Murcia, 5th of May 2023
Between the 2nd and the 4th of May 2023, FAFCE held its bi-annual Board Meeting in Murcia (Spain). FAFCE Members from all over Europe gathered to exchange on their respective activities and on the work of the Federation at the European level.
The President, Vincenzo Bassi, stated: “These intense days of work here in Murcia are the fruit of long preparation, realised also thanks to the generous cooperation with the Catholic University St Anthony of Murcia (UCAM). This cooperation is also an example of how the world of the NGOs can work together with the world of the university to bring fruits for the Common good. I believe that with these three days, we could show how the family is the prism through which we can better understand and experience personal, spiritual, ecclesial and social and cultural life of everybody. And therefore, find new ways to fight against the new pandemic of our times, the pandemic of loneliness.”
For the first time in the history of FAFCE, its Board Meeting took place in Spain and was hosted by a University, the Catholic University Saint Anthony of Murcia (UCAM).
On the 2nd of May, FAFCE Members, along with guests and university teachers and students, attended the International Congress on Family Networks: “Antidote to loneliness”. The event, hosted by UCAM and organised by FAFCE in cooperation with the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), aimed to respond to the invitation made by Pope Francis in his 2022 address to the members of FAFCE to foster a fruitful and effective spirit of communion and collaboration between European families, an authentic “antidote to loneliness“.
The gathering started with a Holy Mess celebrated by Archbishop Manuel Ureña Pastor. In the opening of the conference, the Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza, Apostolic Nuncio to the Kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Andorra, mentioned the fundamental role of the family in taking care of the common home and stated that “the Family is a school of humanity”.
Mark Regnerus, President of the Austin Institute (United States of America), gave a passionate and insightful speech on “What Sociology Will and Will Not Tell You about Families and the Crisis of Loneliness”. He brought attention to how questions asked by sociologists and researchers shape the way of thinking and highlighted that “Without healthy families, egalitarian goals are pointless, as money can be redistributed, and spiritual capital cannot”.
Two round tables followed, the first dedicated to the creation and the development of networks of families, with the participation of Friederike Ladenburger, COMECE Legal Advisor, Antoine Renard, Honorary President of FAFCE and past President of the French Confederation of Catholic Family Associations (CNAFC), and Raúl Sánchez Flores, Secretary General of the European Large Family Associations Confederation (ELFAC).
The second round table focused on how to bring the voice of the family in the public arena, with Carmen Fernandez De la Cigoña, Secretary General of the Catholic Association of Propagandists (ACDP), Mattia Ferrero, Vice-President of the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists (UGCI), Javier Rodriguez, General Director of the Foro de la Familia, FAFCE Spanish associated member, and Monika Zazula, Delegate of the Polish Federation of Family & Life Movements.
On the 3rd of May FAFCE Board Members had an exchange of views with Mark Regnerus who spoke about the consequences of gender theory and to Mattia Ferrero, who brought attention to the current issues raised by the use of gender wording in at the international and European level.
This time also, the Federation welcomed a new member, from Hungary: it is the 72 Disciples Movement, presided by Kálmán Dabóczi (at the microphone in the photo below). Afterwards, a Mass was celebrated, presided over by Msgr. Charles Attard, Director of the Cana Movement, from Malta.
The Board of FAFCE, during its works, adopted a Board Resolution on “The crisis of loneliness in times of digital transition: family networks as agents of change”.
Later that day, the Holy Mass for FAFCE Board Members was celebrated in the UCAM University chapel by Fr Jose Alberto Canovas Sanchez, Dean, Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Madrid.
FAFCE Members presented their activity reports for the last 6 months, exchanged on similar actions and shared good practices.
In the afternoon Amanda Zurface, Catholic Church Outreach Specialist for Covenant Eyes, a United States based software company specialised in fighting online addictions and the consequences of pornography, gave an online presentation on the consequences of online pornography consumption.
It was the first time that two new observer delegates, sent respectively from the Bishops’ Conferences of the Nordic Countries and of Albania, took part in the FAFCE Board Meeting. This participation represents a first step in the direction of the creation of local family associations where they do not exist yet.
Next FAFCE Board Meeting will be held in Brussels, Belgium, between the 24th and 26th of October 2023.