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Indian bishops urge Catholics to have more babies

.- Worried over a dwindling Christian population in Kerala, a Catholic prelate in the southern Indian state is encouraging families to have more babies.

Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur has called for a parish poster campaign against birth control and abortion, reported UCA News. The prelate notes that Kerala Christians recorded zero growth in terms of percentage of the population during the decade between the last two national censuses.

In 1991, Christians accounted for 19.5 percent of Kerala's 29 million people. The state's population increased to nearly 32 million in 2001, but the percentage of Christians dropped to 19 percent.

The decline in Christian population has worried the Church for some time. In an August 2006 pastoral letter, Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly also urged his people to have more babies.

Fr. Jose Kottayil, secretary of the KCBC Commission for Family, says large-scale migration and the "micro-family" syndrome have kept Kerala Catholics from increasing relative to other communities.

Thousands of families migrate annually to Australia, Canada, Europe, the Persian Gulf and the United States.

"Our community is well educated and economically better off. Many young parents are having only one child to ensure social security," even if they have the means to afford to raise more children, the priest told UCA News.

The priest said Catholic Church plans to give educational scholarships to children from big families.

"We will also educate (Catholics) to share their resources and provide job opportunities,” he told UCA News. "We have to change the mindset of the people. It may take some more time."

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