.- Concluding its 2009 meeting, the World Congress of Families (WCF) has issued its Amsterdam Declaration on the Family. The document defends the natural family as a âfundamentalâ of society and advocates its protection and encouragement.
The Congress, which took place from August 10 -12 in Amsterdam, describes itself as the worldâs largest gathering of pro-family leaders and grass-roots activists.
The WCF Declaration, adopted on Wednesday, affirmed the statement in the United Nationsâ Universal Declaration of Human Rights that says the family is âthe natural and fundamental group unit of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State.â
Following previous declarations, signatories affirmed that the family rests upon âthe lifelong marriage of a man to a woman, for the purposes of welcoming and nurturing new human life, providing love, companionship, and mutual support, building a home rich in functions, and strengthening the bonds of the generations.â
âReligious organizations should be free to uphold their own moral teachings about marriage and family in the public square,â the Declaration added.
The Declaration described the family as existing prior to the state. It called for âsound laws and policiesâ that support the natural institution of marriage, discourage divorce, encourage commitment to childrearing, and respect parental authority in moral and practical education.
It specifically addressed sex education, saying it should be âparent-guidedâ and focused on self-restraint, fidelity, and responsible choices.
Discussing the response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Congress endorsed a program of âabstinence, faithfulness and character buildingâ to reinforce family life, break the âcycle of infectionâ and best serve the interests of children.
Calling for the expansion of access to pre- and post-natal care and counseling on âpositive alternativesâ to abortion, the Congress endorsed the promotion of breastfeeding as a child survival strategy.
The Declaration called for the protection of vulnerable human life, âespecially at the beginning and end of the life cycle.â
The Congress further advocated the protection of the physical, mental, social and spiritual development of children. It professed support for âpro-childâ social, cultural and legal structures most optimal for children and endorsed work arrangements that allow parents to spend more time with their children.
The Declaration also proposed the natural family as the solution to poverty, saying support for those in extreme poverty should be given in âa family contextâ while family home ownership and micro-enterprises sold be encouraged. It endorsed the renewal of rural economies as alternatives to migration to cities and affirmed âintergenerational solidarityâ beyond the nuclear family.
The World Congress of Families said its statement may not necessarily reflect the views of individual speakers and delegates.
Congress participants from the U.S. included Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; president of the Population Research Institute Steven W. Mosher; and Dr. Allan Carlson, WCF founder and president of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.
The WCF website is at http://www.worldcongress.org/