The 21th of December 2023

Dear Friends,

in few days, we will retreat with our respective families and turn our attention to the Holy Family, where the mystery of a Child God takes place. With this newsletter, we wish first of all to offer you our best Christmas wishes, and also to look back together at the past months of intense activities and numerous events.

In June 2023, the European Commission published a communication on a comprehensive approach to mental health and highlighted the worrying fact that, “the mental health of our younger generations is getting worse.” Our response to this reality is that families are at the forefront of mental health issues as the most important social factor in preventing and curing mental health problems. “Families as the best allies of young people “ – this was the key-word of our Autumn Board Meeting in Brussels, on 24-26 October: we reminded the European Union institutions of the importance of “encouraging Member States to prioritize family-friendly policies that recognise that families provide individuals with a sense of security, love and belonging, essential for a good mental health”.

Speaking of family friendly policies, we cannot forget the demographic crisis and support all efforts to address it effectively and in a family-oriented perspective. With this in mind, in the framework of our Autumn Board Meeting, we organized a High-Level Seminar with the participation of Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission, who presented the Demographic toolbox, published on 11th October 2023. The event was hosted by Kinga Joó, Bureau Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). During the exchanges, Vice-President Šuica highlighted that “We need to not only anticipate the change, but also to cater for the new and evolving needs of all parts of our society, and in particular of families”.

Another highlight from our last Board Meeting is the blessing of a statue of St Joseph in the chapel of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) by its President, Bishop Mariano Crociata. FAFCE donated this statue to be placed in the chapel St Benedict and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, in the COMECE building, as “a symbolic contribution to this ongoing synodal period, where Catholic families see in St Joseph, patron of the universal Church, not only the fatherhood they experience in their lives, but also the fatherhood they seek in their pastors. Together with the pastors, families are protagonists in the life of the Church and work for peace and to rebuild our wounded communities, in Europe and beyond”. The artist Jesús Arévalo, winner of the European Art Contest organized this year by FAFCE, took also part in the blessing ceremony and explained his artwork to the FAFCE Board members and guests of the gathering.

Unfortunately, the interests of the family and the proposals made by the European institutions are sometimes at odds with each other. This was the case with the European Parenthood Certificate, endorsed by the European Parliament with a non-binding vote, last week. As explained, in this proposal, the EU would limit the possibility for Member States to refuse to recognise parenthood established in another country on the basis of public order concerns. The draft regulation would enable parenthood as established in a EU Member State to be recognised throughout the EU, including in situations such as surrogacy. We encourage Member States not to follow the advice of the European Parliament, since the latter clearly goes against the principle of subsidiarity.

Implementing the principle of subsidiarity also means a responsibility for us all, by giving life to creative hubs, that constitute the future of our Continent and the future of the Church. Here is where the other mission of FAFCE, besides the one of bringing a Catholic family perspective at the European and international level, comes into play: inspiring the development of family associations and networks. This is what motivated so many trips and meetings in the last months: Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Great-Britain, San Marino, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine. Subsidiarity, mutual support, reconciliation and social cohesion are only nice words if there is no fertile ground prepared for them by family networks and communities.

Dear Friends,

our voice is not tossed and carried by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4,14), but is enrooted in the personal encounter with a God that could renounce to literally everything, but not to a family. We are committed to continuing to bring forth and amplify the voice of the family in this upcoming year 2024. It is our main work to remind the European Institutions and national decision-makers of the great contribution of families for the society. We call on your generosity to support us in this mission, as without it our voice is incomplete, muffled. We do not receive any public funding, and so directly depend on your donations. Please do not hesitate to support us. Our website is a good source of information to learn more about the daily work of our team in Brussels and our volunteers, who together bring forth the voice of the family into this world,

We warmly wish you a merry Christmas,

Vincenzo Bassi