Catholics in Kerala want to make drinking alcohol a sin

Responding to a serious binge-drinking culture, Catholic temperance advocates in India’s most Catholic state want their bishops to declare drinking alcohol a sin.

The temperance commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council also wants a ban on church institutions employing people who drink, and a ban on drinking alcohol at weddings.

The commission’s secretary, Father P. J. Antony, said the extreme stand was taken in view of “the crisis the Kerala society is going through due to excessive drinking”.

He said the proposals were based on the teachings of the Bible and were also in accord with scientific studies that showed alcohol caused various physical and mental illnesses.

But the president of the commission, Charlie Paul, said making drinking a sin might need more theological backing. “Some bishops have reservations on this and want it to be referred to theological experts,” he said.

Christianity is believed to have reached Kerala with the arrival of St Thomas in the year 52. The state’s 6 million Catholics — in Latin, Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara rites — make up about 20 per cent of the population.

The temperance commission, whose vision is a drug-free Church and society in Kerala, was founded in 1998 and operates in all 29 Catholics dioceses in the state.

It also wants the state government — which earns more than 40 per cent of its revenue from alcohol — to get out of the liquor trade.

Kerala has India’s highest rate of consumption of alcohol. The accident rate from road crashes is more than twice the national average, and alcoholism is seen as an underlying cause of increasing suicides and divorces.

“Alcoholism is a serious problem in Kerala, and we have to take tough measures to counter it,” the commission’s chairman, Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril, said earlier this year.


The Asian Age

Christian Today India

Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council

Image: Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council

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