By Jessy Joseph
The head of the Syro-Malabar Church has urged the chair of India’s ruling coalition to oppose policies aimed at regulating population growth.
A move to penalize couples with more than two children in Kerala was among several issues Major Archbishop George Alencherry took up with Sonia Gandhi, chair of the United Progressive Alliance on Saturday.
The prelate appealed to Gandhi to persuade her Congress party, which rules Kerala, to reject a proposal to implement the two-child policy in the southern Indian state.
“Proposed recommendations violate individual liberty and the fundamental rights of people,” Major Archbishop Alencherry said.
A commission headed by a retired supreme court judge made recommendations which would financially penalize couples and deny them benefits.
The major archbishop was in New Delhi for the 12th annual convention of Syro-Malabar Catholics living in and around the national capital.
He expressed hope Gandhi’s government would respect and safeguard people’s fundamental rights.
“It is a couple’s decision as to how many children they should have, and the state has no right to interfere with this right,” he said, adding that citizens in democratic countries would not accept such a “draconian law that exists in Communist China.”
The major archbishop also expressed concern over the plight of Christians in Orissa’s Kandhamal district which experienced deadly anti-Christian violence three years ago.
Father Jose Edassery, chaplain of Syro Malabar Catholics in Delhi who accompanied the major archbishop, said Gandhi assured them there would be no repeat of Kandhamal.
The priest said Gandhi also said her government is concerned about the problems of dalit Christians.
The Church has for decades demanded statutory benefits for these Christians of former low caste origin.
“Gandhi said that her government is very much aware of these situations and is closely monitoring them,” he added.