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The Role of the Petrine Ministry in the Ecumenical Relationship between the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Catholic Church

Pater Biju Mathew

This work deals with the role of the Petrine ministry in the ecumenical relationship between the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Catholic Church. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church traces her origin to the Church of St Thomas Christians, founded by St Thomas, the Apostle who reached the south Indian state of Kerala in 52 AD. The book explores the Ecclesiologies of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the St Thomas Christians of India and the Catholic Church from a dogmatic-juridical-historical perspective. The author tries to mediate between the two Churches in order to support them in the reviewing process of their history and Ecclesiology and re-establishing the unity for which Jesus Christ prayed: «Holy father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one» (Jn 17, 11). The author in his role as mediator makes a few suggestions for solving the problems related to the concept of the Petrine ministry on a universal level in the light of the Communion Ecclesiology of Vatican II, the studies of the various unofficial ecumenical dialogue commissions and the analysis of the experience of the Syro Malabar Church, one of the 22 sui iuris Churches in the Catholic Church.
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In the Hymn Onitha d’Mawtwa in Lelya in the Liturgy of Hours of the East Syriac Tradition on Sunday, the Church is praised as follows:

“Lord, save the Church, the symbol of eternal life, Wherein reign peace, beauty and Father’s glory, Perfect is the place wherein the Holy Trinity dwells, With the choirs of angels, bless the Church with shouts of joy, The mankind takes shelter as their beloved mother With the message of the cross this holy abode is ever rich”.

This image of the Church which has been tarnished through centuries-long rivalries, splits and schisms as well as the disunity among the Christian Churches, in spite of the endlessly continuing process of ecumenical dialogue motivated me to embark upon a long journey through the annals of ecclesiastical history in order to contribute to the re-establishment of the glorious image of the Church on earth. The doctoral work I was assigned to, was a long journey for me: a real pilgrim journey through the annals of history, vast arenas of divergent theologies, conflicting ecclesiological and canonical viewpoints, and most often through the desert of endless sand dunes, searching for truth in the midst of conflicting ideas and views. Such an academic voyage is difficult, painful and strenuous for a seeker of truth. I fervently prayed to God, Almighty, to grant me the wisdom to distinguish things objectively and impartially.

I could not have finished this immense work without the selfless help...

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