Eight observations about the Screening Committee interestingly authored by Fr. K. M. George seems to be an agenda for discussion. I have mixed feelings about the whole idea of a Screening Committee.
Screening Committee is a system within the system where objectivity can easily be compromised. The constitution of the church has a clear stipulations bishop’s election. It is the responsibility of the church administration to implement it. The Malankara Association has the right and responsibility to elect the person of their choice as their leaders. Disqualifications, can be brought against any individual and then they should face a fair trial.
Screening committee, however objective it claim to be, will have the human factor in it. Their decision will be skewed as seen in the last election. If there was a screening committee in the seventies, Mar Ostahthios or Mar Gregorios would have been still priest in our church. Screening Committee as suggested in the 8 observations will be a super organization – Bishop makers of the church with unchallengeable authority as suggested in item 6. It gives me the impression that we are going back to the Middle Ages instead of leaping into the 21st century.
Screening Committee goes back do character study of the individual even at his high school or college level. It is a redundancy because, this individual was screened by the seminary admission committee once, so no need to go back to it. Also, the committee will inquire about the candidate’s seminary performance, why at this time? Why is this “witch hunt” at this stage after ordaining them as priests? Bishop’s election is not a beatification process!!!!. A secret screening committee report, with no way to confront, is not a just process. If you insist on to have a screening committee, then this committee should have a representative from each of the aspirant candidates for transparency.
What I would suggest is to have a selection committee to (open) interview the aspirants in person, like the confirmation hearing of the supreme court judges. The proportion of the screening committee should also be like the Malankara Association proportion.
Regarding the shortage of eligible candidates, I think, if we remove one criterion- “unmarried” from the qualifications and add retirement to the position, then we wil have enough eligible candidates.