When asked about the ongoing issue between the two rival church factions, he said things had been "painful since the development of 2017".
Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, on Sunday, 11 February, said that it is the responsibility of the state governments and Union government to ensure peace and harmony in Manipur and that everyone, irrespective of religion, is protected under the same law.
The supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, while addressing the media on the concluding day of his official visit to the state, responded to a query on the Manipur issue and said that violence committed in the name of religion often stems from some other deeper underlying reasons.
“I am not here to judge any government, but I do know that in these kinds of fighting… using religion, usually is not religious in nature, but there may be some other underlying reasons for that. Because religion is the thing that affects people’s hearts and emotions…,” he said.
India is known for tolerance, acceptance, and peaceful coexistence for all, the patriarch said, adding that India was one of the countries that were made up of so many different religions, castes, languages, and cultures, yet comes together in harmony.
“I don’t believe religion is the only thing. It’s the responsibility of every government, be it the state or the Union government, to make sure that people live together in harmony and make sure that everyone is protected under the same law and in the same spirit,” he said.
Aphrem alleged that many use religion for their political aim. However, the church has always respected the space between religion and politics, he added.
“We believe that mixing religion with politics will spoil politics, and using politics in religion will spoil religion. So it is always better to separate the two issues because these two things touch upon different aspects of the lives of people,” he added.
When asked about the ongoing issue between the two rival factions of the church, he said that things had been “painful since the development of 2017”.
The feud between the Orthodox and the Jacobite faction of the Church intensified following implementation of a 2017 Supreme Court order, granting the Orthodox faction possession of over 1,000 churches and properties attached to them.
He alleged that the Supreme Court order did not help “reconcile people”.
“I hope peace will come because this is an important issue for everybody. To have peace, to live together. After all, these are the same people, same blood, same family, heritage, and there is no reason for them to fight each other. On the contrary, as Christians, we always have to live in peace,” he added.
He expressed hope that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will take efforts to ensure peace in the factional feud.
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