Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe

Promoting the Gospel of the family : the role of family associations today

DUBLIN 2018 Antoine Renard with a familyDublin, August 24th 2018

Intervention of FAFCE President, Antoine Renard, at the pastoral Congress of the World Meeting of Families, Dublin, 22-26 August 2018

 “It is not good for man to be alone”.

It is also not good for families to be alone; “the family cannot remain isolated like a monad”, said to us the Holy Father in June 2017, “they need to dialogue and to encounter others, in order to build a unity that is not uniformity and that can generate progress and advance the common good”. Family associations offer a framework of assistance and actions to respond to this need, with at their core the strength of the gospel message.


Since at times more than a century, family associations were founded first in order to organise mutual assistance between neighbouring families.

In France, in the 20s, families from the countryside pooled resources to buy a washing machine, which was shared from one family to the next during the week; later people came together to watch television together during family evenings.

By responding to concrete needs, they facilitate mutual exchange, dialog, sharing; they respond to their call: “God has given the family the job of “domesticating” the world”; and they favour a “healthy injection of family spirit” (Amoris Laetitia -  AL 183).

This grass roots knowledge through meeting people leads to responding in a natural way to new and varying needs according to the places and times, often before they are cared for by national solidarities.

In Poland, family associations help large families find housing.

In Austria, they use their network to help in welcoming families of migrants.

In the Czech Republic, they come to help young mothers in distress, parents of handicapped children, etc.

Since their beginnings, they have been interested in educational matters, as school is not able to do everything; too often parents feel distressed realizing the scale of the task; yet, the Pope recalls to us that “the overall education of children is a ‘most serious duty’ and at the same time a ‘primary right’ of parents. This is not just a task or a burden, but an essential and inalienable right that parents are called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them” (AL 84).

Today, faced with an urgent necessity, many of them, in Germany, in Poland, in France, in Italy propose programs to help with sexual education. “Where sex education is concerned, much is at stake.” (AL 284). Here, family associations come into play, in defence of this fundamental right, to always remember that the one who educates always does so in the name of and at the request of the parents.


With their knowledge of the field, the concrete needs of the families of which it is composed, and those with whom it acts, the local family association is able to intervene with the local authorities to propose initiatives facilitating daily life (housing, transport, work, education, health, environment, leisure ...)

By grouping themselves up to the scale of a country, they become an interlocutor of the national political authorities who direct and lead the action of the State, which, the Pope emphasizes, “the State has the responsibility to pass laws and create work to ensure the future of young people and help them realize their plan of forming a family” (AL 43).

Saint John Paul II had warned: “families should grow in awareness of being "protagonists" of what is known as "family politics" and assume responsibility for transforming society; otherwise families will be the first victims of the evils that they have done no more than note with indifference” (Familiaris Consortio 44).

In this respect, France is a special place, whose effectiveness in family policy (birth, work of women) is often cited, deserves to be extended: since 1945 the Union of Family Associations has been an institutional partner of the State and a major craftsman of this policy, compulsorily consulted by the government and legislature on any measure affecting the lives of families... This has not, alas, prevented everything bad or allowed everything good.


They are not intended to address only Catholic families. Their services are offered to all: here lies an evangelizing force. Indeed, the reference to the Catholic faith is expressed through their political action (not pastoral) and their proposals are based on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church; it is a rich, comprehensive and coherent source, generally respected as such, including by those who do not adhere to it. This makes it possible to come very quickly to concrete proposals. The associations are only humble practitioners, who find it advantageous not to hide their Christian identity, proud to know this teaching "based on the dignity of the person" as we were told by Pope Francis last year: "Man and woman He created him, in His image and likeness": when God creates the woman we could say that he creates the family, because both, man and woman, together, are the image of God ... In this sense, the family is evangelizing in itself, and family associations are not ecclesial movements or courses of formation in the faith. They only facilitate, precede and follow the work of evangelization that is the duty of every Christian ("Woe to me if I do not announce the Gospel!", Says Saint Paul in 1 Cor 9,16), and this fire of bringing to all the love of God motivates and provides a solid foundation for those who become part of  a Catholic Family Association.

Founded more than 20 years ago, FAFCE regularly brings together the leaders of the Catholic Family Associations of 16 EU countries (a few are lacking...!) to share, educate and prepare useful interventions directed towards the European Institutions (Council of Europe, Parliament and Commission of the EU), in particular to cooperate on the 4 ubiquitous crises across our continent: demography, migrations, work and education.

She has limited means; we often say that if every affected family in Europe gave us one euro a year, we would have more than enough. We could then carry this experience of family associations further in Europe and beyond, showing that “families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity”(AL 7). With regards to the numerous lobbying groups working in Europe, in Brussels, we have the strength that comes from the Gospel, the Good News, and that gives meaning to our work. Behind us, on our shoulders, when we are working almost alone in Brussels, far from the day-to-day life of the families that we represent, there is people who believe. This people have faith in the true God, a God who, in coming to earth, did not choose to come as a prince or a hero, but chose to come as a child in a family.


FAFCE Policy Briefing | Family & Finance: a possible alliance?





Family and finance:

a possible alliance?


European Economic and Social Committee, Brussels


Rue Belliard 99 - 1040 Brussels


Room JDE 52



Wednesday, 16 October 2018

10:00 - 13:00

RSVP before the 9th of October by registering here


family and home drawing

The European Federation of Catholic Family Associations (FAFCE) has the pleasure to invite you to this inter-institutional Policy Briefing.
In cooperation with two FAFCE Members, Forum delle Famiglie (Italy) and 
"Vladimir Ghika" Catholic Family Association (Romania), and in partnership with SALLUX Foundation (The Netherlands).





