The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.
-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia
From September 14-16, 2018, participants in World Congress of Families XII gathered in the beautiful and culturally rich Republic of Moldova to discuss both the victories of and challenges facing the pro-family movement around the world. The following three addresses were delivered at the plenary session of WCF XII.
Dear participants of the World Congress of Families!
On behalf of the Republic of Moldova, on the part of my fellow citizens, I am happy to welcome this authoritative international forum held in support of the family and organized in the capital of our country for the first time.
The World Congress of Families is one of the most representative international associations protecting traditional family values shared and supported by hundreds of organizations, dozens of thousands of activists, and millions of supporters worldwide.
In recent years, the World Congress of Families has been held in many cities around the world: Prague, Geneva, Mexico, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Madrid, Sydney, Salt Lake City, and Tbilisi. This year, Chisinau has picked up the torch of hosting the Congress.
Today, the delegates from dozens of states, the representatives of Christian denominations and other confessions who have arrived in Chisinau to say their word on one of the most topical issues in the modern world, are in this hall.
For all of us, the family is the most important social institution. It is the family that shapes the human personality. The family is where the spiritual, cultural, and social experience of previous generations is shared.
Christians refer to the family as a “small church.” This is correct, because in the family, a person learns the initial concepts of good and evil, the people around him, and the reason of coming to this world—the purpose of life.
Unfortunately, in the modern world, the institution of the family is more subject to erosion and destruction than any other social institution.
All of us are aware of the problems of depopulation, mass migration, increasing numbers of divorces and abortions, and the social vulnerability of the family.
However, there are more serious threats to the institution of the family nowadays. This is, first of all, an anti-family philosophy; I would even call it an anti-family ideology, which is artificially propagated all over the world, including with the participation of a number of international organizations. It is based on depriving mothers and fathers of their natural roles in the family and denying parents’ right to determine the priorities while bringing up their children.
I would like to dwell on specific issues that threaten the institution of the family in Moldova.
Basically, they are caused by the economic crisis and the extremely low living standards of the country’s population. Many people are unable to find any decent source of income in their homeland and therefore have to find jobs abroad. As a result, families actually disintegrate. Spouses do not have a chance to see each other for years and years.
Children are left to their grandparents, who take care of them; in spite of having living parents, they are abandoned and become social orphans. Due to financial instability, young people are reluctant to have children. Many have abortions without thinking of the consequences of this step.
As a result, in our country, the processes of depopulation are developing at a rapid pace. This year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, a little more than 36,000 children went to the first grade. A few years ago, the number of first-graders in our country was a quarter more. The number of students this year is 30 percent lower than five years ago. On average, 106 people leave the country every day.
Over the past 27 years—the years of independence—we have lost up to one third of our population for various reasons. According to recent demographic forecasts, by 2050, the population of the Republic of Moldova will be reduced by more than a million people—i.e., the country is likely to lose more than another third of its population.
But if we take the latest trends into account, it seems that the loss of a million people will happen much earlier—in 10-20 years.
With this consideration in mind, we must, first and foremost, change our own attitude and the attitude of society towards the family and the problems examined by us.
For this purpose, the philosophy aimed at strengthening the institution of the family and based on the priority of traditional family values should become an alternative to the actively propagated anti-family ideology. Our motto is: “Every child should be brought up only in a family.” A family should only be regarded as an alliance between a man and a woman, a father and a mother.
We are eager to offer a comprehensive national program to support the family and promote family values in society. To implement this program, we will involve educational and preschool institutions, social services, creative unions, the Orthodox Church and other religious organizations, civil society, and mass media.
Since the factor of economy is the basis of many social phenomena, solving socioeconomic problems is the path to the invigoration of society. A comprehensive family social protection program should include extending maternity leaves, increasing maternity capitals, paying “family wages” to one of the parents, and creating decent conditions for women to help them successfully combine their working activities and child-rearing.
Last year, I came up with a legislative initiative to pay maternity capitals in the amount of one-and-a-half of the average salary in the economy for each first newborn child in the family, two average salaries for the second child, and three for the third and each subsequent child. Unfortunately, the current composition of the Parliament rejected this suggestion and a number of other social initiatives aimed at strengthening the institution of the family. I believe that the next Parliament will demonstrate more patriotism and social responsibility and will not leave the initiative regarding maternity capitals without attention.
I would like to mention that, in the Parliament, the pro-presidential Party of Socialists has worked out dozens of social draft laws aimed at improving living conditions and supporting young families, mothers, and children. Within the framework of the First Lady’s charitable foundation, Din Suflet, approximately 38,000 children in primary schools and pre-school children were offered assistance through the programs of support and reconstruction of kindergartens throughout the country over the past two years. Din Suflet makes a one-time payment of 4,000 lei to the families in which the fourth (and every subsequent) child is born.
I consider it necessary to instill love and a habit for a healthy lifestyle in children from a very early age. In this regard, we implement a comprehensive national program for the construction and development of facilities for free mass sports. In our country, every young family, every child who is born is a treasure that needs to be protected, and we should take care of them in order to increase it.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares this point of view. I would like to focus on the propaganda of the phenomena that offend our values and public morality. I am convinced that such propaganda should not take place in our society. Organizing festivals and other events that promote immoral principles must be strongly deprecated, even to the extent of outlawing them.
In this regard, I would like to say that I am ready to support all parents’ organizations and associations created in order to protect children from negative influence.
Dear Congress participants!
Next year, our country will celebrate the 660th anniversary of the Moldovan state. The future of any country, the prosperity of any state depends not only on the economic situation, but also on the overall state of society, demographic statistics, population growth or decline trends, the number of fully functional families who have all the conditions for raising children, the opportunities for professional and career development, and decent salaries and a comfortable life in the respected age after the completion of active professional years. Therefore, in order to consolidate society around the comprehensive program of supporting the family, motherhood, and childhood as the foundation of the future of our state, the Republic of Moldova, I officially declare 2019 as the Year of the Family in our country. We will do our best, including through public policy in this sphere, to unite all healthful initiatives, organizations, and communities in order to achieve the essential goal of strengthening the institution of the family. May God help us do this!
To conclude, I would like to welcome the participants of the World Congress of Families to the hospitable Moldovan land once again and wish you a fruitful forum, my dear friends!
Thank you for your attention.