A controversial incentive scheme announced by a diocese of the Kerala’s Catholic Church for families with more than five children has caused consternation and confusion within the sections of the church itself.
The incentive scheme, which sounded completely contrary to the family planning policy of restricting the number of children to two, was trolled heavily on the social media.
The scheme was announced at an online meeting by the Archbishop of Pala Diocese Mar Joseph Kallarangattu, citing Christian values. He promised to provide more details in a press release.
Meanwhile, the official spokesman of the Syro-Malabar church, representing the Roman Catholics, told media persons that there has been some confusion about the announcement and a clarification to this effect would follow.
But the bishop stuck to his position and said there was no confusion and that he stood by the decision.
The scheme promised an economic assistance of Rs 1,500 each per month for a couple who got married later than the year 2000 and have more than five children. For the fourth child onwards, scholarship would be provided for studies at the St Joseph College of Engineering and Technology at Pala.
Similarly, the hospital requirements of the birth of fourth and later children would be provided for free at the Mar Sleeva Medicity, under the control of the diocese.
The incentive scheme was announced as part of the Family Year 2021, which is being observed by the Pala Diocese.
The statement noted, “There is a need to take our community forward. If not to increase the community’s population growth rate, we aim to retain the present growth. Even at the KCBC (Kerala Catholic Bishops Council) level, it was decided to encourage families to have more children. As of now, the population growth rate of the community is declining.”
A letter issued by the Archbishop pointed out that during the formation of Kerala, Christians were the second-largest community in the state. But now, the community is only 18.38 percent of the state’s total population. In recent years, the birth rate in the Christian community has decreased to 14 percent, it added.
Social and cultural leaders assailed the decision saying it was a crude attempt to increase the size of the community.
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