Saturday, June 9, 2012

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with more than one billion members.[1] Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ,[2] administering the sacraments[3] and exercisingcharity.[4]
The Catholic Church is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation.[5] It teaches that it is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ,[6][7] that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles and that the Pope is the sole successor to Saint Peter.[8][note 1][9][note 2][note 3]
Catholic doctrine maintains that the Church is infalliblewhen it dogmatically teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.[10][11][12][note 4] Catholic worship is centred on theEucharist in which the Church teaches that bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.
The Church holds the Blessed Virgin Mary in special regard. Catholic beliefs concerning Mary include herImmaculate Conception without original sin, her status asMother of God [13] and her bodily Assumption into Heavenat the end of her earthly life.[14][note 5]
Painting a haloed Jesus Christ passing keys to a kneeling man.
The Church holds that Christ instituted the papacy, upon giving the keys of Heaven toSaint Peter. Represented in a painting byPietro Perugino

The church is headed by the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-AngamalyMar George Cardinal Alencherry.Saint Alphonsa is the first saint from within the Church. The members of the Church are locally known asNasranis.The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an East Syrian RiteMajor Archiepiscopal Church in full communion with the Catholic Church. It is one of the 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic Church. It is the largest of the Saint Thomas Christian denominations with around 3.8 million believers.[1] It is also the second largestEastern Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome.[2]

Origin of St. Thomas Christians

It is believed that St. Thomas the Apostle landed at Kodungalloor (Muziris), Thrissur district in 52 A.D. St. Thomas is said to have preached and established Christian communities in different parts of India and he died at Mylapur in 72 A.D.[3] It is also believed tha

A protest took place in 1653 with the Coonan Cross Oath. Under the leadership of Archdeacon Thomas, the Thomas Christians publicly took an oath that they would not obey the Jesuit bishops.[17]t St. Thomas founded seven churches or communities inKerala; at KodungalloorNiranamKollamChayal, Kottakkavu, Kokkamangalam and Palayoor.[4]Divisions among Saint Thomas Christians

East Syrian relationship

From early centuries the Church of St. Thomas Christians came into communication with the Christian communities that came to be known as the Church of the East.[5] This relationship made the St. Thomas Christians share the liturgical, spiritual and other ecclesiastical traditions with the Church of the East (therefore they are classified as being of the East Syrian Rite). The Christians of St. Thomas kept their distinctive character especially in Church administration and socio-cultural and ascetic- spiritual life.[6] At least from the 4th century until the end of the 16th century the Bishops of the Church of Malabar were sent from the East Syrian Church [7], appointed by the Patriarch of the Church of the East.[8] While the bishops originally hailing from Persia who arrived here were placed in charge of liturgy[citation needed], the administration of the church remained under the control of the local Archdeacon, who was also the head of the local community.[6]
The bishops who came from the East Syrian Church, were concerned with spiritual matters. Essentially, the Thomas Christians followed three distinct ways of activity in their religious sphere: their liturgy was of the East Syrian Rite:their culture was purely Indian:they had their own style of life. The governance of the Church was through Palliyogam, Synod, etc. as was prevalent in Oriental Churches.[9]
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Thrissur was the first Catholic diocese of India, formed through a special proclamation of the then Pope Leo XIII in May 1887.[10] The Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut on 20 May 1498.[11] When he and the Portuguese missionaries arrived they found no Christians in the country except in Malabar. The Christians they found were St. Thomas Christians. The Christians were friendly to Portuguese missionaries at first; there was an exchange of gifts between them, and these groups were delighted at their common faith.[12]
Later, due to certain differences, mainly in the liturgy, the relations between them became more and more strained. Under the Padroado (patronage) agreement with the Holy See the Portuguese missionaries started to interfere and things took a turn for the worse. They suspected the Indian Christians of heresy and schism and wanted to introduce the Latin customs and Latin manner of ecclesiastical administration, severing the East Syrian connection.[13]

Arrival of Portuguese in Malabar

The Portuguese began a Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) diocese in Goa (1534) and another at Cochin (1558) in the hope of bringing the St. Thomas Christians under real Catholic jurisdiction. At that time, the so-called Kerala Church was under the jurisdiction of heretic seats, (Nestorians, which was unanimously condemned by Universal Church council) mainly from Persia.[14] In a Goan Synod held in 1585, it was decided to introduce the Latin liturgy and practices among the Thomas Christians. In the Synod of Diamper of 1599, the Portuguese Archbishop, Don Alexis Menezes succeeded in appointing a Latin bishop to govern the St. Thomas Christians. The Portuguese padroado (patronage) was extended over them.[15] The strife between the Portuguese missionaries and the indigenous Christians and their Mesopotamian prelates was of anecclesiological and jurisdictional character.[16] Attempts to resist the Latinization process were branded as heretical. Under their Archdeacon, the Thomas Christians resisted, and, consequently, the once united Church in full communion with the East Syrian Patriarch ended up in various denominations.[15]

Divisions among Saint Thomas Christians

A protest took place in 1653 with the Coonan Cross Oath. Under the leadership of Archdeacon Thomas, the Thomas Christians publicly took an oath that they would not obey the Jesuit bishops.[17]
Rome sent Carmelites in two groups from thePropagation of the Faith to Malabar headed by Fr. Sebastiani and Fr. Hyacinth. Fr. Sebastiani arrived first in 1655. He began to deal directly with the Archdeacon, Mar Thomas I. Fr. Sebastiani gained the support of many, especially with the support of Alexander Parampil, Alexandar Kadavil and the Vicar of Muttam. These were the three councilors of Mar Thomas I, who were reconciled with Gracia (SJ)[who?]before the arrival of Sebastaini, according to Jesuit reports.[17]
Between 1661 and 1662, out of the 116 churches, the Carmelites reclaimed eighty-four churches, leaving Archdeacon Mar Thomas I with thirty-two churches. The eighty-four churches and their congregations were the body from which the Syro Malabar Church has descended. The other thirty-two churches and their congregations represented the nucleus from which the Syriac Orthodox (Jacobites & Orthodox), Thozhiyur, Mar Thoma (Reformed Syrians), Syro Malankara Catholics have originated.[18]
In 1665 Mar Gregorios, a Bishop sent by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, arrived in India. The dissident group under the leadership of the Archdeacon welcomed him.[19] Though most of the St. Thomas Christians gradually relented in their strong opposition to the Western control, the arrival of the Bishop Mar Gregory of the Syriac Orthodox Church in 1665 marked the beginning of a formal schism among the St. Thomas Christians. Those who accepted the West Syrian theological and liturgical tradition of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch of Mar Gregory became known as the Jacobite, The Catholics remained in communion with Rome and later came to be known as the Syro Malabar Church.[19]

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