Outsourcing God

Sarita Rai in her article writes about an interesting phenomenon of out sourcing God and how the economic recession in the West is hurting the priests in India.  An excerpt:

It is dawn in Kerala, a palm frond of a state in India’s South West. As the sun’s first rays hit the church steeple, a Holy Mass is being conducted in the local Malayalam language.

Only, the prayer is dedicated to a newborn by his Catholic family half a world away in the United States.

Requests for these so-called Mass Intentions, or prayers offered for a specific reason, pour into India from the United States, Canada and Europe, where there is a huge shortage of priests.

This outsourcing to faraway India is a quaint practice that has been called “religious outsourcing."

But now, the severe global economic crisis and bankruptcies in Western churches are hitting even this unusual practice. In Kerala and other parts of India, where the Roman Catholic Church still thrives, outsourced mass intentions are dwindling and striking the income of poorer priests and impoverished churches.

With religious outsourcing, Westerners request Indian churches to hold Holy Mass in memory of a dead family member, or thanksgiving for a child’s college admission, to celebrate a wedding anniversary or even for unusual causes such as the well-being of their favorite sports stars.

“Each mass is paid a stipend of $5 (250 rupees) upwards, supplementing the income of priests who are otherwise paid 50 rupees for the same service by locals,” said Rector Father Augustine Thottakara of Bangalore-based seminary Dharmaram College.


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