 Welcome address:

 Luca Jahier, EESC President

Key-Note speech:

 Paul Dembinski, University of Zurich 


Round Table:

Matteo Rizzolli (LUMSA University), Sebastian Fitzek (Romanian Academy), EESC Members (tbc), Moderator: Vincenzo Bassi (Forum delle Famiglie)


Final Remarks:

Johannes de Jong, Sallux* Director

Antoine Renard, FAFCE President



Language: English / French (tbc)




* Since 2011, the activities of Sallux have been financially supported by the European Parliament. The liability for any communication or publication by Sallux, in any form and any medium, rests with Sallux. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

FAFCE Board Resolution for a Demographic Spring

Vienna, 13 April 2018

The Board of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE), gathered this week in Vienna for its Spring Meeting, issued the following Resolution.


The Demographic Winter is a silent emergency which concerns all European Countries. For this reason, gathered in Vienna for our 2018 Spring Board Meeting, we, Presidents and Delegates of the Board of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) wish to draw attention to this situation, which is at the core of financial and social problems which need to be addressed. There is no time to wait. There is no excuse to make anymore. We need to act, for the wellbeing of aged people, for the rights of our youth, for the future of our children.

- Recalling its 20th Anniversary Declaration - Families' are Europe's Treasure and building block for the future (Rome, 31 May 2017), calling on the Governments of the European States to create and promote family policies at the national level and promote family friendly EU policies, whilst respecting the principle of subsidiarity;

- Considering the European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on European standards for the 21st century (2016/2274(INI)) stressing the need to take into account the demographic ageing of Europe;

- Considering the Demographic outlook for the European Union (December 2017) which acknowledges that Europe is ageing dramatically;

- Considering the Policy Paper published by the Schuman Foundation on Europe 2050: the demographic suicide (27 February 2018);

FAFCE calls on the leaders of the European Union and its Member States to:

1. Raise awareness about the demographic winter and the urgency of acting in this field with international initiatives;

2. Implement a policy that recognizes the unique, fundamental and irreplaceable position of the family in society and considers it as the first “enterprise”, by which the desire of life for our continent is expressed not only through economic initiatives but especially by the raising of children as “The entrepreneurial spirit remains closely linked to the family spirit” (Cf. Europe 2050: the demographic suicide, p. 6);

3. Consider that a true family policy is not just a mere social support, but represents a forward-looking policy for the common good for an ageing society;

4. Actively support the demands of young people, who plan to take responsibility and build a family, with several children, but are often discouraged by inadequate and individualistic policies and cultures which are hostile to the family;

5. Support advanced palliative care and home care health policies, protecting the dignity of every person until natural death;

6. Put the family at the center of national policies, so that the demographic winter could become a demographic spring to shape the future of Europe.

  Vienna, 12 April 2018 

Call for applications: 2018 FAFCE internship programme

 CG28661-2-ConvertImage 2Brussels, 1st of March 2018

We issued today a call for applications for an internship programme for one recent graduate student. He or she will have an interesting working experience at the FAFCE Office in Brussels.

All the details may be found in the attachment below.

Please, send a cover letter, a reference letter and a CV to apply. 

Applications Deadline: 31st of March 2018


Contact person:

Nicola Speranza, Secretary General

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Mob: +32 498 46 02 20

Download this file (2018 03 01 FAFCE Call for Applications - Internship programme 2018.pdf)Call for applications: 2018 FAFCE internship programme[Call for applications: 2018 FAFCE internship programme]167 kB

FAFCE 20th Anniversary Declaration - Families’ are Europe’s Treasure and building block for the future

logo 3LanguagesRome, 31 May 2017 

60 years after the Treaty of Rome, followed by the longest period of peace in Europe, the challenges for peace and civilization in the world are still critical concerns. 

Considering that family is an indispensable peace factor, and plays a unique role in the protection of fundamental freedoms;

Considering the role of the family for the culture of dialogue, mutual respect and forgiveness;

Considering the crucial and primary role of parents, mother and father, for the education of their children, and the specific character respectively of motherhood and fatherhood;

Considering the role of grandparents for transmission of values and culture;

Considering that family is the best place where solidarity and financial transfer between generations can be spontaneously operative;

Considering the current demographic situation in Europe with an ageing population, falling birth rates in a majority of countries, and declining fertility, that illustrates the lack of confidence in the future and generates frustration and disappointment;

Considering the crucial role carried out by the family and its saving capacity in terms of economic growth, development as well as of production of human capital. 

Recalling that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State (article 16.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights);

Recalling that the family as a fundamental unit of society has the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection to ensure its full development. (recital 16 of the European Social Rights Charter - ESRC);

Recalling that all persons with family responsibilities and who are engaged or wish to engage in employment have a right to do so without being subject to discrimination and as far as possible without conflict between their employment and family responsibilities (recital 27 ESRC). This requires in particular to develop sustainable trade agreements at the global level which are beneficial for families, including in emerging countries;

Recalling that employed women, in case of maternity, have the right to a special protection (Recital 8 ESRC).

Read more: FAFCE 20th Anniversary Declaration - Families’ are Europe’s Treasure and building block for the...

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