Family: a relational good for the common good. Pope Francis launches the Family Global Compact

“A shared program of actions” to establish dialogue between family ministry and family research centers in Catholic universities throughout the world “for the promotion of the family in light of the Social Doctrine of the Church”. This is the Family Global Compact (FGC) presented today in the Holy See Press Office. Supported by a Message of His Holiness Pope Francis, the project is an initiative promoted by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, together with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, with the collaboration of the International Center for Family Studies (CISF).

The press conference presentation, held today, May 30, 2023, was attended by Prof. Gabriella Gambino, Under-secretary of the Dicastery, Prof. Sr. Helen Alford, President of the Pontifical Academy for the Social Sciences (PASS) and Prof. Pierpaolo Donati, member of the PASS.

The goal of the Family Global Compact: Catholic universities and family ministry together to promote a culture of family and life based on reality

“The Family Global Compact” – writes Farrell in his address read by Under-secretary Gabriella Gambino – is meant to foster collaboration between family ministry and family study centers, as encouraged by the Holy Father in his Message: ‘The goal is synergetic: to enable the pastoral care of families in the particular Churches to benefit from the research and the educational and training programmes in Catholic universities’. (…) Together, the universities and programmes of pastoral ministry can more effectively promote a culture of family and life that, solidly grounded in present realities, would help new generations to appreciate marriage and family life with its resources and challenges and the beauty of generating and nurturing human life”. 

An idea from the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year and an invitation from PASS academics

The Compact originated from a careful observation of contemporary family reality and the challenges it faces: the fragility of bonds and the difficulty of perceiving the inviolable value of every human life, as pointed out by Pope Francis in the second chapter of Amoris Laetitia. Prof. Pierpaolo Donati explained that the project took shape in 2021, in the “Amoris LaetitiaFamily” Year, when the Dicastery and the Academy entrusted the CISF with a field survey aimed at learning about the research activities of universities on some issues related to family reality: the current conditions of need/fragility; the value and spiritual horizon; the idea of couple and marriage; and existing public support efforts. Out of 73 family centers that participated in the survey (from Europe, Central and South America, North America and a couple from Africa), about 40 then took part in three webinars, organized by the Dicastery.

The family is a relational asset to further explore the ability to build relationships in a world that experiences loneliness and suffering

“If we look at the current situation of the family” – said Sr. Helen Alford – we see both light and dark, as emerged very clearly in the 2022 Plenary of the PASS which was focused on the family, looking at it as a “relational good”, and, in doing so, she wanted to urge the academic world to pay more attention to understanding the family in this regard.” It is, in fact, “especially thanks to its role in forming, maintaining and deepening the capacity to build relationships in a world that experiences so much loneliness and the suffering that comes from this” that the family makes its fundamental contribution in sustaining society.

A webinar to immediately create a network of centers and universities that embrace the Compact

In the afternoon, a webinar presenting the Family Global Compact was held in the Aula Magna of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life with nearly 50 Catholic Universities, Centers and Institutes for the Family connected from different countries around the world.

The opening address by the Secretary of the Dicastery, Dr. Gleison De Paula Souza, emphasized the beauty of “having already networked” in the preparatory phase, in the drafting of the text, in the responses to the applications sent. This is an example of the inter-dicastery partnership with PASS and working together for a common goal.

Among the participants who were invited, former PASS President Prof. Stefano Zamagni pointed out that the common good is in dire need of the family as it concretely applies the principles of relationality, fraternity, equity, anti-individualism, and trust. An important point, Zamagni added, is to “favor policies of the family, and not for the family” as the latter would deny its subjectivity in every sphere of society.

Taking the floor, Prof. Francesco Belletti, Director of the CISF, outlined the main points of the Family Global Compact, inviting every center or university, which is not yet part of the REDIUF (International Network of University Institutes of the Family) to join the Network in order to begin working together, seeking to foster interdisciplinary, inter-university and intercontinental collaboration.

In concluding the webinar, we parted with the promise to endorse the Family Global Compact and the Network. Prof. Gambino pointed out the importance of the website specifically created for the Compact: www.familyglobalcompact.organd the possibility of joining the Dicastery’s SynAct Family platform as a tool for exchanging ideas, the results of surveys and studies, and opportunities for shared research among universities. This was also an invitation to create new Institutes and Centers for the Family where they are most needed in the world within other Catholic universities.