COMMENT - by Dr Joe SantamariaNews Weekly
Marriage central to family life : World Congress
, December 18, 1999
As News Weekly readers would be aware, the World Congress of Families II held its second International Conference on the Natural Family in Geneva over the period of November 14 to 16, 1999.
Organised by the Howard Centre in Illinois and NGO Family Voice of the Brigham Young University in Utah, the program committee included representatives from various countries, coming mainly from the three main monotheistic religious cultures - Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
There were strong representations from all these cultures which traditionally have not entered into serious dialogue for centuries.
Even within the Christian tradition, there have remained deep-seated suspicions that hinder any serious rapproachment on fundamental beliefs of their respective theological and moral positions. But there were no such reservations or wary conversations at this convention on the natural family.
The opening ceremony was held at the United Nations Building.
Little did the UN Organisation know what strong attacks would be launched during the conference against some of its operations and operatives which had struck devastating blows against the natural family through a series of manipulative conferences and conventions over the last five years.
In many papers presented from different cultural backgrounds, identified the natural family as being built on the structural foundation of a lifelong, exclusive marriage relationship between a man and a woman.
Other papers dismissed on scientific, psychological and social grounds the claims for the equal recognition of homosexual 'marriages.' There was universal agreement on these matters.
Other papers analysed the UN meetings in Cairo, Beijing, Copenhagen and Istanbul and included the recent Cairo +5 meeting in New York. They produced a picture of power politics, manipulation of agendas and procedures and the use of seductive and barbed language that attempted to conceal the deeper implications once they are signed and ratified.
The use of the language of human rights and its significance for the integrity of national sovereignty was repeatedly mentioned, as was the erosion of parental rights in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Population decline and its social and economic consequences was a major subject of discussion, as was the economic plight of the natural family in the modern era of globalism, economic rationalism and the conscription of mothers to enter the work force.
There were two papers that made a profound impression in the plenary sessions.
The first was delivered by Madame Jehan Sadat, the widow of the late President of Egypt who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. (See page 12)
She described the origins of her husband's peace initiatives, the motivation that derived from their deep Islamic faith and their commitment to family values.
Knowing the dangers that they would face from extremist groups, both husband and wife acted in complete harmony.
The assassination of her husband was a devastating event which she has managed to bear with great fortitude due to the strength of her religious faith and the strong support of her four children.
She has now gained the title of 'First Lady of the World' which are borne out by her deep involvement in many charitable works internationally.
The second paper was given by Elder Bruce Hafen who is well known to the members of the Australian Family Association and who is a member of the First Quorum of Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
His paper was titled 'A tribute to Motherhood.' It went well beyond the tribute to mothers to the concept of the civilising effect of marriage between a man and a woman.
He illustrated his talk with an Australian example - Caroline Chisholm - who proposed to the government of the day that a nation is built on families and not on 'wild colonial boys'.