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ARGENTINA, Aug. 6 ( – The 3-day meeting of American Politicians and Legislators that was called by the Pontifical Council for the Family wrapped up yesterday in Argentina’s capital.  Catholic religious leaders were pleased at the opportunity to re-iterate to South American political leaders the importance of defending the family both in their own countries as well as on the international stage.

Two hundred and fifty politicians and legislators participated, including: Argentine President Carlos Menem, and the two leading Argentine presidential candidates: Eduardo Duhalde and Fernando de la Rua; Belisario Betancourt, former president of Colombia; Hector Gross Espiell, former Uruguayan Chancellor; Severino Cavalcante Ferreira, second Vice-  President of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies.

The theme of the conference was a look at the values of family and life in the light of the 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Although reports about the success of the “culture of death” over the past several decades were a necessity, the church leaders stressed that giving up the fight is not an option. “The world cannot declare itself beaten in the great battle for human dignity,” Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family told attendees. As reported by Zenit news, “he applauded the Argentine authorities for the country’s decision to establish the Day of the Unborn, celebrated for the first time last March 25.”

In a message sent to the conference by the pope, he reiterated the importance of recognizing and protecting the family as the fundamental building block of a civil society and he stressed the importance of politicians using their vocation to advance legislative reforms that strengthen the protection for human life and family values.

Archbishop Renato Martino, Vatican Permanent Observer at the United Nations,  urged participants to reaffirm the validity of the Declaration of Human Rights. He complemented countries like Argentina and Nicaragua for their “firmness and courage” for defending the family on the international stage, but expressed concern over “the visible weakening of this support some weeks ago in New York, during the [Cairo+5] assembly that analyzed the implementation of the conclusions of the Cairo Conference [on Population].”