Catholic diocese announces welfare scheme for families with five or more kids

A social media post by the Family Apostolate of the Pala diocese, which details the welfare measures for families having five or more children.  

Even as the controversy over the measures to curb population growth in Uttar Pradesh continues to rage, a Catholic Church diocese in central Kerala has announced a welfare scheme for families with five or more children.

The initiative, launched by the Family Apostolate of the Pala diocese under the Syro-Malabar Church, seeks to offer a monthly financial assistance of ₹1,500 to couples married after 2000 and have five or more children. Women delivering their fourth child onward will be given free delivery care at a hospital run by the Church while children born as the fourth or subsequent in a family will be given scholarships at an engineering college run by the Church.

The scheme, announced as part of the Year of the Family celebrations by the Church, is now going viral on social media and has evoked mixed reactions from the public.

Church’s view

Confirming its authenticity, Fr. Joseph Kuttiankal, Director of the Family Apostolate, said the scheme was planned as an assistance to large families, especially in the post COVID-19 scenario. “This is being planned as a minimal assistance to the families that might be finding it hard to make both ends meet. The actual number of families who are eligible for the benefits are yet to be ascertained,” he said.

As to why the year 2000 was set as the lower ceiling, Fr. Kuttiankal said such young families would be the most vulnerable as they mostly had only one earning member. “The elder children of couples who started a family before that year must have completed their education and begun contributing to the family,” he said.

The announcement of the scheme, meanwhile, has evoked some sharp reactions from the public with a section of them terming it as a deliberate attempt to raise the community’s strength. The Church authorities, however, have sought to dismiss the allegations and held that they did not want to respond to such irresponsible remarks.

Two-child norm

An earlier attempt by the Kerala government to bring out the Kerala Women’s Code Bill 2011, which sought to penalise families violating the two-child norm, had created a furore in the State with various religious organisations, including the Catholic Church, protesting against it.

Later in 2019, a pastoral letter issued by the Changanassery Archdiocese suggested that the share of the Christian population in Kerala had dwindled over the years, creating an “alarming situation” for the community in the State.

“During the formation of Kerala, Christians were the second-largest community in the State. But now, the community is only 18.38% of the State’s total population. In recent years, the birth rate in the Christian community has decreased to 14%,” read the letter, issued by Archbishop Mar Joseph Perumthottam.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:40:41 PM |

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