Monday, September 14, 2009

In India, Holy Orders

In a nod to the Year of the Priest's goal -- well, one of 'em -- "to advance [the clergy] along the path of Christian perfection," the leadership of India's 4-million member Syro-Malybar church released a set of protocols yesterday encouraging simplicity among the ordained:
"It is time for introspection," says Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath of Ernakulam-Angamaly who issued the guidelines on Sept. 13 as part of the archdiocese's observation of the Year for Priests.

The Syro-Malabar prelate told UCA News he prepared the code after consulting priests and lay people.

"It's an attempt to remind priests what is expected of them. They have to be role models for the faithful and should not succumb to worldly pleasures," he said.

The code appeals to priests to base their lives on the Bible and observe simplicity and transparency. It bars them from receiving expensive gifts from parishioners for services.

Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, told UCA News that some priests had received expensive cars from parishes.

"The Church wants to curb such lavishness," the priest said.

The guidelines ask priests and seminarians not to use expensive consumer goods and to be simple in their food habits, dress code and travel.

The code insists that all priests set apart a day a month for prayer. It also wants parishes to observe a day in a year as the priest day. The day will be set aside to honor the parish priest and conduct special prayers for priests who have served the parish.

The guidelines also direct priests to create a platform in every parish for interaction with laypeople. They have to prepare sermons based on the Bible and take people's feedback to improve their content and delivery. it's been said, to whom much is given, much is required.