.- Catholic parishes in Kerala have created incentives for Catholics to have larger families because of concerns that the Catholic population has started to decline.
A parish in Kerala’s Wayand district now offers fixed-rate deposits of $225 that are held in the name of the fifth child born to a Catholic family in 2011.
Fr. Jose Kocharackal, vicar of St. Vincent De Paul Forane Church in Kalpetta, said that the church had issued deposits to two families in the parish. Part of the Sunday collection is set aside for funding the deposits.
The program was planned and instituted with help from the Sion Prolife Movement in the Diocese of Mananthavady, UCA News reports.
Salu Mecheril, the organization’s regional coordinator, said the campaign’s popularity is increasing. A second parish is preparing to adopt the same plan.
“We are working to spread the campaign in all the parishes of the diocese,” Mecheril said.
One father of five, Abraham Jacob Chettipuzha, said he was “happy the Church is promoting the culture of life.”
The plan runs counter to a federal government initiative to encourage parents to make two children the norm.
In 2008 the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference said that a family trend to have only one child or none at all would imperil the Catholic community.
The 2001 census said that Christians made up 19 percent of Kerala’s population of over 31 million, a drop from the 1991 census which showed they made up 19.5 percent. Kerala is mostly Hindu, but Muslims account for about 25 percent of the population.