Indian churches divided over wine ban26th August, 2014 by Simon Howland
Christian churches in Kerala are split over the use of wine in church services following the announcement of plans for a state-wide ban.
Following the announcement Kerala will be alcohol free within 10 years several of the states Christian churches have taken opposing stances on the use of wine during services.
According to Outlook India Philipose Mar Chrysostom, 96, former head of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, said churches in Kerala should remove wine from their services: “For the holy mass, there is no need to use wine.”
He suggested a return to the past when dried grapes soaked in water were given to believers instead of wine to celebrate communion.
But Varapuzha Archbishop Dr Francis Kallarackal disagreed when he declared wine to be integral to the celebration of Christian mass all over the world and could not be banned.
Syro Malabar Church, part of the Roman Catholic Church, spokesperson Father Paul Thelekat was also adamant wine would continue to be used for communion: “No church uses anything other than wine, we will continue the tradition.”
Kerala currently has the highest per capita consumption of liquor in India but next year the government plans to shut down all venues serving alcohol with the exception of five-star hotels with the goal of total prohibition in 10 years.