Kochi: Amid a controversy triggered by reported remarks of a senior priest questioning the belief that St Thomas visited India in AD 52, the Syro-Malabar Church on Sunday said the disciple of Jesus Christ did visit India.
"The official stand of the Syro-Malabar Church is that St Thomas had visited India, the Church said in a statement here.
The statement was issued after Fr Paul Thelakkat, a former spokesperson of the church, last week reportedly said there was no evidence to suggest that St Thomas had come to India.
Some newspapers and TV news channels quoting former spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Church had reported there is no evidence to prove St Thomas had come to India. Some media even said this is the official stand of Syro-Malabar Church. This is baseless...," it said.
The Syro-Malabar Church originated from the evangelisation works of St Thomas, said the statement issued by Bishop Sebastian Vaniyappurackal.
"World famous historians have accepted it as a fact. Many historic documents are there to support this," he said.
However, Fr Thelakkat on Sunday said he had never made a statement about the traditional belief that St Thomas had come to India.
He clarified he had made certain remarks regarding prevailing upper caste feelings in Church while joining a debate kick started by Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos of the Niranam diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Church on the issue.
"We should not rely on glory of a caste or tribe. That is dangerous," Thelakkat told PTI.
The Jacobite priest had recently criticised some church members for conducting hollow family meetings.
He had said in a Facebook post that some of the families believe in fake myths that their forefathers were members of the Brahmin community and St Thomas converted them to Christianity.
These kinds of false beliefs should be broken, he had said. Noted historian M G S Narayanan said there were no historic documents to suggest that St Thomas had come to India for evangelisation work.
"There were no human habitations here at that time in Kerala.
There was only forest here. How would he visit such a place? For what? , he told a Malayalam TV channel.
The Syrian Christian community in Kerala believes that St Thomas came to this part in AD 52 and had established churches.
The community considers St Thomas as the 'Father in Faith' of Christians in India.
The Syro-Malabar Church has over 30 dioceses in the country and four outside-- in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and Britain--serving over five million faithful.