31 January 2012
In this image from 2005, a recovering alcoholic attends a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Kerala with his daughter. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
From India today comes word that Catholic leaders are considering taking a hard line against drinking, to battle a worsening problem:
Church leaders in Kerala today declared war on liquor consumption, maintaining that alcohol abuse is the root-cause behind many broken families in the southern Indian state.
The Church is planning to list drinking as a cardinal sin that should be confessed, said Father T. James Antony, secretary of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council’s (K.C.B.C.) Temperance Commission.
The commission is drafting a proposal in this regard for the council which should be finalized by June, he said.
People in Kerala are said to be the biggest drinkers in India, drinking three times the national average.
A recent study by the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre revealed that alcohol dependency is even spreading among children aged 10-15.
“Alcoholism is a social menace which is destabilizing families and claiming thousands of lives every year,” Father Antony said.
We reported on Kerala's problem of addiction and the people struggling to recover in 2005:
Each year, the state consumes 2.2 gallons of liquor per capita, about three times the national rate, according to India’s Outlook magazine.
“In Kerala, people tend to start drinking once they are 18 years old, which is the legal age for being able to purchase liquor,” said Father Titus Kattuparambil, a Syro-Malabar priest of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda and assistant director of Navachaithanya.
“Among the bad cases, you’ll see people who earn about three dollars a day, and they’ll blow two dollars of that on alcohol.”
Both national and local governments have acknowledged the problem of alcoholism, and alcohol advertising is illegal. Kerala’s state government also funds several detoxification centers at public hospitals. But at the same time, Father Titus pointed out, the government in Kerala – as in other Indian states – draws revenue from liquor taxes and therefore has a fiscal disincentive to curb alcohol consumption.
For more, continue reading One Day At a Time in Kerala. For further information on the K.C.B.C. Temperance Council, click here.
Tags: India Kerala Indian Bishops Alcoholism Substance Abuse