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Reversing the Trends Croatian experience
by Marijo Zivkovic, Family Center, Zagreb, Croatia

In Croatia a country with about 4,500,000 inhabitants more then 90 % people declare themselves as Catholics, but in promotion of successful and beautiful family life, we have found necessary to develop argumentation based on to everybody understandable and acceptable justice, honesty, kindness and love. Today we state that act or behaviour as ethical, moral and acceptable only if it is in same time just, honest and expression of love and kindness to everybody to who it has any consequences, including a person or persons who are acting or behaving.

Placing these four criteria together justice, honesty, kindness and love in mentality we know and live, we can successfully and convincingly argue every catholic position regarding personal or family life. We also argue that every position of catholic faith regarding interpersonal relationships can be sufficiently argumented by applying to everybody ( including atheists and agnostics) understandable and acceptable justice, honesty, kindness and love.

Regional differences regarding family life

We noticed that in Croatia there exist great regional differences regarding personal and family life. In some regions there are three to three and half as much suicides as in other regions. There are 60 times more abortions in some regions then in others. Divorces are three times more in some regions then in others. Use of so called contraceptive pills and IUD is four times greater in some regions then in others. Number of families with three or more children is in some regions three times greater then in others. Economic, social and media situation is in all Croatia about the same. It is then safe to take as obvious conclusion that economic, social and media situation are not decisive or main factor for quality of personal or family life, rate of divorce or abortion, number of children in family, treatment of ill or old in family etc. In our opinion decisive factor is what we call kind and quality of marital or parental love. As much as decisions are based on justice, honesty, true love and sincere kindness, as much beauty, satisfaction, success, quality and peace exists in personal and family life.

Reversing the Trends

Family Center promotes a family based on freely decided, tender, permanent, serious, growing, engaged, full of respect for oneself and others and mature love between woman and man and similar such love by both of them to all their children. Such family is also a catholic family, but this family is best for everyone, also atheists and agnostics. Such family brings greatest possible measure of satisfaction, success and beauty to all members of family.

With our messages we try to reach as many people we can, not only people who are in regular contact with Cath. Church through Sunday Mass or other programs. We do it by mass distribution of educational materials where we use arguments of common sense, justice, kindness etc. Sometimes when financial situation permits we buy space in non Catholic newspapers and inform about humanity of unborn child from conception and promote constructiveness, love etc.

Such argumentation is more and more accepted and used by bishops and priests in their regular work, and issues of love toward unborn, marriage fidelity etc. is more bravely addressed in church services.

Positive results

Combining good and efficient educational work with freedom from anti-Catholic communism Croatia is going through very positive changes. Number of abortions has decreased from about 38,000 in year 1990. To about 7,500 in year 2000. Divorces were from year 1970 to year 1990 always about 20 for every 100 new marriages. In year 2000 there were less then 16 divorces for 100 new marriages. From all children born through years from 1970 until 1990 it was always less then 15 % children third or following by order of birth. From 1995 on that percentage is between 22 and 25 %. i.e. we have much more couples who decide to have three or more children.

Hopes for the Future

We hope that with more intelligent and more efficient and more intensive and widespread educational efforts and actions in future we can continue to change past trends, and make Croatia an example how it is possible reverse trends in positive way. I ask You who are here to see if You can help Croatia. Croatia is small country and with limited efforts we can obtain noticeable statistically documented changes, and if it is possible in Croatia why not in Germany or Great Britain.

What Family Center can do

During last eleven years the Family Center has distributed free of charge over a million books, about three million wall pictures with pro-family messages, about three million brochures, and more then 4 millions leaflets and small pictures with pro-family messages. Through that work we developed net of distributors in parishes, schools, hospitals and associations. Through that net we can distribute books, brochures and audiovisuals to hundreds of thousands persons and families in very short time. We have never enough good educational publications. Through our know-ow we can organise efficient moral value promotions through printed and electronic media. We need help in our work in Croatia.

Marijo Zivkovic

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