South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - A Tale of Two Cities: The Independent Catholics in Goa and Colombo in the Late 19th Century

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Christianity witnessed in South India escalating jurisdictional tensions. The Padroado Real (Royal Patronage) was redefined vis-à-vis the competing claims of the Roman Congregation de Propaganda Fide, both within and beyond the sphere of direct Portuguese influence. In a twisted and entangled reaction to European ecclesiastical sectarianism and colonial pretensions, dissenting voices rose from within the Catholic Church, invoking self-government under a native clergy. Fr. Antonio Álvares, once a Catholic priest in Goa and staunch defender of the Padroado against Propaganda Fide, eventually stood against the Portuguese ecclesiastical hierarchy and even converted to the Kerala-based Orthodox Syrian Church, in whose jurisdiction he was ordained "Archbishop of Goa, India, and Ceylon". Following this initiative, a schismatic Independent Catholic Church was established and survived for few decades, developing along the Konkan coast and in Ceylon, centered respectively in the Goan village of Ribandar and in Colombo. This conflictual rearrangement added a new chapter to the long-lasting rivalry between the St Thomas Christians and the Portuguese Padroado, dating back to the sixteenth century, and the realignment of some Indian Latin Catholics under the Orthodox Syrian Church, following the Antiochene rite, represented a creative genealogical redefinition of Christian history. Based on Church archival records, pamphlets and journals, this paper analyses the religious climate of both Goa and Colombo in the nineteenth century and depicts the connectivity between these two melting pots of different Christian traditions, leading to the emergence of an Independent Catholic Church. 

Wei Jiang

Forum Internationale Wissenschaft Bonn, Germany

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3 - A Tale of Two Cities: The Independent Catholics in Goa and Colombo in the Late 19th Century



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