Christian clergy not the only ones under pressure...
It would seem from this story that it is not only clergy in the Christian churches who are feeling the
pressure these days. The Bangkok Post carried a report yesterday saying that the Buddhist clergy in
Thailand faced a tough year in 2002 and this year face an uphill task to "restore their former political
clout and public credibility".
When thousands of monks, nuns and lay Buddhists took to the streets
last year to demand the setting up of the Buddhism Ministry, the clergy took a big gamble -- and they
lost. The defeat showed the weakening of one of the country's most powerful institutions in the
It was unlike the old days when the wishes of the Ecclesiastical Council on monastic
affairs were respected by the secular governments. The clergy's double defeat -- first on the amendment
of the Sangha Bill, and then on the setting up of the Buddhism Ministry -- dealt a severe blow to the
cleric elders' political clout.
According to revered monk/scholar Phra Dhammapitaka, the clergy
has become weak because of the weak cleric education system which fails to train monks spiritually while
at the same time failing to make them understand the roots of modern problems and how Buddhism can cope
with them. He noted that any efforts to change the cleric structure that focusses primarily on the power
structure -- and not on the Buddha's teachings on spiritual self-training -- cannot do much to effect
For the clergy, 2003 promises to be another tough year to regain their political clout as
well as public credibility. For the public, however, it will be more of the same because the cleric
system remains as unaccountable as before.
SOURCE - FULL STORY:
3 Jan 2003