On 12 and 13 April, members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) came together for their Board Meeting. This time under the protection of Our Lady of Fátima, where the meeting took place.

On the programme for this meeting, among others, were the FAFCE’s strategy, the evolutions of marriage and the family in Europe and the most recent Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia. His Excellence Mgr. António Augusto dos Santos Marto, Bishop of Leiria-Fátima (Portugal), also representative of the Bishops’ Conference of Portugal at the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), came to meet and talk to delegates, encouraging them to continue with their work on the ground and on the political representation of families. These exchanges also made it possible to have an exchange on Our Lady of Fátima’s message and its meaning in today’s world, in addition to societal and political issues and to better understand the challenges for Catholics in Portugal.

The participants coming from 12 European countries also had the chance to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima and the apparition sites. Moments of prayer were dotted throughout the day, notably with a rosary recited in the evening in different languages – offering everyone the opportunity to pray in their own language and entrust their work to the intercession of Our Lady.

The Board also approved and published a declaration on Surrogacy, where the delegates and the Presidents of FAFCE member associations state that “Motherhood is a priceless gift to humanity and should be respected and protected. No child should deliberately be deprived of his or her mother” and called to the “Heads of States and Government to act in favour of the abolition of surrogacy by way of a specific international convention or an additional protocol to the International Convention of the rights of the Child”. Surrogacy is a burning issue of conversation across all of Europe, seen also in current procedures at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

The next FAFCE Board Meeting will take place in autumn, in Brussels where the FAFCE has its permanent office on the COMECE premises.