On the following day, Sunday, a few new participants joined us. The presentations continued and the main topic was now: Strengthening the Family in a Global Context.
Carolyn Handschin lives in Geneva and is the director of the UN office of the International Women’s Federation for World Peace. Her topic was Family and the UN, Family Mainstreaming. Phrases in UN resolutions mostly start in a positive way, but they often contain contrary and negative positions. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) represents many aspects concerning the family and peace. In July 2015, the Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a resolution by 21 votes to 14, supporting the family. Unless the family is put in the center, human rights and freedom can never be realized. It is of concern that in the meanwhile the focus has been diverted from protecting the family to ‘family deconstruction’ under the influence of the ‘reproductive health’ policy of Planned Parenthood and the ‘Yogyakarta principles’ of the gender movement. The mother of seven spoke out for ‘family mainstreaming’, since although the family is the cause of many problems, it is also the solution. She made several suggestions as to how the family could be brought more into focus.
The second speaker on Sunday morning was Josef Gundacker from the Family Forum, Austria. His topic was: What is Family? The School of Love! First of all he showed a power-point presentation that was structured like a meditation to the song: ’Teach your Children Well’. Children should be given roots and wings from their parents. He made the case for less state interference and more responsibility for parents and for a paradigm shift in family politics, marriage and children’s rights reform. Marriage and the family is today seen in a more external way and is orientated to political correctness where all forms of the family are considered equal. Marriage must again be understood as an institution based on an understanding of Christian values and be able to pass on its human inheritance to the next generation.
The theologian and representative of the Agency for Family Publications (AFFP), Rolf-Dieter Braun, introduced the initiative ‘Marriage Week’ as a contribution to his topic What Can we do for Marriage and the Family? In the week before Valentine’s Day (February 14), many events are held nationwide: from literature circles, cooking events, film evenings, distribution of flyers, to candle- light dinners and ‘days to encourage the family’. The main message is: marriage is positive and married people can do something for their relationship! Proposals to spread family values range from: mixing with creative people, meeting people and institutions from the fields of culture, church, politics and science by connections in the internet and social networks, distribution of publications, discussions in small groups at home, to looking for local initiatives. The fact is: ‘nothing good happens unless you do it!’
The final presentation World Peace through Healthy Families was delivered by Dr. Dieter Schmidt, chairman of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The first responsibility of world religions is the same as that of the UN: peace. Therefore, UPF invests itself for interreligious dialogue and for the fulfilment of the UN millennium goals which are now called ‘sustainable goals’. As a medical practitioner he stressed that health embraces physical, spiritual and social well-being and is not simply the absence of illness and infirmity. Secure attachment to their parents is an important condition for the health and neuronal development of young children. On the other hand, early sexualisation leads to chemical disturbance in the brain (triggered by pornography and sexual stimulation) and ultimately to attachment disorders. Therefore, sexual abstinence before marriage as taught by religion makes sense. The holy scriptures of the world religions stress the decisive role of the family. Jesus, with his statement ‘God is my father’, brought a new understanding of God which contributed to his crucifixion. Rev. Moon advanced this understanding by talking about ‘God as the parents of mankind’. Interreligious, intercultural marriages and healthy, loving families offer an important contribution to world peace.
The conference was wonderfully supported by songs from the choir of an African Free Church from Nuremberg, ‘Oasis of Love’. They thrilled us with gospel songs and engendered heavenly relaxation for the participants. A special mention must also be made of the excellent cuisine, the hospitality and loving care given by the personnel and the nuns. All of this made for a harmonious atmosphere which contributed to the success of the seminar.
All the participants praised the event and hope that a large and effective network can be established to support the family and rediscover its potential for generating peace.