now that we have communicated our thoughts let’s wait for the outcome.  Will Rome make any further changes or will they  let time play down this unchristian practice takes its  own toll? 

If it is proper I feel you may communicate to him; Bishop Michael Mulhall Diocese of Pembroke, P O Box 7. 188 Renfrew St Pembroke , ON K8A 6X1  www.diocesepembroke.ca

Thanks,Tom Kalayil            

               So far so good. It all looks like a Mountain giving birth to a mouse and that after a gestation period of three years. Keeping one on tender hooks and suspense is not Christian, not  Jesus-like. What the Knanaya community wants to hear is clear and forthright Jesus-like answers like: “What God has united, let no man separate.”

               Now that we have the name and address of the “Visitator” I fully endorse the proposal of Kalayil, that all concerned should communicate with Bishop Mulhall, to fill in the gaps in the information he has gathered so far. So let that  let that letter writing exercise start right away.

               On the question of making Syromalabar faithful run from pillar to post in Delhi, between Delhi Latin Diocese and Faridabad, Vatican has come out with a  very satisfactory answer two weeks ago, granting Syromalabar Rite people the right to stick to their own  Rite anywhere and everywhere and demand sacramental services from any Rite. Also they don’t have to run now to Syro-Rite Head quarters to get a “Free state Certificate”. One from the parish – Latin or Syrian – where the marriage partner resides is the right place.

         Let us  hope such clear directions, to the satisfaction of all parties will come soon from Rome. Let class mentality, caste mentality, including superiority inferiority complexes vanish from among Christians. Let the equality of the Church Citizens of the  Kingdome of God alone (Eph.2.19) reign   supreme among all followers of Jesus as exemplified by  Pope Francis who delights in doing the  foot-washing  ministry of the lowly placed every where and all the time.

                                Contact at: jameskottoor@gmail.com


Congratulations Team Knanaya Association of North America (KANA) for your consistent efforts to retain community rights. I remember how much they were ready to suffer for their brethren in trouble. Personally I could see almost all the faces of the fighteres in the forefront. They were fighting from almost all possible fronts. Cases are pending in Kerala and US Courts. This Vatican approach has turned out to be another blow in a series to the crazy Church of Syro – Malabar. The rule of Mar JMAngadiath on endogamy is also going to disappear for ever. Thank God, CCV also could be part of the war for rights. CCV will continue to be UNITING PEOPLE OF GOODWILL FROM AROUND THE WORLD.

Joseph Mattappally – asso. editor, CCV.

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