Global financial crisis hits outsourcing of mass to India

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Washington, Aug.6 (ANI): The global financial crisis, it seems, has affected the outsourcing of mass from foreign countries to India.

Till a few months ago, requests for these so-called "Mass Intentions", or prayers offered for a specific reason, poured into India from the United States, Canada and Europe, where there is a huge shortage of priests.

This "religious outsourcing" has now been severely hit by the global economic crisis.

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.

Sebastian Adayanthrath, bishop of Kerala's Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, one of the oldest in the country, said he is observing a big slowdown in incoming requests for mass intentions from the West.

"There is a 50 percent fall recently in outsourced mass intentions," Adayanthrath told GlobalPost in a telephone interview.

Church bankruptcies, diminishing Sunday collections and falling donations from the faithful in Western parishes are all reasons, Adayanthrath said.

For the last decade, India has particularly benefitted from the outsourcing of a multitude of tasks such as writing software code, providing customer service, reading x-rays and filing tax returns.

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.

About two percent of India's 1.2 billion population is Christian, mostly of the Roman Catholic faith. Kerala has a big concentration of churches and the faithful. (ANI)

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