Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Outsourcing of Mass to Kerala churches hit by recession

The global economic slowdown has not just affected industries, but also the Catholic Church in Kerala.

Says Sebastian Adayanthrath, bishop of Kerala’s Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, there is a big slowdown in incoming requests for mass intentions from the West.

“There is a 50 percent fall recently in outsourced mass intentions,” Adayanthrath told GlobalPost.

Adayanthrath attributes this fall to Church bankruptcies, lessening Sunday collections and donations from Christians in the West.

This apparently has hit the parishes and priests in his diocese, he says.

The dearth of priests in the West, including the United States, Canada and Europe, influenced the outsourcing of mass or prayers to Kerala – the cradle of Christianity in South Asia.

Prayers are usually conducted in memory of a deceased relative, or for a sick family member, thanksgiving for a favor received, or a newborn.

The requests are collected by church bodies or bishops from individuals and send them to one of the church bodies or a bishop in Kerala, who distribute them to priests.

In Kerala's churches, memorial and thanksgiving prayers conducted for local residents are said for a donation of 40 rupees (90 cents).

But, a similar prayer request from the United States or Canada is charged with $5.

The practice is strongly defended by the Church. “Offering mass intentions on behalf of Westerners are not a business, it is a custom that benefits both sides," Father Paul Thelakkat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, said.

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