The History of the Church of Malabar, from the Time of Its Being First Discover'd by the Portuguezes in the Year 1501: Giving an Account of the Persecutions and Violent Methods of the Roman Prelates, to Reduce Them to the Subjection of the Church of Rome; Together with the Synod of Diamper, Celebrated in the Year of Our Lord 1599; with Some Remarks Upon the Faith and Doctrine of the Christians of St. Thomas in the Indies, Agreeing with the Church of England, in Opposition to that of Rome
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There has been a lot of false and baseless propaganda by some communal writers about the Synod of Dampier . This distorted view is popularized to claim caste superiority for Christians of the pre-Portuguese Kerala and also in a bid to demonstrate their pseudo-national spirit against colonial Portuguese. The early converts by Persian missionaries were all local people not belonging to the local high castes such as Brahmins and Nairs. But to claim superior caste status (Brahmins, Asyrians, Jews) some racial writers have wrongly interpreted the decisions of the Synod. They attack Latin Catholic liturgy introduced by the Synod with the hideous intention of claiming superior caste status to Syriac liturgy Christians, ignoring the fact all were local converts. Synod of Diampier is censured by communal writers to claim patriotism and caste superiority. How phony these claims can be illustrated from the manner the Syrian Christians surrendered before the Portuguese when they first met Vasco da Gama. K.M.Panikkar has pointed out in his book, A History of Kerala, “ Kerala Pazhama gives detailed information about their visit to Gama, which account is also corroborated by Faria. They surrendered their privileges and authority to Portugal and undertook to conduct the affairs only in the name of tha Portuguese king. The ancient records and insignia which the Chief possessed were also handed over to Gama. More than even this, they suggested to him that with their help he should conquer the Hindu Kingdoms and invited him to build a fortress for this purpose in Cranganore.” (pp159-60). Caste superiority claim is also fallacious because none of the high caste Hindus were prepared to accept Christianity as they would be ostracized from their castes which would deprive them of caste privileges. Christians were all local converts from various sub castes. Catholic Encyclopedia observes: “It may be stated here that the Syrians of Malabar are as a body natives of the land by descent, and the Syriac trait in them is that of their liturgy, which is in the Syrian language. They call themselves Syrians by way of distinction from other body of Christians on the coast, who belong to the Latin Rite.”
The only source of information about the Synod was the "Jornada" of Gouvea in which he has given full details. All other later versions were distorted to satisfy the caste and political interests of some vested groups. Aleixo de Menezes, the Portuguese Archbishop of Goa, found rampant heresy in Kerala churches. During the pre-Portuguese period missionaries from Persia came to Kerala only every now and then as there was no central organization in Persia to depute missionaries on a regular basis. Although there was a very well established church in Persia, regular work was disturbed due to persecution of Christians by Persian monarchs, especially by Sapur II. Menezes launched a process of spiritual and liturgical cleansing through Synod decision. As in Europe at the time Reformation, only heretical and distorted books were burnt. How could Menezes allow spurious and weird beliefs such as Joseph had actually another wife and children when he was betrothed to the holy virgin; and that he often reproved the child Jesus for his naughty tricks? Menezes can be regarded as the architect of Catholic church in Kerala. It is wrong to say there was opposition to his reforms. It was only after about 54 years when the Dutch defeated the Portuguese that some selfish and disgruntled elements opposed the Catholic church over property and financial issues. They did not want central authority. So a revolt known as Coonen Cross (crooked cross) pledge was organized by the Archdeacon to bring church revenue and property under their control.But their revolt was a failure, for the majority of the churches remained loyal to Rome. Today Roman Catholic church in Kerala has a large following with hundreds of institutions and the community is a vital force in deciding political issues in Kerala. The credit goes to Alexex de Menezes for the vibrant Catholic community
The present vol. contains "A Short History of the Church of Malabar" and "Diocesan Synod Of the Church and Bishoprick of Angamale." Both sections contain references to Indian traditions.