Fr. Dmitry Smirnov at the World Congress of Families in Italy - Defending the Traditional Family

"The state should respect the decisions of parents, respect the rights given to them by God, and not dictate to them how they should educate their children. Parents should have the right to decide what their children will and will not be taught in schools."

In Verona, Italy, the XIII World Congress of Families took place on March 29-31, 2019. With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill, Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov participated in the forum. Fr. Dmitry is the head of the Patriarchal Commission on the Family.

Fr. Dmitry Smirnov (center)

Source: (in Russian)

During the plenary session, Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov spoke. In his speech, the chairman of the Patriarchal Commission for Family Affairs noted:

If the house is deprived of the foundation, it will collapse. Humanity — any society in history — also has a foundation. These are the natural moral norms that the Creator has invested in human nature. And these norms have a very concrete living embodiment — this is a family. Every nation on earth relies on the family. Take away and destroy the family, and humanity will quickly collapse like a house of cards. But this is exactly what many irresponsible people are trying to do today.

They are trying to destroy the building of humanity, attacking its most important, fundamental pillars. Sometimes these pillars are attacked separately, and sometimes simultaneously, but the goal of these attacks is the same — the destruction of the family, which means the killing of humanity.

These pillars are:

  • Marriage between a man and a woman, and a natural family based on that marriage (and these are the only true forms of marriage and family)
  • Respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death
  • Natural rights of parents related to the upbringing and education of children
  • Freedom to profess a religion. 

These items are all inextricably linked. Destroying any of them will bring down the entire building.

The head of the Patriarchal Commission stressed that jointly protecting the family and the moral foundations of society is the duty of all sound public and state forces throughout the world. He said: 

Every state, if it really cares for the welfare of its people, is called upon to protect these foundations, including at the legislative level. Their importance is recognized by all traditional religious communities. They should be protected by religious authorities, public figures, scientists, and politicians.

Unfortunately, as noted in the speech, many countries in the world today are taking the opposite course of action. Legal and political levers are used to impose anti-family ideologies on people: 

All this activity is built on lies. Without any sound reason, the so-called "human rights" being promoted are actually destroying human existence. At the level of international structures and national legislation, rules are adopted which encourage extramarital cohabitation, divorce, abortion, gender ideology, surrogate motherhood, all kinds of sexual promiscuity, and the rejection of parental authority in the family.

If humanity wants to live, it must return the family to the center of its earthly existence. The protection of life, and the protection of marriage and the natural family, is a struggle for genuine human rights. It stands against the madness and lies that are enforced by violence and manipulation. What can human rights be, without life and family, if without these two things a person cannot even begin to exist?

The Chairman of the Patriarchal Commission paid particular attention to protecting the rights of parents to educate their children in accordance with their own convictions:

Attempts, under various pretexts, to restrict the rights of parents, to deprive them of the opportunity, to equip family life, educate their children, and morally form them, is a terrible evil. In the 20th century, the most inhuman totalitarian regimes were doing just that.

Fr. Dmitry Smirnov

This is often done under the pretext of "protecting" the rights of children (interpreted arbitrarily and broadly), assuming that their rights are somehow opposed to the right of families and parents. This leads to the destruction of the family and society.

If there is real concern for protecting children's genuine rights and interests, then in both society and the state, it is necessary that care for the family should be paramount, and the power of parents and their rights to raise and educate their children should be recognized and protected. In order for a child to be really protected, it is necessary first of all to guarantee and protect the rights of his parents by law. Parents should make decisions regarding the education of their children, take care of their moral formation, and choose the methods of education and family discipline. No one has the right to teach children anything against the will and belief of their family.

The chairman of the Patriarchal Commission for Family Affairs reminded his listeners: 

The state should respect the decisions of parents, respect the rights given to them by God, and not dictate to them how they should educate their children. Parents should have the right to decide what their children will and will not be taught in schools. Parents should have the right to freely educate their children at home in the form of family education, without contacting public and private schools, where corrupt sex-education lessons are often imposed. It is outrageous that in some countries family education is still prohibited and persecuted.

He stressed that the right of parents to choose the type of education for children — including homeschooling — is the natural and fundamental right of the family, the right of parents, and “speaking in modern language, is one of the main human rights” recognized in Article 26.3 in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov said it is outrageous to destroy families under the pretext of protecting children:

Children are taken from their parents in the absence of any real danger, under false pretexts. We see how this happens throughout Europe, and throughout the world. This is a suicidal epidemic. By doing this, children are not protected at all — they are often exposed to much more serious danger than any problems they could meet at home.

In conclusion, the chairman of the Patriarchal Commission noted the common features of the problems he had mentioned:

All this is done under externally plausible pretexts, such as protecting the rights of women and children, preventing violence and crimes, ensuring the right to education. Alas, this is only a deceptive cover of radical ideologies which are hostile to the family, to children, and to basic moral standards. These ideologies spread in our societies like a malignant cancer. Perhaps, together and with God's help, we can still stop this. In our prayers, we will ask God for this do be done.

The World Congress of Families is the most representative international event which unites supporters of the natural family, traditional moral values, and the right to life. It includes public and other non-governmental organizations from more than 85 countries.

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