Knanaya Association of North America (KANA):
The immigrant community of Knanaya people showed interest to come together on a social basis to foster friendship among all Knanaya people regardless of their religious belief or their marriage affiliation. Thus the organization, Knanaya Association of North America (KANA) was founded in Chicago in 1979.
Syro Malabar Church Ministry:
Like other immigrant communities the Syro Malabar Catholics (both Knanaya and non-Knanaya) wanted to have worship in their own Rite rather than melt into the main stream catholic churches of the US. As there was a large concentration of Oriental Catholics in the Chicago area, a request was made in 1983 to the late Cardinal Archbishop Joseph Bernadin of Chicago to establish a separate Church ministry for the Syro Malabar Catholics. A separate ministry was thus established for the Knanaya community and for the non-Knanaya community in Chicago, in the Syro Malabar rite.
Knanaya community in India:
The diocese of Kottayam expels membership of anyone who marries outside of the community, forcing them to leave their parish and diocese. This diocese refuses to conduct their marriages in their ancestorial parishes, refuse to baptize and register their children in their parishes. Such people are not even allowed to bury them with their kith and kin in the ancestorial cemeteries. Such practices amount to racial discrimination and destroy their human dignity. While Rome had established a separate diocese of Kottayam for the Knanaya people in Kerala, India, it was not aware of its such discriminatory practices.
Knanaya community in the USA:
Some of the Knanaya community immigrants wanted to maintain the racial purity and the practice of endogamy in the United States as it is done in Kerala, India. They wanted to import the same unchristian practices from Kerala to the United States of America. Such group along with the support of Kottayam diocese established Knanaya Catholc Society (KCS) in Chicago with a discriminatory ideology to separate family. This initiated a campaign to foster the practice of Kottayam diocese in this country. With this ideology families were not allowed to gather socially or even pray together wih dignity. Tensions escalated in this community based on a false prestige of purity.
Many enlightened endogamous and non-endogamous Knanites protested against this evil practice in the Knanaya church mission established in Chicago and refused to be excluded. There was difference of opinion in the Knanaya church regarding membership in the mission. In 1985 Joseph Cardinal Bernadin of the Arch diocese of Chicago was approached by members of both organizations to resolve the membership issue in the Knanaya mission. Cardinal Bernadin appealed to Rome to settle the dispute. Rome, obviously unaware of the practice of racial qualification of the church membership, through its congregation for the Eastern Churches, by its Prot # N 124/83 of 30 January, 1986 affirmed that “the special ministry for the Knanaya Community can be conducted only on the basis that those Knanaya Catholics who married Non-Knanaya spouses may enjoy equal status in the ministry. This congregation does not accept the customary practice followed in Kerala of excluding from the community those who marry non-Knanaya spouses, is extendable to the United States of America”. The mission was allowed to continue based on the norm established by Rome. The fanatic faction made a subsequent appeal to Rome and it was again rejected through another Prot issued on October 3, 1997. The Congregation also went on to point out that the Bishop of Kottayam has no authority over the faithful outside of his territory.
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago:
The Syro Malabar Catholics increased in North America due to the increase in immigation. On July 1st 2001 Rome established a diocese called St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago with Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath as the first bishop for all Syro Malabar Christians in North America including the Knanaya Community. The bishop allowed separate missions for the Knanaya community with the injunction to include non-endogamous members as is directed by Rome based on “rescript of 1986”.
Current Knanaya Catholic Church mission Activities:
The Knanaya Catholic directors flout the directives of Rome and refused to give membership or include the non-endogamous on any committees. The directors openly incite people to defy Rome’s Prots and perpetuate the practice of discrimination. Most mission directors are granted religious visas, but the Knanaya mission directors are more interested in promoting a discriminatory and racial agenda, as evidenced by the mission director’s message to the community. Non-profit organizations should be banned from indulging in such activities.