Love is the meaning and substance of life – ecclesiastic al leaders greet the World Congress of Families
The importance of this Congress lies in the fact that it should raise our awareness of life being a gift and love being the meaning and substance of life – said László Bíró, bishop for Family Affairs of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference on the opening day of the World Congress of Families XI. Several ecclesiastical leaders greeted the audience at the Budapest Family Summit.
It is a great gift for the nation and for congregations that Budapest is home for the World Congress of Families XI. This is nothing less than joy over family and life, the celebration of families – emphasized László Bíró in his greeting speech.
The bishop for Family Affairs of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference pointed out: when talking about the family crisis, we add grist to the mill of those who keep bringing up the this topic. Nevertheless, let us make families strong again – urged the bishop.
According to him, the Congress might contribute to the expansion of our knowledge of this subject, and might enable us to develop an identity able to value the past, to look forward to the future with confidence, and to live fully in the present. Furthermore, it helps to recognise human dignity and to build a kind of ethics that is centred around the human being.
This knowledge helps us to unveil any philosophy that promotes the absolutism of egoism. Our world is distorted by selfishness, by focusing on the material world, instead of paying attention to people. Yet, we need each other, the future can only be built together emphasized the bishop for Family Affairs.
God loves marriage, family, life, and never ceases to love the human being. The importance of this Congress lies in the fact that it should raise our awareness of life being a gift and love being the meaning and substance of life – said László Bíró.
The Reformed Church considers the Congress and its topics to be highly relevant. Since demography, family, education, sexuality, the dignity of human life, motherhood and fatherhood, and the situation of the traditional family are all questions held to be of crucial importance in our present world by church leaders as well – pointed out József Steinbach.
The bishop of the Hungarian Reformed Church emphasized that marriage and family are the basic institutions of every society. Congregants believe that family is the fundamental way of life originating from God, and that it is the foundation of all further conditions in our world in spite of the many facets of chaos menacing us. We are particularly pleased that the conference has a similar standpoint on this.
To unravel the secret of the gift of family, one could go back as far as Adam and Eve: the earthly family is the mirror image of God’s communion – said Péter Gáncs in his video message sent to the Congress. The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary reminded us that family was very important for Jesus as well, even on the cross, he had the strength to ensure that his mother would be looked after.
The Congress might promote the rediscovery of the assets of family – the bishop expressed his hopes.
The most recent Eurostat statistics’ figures are particularly sobering: in 2015, 60% of European families comprised of one or two people; the proportion of marriages in 1965 was 8% (per 1000 people), while in 2011, it was only 4.2%; at the same time, the number of divorces increased by 150% between 1965 and 2011. In addition, in 2015, France and Ireland were the only European countries that reached the replacement level, that is, two people. These figures are alarming but motivating at the same time – indicated Slomo Köves. The executive rabbi of EMIH Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation elaborated on why it is important to raise children in the framework of the traditional family. Citing the Bible, he illustrated that while all other creatures were created in masses, God created only one human being at first, then divided it into two parts (man and woman) saying: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Thus, population growth is not only an economic, national economic, and cultural issue with the sole purpose of providing the necessary mass of people. According to the Jewish interpretation, there is more to the question than that: God made human beings to be his partners in creation. This partnership might express itself in several forms: creating with someone’s two hands, or with thoughts, but the most magnificent kind of creation is when a man and a woman creates a “common value”. Therefore, the value of family and children is not a matter of sociology and demography, but a value that defines the intellectual and spiritual existence of a person – highlighted Slomo Köves.
Everyone attacking the institution of family should take into account that he or she was created the same way – noted Jim Garlow. The pastor of the San Diego Skyline Church said in his greeting speech that there is no man or woman who could, on his or her own, represent the whole image of God. This is only possible together, neither two men, nor two women are able to achieve this – he said. Hence, according to him, it is a direct attack on God’s image when the traditional family model is being attacked.
Here, at the Congress, we are part of a large family, here we sense (with our mind and heart) what family means to all of us – claimed Dmitry Smirnov in his greeting speech. The dean of the Russian Orthodox Church remarked that sometimes it can be very difficult to comprehend sacred concepts, even though they are usually rather simple issues.
“We, people are God’s creations, and we are infinitely loved by him; and from the first moment, Satan tries to demonstrate that human beings are not worthy of this love. The devil is fighting against Christ, but in the course of this, he is sacrificing the soul of human beings” – he noted. The dean emphasized that our last stand in this fight is family, and the loss of family would be the loss of God’s gift. Thus, the attack on families is the attack on the human beings themselves – he highlighted.
We made a step back concerning family issues – indicated Lawrence Khong in his greeting speech. The founder and senior pastor of the Faith Community Baptist Church of Singapore addressed the churches in the interest of future generations: he urged them to withstand the destructive tendency. We need to take on a leading role in this – he emphasized – we cannot let the building blocks of family to be destroyed. Family is our future – he declared.
Minister Zoltán Balog then received the “Familia et veritas” prize from Larry D. Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress of Families, for his efforts promoting the support of families.