With the signature of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), and of Atty. Vincenzo Bassi, President of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE), a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two organisations to formalise the cooperation already in place.
“Pastors and families are called to be together” – affirmed Card. Bagnasco – “for the new evangelisation of Europe: unity is what attracts people to God. And this is a sign of unity. In the face of the challenges of secularisation and falling birth rates, there is an urgent need to avoid defeatism and rather, to roll up our sleeves and work together.”
This Memorandum of Understanding is part of CCEE’s mission to foster closer communication and cooperation between the Bishops and the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, while respecting the function and competence of each, in order to promote and inspire the new evangelisation in the European context.
Atty. Bassi, expressing his gratitude to the CCEE, notes that “As Pope Francis pointed out at the General States of Birth on 14 May, Europe is now ‘becoming the old continent no longer because of its glorious history, but because of its advanced age’. Faced with the pandemic of loneliness, we are called to be witnesses to the joyful responsibility of families and to develop family networks everywhere. For this we place ourselves at the service of the Church in Europe and of our communities, a family of families”.
The mission of FAFCE, for their part, is twofold: on the one hand, it represents families at the European level as “protagonists” of public life with their specific “responsibility for transforming society” (Saint John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris Consortio“, 1981, no. 44), it also has the task of inspiring Family Associations and promoting family networks, in a spirit of collaboration with the Catholic Church in different countries and with the Apostolic See. And it is within this spirit that this cooperation with the CCEE takes place.
As defined in the Memorandum of Understanding, FAFCE participates in the meetings of the CCEE Commission for Family and Life, under the presidency of His Excellence Msgr Leo Cushley, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (Scotland), to provide its expertise and support. A collaboration that was established after the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August 2018, continued at the online meeting of the National Directors for Family and Life that was attended by 50 directors and national delegates from 28 Bishops’ Conferences across Europe, and which, with this agreement, is intensified and expanded.
The FAFCE also contributes to other bodies of the Catholic Church in Europe; among them, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences in the European Union (COMECE), also based in Brussels, has a special place because of its role in the community institutions.
This memorandum was adopted ad experimentum and will be subject to a joint evaluation after three years.
The Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) was established in 1971 and currently consists of thirty-nine members: thirty-three are Bishops’ Conferences to which are added the Archbishops of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishops of Chişinău (Moldova), the Eparchy of Mukachevo (Ukraine) and the Apostolic Administration of Estonia. Together, they represent the Catholic Church in 45 countries of the European continent. Since 1995, the members of CCEE have been the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, represented by right by their respective Presidents. The General Secretariat is based in St. Gallen (Switzerland).
The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) is composed of 18 associations, plus 5 observer members and 4 associated organisations, from 17 European countries. Founded in 1997 as an association under local law in Alsace-Moselle, it has held participatory status with the Council of Europe since 2001. Any association wishing to become a member of FAFCE must be able to present an approval from the ecclesiastical authorities in order to file an application for membership. FAFCE is a member of the Forum of International Catholic NGOs and is also registered in the Transparency Register of the European Union institutions. Its General Secretariat is located in Brussels (Belgium).
Attached is the text of the Agreement.