HR Strange But True!
July 09, 2004

The clergy shortage in North America and Europe has forced the Roman Catholic Church to ask priests in India to handle some chores from overseas, including saying Mass for special intentions, according to The New York Times. The newspaper calls it "a sacred if unusual version of outsourcing."

About 2 percent of India's more than 1 billion people are Christians, and most of them are Catholics. In the state of Kerala, which has one of the largest concentrations of Christians in India, churches often receive requests for intentions--usually a prayer for the soul of a deceased or ill loved one--from overseas, The Times reports.

Such requests are mostly routed to Kerala's churches through the Vatican, the bishops, or through religious bodies. In Kerala's churches, memorial and thanksgiving prayers conducted for local residents are said for a donation of 40 rupees (90 cents), whereas a prayer request from the United States typically comes with $5, the Indian priests told The Times.

Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath, an auxiliary bishop in Kerala, said his diocese received an average of 350 Mass intentions a month from overseas. Most were passed to needy priests, who welcome the supplements because they normally earn $45 a month.

Source: New York Times, via the Arizona Republic

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