Unification News for June 2002

International Leadership Seminar in Rome

by Giuseppe Cali

The IIFWP International Leadership Seminar in Rome, Italy, May 11, 2002, left the 80 participants with no doubt that they have something very important to offer the European Community. Dr. Thomas Walsh provided a clear insight into how IIFWP has been contributing to global issues since its founding in 1999. The central theme of the day was that the solution to the threatening social ills we are facing lies in the understanding that the family is the God given institution which makes for peace.

Traveling to the seminar I read an article in a British newspaper which was a good preparation for my participation. It mentioned the failure of government information campaigns to persuade young people not to get drawn into drug and alcohol abuse. Research results just published reveal that the factors which are most influential in protecting our youth from drug experimentation are the quality of connection to their mothers and the presence of two parents in the home. In families where both these elements are present only 16% of young people experiment with illegal drug use. More than 50% of those who do not have such a family environment are seduced by the chemical route to "happiness."

The Rome Seminar's participants were deeply moved by Dr. Kwak's explanation of parental love as the foundation for human development and the family as the school of love. His plea for leaders in society to become Ambassadors for Peace who set the example in their absolute commitment to family stability through marital fidelity was beautifully responded to by all present, as they wholeheartedly participated in the rededication of their marriages through the World Peace Blessing Ceremony which concluded the Seminar.

IIFWP is making us aware that political leaders alone cannot bring peace. Just as we heard how Rev. Moon is urging the United Nations to establish a second chamber through which the religious and moral leadership of nations can contribute to deliberation and decision making, so we were grateful for the opportunity this seminar gave to leaders representing politics, religion, academia, media and NGOs to cooperate for national revival.

Recent developments in Europe have seen much debate over disillusionment with political leadership expressed through low participation in the electoral process, the rise of the "New Right" and associated concerns over the clash of cultures in an urban Europe which is becoming more multi-ethnic. IIFWP advocates going beyond differences in its emphasis on interreligious dialogue and cooperation, and the appointment of Ambassadors for Peace who can rise above the narrow interests of their own nation, race, religion or culture in understanding the universal moral value of "living for the sake of others". It is clear that the fragmentation of moral leadership by denominational, cultural and religious division has prevented those who share fundamental values from reversing the slide into moral relativism and materialism which has so weakened the family in modern European society.

This seminar was a rallying call speaking out for the sacredness of love in marriage and the necessity to openly address sexual corruption and the multi-faceted damage caused by sexual promiscuity and marital breakdown. This way our young people can reverse rather than accelerate the trend of family breakdown. We have a huge task ahead of us and this Seminar helped us to focus our minds and energies and to form new relationships and alliances to secure a foundation for peace.

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