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Kerala sponsors baby boom

Parishes argue encouraging larger families will arrest decline in numbers of Catholics

Kerala sponsors baby boom
Abraham Jacob Chettipuzha with his family in Kerala state

August 31, 2011

Parishes in Kerala state have instituted incentives to encourage families to have larger families amid worries that the Catholic population in the area has begun to drop. The scheme, begun last week, was planned and executed with assistance from Sion Prolife Movement in Mananthavady diocese. A parish in Wayanad district now offers fixed-rate deposits of 10,000 rupees (US$225), held in the name of the fifth child in a family that is born this year. Father Jose Kocharackal, vicar of St Vincent De Paul Forane Church in Kalpetta, said today that the church had issued deposits to two families in the parish, adding that part of the Sunday collection is set aside for funding the deposits. Salu Mecheril, regional coordinator of Sion, said the campaign is gaining popularity, with a second parish preparing to adopt the same plan. “We are working to spread the campaign in all the parishes of the diocese.” Abraham Jacob Chettipuzha, father of five children, said he was “happy the Church is promoting the culture of life.” The plan to increase family size runs counter to a previous initiative by the federal government that encouraged residents to make two children the norm for families. Similar population concerns in Kerala state were expressed in 2008, at which time Church leaders also encouraged parents to have more children. The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference said at the time that a trend among families to have only one child or none at all would imperil the Catholic community. Related report: Kerala bishops push for more children as Catholic numbers dwindle
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