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At Los Jerónimos the Apostolic Nuncio to the Kingdom of Spain, Bernardito Cleopas, inaugurated the I

Stronger families are essential to alleviate the serious social problem of loneliness

Stronger families are essential to alleviate the serious social problem of loneliness
Bernardito Cleopas, Apostolic Nuncio of Spain, inaugurated the Symposium

"One of the most widespread illnesses in Europe today is the usual loneliness of those who have no bonds with others". These were the words of Pope Francis in the European Parliament in 2014, warning of the serious consequences that this problem is increasingly causing in today's society. So much so that the World Health Organisation has warned in their report 'Social isolation and loneliness among older people: advocacy brief' that between 20 and 34% of older people in Europe, America and China feel lonely. 

To address this problem, UCAM and the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) held the international symposium 'Family networks: antidote to loneliness’ on Tuesday, which brought together leading experts from Europe and America at the Los Jerónimos Campus. The inauguration was attended by the Pope's Nuncio to Spain, Bernardito Cleopas; María Dolores García, UCAM President; Monsignor José Manuel Lorca, Bishop of the Diocese of Cartagena; Vincenzo Bassi, President of FAFCE; and Monsignor Arunas Poniskaitis, Vice-President of the Family and Life Commission of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences. 

In his speech, the Nuncio recalled that, especially during the pandemic, ‘there was a high number of suicides in Spain, both among the young and the elderly’, insofar as ‘the family is a real antidote to a situation of despair, of finding oneself alone’. In this sense, the UCAM President highlighted the importance of holding this symposium with the aim of "creating synergies between the different participating associations, in order to work for and with the family, the basic cell of our society".

After Monsignor Lorca Planes affirmed that ‘marriage and family are gifts from God’, Vincenzo Bassi insisted on the importance of ‘creating groups of families in order to restore the quality of relationships, as our grandparents used to experience them, so that no individual has to face their problems on their own’.  

The speakers explained the need for places and communities where couples and families feel welcomed and accompanied, and never alone, stressing that the Church is called to ‘convey what we believe in, being able to do so with respect for others, telling them that the family is the first place where love is to be found’. 

Representatives of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, the European Large Families Confederation, the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists and the Family Forum, among others, also took part in the symposium.

The work of UCAM 

The Universidad Católica de Murcia has been working on the value that family networks bring to society for years. In this regard, the report 'Family and relational poverty', carried out by UCAM together with the John Paul II Institute in Rome and the International Centre for Family Studies in Milan, concludes that the well-structured and stable family is a guarantee against social exclusion and claims that public policies are urgently needed to curb the growing vulnerability of families.