Brussels, 20 December 2019
The end of the year is often a moment of final summaries. But this time around resembles a preamble for a new beginning. For many reasons.
As my predecessor wrote in the Easter message (20 April 2019), some days after the Notre Dame fire, “The ashes on the Ile de la Cité remind us of the spiritual ashes of Europe. It is urgent to overcome any kind of conformism and distorted secularism”. And we try to do so, bringing a healthy realism with our work, with hope. An important step in this direction was taken by our Federation at the Board Meeting hosted by our Member in Malta, the Cana Movement: there, on the occasion of the International Day of the Family, we issued a Board Resolution on Rebuilding Europe Restarting from the Family (15 May 2019).
People in Europe can no longer accept having a child is one of the main reasons of poverty in many EU Member States. Families in Europe are tired of being considered as a burden, while they are in reality the first engine of economic development for our countries, the only social reality capable to grant a future to our continent.
For that reason, we gave our contribution to the European elections Campaign with a manifesto that our Members proposed to all candidates, calling for a European Natality Pact. This was the result of a joint work of all of our Member Associations and resulted in a solid group of Members of the European Parliament who share our principles and concerns.
Also thanks to them, the European Parliament has now an intergroup on Demographic Challenges, Family-Work Balance and Youth Transitions: this is an interinstitutional forum of dialogue between Members of the Parliament, Civil Society and the European Commission.
The biggest surprise for us this year came precisely from the new European Commission: one of its Vice-Presidents, Dubravka Šuica, will be responsible for Demography and Democracy. At our last Board Meeting, in Brussels, we issued a Board Resolution with a new Call for a European Natality Pact (9 October 2019), but we did not expect that the new Commission was finally going to have a clear focus on demography: in the upcoming year we will see whether this is just a communication strategy, or if we can really say that – as we hope and as someone recently wrote – “demography is not anymore the elephant in the room” of European public policies.
Other positive signs came from Poland, where Barbara Socha was recently appointed as Commissioner for Demography and from Hungary, where we met the Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs, Katalin Novak, who is doing an excellent job in favour of long-term family policies that really have positive effects on economic development. At the same time, we note more negative trends in Italy, where no initiative for family policies has been taken, in France, where the voice of civil society is not taken into account both for ethical and social reforms, and in Spain, where the new administration withdrew the public support to our partner El Foro de la Familia, received without any interruption since 2003. It is not just a financial matter, but the role of a pluralistic civil society is at stake.
In fact, we need a renewed culture of the encounter, capable to overcome individualism and a throwaway culture: even the best family policy can be superfluous, if it is not accompanied by a new cultural recognition of the generative function of the family and of the role of family associations.
An important moment in this respect has been the Assembly of the Forum of International Catholic-Inspired NGOs, which took place two weeks ago in Rome, under the auspices of the Holy See. We exchanged together with the Vatican Dicasteries, about how to better cooperate toward a “more inclusive society”. Pope Francis received us all, saying that “today’s world is calling for new boldness and new imagination in opening new paths of dialogue and cooperation, in order to promote a ‘culture of encounter’, where, in accordance with the creative plan of God, the dignity of every human person is foremost“.
With the conscience of this responsibility and with a thought to all the families that will not be able to celebrate Christmas because of the persecution of their faith, we kindly ask you to continue to support us in our work, thanks to your generous contributions and above all through your prayers.
Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas,
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. He shall be called
Prince of Peace”.