Going against the grain of Kerala’s success in family planning, the Syro-Malabar church in the northern part of the state has exhorted its followers to produce more children and pocket an attractive fixed deposit.
It wants parents to shrug off the “shame” of having many kids and uphold the true Christian concept of sexuality, which blends love and procreation.
Couples having their fifth child would get a one-time Rs 10,000 fixed deposit and the kid’s education would be taken care of, the Syro-Malabar church assured the faithful.
“Parents who have many children should get over any sense of shame. It is a recognition for such parents,” said Salu Abraham Mecheril, a spokesman of the pro-life committee of the church.
The fixed deposit (FD) can be redeemed after 18 years.
However, the church has not yet announced any similar offer for the sixth child onwards. The church’s largesse has come at a time when the Justice Krishna Iyer panel on population control recommended a heavy fine for those parents who have more than two children.
The number of followers of this denomination of Roman Catholicism is dwindling. In 2006, it had to issue a letter urging followers to shed “anti-life and selfish tendencies” creeping in among the faithful.
In the 2001 census, the Christian population was 19% of the total. A study by the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad in 2004 showed its numbers came down to 18%.
Syro-Malabar church spokesman Father Paul Thekekkat said though he supported the idea, it was purely the decision of a particular parish. “The church is all for responsible parenthood. There has been a growing tendency among couples to opt out of having children. It will leave a gray population like Europe,” he warned.