FAMILY: by Babette FrancisNews Weekly
Madrid hosts inspiring World Congress of Families
, June 23, 2012
Despite economic woes besetting their country, pro-family groups in Spain — headed by Ignacio Arsuaga Rato, founder of a pro-life human rights movement HazteOir.org (roughly translates as “Make you hear”) — organised an inspiring World Congress of Families VI in Madrid, May 25-27.
Not only did delegates hear a veritable feast of pro-life and pro-marriage researchers from around the world, they also had a feast of music. The World Youth Day Symphonic Orchestra and Choir (who last year performed for Pope Benedict XVI) opened the congress with superb performances including Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor.
On a lighter note, the congress concluded with dinner for the speakers at a restaurant, with singing waiters and waitresses performing the Toreador’s song from Bizet’s Carmen.
An innovation at WCF VI was a round-table “international parliamentary forum” where parliamentarians and leaders of civil society gave talks on legislation, petitions and political initiatives.
Professor Nicolás Jouve, a Spanish genetics and bioethics expert, requested his government to prevent the manipulation and destruction of human embryos for commercial and industrial purposes, and to promote European research projects using adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells.
Mr Fabian Fernandez de Alarcon, general secretary of Spain’s Professionals for Ethics, spoke about the importance of lobbying in regard to the promotion of ethics in education and expressed his opposition to “citizenship education” minus an ethical component.
Mr Roger Kiska, of the US-based Alliance Defense Fund, a group of more than 2,000 Christian lawyers, highlighted the ADF’s legal work in protecting religious liberty, family and the right to life.
Mr José Ignacio Gomez Leon, Children’s Rights Association, Spain, spoke of the significance of ensuring joint parental custody of children following mediation in divorce proceedings, and its role in lowering the incidence of divorce.
I myself spoke about the importance of parliamentarians from all countries ensuring that their respective delegates at United Nations conferences oppose resolutions defining gender as a social construct rather than a biological reality. The attempts in many countries to extend marriage to homosexual couples is based on the concept of a unisex or androgynous society. Sweden has made up a unisex word “hen” to refer to both men and women, instead of the gendered pronouns “he” and “she”.
All countries’ delegates should remind UN conferences that the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court, binding upon ratifying nations, states that gender “refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society”. and that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the foundational document of the human rights system, refers to the “inherent dignity and worth of women and men”, not of “hens”.
All countries need to formulate national declarations, and seek signatures, to protect life and defend marriage. There is the Manhattan Declaration (US), the Westminster Declaration (UK) and the Canberra Declaration. (Australia).
This year the Australian Family Association has launched the Australian Marriage Declaration, which could be a model for other countries. It invites Australians to support the following statements that:
• marriage is the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life;
• marriage-based families are the optimum environment for the raising of children;
• marriage is a fundamental social institution recognised and valued over millennia across races, cultures and creeds;
• marriage precedes and predates the state and cannot be redefined by government; and
• marriage is important enough to decide my vote in elections.
One of the most poignant presentations at WCF VI was by Alejandro Macarrón Larumbe, a business management and corporate finance consultant and author of the book El Suicidio Demográfico de España (“Spain’s demographic suicide”).
He made a number of important points about his country’s current plight:
1) 30 to 35 per cent of Spanish women (and men) have no children, and 15 to 20 per cent have just one.
2) Spain would need 50 to 60 per cent more children just to ensure population replacement. The number of abortions in Spain represents around 50 per cent of the country’s baby gap.
3) Over 35 per cent of the few children that Spain has are born to unmarried women (increasing by 1 to 2 per cent each year).
4) For every three weddings there are now two divorces.
5) Every four years the average age of the Spanish population increases by one more year, and 75 to 80 per cent of such increased ageing is due to lack of babies; only the rest is due to growing life expectancy.
He concluded: “Almost nobody in Spain is paying attention to this disaster — not the politicians, media, intellectuals or key opinion-leaders — except the Church....
“We are in a terrifying situation. And things will not start to improve until common people and elite people in all our countries are aware of, and scared by, this ugly scenario, and react accordingly.
“We love mankind, we love our countries, we love families.... We desire prosperity for all. We desire freedom and democracy for all. But all of these good things are in jeopardy with the current demographic suicide.”
These devastating statistics are mirrored in many, many countries — and all of us partners of the World Congress of Families are trying to make the world heed these warnings.
Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national and overseas coordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc. and was a speaker at WCF VI in Madrid.