Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril, chairman of the Temperance Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council

Kerala church commission pushes for declaring alcoholism as sin

By  Anto Akkara, Catholic News Service
  • February 3, 2012

BANGALORE, India - Catholic prohibitionists in India's Kerala state have proposed making alcoholism a sin in the nation's largest Christian enclave.

"Alcoholism is a serious problem in Kerala, and we have to take tough measures to counter it," Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril, chairman of the Temperance Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council, told Catholic News Service Feb. 1 during the general assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India in Bangalore.

More than 100 Temperance Commission delegates from 30 dioceses met in Kerala Jan. 29 and drafted a policy that says anyone who consumes alcohol moderately should be kept away from the church at all levels -- from teaching catechism to parish committees and any other nominated or elected post.

Delegates also want church officials to refuse donations from Christians in the state's thriving alcohol business.

The draft policy was to be presented to the bishops' assembly for consideration.

Alcoholism is seen as the root of increasing suicides, divorces and road accidents in Kerala, where more than 6 million Christians account for 19 percent of the population.

Liquor trade is the highest revenue contributor in Kerala, which also has highest rate of alcohol consumption in India.

The state's road accident rate is more than twice the national average. This had earlier prompted the Kerala church to declare that drunken driving is a sin and it should be confessed.

"When our own people are very into drinking, we have a duty to draw them away (from liquor) with whatever measure that is possible," said Bishop Thekethecheril.

He said the Temperance Commission is asking for revision of catechism texts to include chapters on the evil of alcoholism.

"It is not enough that we tell the government to include it (dangers of alcoholism) in school textbooks," he said.

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