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"Pregnancy package of Indian Catholic Church… Sparks controversy In India."

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Wimal Mary Das/ Freelance Reporter USA

The above advertisement raised criticism against the Bishop Kallarangatt and his policy for women of his diocese, Pala, central region of Kerala in India. The display of an advertisement with the picture of an Eastern-rite Bishop Mar. Joseph Kallarangatt, the eparch of Pala diocese, calls out women of his diocese to give birth to more than four children became controversial. Offering benefits and scholarships to lure women of his diocese invited sharp reactions from the people of India as it has turned disputable on Catholic teachings on population and responsible parenthood. The lucrative pregnancy package has backfired harshly as it went viral criticizing the crazy mindset of Bishop Kallarangatt, apparently aiming at community domination, eyeing on the political power game of his diocese. The financial offer worth US of $20 per month and scholarship for engineering studies in Church-run institutions are the lucrative offers advertised by the Family department of Pala Diocese. This incentive to give birth to more than five children is to be understood on the backdrop of the reality of the world, which has been struggling to control population growth. Pope Francis once strongly repudiated the trend of having irresponsible parenthood. The remark of Pope Francis he made while talking about responsible parenthood on the way to Apostolic trip to the Philippines. "Do not think that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits and produce litters of children."

Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt

The Syro Malabar Church, under the leadership of allegedly corrupt and controversial leadership of Cardinal George Alencherry and his close alliance with Pala diocese in matters of corruption and fraud in the Syro Malabar Church, put this announcement in a scathing spot. The advertisement luring women to give birth to more than five children landed in troubled waters. The poster reflected that the Catholic Church of India lures women for multiple births, which circulated on social media and went viral, attracting excessive negative comments. "India has millions of orphans, and western world charities are funding millions of dollars to alleviate the poverty of Indian orphans, whereas a bureaucratic bishop of central Kerala is peeping into the bedrooms business of young families of Kerala. We have to acknowledge the charitable works of the Western world to work so hard to give the minimum necessities of life for orphans of India. Unfortunately, a bishop urges parents to procreate more children to increase the number of his community in India, I think it is unchristian, unethical, and scandalous. It is undoubtedly pseudo-Catholicism and not the teaching of the Church but using the Church membership to bargain the ghetto political gains," commented by Minson Mathew, a Social worker, an Indian immigrant working in New York, United States of America

The spoke person of the diocese of Palai, Kerala Fr. Kuttiankal said, "the decision was taken not based on any survey on birth and fertility rates among the laity, but we know that situation of families in the Church".

Some of the comments in social media are pejorative as someone compared this policy of Bishop Kallarangatt and his Family Apostolate to lure the women into having more children as the Adol Hiler Nazi policy of encouragement to have large families. According to history, Hitler offered 1000 Deutsche mark and invited young German mothers to have multiple children. Hitler awarded mothers a Gold medal with seven children, a silver to women with six, and bronze to women with five. If they have four children, they need not pay back the 1000 Deutsche mark. ( German mark)

Social media comments loaded with panic-stricken anxieties and worries of Covid 19 pandemic go like this "right now, the people with families struggle to manage the kitchen of our homes; unfortunately, the unmarried clergy and bishops peep into the bedrooms of the laity." A sarcastic comment shared by many, highlighted by likes and thumbs up. Social media flooded with negative comments " Hello Mister… One jug of milk for a month costs more than 1500 ( US $20) we are ashamed of you, Bishop.” A laity of his Church writes. “ After the second delivery, Family is paid more than your petty cash for her female sterilization by the government of India.”

It is an irony that these incentives of “more children's benefits” surfaced while the government of India has announced special incentives for parents with one child.

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