Procreate more and win rewards, it seems there are not many takers for the church sermon. The Irinjalakuda diocese (Thrissur district) has withdrawn the ambitious advertisement in local media announcing a reward of Rs. 1000 for the fourth child till he/she attains the age of 20. Besides cash award, their education would also be sponsored by church-run institutions.
But believers are yet to bite the bullet -- Church's pro-life campaign has failed to yield desired results. Believers swear quality not quantity counts. Interestingly, the diocese had given the ad in regional papers exhorting believers to produce more babies ensuring them that finance won't be a constraint in rearing them. The offer was given as part of the 'Year of the Couple' celebrations.
Dwindling numbers had forced the powerful Catholic church in Kerala to press the button. Pastoral letters were read out in churches on several occasions urging the faithful to embrace Christian concept of sexuality that blends love and procreation. It had to remind them too often that sex was not merely an instrument of pleasure, but integral to procreation and flourish.
"I am not aware of the ad withdrawal. True, pro-life movement is successful in some parts and others it is not. It is not a campaign to raise numbers only. It is a comprehensive movement, rather a way of life," said Syro-Malabar church spokesman Father Paul Thelekkat. "Church can be a persuasive force not coercive one" he said adding development models of the successive governments were turning anti-life.
There's been a growing tendency among Christian couples in their pursuit of pleasure to opt out of having children, and frequent pastoral letter traces the malaise to the influence of globalization and a perverse view of life, and not lack of wealth or health reasons.
Interestingly church took had taken active interest in ensuring family planning in Kerala in 1960s and 70s. But now it is on reverse gear to stem the decline in numbers.
Christians from around 18% of the population in Kerala (it was around 22% two decades ago). Church fears that it will face the situation similar to that of European countries where half of the population will be old by 2050.