ROCKFORD, Ill., Jan. 23, 2008 ( – Last year, France became the first non-Scandinavian country in Western Europe where a majority of births are now out-of-wedlock. World Congress of Families International Secretary Allan C. Carlson called it, “a troubling development which underscores the danger of weakening the natural family by accepting marriage-substitutes.”

In France, 50.5% of the 816,500 births registered last year were to unmarried parents, up from 48.4% in 2006 and 40% a decade ago. Out-of-wedlock births kept pace with the rise of civil unions. In 2007, there were 305,385 of said “unions” registered in France, compared to only 266,500 marriages.

In Sweden, Norway, Estonia and Bulgaria, out-of- wedlock births have also passed the 50% mark. In the United Kingdom, births to the unmarried were 44% in 2006, up a percentage point from 2005.

In Catholic countries like Italy and Spain, births to married couples are still the norm (illegitimacy is 27% in Spain and 17% in Italy). Even so, in those countries, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births has doubled in the past decade.

Guy Desplanques, head of France’s agency for compiling demographic data, notes, “Marriage is now seen more as a celebration held to bring together family and friends, and less a necessary institution, especially given the growth of civil unions.”

Said Carlson: “Civil unions and same-sex marriages are society’s signal that traditional marriage is optional – that it’s an occasion for a party, instead of a solemn joining of two individuals intended to last a lifetime.”

Carlson warned that while still behind France, the U.S. (with an out-of-wedlock birthrate of 36.9%) is moving in the same direction, driven by the same forces.

“When society tells the young that marriage is optional, a growing number will choose the path of least resistance, which is living together,” Carlson commented. “That’s bad for children, because cohabitation and civil unions have less permanency, and it’s bad for society.”

In The Warsaw Declaration, World Congress of Families IV (Warsaw, May 11-13, 2007) proclaimed: “The natural family, a creation of God, is the fundamental human community, based on the lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, in which new individuals are conceived, born and raised.”

To read the entire Warsaw Declaration, to this web page: .

To learn more about World Congress of Families, visit


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