Columns Episcopal Election Opinions

How A Bishop Must Be Chosen – A Laymans Perspective

The answer to the question “Who chooses a new bishop?” is “The Holy Spirit.” Christ has not abandoned His church, and continues to guide and govern her through the Holy Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit uses human beings to accomplish this. The process consists of two parts: identifying priests with the necessary qualities, and selecting the one who best fills a specific vacancy. We have to try to find the best candidate who fits the niche.

Identifying the Right Priests

The process of identifying priests with the qualities desired in a bishop is an ongoing process, even if there are no vacancies. The bishop of a diocese in the Indian Orthodox Church should give the Catholicos the names of priests they think would make good bishops. The candidates passed on by a bishop should usually be from his diocese or with whom he has served, since these are the priests he knows best. In my opinion, the process of 30 people having to sign a form and then getting the consent of the person to become a bishop is uncanonical. From when have we become a worldly and secular institution?

The Qualities of a Bishop

The church is very explicit about the qualities that must be present in a candidate to the episcopacy. He must be “a good pastor of souls and teacher of the Faith.” The church examines whether the candidates “enjoy a good reputation; whether they are of irreproachable morality; whether they are endowed with right judgment and prudence; whether they are even-tempered and of stable character; whether they firmly hold the Orthodox Faith; whether they are devoted to the Apostolic See and faithful to the Church; whether they have a thorough knowledge of dogmatic and moral theology and canon law; whether they are outstanding for their piety, their spirit of sacrifice and their pastoral zeal; whether they have an aptitude for governing.”

Consideration is also be given to “intellectual qualities, studies completed, social sense, spirit of dialogue and cooperation, openness to the signs of the times, praise-worthy impartiality, family background, health, age (40-50) and inherited characteristics.” By the way, celibacy is by no way the only criterion for episcopacy. There was a time when men ran away from wanting to become a bishop, nowadays, we have many running for it and setting their eyes on higher offices. We sing in Syriac: tow b’shlomo aboon d’rabyath rooho d’qudsho: w’ablaishoneh t’een laqleedai d’baith aloho – (Hail Bishop, whom the Holy Spirit did raise up, and, with his tongue, bears the keys to God’s house).

The List

Periodically, the bishops must meet under the chairmanship of the Catholicos to consider the names of priests who are possible candidates for the episcopacy. At such meetings, a list of candidates for the episcopacy must be assembled, voted on and forwarded to the Managing committee. While the Managing committee can nominate a priest for bishop not from this pool of candidates, most appointments must come from these lists. When the church needs bishops, the second part of the process must get underway i.e. the thorough screening for the best persons who will fill specific vacancies. Why should we wait till the next association to have a pool of good and able candidates? Why wait, start early!

During the investigation the Church must send out a confidential questionnaire on the candidate to people who know him. The questions must address the physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, social, and priestly characteristics that one would hope for in a bishop. Those from whom a report is requested must include clergy and laity and also from secular and religious institutions…these must include the priest’s diocesan bishop, others should be diocesan officials the person has gotten to know personally and also people who have worked with him on secular and academic levels too.

The laity consulted should be officers in diocesan lay organizations or on diocesan advisory committees. Each must be told to answer the questions without consulting others. They cannot tell anyone, especially the candidate, that they have received the questionnaire. If we already have a pool of able candidates, then these reports makes the selection of the best among the list much easier.

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Episcopal Election 2010: Surveillance on Episcopal Candidates

KOTTAYAM: “In case any Episcopal candidate who has submitted his nomination engages in any sort of campaigning directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, the matter should be reported to the Chairman of the Monitoring Committee in writing with the name and address of the person reporting. We admonish you that it is the duty and responsibility of the Church to find out people of good repute and spiritual fervor for Episcopate”. Said the President of Malankara Syrian Christian Association Baselios Marthoma Didymos I in his encyclical dated Nov.24, 2009 vide No.482/2009.

To monitor the candidate’s moves, a Surveillance mode is established by the Malankara Metropolitan who is also the President of Malankara Syrian Christian Association.

