The Words of the Walsh Family
Amsterdam, the Netherlands - The fifth World Congress of Families, held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands August 10 to 12, assembled academics, researchers, political and religious leaders, journalists, business people, and numerous NGO leaders from around the world. These individuals and organizations from many national, ethnic, cultural, social, and religious communities shared the common goal of the World Congress of Families, “to affirm that the natural family is established by the Creator and essential to good society.” Its goals, presentations, and best practices mirrored many of the efforts of the Universal Peace Federation and its affiliates. Approximately 900 people from 63 countries attended while more than 3,000 people from around the world watched via telecast.
The three consecutive themes included: Modern Families, Traditional Values; Families in Developing Countries; and Challenges and Hope for the Future. Sessions included such topics as the effects of child care, the value of a faith and family approach to counseling, the rights of parents in school and home-schooling, threats to the family from addiction to pornography, the public purpose of marriage, the strength of the African family, the impact of declining birth rates, fertility and human dignity, the role of religion in stabilizing families, media and the family, the role of mothers and fathers, human trafficking in women and children, HIV and AIDS, the UN and its influence on the family, the impact of international law on the family, abortion, euthanasia, and character education and the family.
Despite some negative coverage from the Amsterdam press, the Dutch Family Minister, Andre Rouvoet, gave a video message strongly supporting the efforts of the World Congress of Families. Because of the controversy, the Dutch media gave it more coverage, and public awareness of the Congress increased.
The World Congress of Families concluded by establishing the Declaration of Amsterdam, which included these principles:
We define the natural family to rest on the lifelong marriage of a man to a woman, for the purposes of welcoming and nurturing new human life, providing love, companionship and mutual support … and strengthening the bonds of the generations.
We affirm that the future of nations rests on families that are spiritually grounded. Religious organizations should be free to uphold their own moral teachings about marriage and the family in the public square.
We affirm that the natural family exists prior to the state. Public policies must respect this family autonomy.
We call for sound law and policies that will… guard vulnerable human life, especially at the beginning and end of the life cycle.
We identify declining birthrates as the core demographic problem facing the 21st century.
The World Congress of Families was founded by Dr. Alan Carlson, author of The Natural Family, and is a project of The Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society in Rockford, Illinois, USA. The previous congress sites have been Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), and Warsaw (2007). For further information go to www.worldcongress.org.