Vatican dicastery emphasizes family as part of Europe's cultural heritage

Vatican dicastery emphasizes family as part of Europe's cultural heritage

An Italian family at the March for Life in Rome, May 10, 2015. Credit: Martha Calderon/CNA.
An Italian family at the March for Life in Rome, May 10, 2015. Credit: Martha Calderon/CNA.

.- In the wake of the European elections, a proposal was raised to consider “family” as the basis of Europe's cultural heritage.

The idea was raised at a high-level conference at the European Parliament in Brussels that took place Nov. 6.

The conference was promoted by FAFCE, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations, that gathers all the National Catholic Family Associations in Europe in the framework of its biannual board.

The conference was entitled “Family: the Ecosystem of Cultural Life in Europe,” and was hosted by MEPs Anna Zaborska and Luigi Morgano, in cooperation with the Commission of the European Bishops Conferences, on the occasion of the European Year for Cultural Heritage.

The panel of the high-level meetings included representatives from the European Parliament, the top ranks of COMECE, and from the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life participated at its highest levels, with a speech delivered by Dr. Gabriella Gambino, undersecretary of the section on the family.

In her intervention, Gambino stressed that the pope asked her to “collaborate with the Church in reconstructing an authentic culture of life and family within the big challenges posed to modernity,” and noted that the dicastery “is attentive to some of the most delicate current issues, especially with the upsurgence of new forms of so-called parenthood, also as a result of in vitro fertilization.”

Gambino stressed that “family is a source of society because it is at the root of the common good,” but also because “it is the place where the human being is culturally nurtured, and where each of us become every day more human from the first moment of conception.”

Marriage is important to protect the human being. It juridically guarantees two orders, that of sexuality and that of generation.

Gambino explained that “the order of sexuality must be exclusive between spouses,” while “the order of generation establishes the family role that comes from marriage,”

This is the reason why, she said, marriage is not just “a social institution of the couple, it is strong in generating cultural roles that go beyond spouses.”

In the end, the human being is “the subject in relations that need others and a strong bond,” and so “if bonds are fragile, the human being’s need to have roots is not fulfilled. This is why “it is important to work on the political field so that family can be a place of certainty and stability.”

Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of COMECE, stressed that family “is the most ancient foundation on which our society is based,” and it is “the first place where we found protection, counselling, solidarity and altruism.”

A participant of the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment, Archbishop Hollerich said that “young people express the wish to live in family,” but “despite this deep desire to have a family, young people are scared.”

“Some people are scared because of economic situations, others because forced emigration make relations more unstable, and others are even scared not to be able to live in a conjugal life,” he said.

But family, Hollerich concluded, is crucial, because with no families “the European cultural heritage will not be inhabited anymore, and people will not be capable to create culture.”

Fr. Oliver Poquillon, general secretary of the COMECE, concluded that “family is the natural ecosystem of the human being. It is the natural environment for any person, and for this reason it must be at the heart of our political debate.”

Finally, Antoine Renard, President of FAFCE underscored that Europe needs trust, starting to promote a new cultural life from the most basic unit of society: "Politicians need to trust families and the families will trust them".

The Board meeting of FAFCE followed the conference. The board discussed about the strategy and the future actions of the Federation.

For the first time a member from Slovenia participated in the Board : the Iskreni Institute. The Italian Federation of Kindergardens was accepted as a full member of FAFCE. Invited guests also attended this board meeting from Latvia, The Netherlands, and Ukraine.