The Congress on the Family, which concluded last October 2nd, was
organized by the Catholic University, the Andes University, and “Finis
Terrae” University and held in Santiago, Chile, on the occasion of the
bicentennial anniversary of its independence. The objective of the
Congress was to go beyond the simple diagnosis of the situation of the
family in the country and offer proposals and concrete indications for
its revival.

In the inauguration of the Congress, Monsignor Alejandro Goic,
President of the Bishops Conference of Chile, expressed the necessity
to deeply reflect on the issue of recognizing and respecting the rights
of the family in Chile. Felipe Kast, Secretary of Social Affairs,
highlighted a crude reality supported by empirical data: in the past
twenty years, the number of single-parent families has increased from
22% to 27%, while the number of nuclear families has decreased from 67%
to 58%. In turn, it has been reported that among the families that live
in extreme poverty, 60% are single-parented, and out of these, in
almost all of them the mother is the head of the family.

The Congress, which attracted national and international leading
experts, proposed public policies and led a quiet and profound
reflection on marriage and family education. Each of these topics was
addressed by an international speaker and a panel of experts. The first
series of sessions involved public policies. Eduardo Hertefelder, from
the Institute of Family Policies (Spain), presented an analysis of the
realty of the family in Europe. His report included the reasons for its
deterioration and his message was clear: do not make the same mistakes
in Chile. The panel of experts reflected on the family as a social
good. They consequently proposed legal changes that would allow for the
strengthening of the family in Chilean legislation.

The second part of the conference was dedicated to the family and
matrimony. Alvaro Sierrra (Colombia) addressed the family as the
primary source of education. Sierra highlights that the unconditional
love, warmth, and acceptance that is transmitted from the family to its
members are the best educational factors; this task is a right and a
duty that mustn’t be renounced. The panel of experts then emphasized
the education on the faith in these times of great uncertainty. The
message is nevertheless encouraging: the faith is one of the principle
motors of change.

In the third round of sessions dedicated specifically to marriage,
Tomas Melendo (Spain) spoke of matrimony as the pillar of the family.
He explained that matrimony, a fruit of human freedom, allows for and
demands the development of the capacity to love throughout one’s entire
life. This capacity to love and to reciprocally be loved, is only
possible in virtue of the intrinsic dignity of the human person. In the
corresponding panel of the third round of sessions, the difference
between man and woman and their complementarity was analyzed. Emphasis
was placed on the need to overcome the differences and the

Without a doubt, the conference was a success; not only for the number
of attendants, but also for their enthusiastic participation. It was
made clear that the value of the family continues to be considered a
fundamental pillar of Chilean society.


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