His Holiness has constituted a ‘Monitoring Committee’ with Paulose Mar Milithios, the Catholicos Elect as the Chairman, to gather information from various sources to report to the Holy Episcopal Synod. Any sort of violation will result in the disqualification of his candidature.

The election process is governed by the criteria and code of conduct ( Nadapidi Chattam) approved by the Malankara Metropolitan.

“We admonish you that it is the duty and responsibility of the Church to find out people of good repute and spiritual fervor for Episcopate. We exhort you to pray for the successful conduct of the Association” Continued His Holiness in his encyclical.

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Episcopal Election 2010: 7 Nominations Declared Invalid

KOTTAYAM: After the first sitting of the Screening Committee for the Episcopal Election 2010, 7 nominations those do not come under the purview of the Nadapidi Chattam had been declared invalid.

27 nominations were received by the Catholicate office on November 9, 2009.

The existing 20 candidates will be reviewed by the Screening Committee after receiving the confidential reports from the concerned sources.

Since the screening process is on the way, we are are not giving any details other than the names of the candidates. Now the first round sitting is over and 20 nominations are considered for further process.

1. Fr. Dr. John Mathews
2. Dr. M.S.Yoohanon Remban
3. Fr. Dr. O. P. Varghese
4. Fr. V. M. James
5. Fr. Mathai OIC
6. Rev.Dr.Nathaniel Remban
7. Rev. Thomas Yohannan Elavukattu Remban
8. Fr. Zacharia O.I.C
9. Rev Geevarghese Ramban
10. Fr. Dr. M. O. John
11. Fr. Mathukkutty Chengamanadu
12. Rev Yoohanon Ramban
13. Fr. K. Geevarghese Chengamanadu
14. Fr. M. K. Kurian
15. Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose
16. Fr. Dr. George Pulikottil
17. Fr. Dr. P.C.Thomas
18. Fr. Dr. V. M. Abraham
19. Fr. Alexander Daniel
20. Fr. Simon Lukose

To read more, visit today’s Malayalam Edition (Nov.27)

Articles Episcopal Election We Believe

The Ministry Of Episcopate

The word episkopos was used at first in Greek literature for one who kept a watch over a country or a people or even a treaty or an agreement. Later on it became the title for the official who was sent from Athens, the capital of Greek Empire, to its dependant states. The word was used in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, for overseers, officers and governors (2Chr 24,11; Neh 11,9; 12,42). The verb episkeptomai was used for God’s “loving supervision and solicitous care for the land of Israel” in Deut. 11:12. The Qumran Community used an equivalent term mebaqqer for its leader (1QS 6,12.20). This one was an expert in Law and was entrusted with the leadership over the community; he could make its final decisions, take disciplinary actions against its members and control its fund. He was considered as a fatherly figure in the Damascus Document: “He shall love them as a father loves his children, and shall carry them in all their distress like a shepherd his sheep. He shall loosen all the fetters which bind them” (CD 13,9).

The New Testament uses the term episkopos five times only:

1 Pet 2,25 describes Jesus Christ as the “guardian” (episkopos) of the souls of the believers along with his role as their “shepherd” (poimen).

The above two roles of Christ (episcopos and poimen) are ascribed to the elders of Ephesus in Paul’s speech to them in the Acts 20,28. This has an Old Testament background; when Joshua was elected Moses prayed to God to give Israel a “leader” and “shepherd”.

In the opening sentence of Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians he addresses the “bishops” (episcopoi) along with the “deacons”(diakonoi).

In 1Tim 3,1 we read about the qualities of an episcopos of the early Church, which include sensibility, dignity, hospitality, scholarship, gentle behaviour, management skills etc.

In his letter to Titus St. Paul says that “a bishop (episcopos), is God’s steward” and he must be “blameless, hospitable, lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy and self-controlled” and he must not be arrogant, quick-tempered, violent, drunkard or greedy (Tit 1,7-8). He must “hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it” (Tit 1,9).

