unnamedBy  GITANJALI A BERNARD, New York

                       Pope Francis has approved extending the boundaries of the Mandya diocese [Karnataka, India].

Six civil districts of the Mysore region have been added. Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru rural, Chickballapur, Kolar, Ramnagara andTumkur are the new add-ons. Diocese is known as “Eparchy” in Syro-Malabar Church’s idiom. 

                      Father Antony Kariyil, C.M.I. is the new bishop [UCAN News].He was previously the director of an Engineering College, in Cochin.The UCAN’s news brief states that the new bishop pursued his priestly studies in Poona and Bangalore. He has additionally a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Poona. A solid grounding in social concerns, coupled with his theological education outside Kerala, would stand the new bishop in good stead.
                       The news write-up says: “The Synod of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church gathered at Mount St. Thomas,Kerala, having received the prior Pontifical assent, has elected the priest as the bishop”. 

It is the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church who appoints Fr. Karilyil.The Pope in Rome is duly notified.

Or, the Syrian Church “obtains the prior assent of the Holy Father”. 

                        Selecting of a local bishop in this home-grown manner is a great thing.I feel this should be the ideal mode of operation.I understand this manner of choosing a diocesan head is a special privilege of the Syro-Malabar Church, according to the Code of Canon Laws of the Oriental Churches [Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium].  

I realize there are 22 such "sui juri churches” around the world in communion with the Bishop of Rome. 

                         I am wondering why this method and approach of selection of bishops can’t be followed in other parts of India. Local bishops’ bodies electing a suitable candidate.Even others – priests, religious, lay leaders, even non-Catholics of the locality, as may be appropriate and possible  [Is a bishop exclusively a leader for the Church?]

Presenting the person to Rome for the “assent” on him.And the appointment finally coming from within the region? 

                         The argument that only sui juri churches could have such a provision and privilege and

that others must be remote-controlled by certain department in Rome does not sound quite palatable.

One may say: Well, there is so much history behind such praxis. And may I say: Why not we make certain new history for the Lord? The report adds that the priest is proficient in Malayalam, English and Hindi.  Even as he hails from Kerala, I congratulate him for his considerable fluency in several languages.Expertise in any language is an invaluable asset. 

                            Although the formal mode of communication of the Syrian Church is Malayalam and English [as mentioned in its Official Site], it would be wise that its leaders learn other languages.For instance, the primary language of the State of Karnataka is Kannada, whose familiarity will be of immense help to Mandhya’s chief Shepherd. Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru rural, Chickballapur,Kolar, Ramnagara and Tumkur also speak other languages than Malayalam, Hindi and English.Kolar and Bengaluru has sizable pockets of non-Malayalee populations.   

                           Missionary outreach, ecumenical participation, sacramental administration in emergencies to non-Syrian Christians,engagement with civil authorities of the State, Karnataka’s harsh political realities and other considerations in the context of greater population,  indeed necessitate that both the chief shepherd and its priests are familiar with local and primary language. The provisions of the Eastern Rite Canon Law [CCEO] specifically mention such pastoral concerns: The great distance from the eparchical headquarters.The geographical differences.

The linguistic differences.The cultural differences and The differences in the nature of the apostolate undertaken”.

Surely, a larger umbrella beyond Malayalam, Hindi and English is wisely contemplated in the Codex Canonum EcclesiarumOrientalium.

                             It is an ideal that will warm the heart of Jesus that a “Church” be generous, welcoming and all-embracing/catholic beyond just being a self-referential service center for one region’s expatriates.

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