Monday, June 12, 2006

Catholics in Kerala Face Dramatic Future Population Decline

Lifesite News has a special report about the population decline that the most Catholic part of India is facing, Kerala in the south. It is not disease or starvation that is causing such a calamitous decline but birth control and abortion practiced by Catholics. How ironic that among the most educated people of India who have strong vocations and a Catholic presence the people will not follow the Church's perennial teaching.

The whole article is worth reading and can be seen here.

The Problem:

In North America and Europe the two and now even one child family has been rapidly becoming the norm. That is not surprising considering the gross materialism, weak or corrupted churches and widespread rejection of Christian beliefs in the West. It has therefore been easy to convince the public to swallow population control propaganda. It is, however, much harder to understand how a still fervent, unified Christian minority in India with a high level of religious practice and thousands of young, faithful priests and sisters to serve them, is now also experiencing a rapidly plummeting, below replacement level birthrate.

Days Numbered:

What is noticeably different about Kerala is the highly visible presence of Christians, especially Catholics, in the state, the exceptional friendliness and courtesy of its people and Kerala’s strong family life culture. However, the still fervent Christians of Kerala are facing a real danger that they will become practically extinct in a few generations because of their two or less child birthrate, certain to later become an even lower rate as is happening elsewhere.
Despite the above, one cannot help note a disturbing contradiction: fervent Christians, but only one or two child families, and most commonly a boy and a girl in each family. Christian couples here, along with the Hindus, now clearly exclude God and their Church from having any role in determining the number or even sex of their children. New life has strict conditions attached to it. They are practicing not only contraception and sterilization but, in order to achieve the one boy, one girl norm among Hindus and Christians, abortion has to be widely practiced.

The Bishops and Priests have preached:

Kerala Hindu templeCatholic Church leaders are alarmed and practically resigned to what they see as the inevitable near disappearance of their flocks in India as a result of this demographic trend. They worry about the rapid rise of Islam because of the far higher Muslim birthrate. Kerala’s priests and bishops do not know what to do. They say they have preached from the pulpits on this but it has not had any effect.

The conclusion of the article is that there are no programs or education from laity and secular organizations combatting the goverment and Planned Parenthood propaganda. I disagree. Human Life International, Priests for Life and the Missionaries of Charity are all present in India. All groups that encourage the use of NFP and the practice of limiting the family size. And if the Church leaders in Kerala say they are preaching against contraception and abortion but no one is listening the solution is not more preaching. Clearly you have a problem of obedience.

A more realistic view is that it has become impossible to see a difference between Catholics and those of no faith who all seem to believe that a smaller family is a positive development. Some conservative Catholics argue that smaller is better and if the correct means are used (i.e. NFP or even strict abstinence) because it is desirable to have fewer children. This seems contradictoray to Catholicism. I think people are seeing a consistent message that fewer children equals a better life, more prosperity, more education, happiness, freedom and individuality.

Catholics with big families know what kind of reception they receive and what impression they make among other Catholics and even the clergy. Until the mindset changes and large families are welcomed rather than called selfish, lacking in self control, harmful to the environment and providentialist, openness to life will not return. Catholics open to life are accused of fostering a "fertility cult", believing they are better than others who have smaller or no families, insensitive to the feelings to those who have not been blessed with children or many children, irresponsible and arrogant or ignorant of NFP which many believe is their duty to adhere to.

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