The Syro Malabar Church in Kerala has publicly expressed concern claiming that the share of the Christian population in Kerala has dwindled over the years, creating an "alarming situation" for the community in the state. Claiming that over one lakh men under Syro Malabar Church itself are yet to find life partners, the Church says that several other factors have created a crisis.
"Over one lakh Christian grooms above the age of 30 under the Syro Malabar Church are unable to find life partners," claimed a pastoral letter issued recently by a Kerala archbishop. The letter, issued by the Changanacherry Archdiocese, Archbishop Mar Joseph Perumthottam, was read out in all churches during the Sunday mass on October 6. According to the church, apart from not being able to find a life partner, low birth rate, unemployment, agricultural crisis and even the recent floods are affecting the Christian community. The letter viewed these issues as "precarious to the existence of Christian community".
To support its claim, the letter uses certain statistics based on the registry of parishioners in all churches under Syro Malabar Church.
“During the period of the formation of the Kerala state, Christians were the second-largest community in the state. But now, the community is only 18.38% of the state’s total population. In recent years, the birth rate in the Christian community has decreased to 14%. This data shows that the Christian community is facing an alarming situation,” the archbishop said in his pastoral letter.
The Church says that many youngsters are deserting the community and leaving the country for greener pastures due to the lack of jobs in Kerala. “Most Christian youths are NRIs. Many homes in the state have only old parents living there while young people are not willing to return to their home land. Unemployment is the main reason and this is largely in the Christian community,” the letter said, alluding to the data presented by Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi at the Lok Sabha in June this year.
The pastoral letter also pointed out that certain sectors that the Christian community is involved in are facing serious issues. “The farming sector has been largely destroyed in the state. Rubber, fisheries and small scale industries are facing a huge crisis, which is affecting the Christian community,” it read.
“The floods last August and this year mainly affected the Christian community,” the letter claimed, although the government has not released any data explicitly stating this.
“In 2006, the union government formed a minority department and allotted Rs 4,700 crore for minority development. The state and union governments also provide facilities for bank coaching and other PSC exams. But the Christian community failed to enjoy the government assured benefits and government jobs,” it further read.
The church has also decided to publish a textbook on the issues faced by the Christian community. Additionally, a teaching team will be formed under the archdiocese to create awareness on these issues amongst the community members. “This team will conduct special classes to discuss the textbook at the parish level. In addition, a help desk to explain the government schemes available to them and how to apply for it will be started at each parish and school under the archdiocese,” the pastoral letter said.