Fiftieth Session of the Commission for Social Development: Poverty
Statement: Family issues, policies and programmes
Priests for Life applauds the focus of the Fiftieth
Session of the Commission for Social Development on Poverty Eradication and
affirms the need to assist and protect the family. The family is the
foundation of society; no social construct can replace or take its place.
All individuals who compose the family are at the center of development as
recognized by the General Assembly in the Declaration on the Right to
Development (A/Res/41/128), “…that the human person is the central
subject of the development process and that development policy should
therefore make the human being the main participant and beneficiary of
Regrettably, far too often the reverse is the operative
policy, and in the name of “development” people are considered expendable.
Authentic development includes all members of the family in policies and
programs and supports the family when it is suffering from economic and
social hardship and deprivation.
Cultures throughout the world recognize the critical
role of the family in providing for the basic needs of food, water, shelter,
clothing, love and care and provide for its sustainability through social
and political means. The family, in turn, provides for the very
survival of its culture and country. The failure to value the family and its
procreative genius has tragically resulted in critical challenges for many
states brought on by shrinking families and below replacement fertility
rates. The failure to provide for the procreative nature of the family has
resulted in the loss of millions of lives through abortion; individuals
whose unique contributions are forever denied to the human family.
True social development will not allow any member of
the family to be selectively marked as expendable— regardless of disability,
disease, condition of dependency or stage of development. All members of the
family are deserving of protection, including those that have been
classified as expendable by some and excluded from basic social protection.
No member of the family can be stripped of their human dignity and denied
their most basic right—the right to life. Life is not for the
privileged, the perfect and the planned but extends to all members of the
Children identified with disability in the womb need to
be welcomed at birth with the best medical care available and not aborted
simply because they are not “perfect”. The children of families in
developing countries need to be valued for their innate human dignity and
not treated as mere numbers in a population count. Their lives ought to be
valued as much as children born to women privileged to live in developing
As children grow and develop their lives need
protection as they face challenges brought on by development problems such
as autism. The number of autistic children is on the rise worldwide and
their families need assistance to care for them. Additionally, the lives of
ageing individuals need support as the intergenerational balance of the
family has severely shifted resulting in a suppressed number of family
caregivers who can care for ageing family members. States must now assume
the role of “caregiver”, once the responsibility of the family in past
Clearly, the need to protect the family and enable it
to function as the core foundation of society is critical to states.
The family must be protected and assisted in all policies and programs to
eradicate poverty. When the family is disrupted and devalued, individual
members suffer greatly, voiding the goal of development to assist the
individual. It is our duty to protect and provide for all members of
the family as sustainable measures are made to eradicate poverty.