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FAFCE Weekly news 27 november 2015

Attendance at the PACE Social Affairs Committee Meeting
On Monday 23 November, in Paris, FAFCE attended the Social Affairs Committee Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The main topic of this meeting was the Draft Report on "Human Rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy" (De Sutter Report, please read below for more information). Focusing on this topic, FAFCE Policy Officer, Nicola Speranza, had several informal exchanges with the following Members: Gabriela Pecková (EPP, Czech Republic),Silvia Bonet Perot (EPP, Andorra), Ana Mato (EPP, Spain), Ben-Oni Ardelean (EPP, Romania),Valeriu Ghiletchi (EPP, Moldova, Committee Chair), Jaak Madison (EC, Estonia), Petra De Sutter (Socialists, Belgium). 

From Our Members 

Forum delle Associazioni Familiari (Italy): Election of the new Board

The General Assembly of the Forum is gathered today and tomorrow in Rome.Presidents and delegates of 47 member associations and 20 regional Forum will elect tomorrow the new President, who will replace Francesco Belletti, at the end of the two mandates allowed by the bylaws of the Association. Together with the President will be also renewed the two Vice-Presidents and the other Board Members.

European Parliament                                                                       

Strasbourg Plenary Session
The November Plenary Session of the European Parliament took place this week in Strasbourg. You may consult the adopted texts, clicking on this link. Two interesting Report were adopted, one on Reducing inequalities with a special focus on child poverty (Inês Cristina Zuber, GUE/NGL, Portugal) and another one on EU Strategic framework on health and safety at work 2014-2020 (Ole Christensen, S&D, Denmark), which also includes reference to the family life-work balance (§ 36).

Council of Europe

"De Sutter Report": Surrogacy debated at the Social Affairs and Health Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
As stated before, on Monday 23 November, in Paris, the PACE Social Affairs and Health Committee discussed on the De Sutter Report, so called from the name of his rapporter, Dr Petra de Sutter (Belgium, Socialist Group). As FAFCE was asking, on a proposal of Mr Ben-Oni Ardelean (Romania – EPP), supported by a written letter of Mr Jeffrey Donaldson (UK - Conservatives) and Mr Vladimir Gjorchev (FYRM – EPP), the Committee voted to postpone the decision on this report to further study the risks of conflict of interests of the current Rapporteur, Dr Petra De Sutter (Belgium – Socialists). The professional activity of Dr De Sutter is partially devoted to the practice of surrogacy. Indeed, the Code of Conduct for Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly expressly prohibits the rapporteurs to have a professional “interest connected with the subject of the report” (art. 1.1.1.) and explicitly states that the discussion should take place in better conditions “of neutrality, impartiality and objectivity“. During the next Part-Session (25-29 January 2016), the Committee shall decide whether if withdrawing Dr De Sutter's mandate and replace her, as set forth in the Code of Conduct. This delay will allow us to continue to lobbying in favour of human dignity, aiming at a condemnation of every kind of surrogacy practice by the Council of Europe. Therefore we encourage you again to inform your MPs members of this Committee (the list has been sent out on the FAFCE Google Group and is available at this link) and we will come back to you with more information in the due course. 

Apostolic Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis in Kenya
Pope Francis started on Wednesday his first apostolic travel in Africa, starting from Kenya. Here he celebrated his first Holy Mass on the African Continent, hold in the Capital City of Nairobi with the attendance of around one million people. In his homily the Pope stressed that "The health of any society depends on the health of its families" and "supporting families in their mission in society" while accepting "children as a blessing for our world". Click here to read the Vatican Information Service Report and here to watch this Holy Mass and listen the homily. 

US Catholic Bishops Conference: statements on pornography and on political responsibility
On 17 November the Catholic Bishops of the United States of America gathered in Baltimore for the annual Fall General Assembly of their Conference (USCCB).They approved several items, including a statement on pornography (Create in Me a Clean Hearth. A Pastoral Response to Pornography) and a new introductory note and limited revision of their quadrennial statement on political responsibility (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility - click here for the pdf version). 

The Family in the Teachings of Pope Francis
On Wednesday 18 November, in Genoa (Italy), on an invitation of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, Bishop of Trieste, held a lesson on the Family in the Teachings of Pope Francis. Click hereto read the whole text in English, Spanish or Italian.

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