08/08/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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Need for more children and a better family life, says the Indian Church

In a pastoral letter, Syro-Malabar Cardinal Vithayathil slams couples who decide against having children although they have the means. He suggests they take part in the Eucharist as an effective way to renew their capacity for self-sacrificing love.

Kochi (AsiaNews/CBCI) – Concerned about Catholics' demographic decline in Kerala, Card Varkey Vithayathil has urged the Syro-Malabar community to have more children and lead "a life rooted in Christian values".

The prelate's appeal is contained in a pastoral letter that will be read this coming Sunday (August 13) in all of the parishes of the state and other Syro-Malabar dioceses.

For the cardinal, "there is sin and injustice towards society behind the decision of not having children by those parents who have the means and normal health."

The reference is to the western world, to Europe, whose tendency to create small family units is creeping into Indian society.

According to Cardinal Vithayathil, the reason for this situation lies with "the culture of death severely criticised by Pope John Paul II and the lack of love pointed out by Pope Benedict XVI".

The pastoral letter urges the faithful to heed the pope's encyclical Deus Caritas est and lead a "good marriage and family life".

For him, prayer, the Eucharist and meditating the Word of God, are the best means to win the challenges that the family faces today.

"It is by taking part in the Eucharist that the couples can renew their love . . . It is through the [. . .] Eucharist [. . .] that couples become capable of self-sacrificing love."

Fr Paul Thelekkat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, explained that "there has been a serious drop in the Christian population; so much so that the recent synod of Syro-Malabar bishops expressed its concerns about the issue and its intention to deal with the problem." 

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