22 December 2021,
Dear Friends of FAFCE,
First of all, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas.
At a time when many speak about inclusiveness, we want to share with every person the joy of this holiday. We also want to present our work to you. It contributes, we hope, to what truly matters in Europe: the family. This work is considerable, and we continue to rely on your support. Please do not hesitate to donate for the sake of our mission.
In 2022, our Federation will celebrate its 25th anniversary. This means 25 years of celebrating the beauty of the family: a mother and a father giving their lives to each other and to their children. This means 25 years of having more family associations each year reminding decision-makers that the family is the building block of our communities, and the prime mover of economic development, social cohesion and cultural vibrancy. This also means many years spent raising awareness of many challenges often overlooked: the parents’ unpaid care work, the demographic winter, the brain drain in rural areas, the loneliness of families and the elderly, the discrimination of mothers, the educational challenges for our children, etc.
2022 will be the year that we look forward to the next 25 years. As Catholic families, we await this future with joy, hope, and commitment.
Commitment, because families and family associations aim to be protagonists of their national and European policy-making. Family networks are a resource, essential in this time of epochal change, at the service of families to prevent their loneliness, but also at the service of the Church and its pastors, helping them to become shepherds with “the odor of the sheep” (Pope Francis, 28 March 2013). Recently, we organised a Webinar with our Irish Member, Family Solidarity, on “Family and Sinodality: a Call for Participation”, where I shared my experience of the opening of the Synod, in which I took part on behalf of the Council of the European Bishops Conferences (CCEE).
Family associations bring to the table the concrete challenges of families. FAFCE called for example to care for parents when it comes to the impact of the pandemic on the work-life balance, regarding both telework and the discriminations related to the gender pay gap. FAFCE also works to ensure that the European institutions recognise the primary role of families in the education of their children, as recently mentioned by the European Parliament.
We also hope in a true sustainable development to ensure a lasting future. Families are the first initiators of such development, as we highlighted in our last Board Resolution, following our Conference on “Ecology of the Family and Integral Development“. You can support our Resolutions on the Digital Platform of the Conference on the Future of Europe, by simply creating an EU account.
We are actively involved in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. The care for our common home must start with a care for our human nature and its dignity. In that sense, simple realities such as the complementarity of men and women as a founding element in providing the best environment in which to raise a child, are crucial and need to be kept in mind. This was advocated for at the EU level, when FAFCE was invited by the European Commission to participate in a stakeholder meeting on a proposal to create an EU-wide recognition of parenthood. FAFCE brought its mission to reaffirm simple realities to this exchange. It was probably not by chance that on the very same day, the European Court of Justice published a concerning decision.
The object of integral ecology is to create a healthy environment in which our children may grow up, and so it must reckon with a digital context in which arise both opportunities and threats. FAFCE has been tracking updates in EU legislation with regard to the fight against online child sexual abuse, and strongly condemned the exposure of children to online pornography on account of its numerous negative effects, as recently stated by the Council of Europe.
Overall, we welcome these challenges in a spirit of joy proper to Christmas time. We remain assured, by the hope deeply rooted in our faith, that the joyful responsibility entrusted to parents can transcend all difficulties, obstacles, and doubts. Our Federation’s main work is to remind European and national decision-makers of this fact, and of the silent and discreet work of families that still transforms the world.
More than ever, we still need your support. Please do not hesitate to donate. It is an investment in the promotion of the family, of its beauty, and of its key importance in these shifting times.
Thank you very much.