THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Concerned over sharp fall in the birth rate in Christian families, Catholic Church in Kerala has initiated the concept of 'larger families' with three or more children.
The idea was mooted at a two-day meet of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) earlier this week in Kochi and the matter would come up for detailed discussion at its next meeting in August.
"The proposal was mooted by the Council's Family Commission headed by Bishop of Idukki Mathew Anikkuzhikkattil. The next meeting of KCBC would discuss the concept in detail and work out an action plan for its implementation at the
diocesan level", a KCBC spokesman said.
The demographic assessemnt of KCBC was that in Kerala the Muslim families alone were showing increase in children while the number of kids in both the Hindu and Christian families had been falling sharply.
A grass-root level campaign based on the theme of "respect to life" would be launched to popularise the concept. Ideas like giving certain special support to families with three or more children in church-run hospitals and educational institutions would also be considered, the spokesman said.
"We are not bothered about the numbers alone. Respect to life is a policy followed by the Catholic Church universally in tune with its Pro-Life Ministry," KCBC sources said.
A powerful Christian body, KCBC has as its members bishops from Kerala's three main Catholic streams--Syro Malabar, Latin and Syro Malankara hierarchies.
In Kochi, a Catholic Church spokesman, Father Paul Thelekat said the church was "anxious" and "concerned" at the falling birth rates in the Christian community.
Among the five denominations in the community, the lowest birth rate is of Marthomites, he said.
Attributing the fall in population to very strong influence of consumer culture, he said the church has been telling its faithful to "be open to future, and to procreation", he said.
Today children are seen as "disturbing" menace, whereas they should be welcomed as "gifts of god", he said.
Based on baptism and marriage registers in various churches in Ernakulam, he conducted a survey few years ago and its results were very alarming.
Catholics have been taught that they have the right to decide on the number of children according to their economic and health indications. However, statistics have shown that those who were economically more prosperous and healthy wanted fewer children, he said. This clearly indicates a very strong influence of consumer culture which was extremely materialistic, he said.
This culture was described by Pope John Paul II as the "culture of death," he said.