Friday, March 27, 2009

Church leader sparks Georgian baby boom

By Tom Esslemont
BBC News, Tbilisi

Georgian Patriarch Ilia II
The patriarch is revered by many in Georgia

Two years after having one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Georgia is enjoying something of a baby boom, following an intervention from the country's most senior cleric.

At the end of 2007, in a move to reverse the Caucasian country's dwindling birth figures, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, came up with an incentive. He promised to personally baptise any baby born to parents of more than two children.

There was only one catch: the baby had to be born after the initiative was launched.

The results are, in the words of the Georgian Orthodox Church, "a miracle".

Easy decision

The country's birth rate increased by nearly 20% during 2008 - a rate four times faster than the previous year.

Many parents say they took the decision to have another child on the basis of the Patriarch's incentive...


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