Conservative Group Delays "Pro-Life Olympics" In Moscow Over Ukraine

World Congress of Families says the decision is "not meant to reflect negatively on the Russian people, churches or individuals who have taken a leadership role in the fight to preserve life, marriage, and the natural family."

A global coalition opposing LGBT and abortion rights announced Monday that it was indefinitely delaying a planned summit in Moscow that local organizers had billed as the "'Olympics' of the international Pro-Life movement supporting the Natural Family."

The World Congress of Families, based in Rockford, Ill., initially appeared reluctant to change its plans in response to the invasion of Ukraine. But last week, one of the organization's major American partners, Concerned Women for America, had withdrawn from the meeting, out of a desire not to want to "appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin."

Several other organizations in the coalition told BuzzFeed that they are not participating either, though all cited reasons other than Ukraine. A spokesperson for the Family Research Council said it bowed out last summer because, "the workload of our expanded Marriage and Religion Research Institute did not allow us to participate this year." An Alliance Defending Freedom spokesperson hinted it pulled out over loss of confidence in the Moscow organizers for other reasons before the Crimean crisis began.

"After a site visit to Moscow and receiving additional information, we opted to withdraw entirely from the event and focus our resources and efforts elsewhere," said spokeswoman Kerri Kupec. "The Russian military's actions in Ukraine since that time have confirmed that we made the correct decision."

Planning on World Congress of Families VIII - the Moscow Congress (scheduled for September 10-12, 2014) - has been suspended for the time being. The situation in the Ukraine and Crimea (and the resulting U.S. and European sanctions) has raised questions about the travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan WCF VIII.The foregoing is not meant to reflect negatively on the Russian people, churches or individuals who have taken a leadership role in the fight to preserve life, marriage, and the natural family at home and as part of the international pro-family movement. WCF has been active in Russia since its founding in 1995. Professor Anatoly Antonov of Lomonosov Moscow State University - one of the nation's foremost demographers and a member of the organizing committee for WCF VIII -- was present at the conception. That activity increased dramatically with Father Maxim Obukhov's presentation at WCF IV (Warsaw) in 2007, the appointment of Alexey Komov as regional representative in Russia and the CIS in 2010, and the world's first Demographic Summit at the Russian State Social University in 2011. The Summit was the first international gathering devoted exclusively to the coming crisis resulting from the worldwide decline of fertility. It was followed by a second Demographic Summit in the Russian region of Ulyanovsk in 2012. We are proud of the accomplishments of our Russian Partners, and applaud the moves of the Russian people, through their elected representatives, to protect life, the family and the innocence of children. At a time when Western governments are moving backward to a pagan worldview, Russia has taken a leadership role to advance the natural family.The World Congress of Families takes no position on foreign affairs, except as they affect the natural family. The family is above national concerns and should unite all people of good will who recognize the centrality of the family as the foundation of civilization. Our Russian Partners and others we have worked with in the Russian Federation have our prayers and encouragement in their pro-family work. There will be a follow-up release as the situation develops.
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