Functions of a Bishop:

Professor Karl Christian Felmy, a retired Lutheran Pastor of Germany and an expert in history and theology of the Orthodox Church, made a sarcastic comment once during a discussion; “the problem of the Roman Catholic Church is that it has got only one bishop, while that of the Protestants is that they have no bishops at all, and that of the Orthodox Church is that it has got many bishops”. This remark makes clearly the basis of Orthodox ecclesiology. As per the Orthodox understanding all bishops are equal in their status and the Patriarch or the Catholicos is called “the first among the equals” (primes inter pares).

We can say that Orthodox Church is episcopocentric, because everything depends upon the bishop and nothing can be done without him. But what actually is this “everything”? Does it include all sacramental functions of a parish like baptism, marriage and funeral? None of the Orthodox Churches has got the practice of our Church; one or more bishops attending the sacraments of a parish. Every day they have to travel at least hundred kilometres just to lead the funerals and weddings. Even though our bishops are suffocated with this hectic schedule, they are helpless, because it has become a custom especially in central Travancore to invite a bishop for personal functions. People consider the position of the bishops as a ceremonial one and they do not understand more than that about him. Does the above “everything” mean that the bishop should be consulted before each and every instance in the decision making process of a parish? This has become a practice in our Church since the dioceses have become small in their geographical area and since communication became easier. The parish priests have got the freedom and discretion to take decisions as per the constitution and canons and customs of our Church. Bishops can be approached only when things become “exceptional”. What then are the duties of a bishop?

According to Orthodox ecclesiology the bishop is the President of the Eucharist. Ignatius of Antioch says: “you should regard the Eucharist as valid which is celebrated either by the bishop, or by someone he authorizes. Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Smyrn. 8,1-2). The priests are just “vicars” of a bishop. However, this Eucharistic function of the bishop has been changed later. Zizoulas, himself being a bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church and an authority on the topic says; “the Eucharist, from being the business of the episcopate par excellence, was later (it remains to be seen when) largely transformed into the principal task of the parish and the presbyter. While the bishop, from being par excellence the ‘president’ of the Eucharist was largely transformed into an administrator and a co-ordinator of the life of the parishes” (Eucharist Bishop Church, HCOP, Brookline 2001, p. 23).

The Eucharistic function of the bishop should not be considered as less important to other duties of a bishop. On the one hand the bishop is the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ with in the Church. But on the other hand he unites all the people. That is why we say there can not be more than one bishop within a local Church. Since the bishops represent Christ they have to possess a model life. Paulose Gregorios says; “On the analogy of both the consecration of Holy Chrism, and also the consecrated Chrism itself being sacraments, the consecration of a bishop as well as the consecrated bishop is a sacrament” (Glory and Burden, ISPCK/MGF, Delhi 2006, p.95). We have already seen the list of qualities, which St. Paul expected from a bishop (1Tim 3,1ff; Tit 1,7-9). St. John Chrysostom says; “The offences of the insignificant, even if made public, harm no one seriously. But those who are set upon the pinnacle of this honour not only catch every eye; more than that, however trifling their offences, these little things seem great to others, since everyone measures sin, not by the size of the offence, but by the standing of the sinner” (On the Priesthood, SVSP 1984, p. 85-6).

What distinguishes a bishop from a priest is his authority for ordination. It is his prerogative as a successor of the Apostles. Laying on of hands was originated in the rabbinic schools of Judaism. A candidate was ordained as a rabbi once he completed his training in interpreting the Torah. Early Church adopted this as a sign for handing over priestly authority. However, by ordaining somebody the bishop is transferring not just his authority for teaching, which was the practice of Jewish rabbis, but also the gift of the Holy Spirit. The ordained gets the divine charisma, which will be used for the edification of the Church. The deacon gets the charisma of service while the priest gets the charisma of forgiveness of sins and that of the authority for presiding over the sacraments.

Teaching can be considered as the unique function of a bishop. Even though the New Testament did not make a distinction between a priest (presbuteros) and a bishop (episcopos) in this regard, later on the bishop became the final authority for teaching. He is the one who declares a final word about a disputed matter of faith. He will decide what is “orthodox” and what a “heretical” teaching is. He does this not as an individual but as the member of the Holy Episcopal Synod. For this he needs a lot of time for learning the faith of the Church and for examining the writings of the Holy Fathers. However, most of our bishops do not get enough time for reading and reflecting because of their pre-occupations with ordinary functions like a wedding or funeral. The administrative duties can also become a hindrance for their study and meditation. Some bishops are exhausted by attending committees after committees.

