Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science is the site of the fourth World Congress of Families (Photo: WND)

WARSAW – In the late 1960s, warnings of a “population” bomb that would doom Earth’s inhabitants spawned movements of fervent activists prone to wag a finger at strolling couples with multiple offspring in tow.

Nearly 40 years later, crunching the demographic numbers reveals a looming catastrophe – but of the completely opposite kind, some contend.

Conveyors of a major world gathering commencing today in the Polish capital argue Europe – the progenitor of Western civilization – is on a steep population decline that will make the continent increasingly hard to recognize in the coming decades.

With plunging birthrates coinciding with rejection of the “natural family” that for millennia has anchored cultures worldwide, a “demographic winter” is descending over Europe, contends Allan C. Carlson, founder and international secretary of the World Congress of Families, hosting more than 3,300 delegates from 75 nations through Sunday.

Prague was the site of the first congress in 1997, followed by Geneva in 1999 and Mexico City in 2004.

“If Europe is lost to demographic winter and radical secularism, much of the world will go with it,” says Carlson and the international team that planned the event.

Meanwhile, into the vacuum comes a flood of Muslim immigrants led by many on a mission to spread the rule of Islam over the planet, writes Mark Steyn in his book “America Alone.”

The result already is becoming clear, Steyn insists: “Europe will be semi-Islamic in its politico-culture character within a generation.”

In his book, Steyn warns one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history already is making our views of European outdated.

While it takes a fertility rate of at least 2.1 for a nation to replenish itself, countries known for big families, such as Greece and Spain, have fertility rates of 1.2 and 1.1 respectively.

By 2050, Steyn says, 60 percent of Italians, for example, will have no brothers, no sisters, cousins, no aunts, no uncles.

“The big Italian family, with papa pouring vino and mama spooning out the pasta down an endless table of grandparents and nieces and nephews, will be gone, no more, dead as the dinosaurs,” he writes.

‘Saving Europe’

But in Warsaw this weekend, an optimistic gathering of activists says it’s looking “beyond demographic winter,” promoting the “natural family” as the “springtime of Europe and the world.”

The World Congress says it is buoyed by the fact “courageous pro-family champions and organizations exist in every European country, even in hotbeds of militant secularism such as France, Sweden and Spain.”

Several recent members of the European Union have elected strong “pro-family governments,” including Poland, Latvia and Slovakia.

“Poland saved Europe before” by lifting the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 and helping to demolish the Soviet empire three centuries later and it is likely “she will save Europe again,” the World Congress planners hope – though not without inevitable backlash from the European Union.

Legislation, for example, recently proposed by Polish Education Minister Roman Giertych that limits “homosexual propaganda” in schools was met with a resolution of condemnation in April by the European Parliament 325-124, with 150 abstentions.

Arguing for his bill, Giertych, who will address the congress today, explained: “One must limit homosexual propaganda so that children won’t have an improper view of the family.”

During debate on the European Parliament resolution, deputies described the Polish legislation as “repulsive” and “hateful.”

These “diatribes … must stop,” said member Rour Martine. “These are not Europe’s values.”

World Congress founder Carlson countered “normalization of homosexuality is a value of Europe’s elite.”

“The ‘values’ of a majority of the European Parliament are one reason Europe has the lowest birthrates in the world,” he said. “If it had a self-preservation instinct, the EP would be promoting the natural family, instead of castigating Poland for its defense of family values.”


The Congress has a counterpart, in fact, the Council on Contemporary Families, which says it seeks to “deinstitutionalize marriage” and affirm an increasing number of women who choose not to marry and have children.

Carlson contends “the failure of CCF’s vision can be seen in the family crisis in Europe.”

“Due to the Euro-elite’s embrace of the CCF’s anti-family ethic, fewer and fewer Europeans are marrying and having children,” he said. “Those who do are choosing ‘egalitarian unions,’ where the emphasis is on self-fulfillment, rather than having and nurturing children. As a result, the European family is disappearing.”

In March, 19 members of the European Parliament urged a State Department official scheduled to speak at the Congress today to withdraw. Ellen Sauerbrey, appointed by President Bush as the U.S. assistant secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, will address a plenary session on “Promoting Strong Families As A Policy Goal.”

A letter from the parliament members March 28 told Sauerbrey: “We urge you to withdraw from this conference because your participation provides an official U.S. government stamp of approval to extremist and intolerant views held by some participants and attendees. These extremist and intolerant views include prejudiced attitudes toward foreigners, people from other religions, homosexuals, and the inclusive vision of what represents a family unit that has been developed by the United Nations and the European Union.”

Sauerbrey, who spoke at the Mexico City Congress, says the World Congress of Families has had “a huge impact” by the “networking of people around the world with shared values and concerns about the deterioration of the family structure.”

Meanwhile, a think tank in the UK published a report this week that urged Britons to have fewer children in order to help save the world from what it sees as the biggest threat to civilization, “global warming.”

“The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet,” said John Guillebaud, co-chairman of Optimum Population Trust, “would be to have one less child.”

WND news editor Art Moore is in Warsaw, Poland, to report on the World Congress of Families

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