The World Congress of Families (WCF) extends a warm greeting to Pope Francis on his first visit to America. We applaud the Pope and the Catholic Church's moral perspective on the important questions of humanity and their endorsement of WCF's mission of goodwill to affirm the natural family as the only fundamental and sustainable unit of society and ordered liberty consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the truths of faith, reason, and natural law.
WCF agrees with the message of Pope Francis that, "The family is important, and it is necessary for the survival of humanity. Without the family, the cultural survival of the human race would be at risk." Furthermore, the Pope says that "The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child's development and emotional maturity."
WCF Managing Director, Larry Jacobs, commented, "We welcome Pope Francis's message to America. The Pope has consistently emphasized that we can't separate and solve the cultural causes of divorce, poverty, abortion, disease, sex-trafficking, starvation, pollution, pornography, consumerism, co-habitation, euthanasia and greed, without first respecting the dignity and sanctity of the natural family and the life of every person from conception to natural death. In other words, we can't systematically address poverty and climate change without reversing the moral and cultural damage of the "sexual revolution. This is authentic human rights and social justice, rightly understood."
Pope Francis put it this way to world religious leaders gathered at the Vatican for the Humanum conference, "We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom," he added, "but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable." The crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis, for social environments like natural environments, need protection. And although the human race has come to understand the need to address conditions that menace our natural environments, we have been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments are under threat as well, slower in our culture, and also in our Catholic Church. It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology."
Pope Francis describes this human ecology in his encyclical letter, Laudato Si, "Praise be to you, my Lord," on the theme of "care for our common home." In this letter on culture, which is more about social issues than about climate change policy as mistaken by the mass media, the Pope writes, "I would stress the great importance of the family, which is the place in which life-the gift of God-can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life. In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures." Furthermore the Pope writes head on against the throwaway culture of death and the tragedy of abortion in the encyclical letter, "Concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?"
Furthermore Pope Francis is clear of the definition of marriage and the natural family, "Mistrust and skepticism has led our culture to disregard the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, that covenant which deepens communion and safeguards the dignity of their uniqueness. When the stable and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman is devalued by society, it is a loss for everyone, especially the young." In a final warning not to change or politicize the family, the Pope warns all of us, "Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact - a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history. We can't think of conservative or progressive notions."
In addition to welcoming the Pope Francis, the World Congress of Families extends warm greetings to everyone participating in the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) in Philadelphia, especially to the hosts and organizers, including Archbishop Charles Chaput and Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Since 1994, every three years, we have stood in solidarity with our Catholic brothers and sisters in promoting and participating in the World Meeting of Families and have been praying for great success this year as well. Many WCF leaders are among the over 18,000 people attending from over 100 countries. This year's WMOF with the theme, "Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive" began Tuesday and lasts through Sunday. Visit www.worldmeeting2015.org for more information and a listing of great events.