Indian bishop announces controversial welfare scheme for large families

welfare scheme for families

A Catholic diocese in the Indian state of Kerala has come up with a welfare scheme for large families, sparking criticism the move ignores India’s population explosion.

Palai Diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church announced support for large Catholic families as part of its Year of the Family 2021.

The diocese promised to pay 1,500 rupees (NZ$29) monthly to couples married in 2000 or later if they have five or more children.

The diocese also promised to bear the complete delivery expenses of the fourth and subsequent children at its hospital.

The announcement on social media provoked criticism and ridicule, forcing the diocese to remove the post.

Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Palai said the diocese stands by its promises. The move aims to help larger families face difficulties, especially in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Asked why the year 2000 was set as the lower ceiling, Father Kuttiankal said such young families would be the most vulnerable as they mostly had only one earning member in the family.

“The elder children of couples who started a family before that year must have completed their education and begun contributing to their respective families,’’ Kuttiankal explained.

Diocesan youth director Father Thomas Thayil said the plan aims to “strengthen our Catholic families”. However, he did not deny that the policy also seeks to tackle the shrinking Christian population in Kerala.

“The Christian population in the state has been on a steady decline over the years. Now we want our couples to have more children,” he told UCA News on July 28.

Kerala has some 33 million people. Hindus make up 54.73% of its population, Muslims 26.56% and Christians 18.38%, according to the 2011 national census.

Census data in the last three decades shows that Muslims have been steadily increasing, but Christians’ numbers are dwindling.

Father Thayil said that although the diocese hasn’t conducted a detailed study of its population, Catholic families have been shrinking. This has directly impacted the overall population.

“We have noticed a general trend of nuclear families among Catholics and other Christian denominations. We want to change it, at least in our diocese,” he explained


UCA News

Matters India

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