“Weaving bonds, building communities”: “Les Associations Familiales Catholiques” in Rome

Undersecretary Gambino's speech at the meeting of French Catholic Family Associations (AFC) leaders in Rome


The leaders of the member associations of the Confederation of "Associations familiales Catholiques" (AFC) of France met in Rome from November 7 to 9 to launch the new strategic orientations for the next five years. More than 20,000 French families have joined the Confederation over more than 100 years and through 280 local associations. Its greatest asset is precisely that of forming a network across the territory, thus being able to work with synergy, while at the same time each one operates in its own particular sphere of action. In addition, the AFCs are among the founding members of the UNAF (National Union of Family Associations), a body that was publicly recognized in 1945 and that French political authorities are required to consult when they have to make decisions regarding family policy.

The Undersecretary Prof. Gabriella Gambino, representing the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, accepted the invitation to speak and open the three-day workshop.

A network made up of families walking together

In conveying the greetings of the Prefect, Card. Kevin Farrell, who participated in the recently concluded XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Prof. Gambino immediately mentioned its recently published Synthesis Report.  In fact, it brings to light the importance and urgency of “Weaving bonds and building communities”, as the title of the third part of the Document states, which also nicely summarizes the great work that the AFCs are doing. It is a network made up of families, who not only walk alongside each other, but together, creating a true "family system" at the social and ecclesial level, enabling families to "solemnly walk as Christians," supporting each other, without leaving behind those in difficulty. The network of families that is in this way created also provides the grounds upon which it is possible to establish preventive action and renewed commitment, so that the principles contained in the Charter of the Rights of the Family, whose 40th anniversary was celebrated in October, be truly shared through concrete action.

New forms of moral and relational poverty

Continuing her intervention, Prof. Gambino highlighted how, alongside material poverty, "new forms of poverty", moral and relational, "consisting of the negative or even indifferent attitudes toward human life and the family," are emerging today.

This indicates a problem of an anthropological and cultural nature, which is generated from the fact that today not everyone shares a "vision of the person, of family relationships, of being mothers and fathers".

Instead, what is needed is a holistic and shared vision of man and the family that welcomes human life and is capable of restoring young people's confidence in the future, so that they believe in the principle of family and that the family continues to be the engine generating the common good.

Giving voice to a comprehensive and integral thinking about the family

In concluding her speech, the Undersecretary mentioned the Family Global Compact and strongly encouraged an interest on behalf of the AFCs to collaborate with the academic and pastoral formation of Catholic universities with a concrete and active look at the local area, linking up with the network (REDIUF) that coordinates the Compact project.

So, in wishing the many leaders present a successful outcome, Prof. Gambino extended an invitation to "read the Compact and contribute where possible to give voice to a comprehensive and integral thought on the family that is respectful of what it is according to Christian anthropology".

09 November 2023