Kochi, Nov 28 (UNI) Warning that the habitual drinking of alcohol is ruining families in Kerala, Major Archbishop Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil of the Syro-Malabar Church today called for a ''liquor free'' Christmas celebration this year.
Stating that the consumption of liquor showed a marked increase during festival times, Cardinal Vithayathil said at a press conference here that he was calling for a ''liquor-free'' Christmas as a ''symbolic gesture''.
He said that he was personally writing to 100,000 families in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archidiocese in this regard. As part of a multi-faceted campaign, a rally would also be held here on December 13, he said.
Expressing confidence that the laity would respond to his call, Cardinal Vithayathil said ''I think for a day, they will accept an impassioned plea from their father to stay away from liquor.'' Terming the consumption of alcohol a ''Western influence'', Cardinal Vithayathil said that before the advent of the Portuguese here in the 16th century, there was no liquor consumption in the Christian community.
''However, unlike the Western societies, where liquor consumption is a part of their culture, our people are not able to hold their drinks and debase themselves to bestial behaviour,'' he said.
A lot of family problems, crimes, and accidents were a result of drunken behaviour, he added.
While the Church was not demanding the imposition of prohibition at present, it would like to caution the people as alcohol consumption was becoming a ''habit'' and even children as young as 14 years were being offered liquor, he said.
Noting the rise in liquor consumption in Kerala, he said that the sale of IMFL by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation had jumped from 10.99 million cases in 2005-06 to 13.26 million cases in 2006-07. The revenue earned by the Corporation had increased from Rs 2,635 crore to Rs 3,143 crore in the same period. During 2007-08, the Corporation had already earned Rs 1,138 crore, he said.