If you were to summarize in one brief statement what IOF is all about, it might be this: “Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.” The words are from the UN’s 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which leaves no doubt about what is best for children: “wherever possible,” every child should “grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his [or her] parents” in order to receive the “special protection” and “special safeguards and care” to which all children are entitled, given with “love and understanding” so they can “develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.”
The foundation for this ideal environment has been described by IOF founder Dr. Allan Carlson in The Natural Family: A Manifesto as “the conjugal bond built on fidelity, mutual duty, and respect,” a bond that allows the husband and wife “to emerge into their full potential” and “become as their Creator intended, a being complete.” From this “natural union flows new human life” as the parents “find their love transformed into a living child” and become “the child’s first teachers” and “guides and guardians.”
Or, in the words of Pope Francis, “complementarity between man and woman… lies at the foundation of marriage and the family…. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.” Tragically, notes Pope Francis, this foundational right is increasingly violated under a deceptive banner of rights: “Today, marriage and the family are in crisis. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings.”
In a world increasingly hostile to children, IOF boldly declares that “children are our future,” and that their “natural refuge” and “first and foremost school” is “the family, a universal community based on the marital union of a man and a woman.” Our work to encourage and empower faithful parents for the benefit of children is well known worldwide through our World Congress of Families, our international journal, and our work in the United Nations. Less visible is the profound personal commitment of each IOF team member to his or her own family and children, a reality I have been privileged to observe up close.
As we celebrate the Global Day of Parents on June 1, we honor all faithful parents who selflessly give the world their best by giving their best to their children, and we urge leaders and policymakers everywhere to promote and defend those measures designed to truly give children the best mankind that has to give. As we stated at our World Congress of Families IX, “We call for a culture that honors and enables faithful, fulfilling, and resilient marriages; that recognizes and protects the uniquely valuable contributions of both mothers and fathers to the lives of their children; and that encourages the values and vision necessary for young people to look forward to and prepare for successful marriage and parenting.”