The sixth World Congress of Families, held in Madrid on the last weekend of May, drew 3100 delegates to address the issues confronting the family today. In a concluding statement the congress listed the challenges: "Ideologies of statism, atomistic individualism, and sexual revolution challenge the very essences of marriage and family. Recent legal and public policy changes have corrupted the meaning and dignity of marriage, devalued parenting, encouraged easy divorce and births outside of marriage, confused sexual identities, promoted promiscuity, created conditions that increased child abuse, isolated the elderly, and fostered depopulation."
Responding to this crisis, World Congress of Families VI endorsed a set of principles "to create a cultural and political environment that is compatible with life, liberty, and hope for the future." In part, The Madrid Declaration affirmed that:
"The natural family, not the individual, is the fundamental unit of society."
"The natural family is a fixed aspect of the created order, one ingrained in human nature. The natural family cannot change into some new shape; nor can it be re-defined by eager social engineers."
"The natural family is the ideal, optimal, true family system. While we acknowledge varied living situations, all other 'family forms' are incomplete or are mere fabrications of the state."
"Each newly conceived person holds rights to live, to grow, to be born, and to share a home with its natural parents bound by marriage. Abortion, euthanasia and all forms of manipulating human beings in their embryonic or fetal state are therefore attacks on human life."
"Human aging and depopulation are the true demographic dangers facing the earth in this new century. Our societies need more people, not fewer."
"The natural family is the main source of social and economic prosperity and the main pillar on which to achieve the overcoming of the current world economic crisis."
"The complementarity of the sexes is a source of strength. Men and women exhibit profound biological and psychological differences. When united in marriage, though, the whole becomes greater then the sum of the parts." Parents have "a right to educate their children for their good with no interference from the state."
"Every human being is entitled to religious freedom and that the political community must respect the freedom to profess one's faith, to hand it on, and to raise one's children in it."
"Lasting solutions to human problems, including the current economic crisis, rise out of families and small communities. They cannot be imposed by bureaucratic and judicial fiat. Nor can they be coerced by outside force.
Click here to read The Madrid Declaration in its entirety.
Among the signs of hope, however, was the engagement of Russian civil society organizations and Orthodox prelates in the conference, signaling the revival of Christianity in what was once the Soviet heartland. While respect for basic civil liberties in Russia is still somewhat tenuous, as the once-free West slides towards criminalizing religious expression and banishing reference to objectively-grounded moral norms, once-Communist Russia appears to be on a reverse trajectory. At the United Nations in recent years, for example, Russia has put forward a series of “traditional values” resolutions to counter the libertine sexual agenda of Europe and the Obama Administration while calling attention to the folly of population control programs amid demographic implosion.
The next World Congress is in Sydney, Australia, in May next year.