Of course with good intention that the new rule and regulations and procedure were adopted by the church for the episcopal election. But when the process is seen, it seems to be manipulated by the people with vested interests to eliminate the deserving candidates on personal grudge. The church loving people watching all these games all over the world can not sit as silent spectators. This is the second experiment just completed with the new selection system. The experiments have proved beyond doubt that the system is not fool proof. Last time the church leadership has already admitted that there had been lapses. It is time to look back and identify the faulty area to rectify them.
Norms and loopholes
In the norms published, the term referring- ‘confidential report’ and ‘medical exam’ are the two clauses which are vulnerable to manipulations, the weapons which can be used to hack down outstanding candidates if it happens to go in wrong hands. There should be a lie detecting system with the monitoring committee to test the reporter and the candidate if any candidate complaint to this effect. If a judge can be bribed as we hear now a days and a doctor can make false postmortem reports at the instance of highly influential people the medical exam reports may not necessarily be genuine.
But what more medical fitness needed for a bishop than a priest. It is meaningless without follow up medical exam for all bishops at least every five years and relieves them from the diocesan charges if they found unfit. They are not going to participate in march past, or fly an aircraft. Of course they fly all over the world for collection, which should be discouraged-with no doubt. The main duty of a bishop should be looking after the diocese, priests, people and parishes under him. All charitable activities should be entrusted to the priests. All donations for the charity should be routed to the mission board of the church under a bishop with independent charge to run the charitable institutions of the church. But people should not hesitate to support the bishops in charge of backward dioceses who deserve help abundantly.
One new suggestion for the election norm is that there should not be limitation for the number of candidates and the screening committee should not be allowed to select the candidates using ballot system which curtail the democratic right of the association members to elect their bishops. Even the managing committee also should not act as judges of the next elimination round. For example it is said that there were 18 eligible candidates and the screening committee members used their votes to find 14 candidates. They should have forwarded the list of all the 18 candidates to the managing committee for approval as official candidates to be elected by the association. In case more number of candidates won the majority of votes than the required number of bishops the remaining candidates from the list prepared on the basis of votes could have been kept as candidates in the waiting list for next time.
Keep the faith and principle
There is a request to the candidates who could not make it through this time not to get frustrated and act like those bishop candidates who were in fray some time back, out of which one defected to the opposition party like in politics and the other is fighting with the church like using his pen. One should keep the faith and principle in tact.
Mr.Thomas Kuttikandathil, Houston,Texas,USA is one of the Trustee members of IOH.