Finding that advocacy and awareness-creation alone would not work in its battle against the bottle, the Catholic Church in the State is planning to go aggressive with a rash of steps to keep the drinker out on the limb.
“Henceforth, fighting alcohol will be a major objective of the church in Kerala,” Father T. J. Antony, secretary of the Temperance Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, said. “Anti-liquor campaign will be top on the agenda of the church.”
The Temperance Commission, which has been campaigning against drinking for 14 years, has drawn up a series of guidelines for the church institutions to follow in order to make the drinker sorry about himself.
The guidelines ask church institutions not to accept any donations, funds or contributions from liquor traders. Church buildings or land should not be rented out for liquor trade or for running bars or toddy shops. “In fact, this new guideline is not a new one,” Fr. Antony said. “Way back in 1997, joint circular by the bishops had asked that liquor money be kept out of church activities.” However, this was not actively implemented. From now, on this would be strictly enforced. Those volunteering to make a donation to a church project or activity would be turned away.
Another major move is to keep drinkers out of all elected positions in the church. Drinkers would not be allowed to contest elections to church bodies. Yet another significant proposal to ban drinking at celebrations such as wedding. Wedding-related drinking has become a routine for Christians.
The church would also go on an aggressive awareness campaign. All church institutions would sport hoardings against drinking and drug use. “In Kerala, you can see a church-related institution every two or three km,” Fr. Antony pointed out. “If all these institutions put a hoarding against drinking, that will be a big campaign.”