Brussels, the 27th of October 2023

A high level seminar at The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the blessing of a St. Joseph statue and the discussion on the current state of family policies have been at the core of FAFCE´s Autumn Board Meeting 2023, that took place in the past days in Brussels (Belgium), where FAFCE´s headquarters are located, coinciding with the aftermath of the 40th anniversary of the “Charter of the Rights of the Family”. During these three days’ meetings the main policy orientations of the action of the Federation were decided, in the view of the next semester, the last of the current European legislative period.

Vincenzo Bassi, FAFCE’s President, concluded: “In the meeting of these days in Brussels we had an experience of community. Beyond the issues addressed, which are so important for the future of our continent, it is essential to have meeting places, even more so in the current context, which is now that of a war period. FAFCE, with its different realities that compose it, wants to be an example of dialogue, ad intra, also in the Church, in this time of synodality, and ad extra, starting from the European institutions”. 

On the 24th October, the Board of the Federation discussed and adopted a resolution focused on Young People and Mental Health: Families as their Best Allies. FAFCE 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”. This first day was concluded by the Holy Mass presided by Archbishop Noël Treanor, Apostolic Nuncio to the EU.

The next day, FAFCE 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”. The event also counted with the online-participation of Gian Carlo Blangiardo, President of the Italian National Institute for Statistics (ISTAT) and Horst Heitz, Chair of the SME Connect Steering Commitee. It was followed by a reception in the EESC Headquarters and an ordinary Board meeting in the afternoon.

On that day, the Holy Mass was presided by Bishop Mariano Crociata, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), followed by the Blessing of the statue of St. Joseph with Christ Child, at the presence of the artist, Jesús Arévalo, winner of the European Art Contest organized this year by FAFCE. The artist explained his work, representing “St. Joseph is represented as a jewish father with the kippah and the sidelocks. His dress is made by straight lines, as a sign of the law and of the old testament. He takes his son by the hand and teaches him to make his first steps – so that in the future he would stand on his own and walk freely to make his own endeavors. His Son, Jesus, is dressed with soft curves that shows the innocence of the child and represent the New Testament.” Vincenzo Bassi, president of FAFCE, added: “Saint Joseph is an example for me personally and for all of us, in fatherhood, as an answer to taking one’s responsibilities. We hope to fully live this experience, together with our pastors, and to propose it with confidence to today’s world.”

The works were closed on Thursday the 26th, with a Holy Mass presided by Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto, COMECE Secretary General. The Board also accepted a new full Member organisation within the Federation, from the Netherlands: opGROEIsymposium. The next ordinary Board Meeting will take place in Czech Republic, in May 2024.