On the days 12 and 13 in May, the Estates General of Natal were held in Rome. It was a national event organized by the Fondazione per la Natalità , chaired by Gigi De Paolo, who also chairs the Forum of Family Associations. In addition to the fight against the demographic winter – which is very worrying, because Italy is, with Malta and Spain, at the end of Europe’s line – it has become a great civilian showcase for the defense and support of the family. [Os Estados Gerais de Natalidade são um encontro promovido desde 2021 por associações italianas com apoio do Papa Francisco. (N. t.)] [Gigi De Paolo é um jornalista, assessor e ativista católico, pai de cinco, que militava em prol da lei natalista que a Itália acaba de aprovar. (N. t.)]
Under the motto “Si può fare!” (“It can be done!”), institutions and businessmen, journalists, politicians and sportsmen, scientists and doctors, intellectuals and artists, expressed their commitment to the future of the country before thousands of students.
A family law
The commitment includes the Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family, Elena Bonetti, of the Italia Viva party: after The approval of the so-called “Family Act” – family law -, which has just been enacted, promises that the various regulations indispensable for its application will be ready before the end of the legislature, and will respond to reasonable criticisms about the functioning of the single subsidy and universal (with a budgetary allocation of 20 billion euros), which came into force in March: it is granted for each child up to the age of 21 years, with no age limit for the disabled, and in an amount determined by the economic situation of the family unit, according to the ISEE (Indicatore della Situazione Econom ica Equivalent, or Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator).
The minister acknowledges, in an interview with the newspaper Avvenire during the inauguration of the Estates General for Birth, that it is necessary to release everyone’s energies, create alliances between generations and the sexes, as well as give rise to the leading role of women and young people in a particular way. The Government is fully aware, and has chosen to invest in these issues as never before, not only in terms of economic resources, but also in terms of structure and political vision.
A priority objective of the law is to support the educational mission of families, through budgetary contributions to help alleviate the supposed economic burden, not only in the matter of guards. It is necessary to activate the instruments provided to support the education of children throughout their lives. On the other hand, paternity leaves will be reformed and improved, and business initiatives that support motherhood will be encouraged.
New family narrative
Along these lines, one of the sessions stated the need for a new family narrative. It is not enough to describe and analyze a set of known difficulties. As Massimo Calvi writes in Avvenire2022, politics in Italy has to learn to be much bolder when it comes to the family issue. For example, regarding the climate crisis: who endangers the future of the planet is not the baby who is born, but the adult who never really becomes a father, even if he has children, and lives in the illusion of infinite consumption of resources in virtue of a pathological and self-destructive individualism. The policy must be able to courageously communicate to families that “it can be done”, because the community is willing to support birth and the family at all times and in all measures: the family is a resource, not a problem. Also with regard to the families of immigrants: they are family before being refugees or foreigners.
The debate on this new narrative – with interventions by various media figures – also included a theatrical performance about paternity on the second day. Political presence was also plural: secretaries of Azione, Partito Democratico, Lega; president of the Fratelli d’Italia; national coordinator of Italia Viva; deputy economic minister, from M5S; chairman of the Children and Adolescents Commission, Forza Italia. The idea of a social and political pact that unites everyone has prevailed. In the words of Enrico Letta, secretary of the PD, the single subsidy and the family law are very positive results of the current legislature: “They were also possible thanks to the work carried out in recent years by the Estates General de Natalidade”.
Unity and diversity
This diversity made Pope Francis happy, as he expressly expressed in the message read at the inauguration: “Things can change if, without fear, beyond partisan interests and ideological divides, we work together”. Because – he concluded – “it is time to give real answers to families and young people: hope cannot and must not die of waiting”.
Gigi De Palo has been with us for seven years. insisting on the theme… Political leaders thanked him for having managed to place something so complex at the center of public debate. As he acknowledges in an interview, “the objective of these seven years was to restore dignity and centrality to the issue of the family”. He urges now to work for the birth rate: “This is not the time to take shortcuts: you cannot cure a tumor with painkillers”. And he summarizes the balance of those days: “Great businessmen, sportsmen, doctors, writers, actors, spoke about the beauty of fatherhood. And they sent a wonderful message: despite the effort and complexity, it is worth bringing a child into the world, because it is much more beautiful than difficult.”
©2022 Acpress. Published with permission. Original in Spanish.