Structure of Caodaism (2)
- Giao-Tong/Pope – There is only one Giao-Tong/Pope who is the Leader of the Cuu Trung Dai/Executive Body .
- Chuong-Phap/Legislative Cardinal – There are three Chuong-Phap/Legislative Cardinals. The three Legislative Cardinals/Chuong-Phap belong to the three branches: Nho (Confucianist), Thich (Buddhist) and Dao (Taoist); one for each branch. The Legislative Cardinals/Chuong-Phap have the right to examine the religious laws before their promulgation, whether they come from the Pope (Giao-Tong), or proposed by the Cardinals (Dau-Su).
- Dau-Su/Cardinal – There are three Dau-Su/Cardinals, one for each branch. “The Cardinals/Dau-Su have the right to direct the Disciples of God, spiritually and temporally”. “They have the right to enact laws, but they must submit them for the approval of the Pope”.
- Phoi-Su/Archbishop - There are 36 Phoi-Su/Archbishops, 12 for each branch. Among these thirty-six, there are three Principal Archbishops/Chanh Phoi-Su. “These three dignitaries are not only the heads of the thirty-three Archbishops/Phoi-Su, but they are also the representatives of Cardinals/Dau-Su, with the same powers as the Cardinals”. “Since they are the representatives of the Faithful, the Principal Archbishops/Chanh Phoi-Su have the duty to obey the laws. They can however ask the Cardinals/Dau-Su for certain improvements in the laws, but they do not have the power to propose new ones”. “The three Principal Archbishops/Chanh Phoi-Su cannot ask for repeal of the Laws”.
Archbishops work under the Principal Archbishops. They have the same authority of the Principal Archbishops when they execute a mission assigned by the Principal Archbishop.
- Giao-Su/Bishop - “There are 72 Giao-Su/Bishops, divided into 3 branches of 24 each. They are responsible for the spiritual and temporal education of the disciples. They are to care for the adepts the way the Elder Brothers care for Younger ones”
- Giao-Huu/Priest - “There are 3000 Giao-Huu/Priests, a thousand for each Branch. This number must be neither increased nor decreased. They preside over ritual ceremonies in the province temples. The Priests have the Mission of propagating the Religion”
- Le-Sanh/Student Priest - The number of Le-Sanh/Student Priests is unlimited. The Student Priests are drawn from the most virtuous of the Sub-dignitaries. The Student Priests must always visit the adepts, and preside over the “ceremony of the installation of the Altar” at their homes. They take the place the Priests for the teaching of the rites.
- Chuc Viec (Chanh-Tri-Su, Pho-Tri-Su, Thong-Su) /Minor Office-Bearers /Sub- dignitaries or Religious Village) Administrators – The number of Minor Office-Bearers is unlimited. The Minor Office-Bearers should look after the adepts in the villages. They should consider the adepts as their younger sisters/brothers. They should follow the orders of the Priests and Student Priests who are the chiefs of the parishes.
- Tin-Do/Adepts – The number of adepts is unlimited.
Female dignitaries reach the rank of Cardinal only. The number of dignitaries in the College of Women is unlimited. There is no branch for female dignitaries. The Dignitaries of the College of Women are formed by the Spiritual Pope Li Tai Pai (Ly Thai Bach). The Supreme Being/God said “I wanted to suppress the College of Women, but you are all my children, so I make no distinction between you”. For this reason at the point when the Rules and Religious Laws were created, women were admitted to investiture with priestly functions.
Three councils govern the Holy See:
- Popular Council/Hoi Nhon Sanh - composed of Student Priests/Le-Sanh, Sub- dignitaries and representatives of adherents in the ratio of one delegate per 500 members. The Popular Council makes plans for the future.
- Sacerdotal Council/Hoi-Thanh - composed of Priests/Giao-Huu, Bishops/Giao-Su, Archbishops/Phoi-Su and Principal Archbishops/Chanh Phoi-Su. The Sacerdotal Council examines the plans made by the Popular Council.
- High Council/Thuong Hoi - composed of Cardinals/Dau-Su, Legislative Cardinals /Chuong-Phap and the Pope/Giao-Tong. All plans made by the Popular Council and favoured by the Sacerdotal Council are submitted to High Council for approval.
If there is a disagreement, i.e. the three Councils are not at one, the plans must be submitted to God through a medium for a final decision.
At the Holy See, the three Cardinals/Dau-Su of the Executive Body control the administration of the Religion. They are assisted by three Principal Archbishops/Chanh-Phoi-Su. There are nine separate religious ministries/Cuu Vien in the Executive Body. Each religious ministry has its own personnel, operational system, and offices in the administrative building. Each of the three Principal Archbishops/Chanh Phoi- Su directs three of these religious ministries:
- The Principal Archbishop of the Buddhist Branch/Phai THAI is chief of the Financial/Ho Vien, Supply/Luong Vien and Public Works/Cong Vien Ministries.
- The Principal Archbishop of the Taoist Branch/Phai THUONG is chief of the Education/Hoc Vien, Health/Y Vien and Agriculture/Nong Vien Ministries.
- The Principal Archbishop of the Confucian Branch/Phai NGOC is chief of Justice/Hoa Vien, Interior/Lai Vien and Rites/Le Vien Ministries
The administrative network which functions throughout Vietnam consists of:
- The Religious Region (Tran Dao) comprising of several provinces, headed by a Bishop/Giao-Su who is called the Regional Religious Chief/Kham Tran Dao.
- The Religious Province (Chau Dao) comprising of several districts/delegations, headed by a Priest who is called Provincial Religious Chief/Kham Chau Dao.
- The Religious District/Delegation comprising of several villages, headed by a Student Priest who is called the Religious Chief of Delegation/Dau Toc Dao (Dau Phan Dao).
- The Religious Village (Huong Dao) headed by a Sub-dignitary/Chanh-Tri-Su who is called Village Religious Chief/Dau Huong Dao. He is assisted by one (or more) Pho-Tri-Su (Deputy Chief for Administration of a religious village) representing the Executive Body and one (or more) Thong-Su representing the Legislative Body. The Religious Village are made up of Religious Hamlets/Ap Dao.
As mentioned above, the original organisation and hierarchical structure of Caodaism involved three branches: the Bat-Quai-Dai (Spiritual), Hiep-Thien-Dai (Legislative), and Cuu-Trung-Dai (Executive). “The dignitaries of the Cuu-Trung-Dai and of the Hiep- Thien-Dai merely form organisations to assist the Supreme Being and the Great Spirits to found the New Religion to guide Humanity in the True Way of God”.
Besides the above Bodies, there are:
- The Teaching and Propaganda (Pho Te) Body which was established in 1936 under the supervision of the Cuu-Trung-Dai/Executive Body.
- The Social Affairs/Charitable Organisation (Phuoc Thien) which was founded in 1938 under the supervision of the Hiep-Thien-Dai/Legislative Body.
It is also noted that under the Secular Affairs of Hiep-Thien-Dai, there is a Ban The Dao/Lay Committee. The Lay Committee/Ban The Dao is a body consisting of professional specialists among adepts.They serve the Religion and the society with their professional ability. It is their duty to support the Religion as effectively as possible within their capacity. The four titles for dignitaries of Ban The Dao are: Hien Tai, Quoc Si, Dai Phu and Phu Tu.