American President-elect Donald J Trump infamously triggered a dangerous debate on migration during his whirlwind campaign last year.  It seems, the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (SMC), the second largest Eastern Catholic Church, is joining the migration debate, with a set of concerns far removed from that of the American. 


The SMC  urged its believers against migrating to foreign shores in search of better prospects. Why the educated youngsters are leaving the country in search of jobs when they could pursue their dreams here, the church wondered. 

 

India is a land of opportunities. But those who are well placed here are also leaving the country even for low profile jobs in foreign countries. This is not a welcome trend, the SMC, which has a sizeable NRI base across the world, felt.
 

Also read: Kerala's Orthodox Church embraces Catholic Bible

 

Interestingly, the SMC, which has dioceses across India and abroad including London, released the document, which can be called a compilation of directive principles for the believers and the clergy, at a time when the world is debating migration more actively than ever after Trump raised it as his major poll plank. The SMC document, released by Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, the head of the church, also urged the clergy to lead a life of simplicity and shed luxury.  

 

According to SMC, more than 5.2 lakh Syro Malabarians are living outside the country with a majority of them in Gulf countries, Australia and  England. Yet, what's prompting the church to urge believers to stop migrating to foreign lands? Here are some possible reasons. 

 

  •  Most of the youths who migrate to foreign shores do not return. They settle down there, and their next generation would grow up there. This could be worrying for the SMC, which is firmly rooted in Indian culture. The new generation tends to move away from the mother church. 
     
  • A good number of these 'migrants' and their next generation marry from other religions and gradually move away from their church and lose identity. 
     
  • As the expatriate believers gather strength, the church would be pressed to send priests to foreign lands. The SMC, like any other church in the world, is facing a shortage of clergy, thanks to the reluctance of the youths to opt celibacy. The SMC recently established a diocese in London. 
     
  • Syro-Malabarians' losing grip in the government service in Kerala which is worrying for the church. As more youths opt for foreign jobs, the pull of the government jobs has weakened. Hence, the church realises that it is gradually losing presence in the bureaucracy.  The church is giving coaching for Kerala Public Service Commission examinations, but the response of the youths is far less positive.