The recent move by the Church of England to allow ordination of women as bishops has caused ripples among traditionalists in the Indian church especially in this region,the seat of Syrian Christianity,with top religious leaders opposing it tooth and nail,asserting that episcopacy was not the job of the fair sex.
As the historic decision of the Anglican Church,the most influential Protestant congregation,created a vertical split in the Anglican communion in Britain and rest of the world,top church leaders here lost no time in denouncing the move.
“It is not a question of faith but tradition. Christianity extends all considerations to women. Women are not inferior as they are equal before God,” Council of Christian Churches of India (CCCI) President Arch Bishop Stephen Vattappara said.
“Equality does not mean that mother becomes a father as both have distinct features and functions and should be maintained as such,” he said.
The CCCI,formed in 1973 as the Indian arm of the International Council of Christian Churches and comprising Anglican,Methodist,Presbyterian and Anglican orthodox churches,declared its stand on the issue at its three-day national assembly held in Kurici near Kottayam recently.
The meeting also pointed out that Jesus Christ did not appoint any disciple or Apostle from fair sex though women were allowed to join other ministries of the church.
This was not the position of the Protestant churches alone. The Orthodox churches in Greece,Armenia and Russia also did not allow women priests,Vattappara said.
The CCCI meet also referred to the attacks on Christians in Orissa last year and wanted the Union Government to take firm steps to ensure freedom of the people to profess the faith of their choice.
The Council asked the mainstream churches to concentrate more on charitable activities and evangelisation,instead of focussing merely on building institutions which generated money.
It appealed to the Bible Society of India to stop taking profits through the sale of the scripture making it available at an affordable price to the poor and the needy.
Hailing the plurality of Indian society,the council wanted the Christian leaders to refrain from making clarion calls for separate rights for Christians arguing that such an approach was against the teachings of Jesus Christ.