Friday, May 20, 2016

Spirit & Life - Fighting for Marriage and Family

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The Family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state. - Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16
Shortly after returning from very productive mission trips to Rome and Malta, I traveled to New York last Sunday to participate in a one-day event at the United Nations focused on defending the natural family. Twenty-five Member States and over 100 Civil Society Groups forming the Group of the Friends of the Family participated in the program. I was honored to be among those who were asked to address the full body of participants.
Fr. Boquet at the UNOne of the most moving moments of the program occurred when seven children read A Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families, which garnered a standing ovation. One thousand children representing every continent of the world signed the declaration. The declaration is based on existing international state treaty obligations and foundational United Nations agreements. Each stressed the primary role of the natural family and the environment in which children are to be raised. Let me highlight two in particular:
We call upon State Parties and the United Nations system to respect family autonomy and the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. - Convention of the Rights of Children Art. 3, 5, & 18; ICPD 1994, II, Principle 11
We call upon State Parties and the United Nations system to respect the rights of children with regard to thought, conscience, and religion, and to respect the rights of parents to guide the moral and religious education of their children. - Convention on the Rights of Children, Art. 14
Regardless of creed, national origin, or cultural background, a nation's strength fundamentally depends on the stability of the family. We must emphasize this immutable role of the natural family in cultivating and sustaining a Culture of Life.
The common good requires that laws recognize, promote, and defend the institution of marriage, an indissoluble and exclusive union between one man and woman, as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Within natural marriage, man and woman give themselves completely to one another, begetting and raising children. Within this sacred environment children learn love, goodness, care, responsibility toward their neighbors, forgiveness, mercy, and charity. Society owes its health and continued survival to the natural family.
This is also why HLI participated this week in the tenth World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia. As presenters in this historic event, Stephen Phelan represented our headquarters along with Dr. Ligaya Acosta from the Philippines and Lech and Ewa Kowalewski from Poland. With other leaders from over 20 nations, we were very pleased to help plant a flag for life and family in this crucial part of the world at a crucial time. Despite decades of Soviet occupation and further provocations from Russia, Georgia itself has a strong pro-family culture and great support for the Georgian Orthodox Church, whose patriarch is internationally renowned for his stalwart defense of life and family. We pray that this event will help stir into flame a movement to fight pressure from the West to place Georgia and the region under occupation again, though this time it would be under a different form.
The Church stands strongly with those who would fight what she understands as an "ideological colonization" originating from wealthy nations. As Pope Francis stated:
You were given a role to recognize the dangers to our families and protect them from new ideologies. There is an ideological colonization for which we have to be careful of those trying to destroy the family. Challenged by the redefinition of marriage and openness to life, as families we have to be very wise with fortitude to this colonization which will destroy the family. - Encounter with Families, Philippines, Jan. 2015
We see this ideological colonization vividly in the attempt by the State and its agencies in their overarching desire to monopolize the education of children - usurping the role of fathers and mothers. Compulsory sex education programs violently and disrespectfully expose children to pornography, sexual promiscuity, gender ideology, and homosexuality. Parents, the primary educators of their children, are ignored, or worse yet, are threatened with having their children removed from their custody if they prevent their children from participation in so-called "educational" programs.
This ideological colonization is not only exported to the developing world, it is being inflicted upon our own nation from our highest political office. A recent declaration by the Obama Administration has unlawfully mandated that public schools allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex. The Administration even threatens to remove Title IX monies if a given State refuses to comply.
This is not democracy, it is the edict of a corrupt dictator, or one who thinks himself a king. Such tactics are expected from banana republics, not the United States. Mr. Obama's unjust mandate jeopardizes the safety of children while potentially creating a public education-funding crisis. Without any demonstrable evidence of benefit, these irresponsible tactics place the well-being of children at risk.
We are so grateful when the Church speaks clearly against such evil. In his keynote presentation at the Catholic National Prayer Breakfast in DC on Tuesday, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah told the more than one thousand participants, "Do not be afraid to proclaim the truth with love, especially about marriage according to God's plans." Referring to Pope Francis' comments about ideological colonization, he chastised those promoting gender ideology and homosexual unions, as well as attacking religious freedom. Those of us in the room were moved when he stirringly called out the society that rejects God while trying to build its own utopia:
This is why it is so important to fight to protect the family, the first cell of the life of the Church and every society.  It is not about abstract ideas.  It is not an ideological war between competing ideas.  This is about defending ourselves, children, and future generations from a demonic ideology that says children do not need mothers and fathers.  It denies human nature and wants to cut off entire generations from God.
At times I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone. Sadly, this is not a dream or television program that we can turn off. Our very way of life and the values we hold precious concerning life and family are being threatened at every level of society. The challenges require a heroic response from civil and spiritual leaders, as well as each citizen.
We cannot say this task belongs to others, for the task belongs to each of us. I believe Cardinal Sarah states it best when he says that in order to combat the ideologies and agendas threatening life and family we must "be prophetic, be faithful, and above all, pray."
Along with our missionaries from Rome, Malta, the Philippines, Poland, and around the world, I am deeply grateful for your prayers and support of our mission. Let us all follow Cardinal Sarah's call in our own lives as well as in the higher level fights around the world, and let us pray that our efforts are truly in line with the will of the only One who can win this battle, the One who has already defeated sin and death.

Sincerely yours in Christ,  
Father Shenan J. Boquet 
President, Human Life International
Send a reminder: Catholic=Pro-Life!
St. Maximilian Kolbe
In 1972, Mr. Franciszek Gajowniczek proclaimed his thanks to the recently beatified Maximilian Kolbe for saving his life in Auschwitz. "I want to express my thanks, for the gift of life," he said to 150,000 attendees. Kolbe's courageous action spoke volumes about how he cherished human life, made in the image and likeness of God. But furthermore, this courageous and selfless act shows how he directly interceded on the behalf of Mr. Gajowniczeck to prevent him from being forced to die by starvation and dehydration, a now common method to euthanize those with brain injuries today. - continue  -
Send a reminder: Catholic=Pro-Life!
In an April 26th declaration, Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), advocated for abortion in cases where an unborn child at risk of microcephaly due to his mother's infection with the Zika virus. In the declaration, which has yet to be translated by OAS into English, Almagro also announced that he will call for a regional forum to discuss the connection between "epidemics and equal rights." - continue  -
Send a reminder: Catholic=Pro-Life!
HLI invites all interested stakeholders to a special high-level event at the UN ECOSOC Chamber in New York City on May 16th, the International Day of Families. The Friends of the Family-hosted event will feature excellent speakers who will argue for the irreplaceable role of the family as society's most important institution. - continue -
Send a reminder: Catholic=Pro-Life!
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Send a reminder: Catholic=Pro-Life!
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