07/31/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Kerala, sanctions against those who have a third child. The Church's opposition

by Nirmala Carvalho
Cardinal Vithayathil: "the Catholic Church will oppose state dictatorship . . . to the end". The poorest are the ones who reject these laws, because "they know that every child is a gift".

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Law Reforms Commission of Kerala in India has "recommended" the adoption of sanctions against families that have a third child. Cardinal Varkery Vithayathil, president of the Indian Catholic bishops' conference, has taken a tough stance against "the state dictatorship of the Marxist government" of Kerala, which "the Catholic Church will oppose to the end".

"In 1958", he recalls, "after the fall of the communist government of Keraka, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, said in the Indian Parliament, 'The Catholic Church in Kerala is a force to reckon with'".

The commission, headed by the judge V R Krishna Iyer of the federal supreme court, has recommended a sanction of 10,000 rupees (about 150 euros) and the exclusion of free education and health care for families that have a third child, as well as other state aid regarding housing and work. It is a significant sum of money for Indian families, which in general do not have enough money to pay for schooling or health care.

Article 7 of the new proposed law states that "No person or institution shall use religion, region, sect, caste, cult or other inducements for production of more children than permitted". "Any person or a public organization or institution associated with or carrying on the work of family planning and birth control" can take to court those who violate the law.

"Who has the right to decide the number of children?" Cardinal Vithayathil asks in an interview with AsiaNews. "Human beings are born for the world, and the Indian government has tried before and this was opposed by everyone; even the poorest person knows intrinsically that a child is a gift of God. The government is proposing such draconian measures to limit the number of children for demographic reasons.

"In Kerala, there are two different ideologies, the ideology of supremacy of the state, and the other ideology being freedom, respect, and the dignity of the human person".

In 1991, Christians were 19.5% of the 29 million people in Kerala. In 2001, the population reached 32 million, of which 19% are Christian.

The Church's stance is not only one of opposition, but is above all positive. "We want to promote and encourage a pro-life policy, as we are celebrating 40 years of the encyclical Humane Vitae. We need to reaffirm the importance of life in the face of such a proposed law. "No legislation can stop or even hinder the faithful from being generous in having more children and open to life".

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