We invite and welcome pro-family leaders of good will, of all faiths and
nationalities, to celebrate families, and to do
what has never been done successfully on such a scale — that is, to
bring together orthodox adherents to the world’s great religions
joined by scholars and activists, all united under the common theme of
‘the natural family is the fundamental social unit.'
The World Congress of Families project was founded in 1996 by Allan
Carlson, president of The Howard Center for Family, Religion, and
Society, to give amplified voice to the above themes.
The first World Congress of Families convened in Prague, The
Czech Republic, on March 19-22, 1997.
It attracted over 700 delegates, representing 145 pro-family
organizations from 45 nations, worried about developments at recent
United Nations conferences that threatened family life and family
autonomy. Speakers from a variety of disciplines (sociology, history, law, psychology, economics,
anthropology, education, and theology) defended the natural family,
explored common sources of both family decay and family strength, and
identified real solutions. Daily
news reports of the meeting appeared throughout Europe and on 4,500
American radio stations. A
“Declaration” was adopted on its final day as a powerful affirmation
of family autonomy, and has been widely republished and distributed.
The first planning meeting for the second World Congress of Families was
held in Rome, Italy, throughout May 1998. Twenty six women and men from the six inhabited continents
gathered to draft and issue “A Call from the Families of the World,”
the rally cry for a second gathering. Meeting in a room dating from the first century before
Christ, they also crafted a remarkable common definition of the
“natural family. Adherents
to the world’s great religions took part, including Roman Catholics,
Evangelical and Mainline Protestants, Latter-day Saints, Eastern
Orthodox, Jews, and Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Joined in full partnership with NGO Family Voice of Brigham Young
University, under the able leadership of distinguished law professor
Richard G. Wilkins, The Howard Center convened and administered the
World Congress of Families II held November 14-17, 1999, in
World Congress of Families II