A diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala in its bid to assist large families and encourage the Christian population to amplify its population has come up with new initiatives. The Family Apostolate of the Pala diocese under the Syro-Malabar Church has recently announced a welfare scheme to support families with five or more children.

The Church has announced monthly assistance of Rs. 1500 for all families in their diocese if they have five or more children. Also, the sop would be applicable only to the couples who have got married after the year 2000.

Apart from this, the Church will also provide the fourth and the following children in the family with a scholarship to pursue education from the St Joseph’s College of Engineering and Technology, Pala. In addition to the above benefits, the Mar Sleeva Medicity hospital in Pala will bear pregnancy-related expenses for women delivering their fourth and the following children. The Hospital and the college fall under the authority of the Church itself.

The initiative is announced as part of the ‘Year of the Family’ celebrations by the church in an online meeting by Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt. The initiative is launched to provide assistance to large families especially in the post-COVID-19 scenes.

A post by Family Apostolate of the Pala diocese detailing the welfare measures.

Father Joseph Kallarangatt, the Head of the Family Apostolate under the Church further giving clarity on the start of the initiative said, “We will start receiving applications soon and most probably, we will be able to hand out assistance from August.”

Why such initiative?

It is being believed that the initiative to provide assistance to families with five or more children is announced as a measure by the Church authorities to increase the population of the community in Kerala. Several members of the Church fear that and have also expressed their concerns over the declining Christian population in the state.

While one of the reasons behind the immediate announcement of the scheme could be the declining Christian population in Kerala. But as per the Church, the scheme is launched as an effort to provide assistance to large families, especially in the post-COVID-19 scenes.

Two-child norm of the Kerala government

Kerala government in the past has attempted to bring the Kerala Women’s Code Bill 2011 to penalise families violating the two-child norm. The bill indicated towards the adoption of family planning and birth control, but the recommendations of the bill prompted Hindu, Christian and Muslim leaders of the state to collectively raise protest against the two-child norm.

Many religious organisations including the Catholic Church protested against the bill.

Christian population in Kerala

As per various reports and records, it is believed that during the formation of Kerala, Christians were the second-largest community in the state. From being the second largest population of the state, today Christians account for only 18.38 percent of the state’s population.