Ahead of a meeting with Pope Francis, Vincenzo Bassi, the President of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE), says society must rediscover families “as a resource”, reflects on FAFCE’s 25-year anniversary, and looks ahead to the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Rome.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
“We must convince our communities that family is a resource,” insists Vincenzo Bassi, President of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE), an umbrella organisation of European family associations, representing some 18 countries.
Their encounter for the occasion of FAFCE’s 25-year anniversary comes ahead of the World Meeting of Families (WMOF), 22-26 June 2022, taking place for the first time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The FAFCE participants will be received by Pope Francis in the Vatican on Friday morning.
Their day will begin with a Holy Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania, president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), and will close with a conference in the afternoon showcasing the beauty of the family and looking ahead to the upcoming World Meeting.
Intergenerational balance, essential for a future
Looking ahead to the meeting with the Holy Father, Dr. Bassi said, “It’s an extraordinary occasion to meet and speak with the Pope.”
Following these events, the Rome-based attorney and professor anticipated FAFCE’s members will feel encouraged to continue their activities in Europe and at a national level.
“What we try to do together is convince our communities that family is a resource. It is not ‘a sickness,’ but the care for ‘the sickness.’”
“Without intergenerational balance,” he said, “we cannot have any future.”
Loneliness sabotages family
He called on every part of society to take on this responsibility of helping the family.
“It is not just a question of policy. I think every part of the civil society, the public institutions, has to realize the importance of this issue to us as a family association,” he highlighted.
Dr. Bassi warned that “loneliness is the worst sickness during this time, much more than lack of money, lack of job and so on. And if you want if you wish, if a family wishes to, to have children, it’s difficult to satisfy this wish only, especially if you are alone.”
Up to families to welcome, not just clergy
The FAFCE President also underscored the lasting impact of Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia.
“Amoris Laetitia gives us the opportunity to reflect on the fact that the family is not just for heroes. The family is for everybody and no one is perfect. This is the point.”
On the other side, he said, there is the responsibility of the Church.
When speaking about the Church, the responsibility of welcoming is not only of the priests, but also of Catholic associations and communities, he explained noting that “if you look at it this way, this can be a very good source of inspiration.”
Dr. Bassi also expressed the organization’s closeness to Ukrainian families at this time of war.
World Meeting of Families 2022 in Rome
The World Meeting of Families was created by Pope St. John Paul II in 1994. The United Nations declared that same year the “International Year of the Family.”
The Pope wanted a Year of the Family to be celebrated in the Church at the same time, and thus, the first WMOF was held in Rome on Oct. 8-9, 1994.
Therefore, the WMOF since 1994, has been held every three years and in different places around the world.
The 10th World Meeting of Families taking place in late June in Rome will have slightly different features than in other years, due to the situation provoked by the worldwide healthcare emergency.
According to the WMOF website, the Meeting’s main event will be held in Rome, in the presence of delegates from the world’s Bishops’ conferences and representatives from international movements involved in pastoral care for families, but each diocese, likewise, has been invited to organise similar events in their own local communities.