We assemble in this World Congress, from many national,
ethnic, cultural, social and religious communities, to affirm that the
natural human family is established by the Creator and essential to good
society. We address ourselves to all people of good will who, with the
majority of the world's people, value the natural family. Ideologies of
statism, individualism and sexual revolution, today challenge the family's
very legitimacy as an institution. Associated with this challenge are the
problems of divorce, devaluation of parenting, declining family time,
morally relativistic public education, confusions over sexual identity,
promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, poverty, human
trafficking, violence against women, child abuse, isolation of the elderly,
excessive taxation and below-replacement fertility. To defend the family
and to guide public policy and cultural norms, this Declaration asserts
principles that respect and uphold the vital roles that the family plays in
The Family and Society
The natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed
in human nature, and centered on the voluntary union of a man and a woman
in the lifelong covenant of marriage. The natural family is defined by
marriage, procreation and, in some cultures, adoption. Free, secure and
stable families that welcome children are necessary for healthy society.
The society that abandons the natural family as the norm is destined for
chaos and suffering. The loving family reaches out in love and service to
their communities and those in need. All social and cultural institutions
should respect and uphold the rights and responsibilities of the family.
The Family and Marriage
The cornerstone of healthy family life, marriage brings
security, contentment, meaning, joy and spiritual maturity to the man and
woman who enter this lifelong covenant with unselfish commitment. In
marriage, both husband and wife commit to a life of mutual love, respect,
support and compassion. Spousal conflicts that can arise in marriage are
opportunities for personal and marital growth, not, as modern cultures
encourage, reasons to break the covenant. Divorce is destructive to
families and society. Society and public policy should discourage divorce,
while taking legal or other appropriate action in cases of intransigently
abusive relationships. Steadfast commitment in marriage provides the
security in family life that children need. Children also need and are
entitled to the complementary parental love and attention of both father
and mother, which marriage provides. Communities and religious institutions
should care for families and households whose circumstances fall short of
these ideals. Social policies should not promote single-parenting.
The Family and Children
The natural family provides the optimal environment for the
healthy development of children. Healthy family life fulfills the basic
human need to belong and satisfies the longings of the human heart to give
and receive love. The family informs the human person's original attitude
toward such fundamental matters as identity, security, responsibility,
love, morality and religion. In personal and intimate ways that no
self-defining entity could, the natural family cares for its children and
provides for their spiritual, physical, psychological and moral growth.
Policy should promote the definition and permanence in family relationships
that create the stability and security in family life children need.
The Family and Sexuality
The complementary natures of men and women are physically and
psychologically self-evident. These differences are created and natural,
not primarily socially constructed. Sexuality is ordered for the
procreation of children and the expression of love between husband and wife
in the covenant of marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman forms the
sole moral context for natural sexual union. Whether through pornography,
promiscuity, incest or homosexuality, deviations from these created sexual
norms cannot truly satisfy the human spirit. They lead to obsession,
remorse, alienation, and disease. Child molesters harm children and no
valid legal, psychological or moral justification can be offered for the
odious crime of pedophilia. Culture and society should encourage standards
of sexual morality that support and enhance family life.
The Family and Life
The intrinsic worth, right to life and sanctity of life of every
human person exists throughout the continuum of life, from fertilization
until natural death.
Every human life is a gift to the person, the family and
society. Loving families cherish and serve all their members, including the
weak, aged and handicapped. Taking innocent human life through abortion and
euthanasia is wrong; respect for human life demands that we choose the
life-protecting options of adoption and palliative care. The destruction of
embryonic human beings, lethal human embryo experimentation and
abortifacients also involve wrongful takings of human life. All
experimentation and research on human beings should be beneficial to the
particular human subject. Trafficking in the organs and limbs of aborted
children and other human beings, cloning humans and human-genetic
engineering treat human life as a commodity and should not be allowed.
Animal-human genetic experimentation is a crime against humanity. Policy
should respect the inherent dignity of human life.
The Family and Population
Human society depends on the renewal of the human population;
the true population problem is depopulation, not overpopulation. Many
nations are experiencing below-replacement fertility, arising from
widespread abortion, birth control, lack of interest in marriage and
declining family sizes. People are living longer, increasing the size of
elderly populations, while there are proportionally decreasing numbers of
taxpayers to support their elders' retirement incomes and health care.
Because just governments and creative human enterprise and charity offer
the best hope for addressing the problems of poverty, hunger and disease,
no country should be coerced to accept policies of "population
control." Efforts to assist developing countries should focus on promoting
family self-sufficiency, not dependency.
The Family and Education
Parents uniquely possess the authority and responsibility to
direct the upbringing and education of their children. By its nature,
education is not only technical and practical, but also moral and
spiritual. The family is the child's first school, parents the first and
most important teachers. Love of community and loyalty to nation begin in
the family. The state usurps the parental role when it monopolizes and
mandates the educational system, and deprives parents of their intrinsic
authority over their children's education. Nor should government schools or
health clinics treat minor children's health without parental approval.
School curricula should not undermine the right of parents to
teach their children moral and spiritual values. Parents have a duty to
their children and to society to provide their children an adequate
education. Parents should be free to spend their education resources,
including tax money, on the schools of their choice, such as sending them
to a religious school or educating their children themselves in the home.
The Family and Economy
Economic policy, both corporate and governmental, should be
crafted to allow the family economy to flourish; what is good for families
is good for the economy.
Family economy centers on the pursuit of meaningful employment
to fulfill one's personal vocation and to provide for the present and
future needs, obligations, and desires of the family -- such as food,
shelter, education, health care, charity, recreation, retirement income,
taxes and the intergenerational family estate.
Healthy families produce good citizens and workers, competent
consumers and innovative entrepreneurs. Employers should allow workers
flexible family and maternity leave. Corporate philanthropy and national
and international funding for economic development should strengthen the
natural family. Such funds should not be used to support organizations
whose programs harm the family. Commerce in products that appeal to addictions,
such as harmful drugs, gambling and violent and pornographic media,
undermine the family and should be opposed.
The Family and Government
Government should protect and support the family, and not
usurp the vital roles it plays in society.
When the state or its agent attempts to exercise a right or
responsibility that belongs to the family, albeit with good intentions to
address a vexing social problem, its effect is to undermine and displace
the family and make matters worse. Government policies should not create
pressure for mothers to enter the workplace when they would prefer to care
for their families full time. Government should secure an orderly, lawful
and just society that allows families freely and responsibly to: form in
the covenant of marriage and bear children, pursue meaningful work, provide
for their material and health needs, direct the education and upbringing of
their children, participate in charitable, civic and recreational
activities, care for elderly family members, build estates for their
present and future generations, and practice their religion.
The Family and Religion
Parents have the right to teach their religious and moral
beliefs to their children and to raise them according to their religious
precepts. Based on, and consistent with, the human right to religious
liberty, families have the right to believe, practice and express their
religious views in love. Religious institutions should not accommodate
cultural trends that undermine the created nature of the family. One need
not hold religious views to recognize that the family is part of human
nature and the fundamental social unit. Religious institutions have the
crucial cultural-leadership role of affirming that: the natural human
family is established in creation and is essential to a good society; life
and sexuality are gifts from the Creator, to be enjoyed respectfully and
wholesomely; the family is sacred and has the unique authority,
responsibility and capacity to provide for its members' education, health
care and welfare; and all social institutions should respect and uphold the
institution of the family.
Call to Respect the Family
We exhort all persons, families, social organizations
and governments throughout the world to respect and uphold the institution
of the natural human family, in accordance with the principles of this
Declaration, for the good of present and future generations.