The Thiruvananthapuram diocese had earlier sought permission to increase their production capacity by 10 times.

Kerala church wine production row TVM Diocese says its used as sacramental blood not alcohol
news Church Friday, April 14, 2017 - 09:43

Following an uproar over the Thiruvananthapuram Archdiocese asking for an increase in its production capacity of wine for religious purposes, since the Kerala church has always backed prohibition in the state, the archbishop of the diocese has clarified that the wine is used only as sacramental blood and not as alcohol.

Kerala Catholic churches seeking permission for more wine production has always raised eyebrows, since the church comes down heavily on liquor outlets and alcoholism. In the last week of March, there were media reports based on leaked documents which indicated that archbishop M Soosa Pakiam had sought a 900% increase of the wine production quota under his Trivandrum (Latin) Archdiocese. This was met with criticism as the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC) has always spearheaded protests against government owned liquor shops and bars, and was in full support of Kerala liquor policy that led to the closing down of bars.

As per the Cochin Mass Wine Rules 1117, the Thiruvananthapuram diocese is allowed to produce 250 litres of wine per year for religious purposes. In the application to government seeking permission for more wine production, the bishop had asked permission to produce 2500 litres of wine per year, citing that present amount is not sufficient to meet the needs of the diocese.

As reported by The Times of India in first week of April, the application from the church cites that there were more than 600 priests in their diocese and each need about two litres of wine per month. The report also said that license fee paid by church for this wine production is very cheap at Rs 1.25 per litre for a year.

In fact, on March 21, bishop Soosa Pakiam hit out at state government asking them to stop attempts to dilute the liquor policy introduced by UDF government in 2015. The bishop also warned government that the church would begin a mass agitation if they dilute the policy. However, the church maintains that their wine is used only as the sacramental blood of Jesus and not as liquor.

“Wine was a drink served along with food at the time of Christ in the region where he preached. I don't think that Jesus used wine as an intoxicant, it must've been a common drink. While we perceive wine only as an intoxicant, the society at the time of Christ did not used it just for getting intoxicated,” Fr Paul Madassery of the KCBC family commission told ToI.

He also said that as per Christian belief, during the holy mass, the wine undergoes transubstantiation, converting the wine into the blood of Christ, and the bread gets converted to Jesus’s flesh. This piece of bread is dipped in wine and served to the believers during mass.

However, the church has faced huge criticism on social media, with many questioning the number of priests mentioned by the bishop in his application.

 

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