Therefore the Church as a whole has to rethink about the rank as well as functions of an episcopos. He is different from a priest and a deacon not simply in the vestments but in his identity. This should be widely understood and respected. Once the whole Church acknowledge not only their apostolic succession but also their apostolic authority things will be quite different. Let each one do his own duty; the priests should perform all parish duties and the committees should fulfil their responsibilities. Bishops may stand at the top as Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.

The author (Fr. Dr. Reji Mathews) is the principal of St.Thomas Orthodox Seminary, Nagapur

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Bishops Election 2010: 27 Candidates for Episcopate

KOTTAYAM: Catholicate office had received twenty seven nomination papers duly signed on Nov. 9, 2009 informing their candidacy to episcopate.

Since the screening process is on the way, we are are not giving any details other than the names.
1. Fr. Dr. John Mathews
2. Dr. M.S.Yoohanon Remban
3. Fr. Dr. O. P. Varghese
4. Fr. V. M. James
5. Rev M S Sakariah Ramban
6. Fr. Mathai OIC
7. Rev.Dr.Nathaniel Remban
8. Rev. Thomas Yohannan Elavukattu Remban
9. Fr. Zacharia O.I.C
10. Rev Geevarghese Ramban
11. Fr. V. J. Thomas
12. Fr. Dr. M. O. John
13. Fr. K. V. Paul
14. Fr. Mathukkutty Chengamanadu
15. Rev Yoohanon Ramban
16. Fr. K. Geevarghese Chengamanadu
17. Fr. M. K. Kurian
18. Rev. G.M. Skariah Remban
19. Fr. Dr. Sabu Kuriakose
20. Fr. Dr. George Pulikottil
21. Fr. Alexander Daniel
22. Fr. Dr. P.C.Thomas
23. Fr. Dr. V. M. Abraham
24. Rev. Zacharia Ramban
25. Fr. Abraham Thomas
26. Fr. Jacob Daniel
27. Fr. Simon Lukose

For the coming Episcopal election, the age limit for the candidates is fixed as 40 to 55. According to the new norms released, the qualified candidates may also be eligible for a 3 year grace when considering other factors.

The screening committee will now review the nominations so far received and finally on December 30, 2009 they will forward 14 candidates’ names to the Sabha Managing Committee to meet on January 22, 2010 to select 11 candidates out of 14.

Finally the names of the 11 candidates will be announced as an official panel for a secret ballot to elect 7 Bishops for Malankara Orthodox Church. 4000 plus members of the Malankara Syrian Christian Association are eagerly looking forward for the out come of the Sabha managing Committee and then will decide to who they are to vote for.

In 1986 Malankara Orthodox Herald had written an editorial requesting the church to appoint a scrutiny Committee for future Episcopal elections to evade the canvassing of candidates. Almost 20 years later the church has adapted the concept.

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Bishops Election: Nov. 9 – Deadline to Submit Nominations

KOTTAYAM: For the upcoming Bishops election, the deadline to submit the nomination from qualified celibate priests is announced as November 9, 2009.

After the cut off date, the screening committee will collect confidential reports from various sources on the candidates. Accordingly the screening committee will review the details and announce 14 candidates from among the nomination they received, on December 30, 2009.

On Friday January 22, the Sabha Managing committee will meet to select 11 candidates out of the 14 names submitted by the Screening Committee and they will be declared as official candidates of the church. By January 27 the final list of candidates will be published from the Catholicate office to prepare the ballot paper.

From a reliable source from Kottayam, we understand that at present Twenty plus nomination papers are out on circulation for signatures from the Malankara Association Members.

Malankara Syrian Christian Association will meet on February 17, 2009 at Mar Baselios Nagar Sasthamkotta to elect 7 more Bishops for Malankara Orthodox Church.

