The 7th World Congress of Families in Sydney

The 7th World Congress of Families in Sydney

The 7th World Congress of Families ( www.worldcongress.org) took place from May 15-18th in the city of Sydney, Australia. More than 100 delegates of a wide-range of disciplines and beliefs gathered together to discuss the need to articulate a stable economy that serves and promotes the cultural model of a family happiness.

The WCF is an international organization that has been working for years to defend the image of the natural family against the constant contempt and even open hostility from certain governmental entities and cultural movements which, driven by the gender ideology, want to change the public agenda on the family. Since 1997, this initiative has taken place in seven different cities starting in Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), Warsaw (2007), Amsterdam (2009), Madrid (2012) and now Sydney (2013).

The distinguished North American thinker and activist Dr. Allan Carlson was the one who personally undertook the arduous task of developing and promoting this multicultural and international initiative. The inspiration and foundation came from Article 16c of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

On this occasion, the WCF was held at the “Australian Technology Park”, a giant warehouse located in Redfern, about 15 minutes from the Sydney Opera House: the icon and symbol of the city and its success. As usual, the Congress began with a talk given by Dr. Carlson who explained the general guidelines of the event and thanked the participants and committee organizers. His presentation can be summarized in the following ideas: more home, more family life, more economy. “The world today”, stated Carlson, “urgently needs men and women who know how to build-up homes (home builders and home makers)”.

Participants, scholars, activists, and social thinkers from around the world gathered in Sydney to broadly discuss the current need to re-link the world economic project to the demands of today’s families. The religious, professional and social roots of the delegates were quite varied, yet relations were nonetheless warm and pleasant: from Lutheran pastors to Orthodox patriarchs, from Catholic and Jewish priests to Muslims, from members of the press to founders of social movements to university professors.

Day One of the Congress was marked by the wise words of my teacher and friend Peter Elliot, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne and director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family (Australia). He stressed the importance of defending the institution of marriage against the subtle confrontation of a world that is becoming increasingly secular and severed from Christian traditions. We can say that this idea became the guiding principle of the entire Congress.

Subsequently, Dr. Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project of the University of Virginia, used hard statistics to emphasize the importance of the presence of the father of the family in raising a healthy home with children, and to point out the foreseeable consequences of the possible abandonment of the father. Further on, Dr. Patrick Fagan, renowned Irish doctor and social thinker, explained the demographic consequences of a world that has deserted the desire to perpetuate its own existence. The magic formula that Dr. Fagan gave to support his theory is the following: from the irrational separation among religion, marriage, and family evolves the “demographic winter”…which is at the point of finishing off some of the most important and antique nations in Europe and the world.

The conclusion of the Congress was reflected in the formula of the official Sydney Declaration of the WCF VII, which summarizes the main ideas of the event in the form of a political and social proposal. The declaration powerfully affirms the emerging need for a productive economy that is sustained by solid families. This is backed by scientific research which irrefutably demonstrates the advantages - in terms of health, education, and human formation- of children born into stable homes. They are the ones who in time will become adults and acting citizens of development, not only of the economy, but also of the entire country and world.

Nevertheless, for our present economic system to favor and satisfy the real needs of family homes with children, the WCF of Sydney reminded humanity that, among other things, the following framework is necessary:

1. The economy should serve the family rather than the family being a servant of the economic system and the state.

2. A strong domestic, household economy is a true measure of a healthy society and the basis of a robust economy.

3. Employers and governments need to respect the needs of natural families in their wage and labor policies.

4. Gross Domestic Product must be defined to include the economic value of unpaid work done in the home and the community by families, so that society can recognize the contribution of this form of labor.

5. The concept of the family wage must be studied to redefine the current system of wages, salary levels and taxation policy in order to reinforce natural family bonds.

Dr. Rafael Hurtado Domínguez is a professor in the Humanities Department of the University of Panamericana-Guadalajara (México).