1. What is the main underlying reason for the Leadership of our church to oppose the Church bill campaign?
Ans : The church act will lead to strict auditing of all wealth of the church . Every money collected and spend has to be accounted for. The personal property of each individual /group of individuals become the Trust property of each Diocese. The bishop will be the head of that diocesan trust. That is all. Nothing is really lost.
2. Will the bishops lose spiritual control over the people?
Ans : There is a misunderstanding that the bishops will lose power over the people if the bill comes into force. The church bill does not propose to get involved in faith or theology (Disclaimer of the bill ). Every parish should prepare a memorandum and bylaws of the Trust and register it. ( Section 5-ii) The powers and duties of priests and Bishops can be clearly included in this .The Holy Bishops and Priests will not lose their Spiritual authority over the parishioners. (Please read section 5 – ii of the bill.)
The parish trust assembly shall prepare a memorandum and byelaws of the Trust at a meeting specially convened for the said purpose. All Syrian Orthodox churches can prepare common byelaw as advised by Our Holy Synod regarding the duties and rights of priests; powers of Bishop; punishment for people disobeying the Vicar and Bishop. A new section regarding “how to enforce spiritual discipline” can be added and special section on “how to deal with people who rebel against the church teachings” can be added in our bylaws. This will be registered within 6 months from the date of commencement of this act (Section 5-i of the Bill). After registration, the lay person can’t change it. So the act is making the power of the priest or bishop more clear than before.
3. Who is the Presiding officer of Trust?
Ans : ( Section 17-1 ; 17-2 ;17-3)
The Vicar of each parish will preside over the parish level trust assembly and trustee committee. The bishop of each diocese will preside over the diocesan assembly and committees of trustees. The act perfectly says that the “president” of every council of the church is a ordained person of that church. Without that person they can’t do anything.
I also believe that the power and respect of the church leadership should come from bible knowledge; Preaching ability, teaching ability , works of charity , demonstration of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit ( Galatians 5-22). The Apostolic nature of the church is never lost by implementation of the church bill.
4. Is modifications possible in current bill?
Ans : There could be some clauses in the church Act 2009 which may need to be modified. There are several legal experts in all churches. Let us peacefully agitate for a discussion of this bill in the Assembly. The Government can accept all good suggestions from intellectuals, legal experts and church leaders of all churches and make minor modifications.
5. Will the Government support the bill ?
Ans :The bill is originating from the Government itself. The bill was prepared by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer commission. The idea of the bill did not originate from the church. The ordinary people of other churches will also support the bill. The media will also support the bill except 2 newspapers controlled by churches .
6. Can the bill produce long term harm to the Christian community in Kerala ?
Ans : No. It is the love of money that is destroying christian churches at present . spiritual leaders now try to love both God and Wealth together . The sexual misconducts occurring in churches are a result of “worshipping wealth ” . Even without the church bill, any Hindu extremist government can harm the Christian community .
7. What about the financial freedom of Church heads ?
Ans : The trust bill ensures several audit mechanisms. There are 3 levels and accounts at all the 3 levels will have to be strictly audited. (Basic unit – Parish ; Diocese unit or District unit; State unit). The bill gives importance to the financial remuneration of priests. (Salary ; allowances). There will definitely be no case of financial irregularity which can not be detected. There is a small restriction on the financial freedom of the church heads as there is need for budget and auditing.
8. Will a local local politician control our church?
Ans : No. Who will represent the Government? ( section 16 – i; ii, iii) The Church commissioner shall be an officer not below the rank of a secretary to the Government. His main role is to check our accounts. So we can minimise corruption at all levels.
9. Will the Church Act interfere with matters of faith?
Ans : No. NEVER. ( Disclaimer – Section 2) The present Act doesn’t propose to get involved in or to formulate opinions or to make decisions on any matters connected with the teachings and practices of the various churches about faith and theology.
10. Will the Syrian Orthodox people lose anything by agitating for the church Act ?
Ans : This is a peaceful campaign. There is no law and order problems. No need to fear the police .This does not cause any problems for other religious communities like Muslims or Hindus . This does not cause job problems unless working in a institution run by the Indian Orthodox church or Catholic church. There is no personal loss of money or property.
11. Will the power of the Patriarch be restored by the church bill from “vanishing point ” ?
Ans : The present Act doesn’t propose to get involved in or to formulate opinions or to make decisions on any matters connected with the teachings and practices of the various churches about faith and theology .Every Church unit assembly shall prepare a memorandum and bylaws of the Trust at a meeting. Each individual church with its bylaws should be registered. Each individual church in its constitution can restore the Spiritual Supremacy of the Patriarch. Thus the power of the Patriarch which the court mistook as “vanishing point ” returns .