Last time much ado was on air on the process of the screening committee. This time the screening committee nominees were elected by the Managing committee Members through secret ballot and endorsed them for the new office.

“We have much confidence in our nominees. Better we take our hands off from the screening process and allow them to do their job.” told IOH by one of the Managing Committee Members.

The faithful of the Church are curiously waiting for the outcome of the process.

For more details visit our Malayalam Edition on Nov. 6

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Malankara Association to Meet on February 17, 2010

KOTTAYAM: Preparations are underway to meet Malankara Association on Wednesday 17, February 2010 to elect 7 more bishops.

The Sabha Managing Committee held today at Pazhaya Seminary finally gave green signal to elect 7 more bishops for the Church of Malankara.

The venue for the Malankara Association will be Mar Baselios Nagar, Sasthamkotta. The event will begin at 12 in the noon.

The Sabha Managing Committee had elected 3 of its members to the Screening Committee. Fr. Dr. O. Thomas, Dr. George Varghese, Delhi (Prasar Bharathi) and Adv. Biju Oommen Muringasseril from Thiruvalla are the newly appointed screening committee members.

The Holy Episcopal synod nominates for the screening committee are Thomas Mar Athanasius (Chengannoor), Dr. Thomas Mar Athanasius (Moovattupuzha) and Dr. Mathews Mar Severios (Synod Secretary) Kandanadu Diocese.

Priest Trustee – Fr. Dr. Johns Abraham Konattu, Association Secretary – Dr. George Joseph and Lay Trustee- M George Muthoot will be the Ex-officio members in the screening committee.

The Catholicose and Malankara Metropolitan nominated two more members from Theological seminaries. Fr Dr T J Joshua (Orthodox Theological Seminary,Kottayam) and Fr.Bijesh Philip ( Nagapur St.Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary) are the nominated members.

The “largest church parliament in the world,” the Malankara Association, meets this time to elect seven more bishops. More than 4,000 delegates, comprising more than a 1,700 priests and nearly 3,000 laymen, representing the 1,700 parishes of the Malankara Orthodox Church all over the world will participate.

The constitution has clearly defined the composition and representation of the association. In article 71: a priest two laymen elected by each parish general body and the members of the existing managing committee shall be members of the association. This was later amended in time with Supreme Court directive. Now the representation of the lay people is based on the number of parishioners.

The association is the body that elects the members of the managing committee, bishops, the Catholicos and Malankara metropolitan. Malankara metropolitan is the president of the Malankara Syrian Christian Association.

The Malankara Association last met at the Mar Thimothios Memorial Higher Secondary School, Pampakkuda, on Thursday September 11 elected seven bishops from the 10 nominated by the managing committee of the Malankara Orthodox Church.

Those elected were Fr. Alex Daniel, Fr. Christophorous Ramban, Fr. Eldo Ramban, Fr. John Panikker, Fr. Markose Joseph, Fr. Mathew Baby and Fr. Stephen.

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Screening Committee Curtails The Rights Of Malankara Association

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.

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7 More Bishops for Malankara Orthodox Church

holy-episcopal-synodKOTTAYAM: Sabha Managing Committee held today at Devalokam Aramana had decided to hold a separate meeting in September 2009 to discuss further on the recommendation of the Holy Episcopal Synod to elect 7 more bishops for the church in 2010. “This matter will be included in the agenda of the September meeting and the decision will be taken appropriately.” Said Dr. George Joseph, the Sabha Secretary to Orthodox Herald today after the meeting.

Holy Episcopal Synod of the Malankara Orthodox Church convened here on August 26 had decided to hold an Association meeting on Wednesday Feb. 17, 2010 to elect 7 more bishops for the church. This recommendation was welcomed by the managing committee and decided to hold another meeting with this agenda for a final decision. The next managing committee will also decide the date and venue of the coming Malankara Association. The age bar recommended by the Synod is 40 to 58 and Holy Synod authorized the Catholicose for extending the age up to 61 if needed.

The managing Committee also had decided to celebrate the centenary of the re –establishment of Catholicate in India in the year 2012 in Delhi and Kochi Marine Drive.

