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
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
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).