The number of Catholic parishes -- more so in Syro-Malabar Church -- which seem to have joined the mad race to build impressive edifices is increasing. In Kerala, every third church is under renovation or reconstruction. Saving the souls is now secondary. This is also at a time when people, even faithful, don't have roof over their heads, and struggling to keep both ends meet. Spending crores of rupees on opulent churches is an atrocious idea in a country like India where a sizeable number of people live below the poverty line. Remember what Acts 7:48-50 says: “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?’"
Often, rich people in the parish are roped in cleverly and they don't mind diverting part of the black money generated from their businesses for church construction. Yes, the sad part is that church authorities are after these people for big construction activities of the church. Parishioners are given specific amount as contribution for church construction. There was a complaint from auto rickshaw driver in Kerala who was unable to give his share of Rs 35,000 for church construction in his parish. The result was that his daughter's baptism was blocked until he cleared his dues. There was another complaint in North Kerala about overestimating the construction cost and money collected from poor people getting diverted to the pockets of some people.
The multi-crore new church in Edappalli, Kerala, had recently raised many eyebrows. “It is a sin before God if the money offered by faithful is used for luxury instead of utilising it for social welfare projects or to help the needy,” Cardinal George Alencherry said while consecrating the Rs 50 crore church.
While a section of people feel Cardinal could have prevented Edappalli parish from wasting Rs 50 crore on a new church building, there's also a demand that the Syro-Malabar Church should put a moratorium on building new churches. "Won’t it be right and proper, for the whole Church in India to declare a moratorium on new churches made of brick and mortar and concentrate on repairing and rebuilding ever so many domestic churches of flesh and blood going to pieces because of the too many unforeseen challenges facing families today," writes Dr James Kottoor, Editor-in-Chief in Church Citizens’ Voice (CCV).