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Speeches

D. and M. Živković: Promoting Marriage and Family in Croatia

Presentation at the International Leadership Conference
London, England – November 20–23, 2008


We are promoting lifelong joyful, successful and  beautiful marriages and families in Croatia. We believe this is achievable by everybody who desires it and uses proper methods to realize it.

The Family Center promotes and helps development of family based on freely and personally chosen, tender, active, respectful to oneself and other, growing, unconditional, irrevocable, serious and mature love between  one woman and one man, and similar such love by both of them toward all their children.

Love in this context is not only emotion a free and personal decision or freely and personally chosen position of taking as one of primary goals in life to promote the true and complete interests, satisfaction, joy and happiness of person one loves.

To achieve such a marriage and family, one has to be aware of following facts.

a) General experience shows that between rich and poor, between very beautiful and not so beautiful, between highly educated and illiterate, between charming and socially accepted and shy and socially inept there are very successful, beautiful and joyful permanent loving relationships and there are completely unsuccessful relationships.

b) General experience shows also that in all social situations, successful, beautiful and joyful permanent relationships exist if people are capable of practicing and consistently practice justice, honesty, industriousness, respect to oneself and others, generosity, temperance in eating and drinking, joy if other are doing well, patience, living sexuality only in context of true parental and marital love and other virtues.

c) The couple relationship is autonomous. All the people around a couple can try to make their relationship better, but if they do not have cooperation from the couple they will not accomplish anything. Furthermore, all people around a couple can try to destroy their love and good relationship, if they do not have cooperation from at least one member of couple, they cannot accomplish anything.

d) Every person is ethically free. Every person can accept or reject any positive or negative influence from others. A child is not good because she or he had good education, but because she or he accepted a good education and good influences.

e) Someone cannot choose something he or she does not know. That is why it is necessary to promote knowledge of  justice, honesty, true love, fidelity, love toward children, true parenthood, respect and other positive ways of behavior or virtues.

f) True freedom of choice in areas of marriage and family includes knowledge about different options, but also a capability to behave in all possible ways. Someone cannot choose to love a spouse or a child with unconditional or irrevocable love if she or he has no capacity to love anyone parents, brothers or sisters. Very often a problem with true, unconditional and irrevocable love toward a spouse or born and unborn child is that a given person does not love anyone with such love because they did not develop the capacity to love with such love.

Successful parenthood is a key part of a successful marriage. All six or more billion inhabitants of the globe agree that each human being is more valuable then the biggest factory, biggest bank with all money, or most beautiful piece of art. As parents we start a new human being. With our love, care, respect  and education we help them to grow to adult joyful, successful, honest and kind persons.

Therefore, parenthood is the greatest and most important creativity available to a human being.

  • A man is a man because he can be a father. For everything else, he could be a woman.
  • A woman is a woman because she can be mother. For everything else, she could be man.
  • A man is as successful as a man to the degree that he is successful as a father.
  • A woman is successful as a woman to the degree that she is successful as mother.
  • Biological parenthood is not possible or available to all, but psychological, spiritual, loving parenthood is possible to all.
  • All men and women, if they want be successful as a man or woman, should develop true parental, irrevocable and unconditional love.

The existence of each of us started at the inseparable unification of the little precious parts of bodies (sperm and ovum), of our father and mother at conception. About three weeks after conception our heart started to beat, the same heart which is beating now in our chest and moving blood through our body. About six weeks after conception each of us started to move our hands and legs, the same hands and legs we today use.

Being aware of facts listed in this text from a) to f) and other relevant facts. Meditating these facts, remembering and meditating facts about value and uniqueness of each human person, also about oneself.  

Making serious and continuous efforts to practice honesty, justice and all positive personal characteristics or virtues toward all family members.

For people of faith, it is very helpful to practice true prayer, remember that each of us is personally immortal, and that in starting a new child we are partners with God, who at the moment of conception creates an immortal personality of each of our children. Jesus is true man and true God who identifies with every member of our family, so whatever we do to any member of our family (good or bad), he takes it as done to himself.

Successful promotion of a good marriage and family includes spreading true knowledge about relevant facts. That knowledge should be spread in clear and understandable language and using understandable and acceptable arguments.

As young couple, I was 28 and my wife 24 when we started to work in marriage preparation courses in Catholic parishes, back in late 1960s. My wife and I noticed that some engaged couples who wanted to marry in the Catholic Church were culturally Catholic but with little or no personal faith. It was not very effective to tell them that it is against God's will and Church teaching to use hormonal contraception, abort, or divorce. But if we would stress that by hormonal contraception a woman may be inflicting upon herself infertility, and in some cases terminate the life of her unborn child in first days of its existence, they would listen more carefully and more seriously think about it. When we would inform them through slides and scientific data about the humanity of an unborn child and how abortion destroys the child, they would listen better and think more seriously.

Generally when we use arguments of greater quality of life, more joy, more beauty in life, justice, honesty, kindness and love we get much more attention and success.

We developed two very effective short, clear, acceptable positions:

  • We say that acts or behaviors are ethical, correct and acceptable if at the same time they just, honest and expressions of true love and kindness to all people for whom they may have any consequences, including the person who acts or behaves.
  • We claim also that every position of the Catholic Church regarding interpersonal relationship can be sufficiently argued, proved, or illustrated by application of to everybody understandable and to everybody acceptable justice, honesty, kindness and love. When we say everybody, we mean people of all religions, also atheists and agnostics.

We should also use language of experience. We should help our children and other people we wish to influence to experience loving relationship so they get the impressions that successful, joyful and beautiful marriages and families exist in real life. We should live what we promote.

Results

  • In the last 12 years, Croatia is the only European country in which number of families with three or more children is increasing.
  • The number of registered abortions has fallen from over 40,000 yearly during the time of communism to about 4,800 a year in 2006.
  • We have a low rate of divorce with about 40% of divorcees without children and another approximately 40% with only one child.
  • We have a very low incidence of HIV with very limited promotion of condoms.
  • In regions with fewer abortions and more children, there is less use of hormonal contraception and IUD, and also fewer divorces and fewer suicides.

In December 2004, Christian and Muslim groups published a document entitled “Human life is gift of God” in which they asked for respect and protection of human life from conception to natural death.

This school year in Croatian government elementary and high schools a family and values-directed sex education program is being introduced. We hope and work so that such development can continue.

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