A Catholic church in Kerala has launched a welfare scheme for families with five or more children, amid measures being taken to control population in Uttar Pradesh. The Catholic Church in Pala in Kerala’s Kottayam district has announced that families with five or more children will get financial help. Stating that ‘children are a gift from God’, the letter issued by the church’s Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangat lists several welfare schemes, including financial and educational assistance, to families with more than four children.
The church’s move is being seen as an incentive to boost community numbers in the state. The Family Apostolate of the Pala Diocese of Syro-Malabar Church has decided to provide monthly financial assistance of Rs 1,500 to couples who are married after 2000 and have five or more children.
Father Kuttiyankal, who heads the Family Apostle, said, “The announcement was made as part of the Church’s ‘Year of the Family’ celebration. Its purpose is to provide financial assistance to large families, especially after the Kovid-19 period. We will start receiving applications in this regard soon and probably we will start disbursing the assistance amount from August.
The plan was announced by Bishop Joseph Kalaragant in an online meeting on Monday. However, when asked to link the move to a letter written by the Changanachery Archdiocese in 2019 regarding the declining population of Christians in Kerala, Father Kuttiyankal said the issue was “genuine”.
“It is a fact that the Christian community population in Kerala is declining. Our growth rate is low. This may also be a step behind the plan, but the immediate reason is to provide some relief to large families from the difficulties they are facing in meeting the needs during the pandemic period.
In a letter issued by Archbishop Marjosef Perumathottam, it was said that Christians were the second largest community in the state during the formation of Kerala but now they constitute only 18.38 per cent of the total population of the state. The birth rate in the Christian community has dropped to 14 percent in recent years. The church said women who gave birth to a fourth child at a hospital operated by it would not have to pay delivery fees.