Priest Says Kerala Catholics Use “Whatever Savage Method They Can” to Limit Children
Part II of special report from Kerala, India
By Steve Jalsevac
St. Sebastian's Church Fr. Matthew is an assistant pastor at St. Sebastian’s Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Thodupuzha, South Kerala. It is a small, but typically very active South Indian city with a population of 25,000. 1200 families belong to the parish, which has large schools associated with it as well as a huge parish hall for frequent parish functions. Many parishioners and at least several sisters attend daily mass at 6:30 every weekday morning. The four Sunday Masses are filled to overflowing and parishioners fully participate in the Mass, men on the left, women on the right.
Fr. Matthew told LifeSiteNews that the faith is fervent here and local Catholics overwhelmingly have a strong affiliation with their Church community. Family bonds are also strong as they arrive two to four members riding on one motorcycle or by bus, walking or by motor rickshaw or a few by car. But not all is as well as it seems.
Christians Swallowed Government Line That Population Control Is a Virtue
A government act of 1972 allowed unborn children to be killed for any reason whatever and established financial and other incentives for Indians who accepted sterilization. Families of more that two children were actively discouraged and often penalized.
Population control was promoted as a virtue and, contrary to their faith teaching, says Fr. Matthew, most Catholics bought into the falsehood and actually see it as a virtue. The two child family is the norm, the trend towards one-child families is beginning, and the young curate and his vicar (pastor) are very concerned about the future of the Church in Kerala.
The assistant pastor is bright, young, enthusiastic and seemingly well-liked by his parishioners as he in turn loves them. He says that from the pulpit the priest has considerable influence – except when it comes to moral matters. “In our homilies we tell them that children are from God, they are a gift to the family, to the nation,” he says.
However, on moral matters, he says, “there is a deep-rooted connection within the minds of the lay people that the church is always ultraconservative… No matter what the church says, teaches, proclaims, whatever the Pope proclaims, whatever the Pope teaches it is always ultraconservative. So if birth control is practiced we will always be branded as ultraconservative.”
St. Sebastian parishioners and Catholics throughout Kerala do not want to be seen as odd or rebellious or out of step with the wider population. The curate explained “In a multi-cultural society people do not like to be branded as ultraconservative. You want to be branded as modern. When we follow the Catholic moral doctrines we will be branded as ultraconservative.”
As well, Fr. Matthew explains that in Kerala society, sex is considered a very private matter. So the crucial issues of abortion, sterilization, contraception and natural family planning are not discussed. It is considered especially inappropriate for a priest to preach about them.
Piety in town of Thekkady, KeralaNo Movement in India to Expose the Harm of Population Control
The two priests of the parish understand that there never really was a population explosion in India. There was poverty, injustice, corruption, lack of infrastructure and so on. Fr. Matthew told LifeSiteNews “How will the population explode. It will never explode because it is a human resource. It will multiply and whenever they multiply they will produce something.”
We asked him why his parishioners don’t understand that. He responded “There is no movement in India to expose the harm of population control. Our social activists don’t give their attention to this field.”
When asked what methods his parishioners use to limit their families to two children, and usually a boy and a girl, he responded, “whatever savage method they can”.
The young curate said he feared the Catholics of India will repeat the Parsi syndrome. The Parsi’s were a small but highly educated, influential and relatively wealthy sect in India in the past. But they stopped having children and eventually became extinct in India. All Christians currently compose only 2 to 4 per cent of the Indian population.
Kerala Will Have to Start Importing Workers in 10 to 15 Years
A large percentage of Kerala’s citizens emigrate to other countries after they have completed their education. In fact, as reported in Indian news on June 10, the small state of Kerala currently has more skilled people emigrating than any other Indian state.
Fr. Matthew explains, “Western countries have a shortage of population to do jobs and look after their old people so they import people from India to do those jobs. Many Kerala people emigrate to those countries to do that work. The same problem will be faced in Kerala in 10 or 15 years. The people who are in their 50s now will not be looked after by their children.”
Actually, 10 to 15 years may be too optimistic. In another town LifeSiteNews was invited to the rural home of the owner of an Internet café. He showed that already there are too few people around his home to plant and till the fields and plantations. Many fields are being let go.
Fears Pan Islamic Trend Will Lead to Muslim Domination
There are concerns about the growth of the Muslim community which has recently surpassed the Kerala Christians in population and which ignores government efforts to decrease population.
Fr. Matthew explained that today “The Muslim community of India has their Pan Islamic slogan, ‘We will overpower you by outgrowing you’. Within 20 years they will overpower all other communities. They will not respond to the call of the national edicts. There was a time in India when we were taught that population control was a virtue, but even then the Muslim community did not respond positively. I would say that the response of the Christians was more positive. We should co-operate with the national agenda of course but we should not obstruct the plan of God.”
As for Kerala’s Catholic Church leaders and institutions, there appears to be very few, if any, rebellious priests, religious or bishops supporting the sexual revolution as is so very common in the West. Fr. Matthew and others explained that “The Catholic Church in Kerala is unified on this (opposition to population control, support for moral teachings). It has only one voice.”
And so it seems that indeed is the case. And that’s why there is real hope that India’s Catholics and other Christians can still be convinced, given serious new efforts by Church leadership and lay groups, that it is in their own personal best interest and their survival as a people to reject the culture of death and its lies.
Part III in this series will report the LifeSiteNews in-person interview with Syro Malabar Major Archbishop Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil at the Archbishop’s House in Kochi.