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Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II Gives Blessing and Keynote Address to the Tenth World Congress of Families, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (May 15-18)
Contact: Levan Vasadze, World Congress of Families X Chairman, or Larry Jacobs, 815-997-7106, media@worldcongress.org
WASHINGTON, May 2, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- Patriarch Ilia II, head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who has been called "the most trusted man in Georgia," gave his blessing to the World Congress of Families and will give the keynote address at the World Congress of Families X -- Civilization at The Crossroads: The Natural Family as the Bulwark of Freedom and Human Values -- in Tbilisi (May 15-18, 2016).
In addition to confirming his participation and blessing of World Congress of Families X, the Patriarch indicated that he "would pray to God that it may become a display of peace and love, of Christian values and culture." 
World Congress of Families is the recipient of the "Pax Urbis" International Peace Prize awarded by 100 Cities for Peace and Princess Nora of Lichtenstein for promoting peace and sustainable development through the natural family and upholding human rights for all persons consistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Georgia is one of the oldest Christian countries in the world. Ilia II -- Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia – has been the nation's spiritual leader for more than four decades. A Georgian poll, reported by CNN in 2010, found that the Patriarch had the highest approval rating of any public figure in the nation (94%).
Born Irakli Shiolashvili, Ilia II was crowned "His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia" in 1977, when Georgia was part of the Soviet Union. Soviet authorities had persecuted Christians and shot many of the Orthodox Church's spiritual leaders for decades. Most Christian churches had been closed or were destroyed by the Soviets. In response, the Patriarch helped lead a spiritual revival of culture, faith, and family in Georgia to transcend and overcome the political oppression and all of the wars during the last four decades.
Patriarch Ilia has taken an unwavering stand for children, mothers, fathers, and the natural family. To combat Georgia's low birthrate, in late 2007, the Patriarch announced that he would personally baptize and be the godfather of any child born to a family that already had at least two children. This has resulted in a mini-baby boom. Mass baptism ceremonies are conducted four times a year and Patriarch Ilia now has more than 19,000 godchildren.
Larry Jacobs, Manager of the World Congress of Families, said: "We are honored and humbled to have the Patriarch's blessing and participation in World Congress of Families X. Patriarch Ilia represents the Christian virtues of faith, beauty, truth, and goodness in Georgia that the World Congress of Families stands for throughout the world by defending the natural family as the fundamental and only sustainable unit of society and defending the sanctity of dignity of all human life from conception to natural death."
WCF X will also show a beautifully crafted UK documentary on Patriarch Ilia titled: The Patriarch - The Most Trusted Man in the Caucasus. The synopsis of the movie reads:

"As the Orthodox world's longest serving leader for over 40 years the Patriarch has led Georgia through the Soviet oppression, civil wars and its emergence as an independent nation on the world scene. For most Georgians he embodies Georgia's cultural identity - both secular and religious. The Patriarch's interests range far beyond the church. He is a gifted artist, a respected social thinker and an accomplished composer of sacred music. He established the internationally renowned Patriarch's Choir which today tours the world singing Georgian music and revived the ancient Georgian tradition of the polyphonic sacral chant. His moral authority provides a stark contrast to the corruption that is rife in the region."
WCF Tbilisi 2016 will be the first World Congress of Families in the Eurasian and Caucasus region (on the Old Silk Road to China) and the first in an Orthodox country. WCF X conferences and concerts will be held in multiple venues in Tbilisi including the opening ceremony in Tbilisi's State Philharmonic Concert Hall, the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, and the closing ceremony in the historic Rustaveli National Theatre in Tbilisi. WCF X will be broadcast on Georgian National TV and international channels to more than 250 million viewers.
Previous Congresses have been held in Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), Warsaw (2007), Amsterdam (2009), Madrid (2012), Sydney (2013) and Salt Lake City (2015).   The Tenth Jubilee, World Congress of Families X – Civilization at The Crossroads: The Natural Family as the Bulwark of Freedom and Human Values - will take place in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (May 15-18, 2016). This is the premier gathering of the world's largest network of pro-family leaders, parents, youth, lawmakers, scholars, religious leaders, and advocates united to support the natural family. WCF X is uniting global leaders to defend family and faith and to developing a pro-family agenda for Europe and the World. 
To register and reserve your tickets for World Congress of Families X click here.
Free press pass registrations are available for news media and reporters here.
Free Student/Emerging Leader Registrations also available here.
For more information on World Congress of Families X, visit the Congress website.