A committee was formed to revise the salary pattern of the priests of the church.

His Holiness the Catholicose Baselios Marthoma Didymose I presided over the meeting.

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Editorial Episcopal Election

Are Bishops The Only Saints In The Church?


A few decades ago a western missionary visited Keralam and returned to his homeland. The members of his church inquired about his missionary travels in Keralam, and particularly about the ancient Church of Keralam, the Malankarese Orthodox Syrian Church. His first description about the Church of Malankara was this: “I saw a church that deifies dead bishops. I had the opportunity to visit many churches. Wherever a bishop was buried people considered him equal to God, and they worshipped him by lighting candles and praying at his tomb. The Syrian Church is a church that accepts only the sanctity of its bishops, not of its priests or laity”

This perception of our church by a foreign missionary more or less depicts our general practice, if not our belief. The Church clearly teaches that everyone is called to sanctity, and that a layperson can attain Christian perfection and holiness equal to or more than a member of the clergy or a bishop. However, I wonder if our church is emotionally capable of recognizing the sanctity of an ordinary priest of layperson.

Indian culture and tradition are basically benevolent and charitable to anyone who is reported to be a Sanyasi or celibate. In other words, our culture venerates a celibate even if he is unchaste, and frowns upon a married person even if he / she excels in Christian virtues. Look at the awe people have at a single priest, even if he is not a monk, or a member of a monastery. In other words, one’s marital status is a great deterrent for people to accept his / her sanctity. Even if there was a layperson with outstanding Christian virtues, the recognition of his sanctity would be a matter for his immediate family. Even if there was a priest with outstanding virtuous life, the recognition of his sanctity would still be a matter for his immediate family or some people who knew him personally; if he was married, the appreciation of his holiness would be much less. I had the opportunity to visit many shrines and churches within our Church. Nowhere did I see people (other than family members) lighting a candle and praying at the tombs of persons other than their relatives.

It does not mean that those priests and laypersons were less holy than a prelate or a monk of the church; many of our people and ordinary priests did excel and do excel in holiness at a much higher degree than the higher clergy. It is sad to note that our Church does not have a system or policy to recognize the sanctity of her ordinary members. In the history of the Church we had many infants, laypersons, virgins, ordinary deacons and priests whose sanctity was solemnly recognized by the universal church.

The Roman church still fosters this tradition. Recently within the Syro-Malabar Roman Church in Keralam, a priest and nun were elevated to the rank of “the blessed”, a step before canonization. An ordinary nun, Sr. Alphonsa was named Blessed; and a priest, Fr.Kuriakos Chavara, was recognized for altar veneration. Byzantine Orthodoxy is still doing it. Coptic Orthodoxy is also promoting this tradition. When this writer was in Egypt, he could personally witness this noble practice. Unfortunately, our Syrian or Malankarese tradition does not seem to promote this practice. When a bishop dies, people flock to offer burning candles at his tomb, pilgrimages are arranged to his tomb on diocesan level. Secure safes are ceremoniously placed at his tomb to exploit the piety of ordinary people. As a result of this pecuniary motive, even his severe critics and bitter opponents at the parish where a bishop is buried also get enthusiastic in erecting a bigger shrine to perpetualize his memory. Anniversaries of that bishop take the form of jubilant festivals for that parish and diocese inviting pilgrims. Although he was contemptuously and abusively treated while alive, the scene is different after he dies. His tomb immediately becomes a holy place!

When we do not try to universally recognize the celebration of the sanctity of our ordinary folks, we are implicitly saying that there is no holiness shared by our ordinary people and clergy; what we are saying is that sanctity is the call only of the higher clergy. Thus we are denying role models for ordinary people and priests. If there are no saints from the rank and file, and the ordinary people that make up the church do not have heroes to follow in their own walk of life, can we call the Church holy, which is one of the notes of the Church as enshrined in the Symbol of our faith, the Nicene Creed. If sanctity is the call and monopoly of bishops, the Church does not have a mission on earth.Recently, there were two canonizations within the Russian Orthodox (Orthodox Church in America).