Over the net, in this forum we have started discussing the relevance and the rights of the women in our church activities and administration. Few members even suggested one third reservation for women in the administration and equal voting rights. It is very encouraging to read the various references posted by few members supporting the active and equal roles of the women in the church. Though many would disagree on one side, this attitude in some of us on the role of the women exposes a "dynamic" thought process within the church, which is required for the sustainable development of the church. I am confident that the various "thoughts" we have at the moment would materialise soon.
However, I do not understand the relevance of the position of "Cor-Episcopa" in the present day church functioning. I understand that this position had functional relevance once upon a time and not any more. At the moment it is meant to be more of a decoration bestowed upon elderly priests, recognising their credible and devoted services in the church. And as the numbers of the Cor-Episcopas are growing, I wonder if there is any code of conduct or selection criteria for bestowing this position over a priest. Or is it given at random by the diocesan bishop to those priests who are in his "good-books"? There is a general talk within the lay-members that the priest will have to do a bit of "canvassing" with the bishops for this purpose.
One side we talk about the emancipation of the women in the church and on the other side we still follow many non-functional and irrelevant practices. It is time that we should shed many of the non-functional traditions and go in for practical reforms for the dynamic functioning of a sustainable church. Accountability is very important. The church is accountable to each of its members for every action taken.
I am not convinced nor do I believe in the justification of bestowing the non-functional position of Cor-Episcopa over the priests without any defined criteria because:
1) At the moment there is no practical relevance for this position
2) There is no clear selection process within the church
3) There is no prescribed qualification nor criteria for the selection
4) Many junior priests are made Cor-Episcopas when many senior priests with credible services and testimonies are left out.
If this position of "Cor-Episcopa" is a decoration bestowed upon a priest, I would then suggest the following selection criteria:
1) A priest need be made a Cor-Episcopa only when he retires (say after the age of 65 or 70) since it is a non-functional position and as a recognition for his services.
2) Qualification criteria should be prescribed for this "award", whereby it should be proved that the "subject-priest" have performed well during his active service.
3) There should be a selection committee for this purpose. The selection committee should evaluate the whole work of the "subject-priest" during his active service. The committee's recommendation should be binding without any disputes.
If the above reforms are brought in, we would see that there is some relevance to this position of Cor-Episcopas. Probably, in the future, we need not tread upon so many of them also.
Babu Thomas / Chennai