- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 28, 2004

More than 2,000 international family advocates are meeting in Mexico City today to discuss family issues, including abortion, marriage and sex trafficking.

Ten years have passed since the International Year of the Family, and many threats and challenges to the family remain, said Allan Carlson, international secretary of the World Congress of Families III.

A core problem is a “militant, antichild view” that has swept some cultures, said Mr. Carlson, who also is president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society in Rockford, Ill.

Children are seen as the cause of population problems, and contraception and abortion are promoted as so-called remedies, he said.

But instead of struggling with population growth, many developed countries are experiencing a “birth dearth,” in which there are too few babies especially girls being born to support the nation.

The depopulation problem a contentious issue when it was discussed at the first World Congress of Families in Prague in 1997 finally has started to be treated as a legitimate concern, said Richard G. Wilkins, director of the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah.

Even five years ago, colleagues would “look at me like I was nuts because all they had ever heard about was the ‘population explosion,’” said Mr. Wilkins, who is a professor at J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. “Now my colleagues in academia don’t roll their eyes any more. Everyone’s aware that we’ve got a real problem we can’t continue to have 1.6 of a child for every two people,” he said, noting that basic population replacement requires a fertility rate of 2.1 children per couple.

Other problems to be discussed in the three-day conference this week are family formation, prostitution, economic growth and the rise in secularism that “crushes religious life and belief,” Mr. Carlson said.

The World Congress of Families III is expected to attract representatives from 60 countries.

It is sponsored by the Howard Center, the World Family Policy Center, and two Mexico City groups, Family and Society and the Family Network.

Other U.S. groups assisting with the conference are the American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss.; American Values of Arlington; the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in New York; the Jewish Center in Tamarack, Fla.; Focus on the Family of Colorado Springs; and District-based pro-family think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America.

At the World Congress of Families II, held in Geneva in 1999, participants issued a declaration that said: “The natural human family is established by the Creator and essential to good society.”

The document listed “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” as family crises. It also laid out 10 “principles” aimed at addressing these problems.

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