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Oriental Church encouraging global migration

Syro-Malabar Church is eying South African land for Catholic farmers

  • ucanews.com reporter, Kochi
  • India
  • January 27, 2011
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The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India is encouraging its faithful to settle in other countries.

“We are trying to encourage our people to migrate to South Africa,” Chacko Sebastian, secretary of the Syro-Malabar Church’s laity commission told ucanews.com.

The commission plans to visit South Africa and Australia in the next four months to explore the possibilities of settling their people in those countries.

“South Africa offers an excellent opportunity for farmers, who form the majority our people,” Sebastian said.

The Church had previously promoted migration to the Konkan region of western India, a move that initially met with resistance from right-wing Hindu groups.

Sebastian said resistance soon subsided after the Church succeeded in winning the confidence of local people.

The lay leader said some 40 families have already migrated to the Konkan region.

Several Religious houses and dioceses have bought land there to start educational institutions, he added.

Bishop Mathew Arackal of Kanjirapally, chairperson of the Church’s laity commission, is promoting the migration.

As land has become scarce and expensive in Kerala, agriculture has become non remunerative, the prelate told ucanews.com.

He said South Africa offers “very fertile land” for “hard working” Syrian Catholics. The only hitch is its political instability and ethnic clashes.

South Africa offers land on a 99-year lease he said, adding that Saudi Arabia has leased 100,000 hectares for farming activities.

Bishop Arackal says the UN program for food security offers Catholics an opportunity to undertake new ventures.

“Food security is the great concern of the Church. The only way we can ensure food security is to double food production. We are taking up this challenge as the mission of the Church,” he said.

Catholic Joseph Louis says the laity should work for the success of the Church initiative.

“We should look beyond territories and borders and expand globally,” he added.

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