.- There are practically no conversions to Christianity in the South West Indian state of Kerala, according to Bishop Peter Thuruthikonam of Vijayapuram. Although Kerala does not have a formal anti-conversion law, “the state government discourages conversions simply by not granting benefits to converts,” said the prelate. “As a consequence, nobody dares to become Christian.”
In a recent visit to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the bishop was asked about the current challenges and priorities in his diocese.
“Our faithful are low caste people and very poor,” he said. “What they most urgently need is education, because ‘no education, no job.’ So, the Church’s social commitment is crucial.”
The bishop noted that, “While every year 13 or 14 students enter the seminary, girls’ vocations are harder to find.”
In order to foster female vocations, the bishop founded a diocesan congregation in 1993, the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart. Today, this congregation has about 40 sisters.
The Diocese of Vijayapuram, which has about 3.6 million inhabitants, has about 85,000 Catholics and 75 parishes.