Michel Schooyans on problems facing the family






VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2000.


A three-day congress on "Children, Springtime of the Family and Society" began today at the Vatican, in preparation for the upcoming Jubilee of Families this weekend.

Some 6,000 people are attending the congress on children, including bishops, priests and couples in charge of the pastoral care of families. Among the experts on hand at the congress is Msgr. Michel Schooyans, regarded as one of the major experts in bioethics and demography in the Catholic world. ZENIT spoke with him about the objectives of the congress.

Msgr. Schooyans has just published the book "New World Disorder" ("Nuovo Disordine Mondiale," San Paolo publishers) in Italy. He is a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He achieved international fame with the publication of the book "The Totalitarian Deviation of Liberalism" ("La dérive totalitaire du libéralisme").

The Holy See has asked him to write the meditations that will be read during the "Families' Via Crucis" in St. Peter's Square this week.


ZENIT: The theme of the Jubilee of Families is "Children, Springtime of the Family and Society." Why was this theme chosen?


Msgr. Schooyans:

According to popular wisdom, the child who comes into the world is a "gift." This is a saying that our grandmothers repeated often, before the existence of an abundance of consumer goods to which we are accustomed today.

The child is not a burden. He is, above all, a gift, the most beautiful gift that a woman can give her husband; the most beautiful gift that a man can give his wife; the most beautiful gift that the family can give to society.

It is true that a birth does not produce anything and does not imply income, but it is a powerful stimulus for the parents who wish to give the child a pleasant environment, good education, clothes, vacations, etc. At the same time, the child stimulates the public powers to improve the infrastructure, the educational system, and to modernize.

Thus, the child not only stimulates the family, but also economic, social and political life. Therefore, it is aberrant to establish a simplistic principle according to which the child is a burden... and, therefore, abortion and sterilization are "economically preferable" to a birth.

Sometimes there is the feeling that some U.N. international agencies are happier over the birth of a cow than of a child. What is more, a baby seems to be regarded as a catastrophe.


ZENIT: "The family is the natural and fundamental element of society and has the right to be protected by society and the State," Article 16, 3, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states. Unfortunately, 52 years after the publication of this declaration, representatives of developing countries believe that to defend the family implies to impede the intervention of United Nations organizations. In fact, the programs of population control in Asia, Latin America and Africa, involve sterilization and abortion, becoming genuine violations of human rights. How have we arrived at this situation?


Msgr. Schooyans:

Several convergent signs prove that the 1948 declaration is threatened. The threats come, above all, from the desire to prolong the list of human rights, including some "new rights," among which is the right to "sexual and reproductive health," which includes "the right of abortion," even for minors and without parental consent, the juridical recognition of homosexual couples and different models of the family.

The International Federation for Family Planning and Family Care International, together with many other organizations, are doing everything possible to spread this new mentality.

The European Union plays a fundamental role in this connection. In the U.N. International Conferences in Cairo and Beijing, it became one of the principal promoters of these "new rights." The Global Health Charter, prepared by the World Health Organization, also mentions them.

For this mentality, the heterosexual, classic family exists, but there is also the homosexual family. There is also the case of mothers "for rent," or of biological mothers who work for couples who cannot have children.

Cases thus arise that are impossible to resolve legally. Who is the mother? Who are the parents? Hence, the ambiguous use of the word family could lead to the disappearance of economic, social and cultural rights of traditional families.


ZENIT: At a recent meetings of sexologists in Berlin, professor Judith Mackay of Hong Kong, who works in the World Health Organization (WHO), said that in the future "only some obstinate, ultraconservative people will lead the rearguard resistance: throughout the world religions will accept the pill and other contraceptives, they will admit homosexuals and lesbians as priests, and they will struggle together in the U.N. against sexual discrimination. Whoever wishes to have descendants will be able to choose made-to-order children as regards their intellectual coefficient or hair color. 'Cybersex' will cause a crisis among couples: virtual eroticism will be the first reason for divorces. No one will feel as a man or woman for the whole of life, roles will disappear." According to WHO's expert, this is progress. What do you think?


Msgr. Schooyans:

A very active feminist current developed the "gender" ideology. It distinguishes the biological differences (sex) of the roles attributed by society to man and woman (the word "gender" stems from this). According to this ideology, the differences among human "genders" are not natural, but rather appeared in the course of history and are created by society. Hence, these are cultural differences.

According to this ideology, it is necessary to abolish totally all distinctions between men and women. Words like matrimony, family, mother must be eliminated, as they do not correspond to any of the realities admitted by this ideology. What is more, they recall historical situations that have been surpassed, which the ideology must denounce and destroy.

If the differences between man and woman are eliminated, the first consequence is that the masculinity and femininity proper to the human being no longer make sense. In this way, for the individual the body becomes a simple instrument to enjoy all kinds of pleasure - homosexuality, selfish pleasures - even if this implies abortion.

Clearly, we are faced with a plan that attempts to upset the cultural models. This is not just about adding new rights, but something far deeper: to radically reinterpret rights that had previously been recognized.