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Tradition and Heritage

Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church is one of several churches in the Oriental Orthodox communion. Some of the other churches in this group are Coptic(Egyptian) Orthodox, Etheopean Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic.The doctrines of the Oriental Orthodox Churches are based on the declarations in the three Synods in Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus.
The Catholicose of the East, the ecclesiastical descendant of St. Thomas, is the Supreme Head of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church, and his Headquarters is at Devalokam, Kottayam in the State of Kerala in India.
Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy are not the same, but very similar in beliefs and practices. Oriental Orthodox churches believe that the divine nature of Christ and his human nature became one nature, and both natures coexist within one nature that is unique to Christ.  The term "Monophysites ("mono" means one and "physis" means nature) is often associated with this doctrine. Eastern Orthodox belief is that Christ's human and divine natures are separate, and they exist within him simultaneously as two separate natures. A third group called the Nestorians believe that Christ himslef is two different persons, one human and the other divine.
After the three Synods at Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus, the Oriental Orthodox Churches did not hold any further synods to codify their doctrines, but the Eastern Orthodox Churches held a fourth Synod at Chalcedon and three more subsequent Synods. Eastern Orthodox Churhes are organized into several regional, autocephalous (governed by their own head bishops) churches. The (Greek) Patriarch of Constantinople has the honor of primacy, but does not carry the same authority as the Pope does in Catholicism. Major Orthodox churches include the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Church of Alexandria, the Church of Jerusalem, and the Orthodox Church in America. Orthodox Churches and Ethnic Independence Unlike the Catholic Church, Orthodox Churches, Eastern and Oriental, in general, respect ethnic independence. The names of the Churches themselves emphasize this practice of courtesy. Among Eastern Orthodox churches, while the (Greek) Patriarch of Constantinople is given the honor of primacy, he cannot exercise temporal authority over the other ethnic Orthodox Churches.
The Malankara Church traces its origin to the arrival of St. Thomas, the disciple of Jesus Christ, at Cranganore on the shores of Kerala in South India in AD 52. The Church has remained proud or its origin and true its Orthodox beliefs, over centuries. We recognize with gratitude the tolerence of other religions in India toward us during the past two milleniums. Nonetheless, over the centuries, as a relatively small community, we had to depend occasionally on churches abroad, particularly those in Persia and the Middle East for ecclesiastical support and guidance. Eventually, we adopted the Syriac liturgy from the Syriac Orthodox Church.
During the colonial dominance of India, from the seventeenth century through early twentieth century, first by the Portugese, then the Dutch, the Spanish, the French and finally the British, our Church had to undergo many trials and tribulations. Our informal association with the Syriac Orthodox Church gave us a measure of strength during those trying times, while we steadfastly held on to our sense of ethnic independence. As a token of our gratitude, we offered the Patriarch of Antioch, of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the honor of primacy, (just as the Eastern Orthodox Churches afforded the same distinction to the Patriarch of Constantinople); but we retained our independence as an autocephalous church. We beleieve that God created us all equal, and we have the right to govern ourselves.

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