Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe

Slovakia stands up in defense of Marriage

After the successful referendum held in Croatia in 2013, which amended the Constitution with a provision defining marriage as beingthe union between a man and a woman, we expect to see the same thing happen in Slovakia in 2014. In fact, the Slovak organisation Alliance for Family promoted a petition that mobilized more than 400.000 citizens, requiring a binding referendum on this issue. It will take place on 7 February and will cover other sensitive issues as well as the definition of marriage: the children’s right to be raised by a father and a mother and the freedom of parents to choose how their children are educated on sexuality and euthanasia. A very complex referendum that the Constitutional Court ruled as legitimate, despite the doubts of the President, who consulted the highest Court of the Country.  These are the three questions:

Do you agree that only a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?

Do you agree that same-sex couples or groups should not be allowed to adopt and raise children?

Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in education pertaining to sexual behavior or euthanasia if their parents don’t agree?

Slovakia’s Constitution was already amended last year to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but the promoters of the referendum declare that the real purpose of the referendum is to protect children: “The rights of children are more important than the rights of adults.” To be legally binding, the turnout for the referendum must be more than 50 percent.

Pope Francis to large families: “capable of being present and visible in society and in politics".

Marking the Feast of the Holy Family, the Italian Association of Large Families celebrated its 10th anniversary with Pope Francis on Sunday 28 December. After a presentation by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and of the past and current Presidents of the Italian Association of Large Families, Pope Francis addressed more than 7000 people, belonging to an Italian association for large families and representatives from various European countries (Spain, France, Germany, Hungary…).

He encouraged them very strongly, saying that “In a world often marked by selfishness, the large family is a school of solidarity and sharing; and this attitude then becomes a benefit for the whole society.” Pope Francis also expressed his gratitude to the numerous parents present in the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican, for the “example of love towards life, that you preserve from conception to natural end, despite all the difficulties and burdens of life, and that unfortunately, the public institutions do not always help you.”

In this vein, he namely  welcomed “a network of family associations capable of being present and visible in society and in politics”, citing the paragraph 44 of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, in which Saint John Paul II stated that “families should be the first to take steps to see that the laws and institutions of the State not only do not offend but support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family. Along these lines, 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.” This was an event that, beyond encouraging many large families in Italy and in the world, confirmed the importance of working and cooperating in favour of families on our continent.

Maternity and paternity leave in the EU

European Parliament Infographic on Maternity and paternity leave in the EU

The Synod of Bishops

by Fr. Jean-Yves Brachet, OP

Who has not heard of the recent Synod on the family? The press and the media have covered it and that is rather reassuring: the positions taken by the Church are not met with indifference. The Church is not called to please but to make disciples (by attraction and not by proselytism, says Pope Francis in the exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel”) and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Some positions – or at least according to the media – have sparked questions and puzzlement. What should we think of this? What is in fact a synod? What is not a synod?

Read more: The Synod of Bishops

Happy 20’s to all the families!

On 15 May, the 20th Anniversary of the International Year for the Family was celebrated everywhere in the world. In Brussels, a festive event gathered actors from civil life, European institutions and families. The occasion to reaffirm a universal message: the importance of the family as the foundation of society.

Every 15 May is a special day since 1994, when the UN made it the International Day of the Family. For its twentieth anniversary, the International Commission on Couple and Family Relations (ICCFR) and the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations (FAFCE) wanted Brussels to be the scene of a real Celebration of the Family.

Gathered at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), representatives of various movements, NGOs or institutions of defense of the family, of the women and of the child took the floor to repeat, each one in his own way, the importance of the family at a time when Europe is having difficulty getting through the economic crisis and where individualism continues to cause divisions in families, workplaces, etc.

Read more: Happy 20’s to all the families!

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