Protecting children from pornography should be a key goal of the European Parliament, according to a leading Catholic family association ahead of June 6-9 European Union (EU) elections.

The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (AFCE) says there are five key issues in front of the European Parliament, the only popularly elected body of the EU.

The Catholic group says digital safety, particularly for children, has wide support across the political spectrum, and called on candidates to support and promote a European Parliament campaign to show the risks of exposure of children to pornography.

“We invite candidates to commit to a robust response to this threat, which harms mental health, exacerbates addictions, and increases sexual violence,” said Vincenzo Bassi, the president of FAFCE.

“Europe can take a moral and legal lead on protecting minors online, establishing mandatory effective age verification, parental controls by default, and implement current CSAM rules. Pornography is a threat to public health, and we must work towards a complete ban on this destructive industry in Europe,” he said on June 5.

FAFCE also called for support for the renomination of a European Commissioner to continue the work of the current Commissioner Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, tasked with grappling with the demographic transition.

“While this election is taking place towards the start of summer, we are freezing into a demographic winter,” Bassi said.

“Birthrates have plummeted, and the pandemic of loneliness has spread across the continent. We need our European institutions to dedicate resources and human capital to understanding its root causes, as well as investing in a demographic spring for the continent,” he continued.

“Without intergenerational solidarity, we can’t begin to meet the many challenges in front of us. This requires families and children to be prioritized, without whom there is no future,” he said.

FAFCE also called for candidates to make employment “work for families,” noting is currently within the competencies of the EU to improve living and employment conditions.

“It is possible to have a Europe where we workers are productive and also are able to enjoy valuable family time. We urge politicians to revisit the length of leave, particularly paternity leave, so that extensions and flexible arrangements are possible,” Bassi said.

“Mothers and fathers need a balance of work and family life, for the sake of their children, themselves, and wider society. Pregnant mothers, in particular, should be granted legal protection and given the possibility to put their creativity and entrepreneurship to practice as well as motherhood,” he continued.

He added the “right to disconnect “must also be promoted, establishing Sunday as a common day of rest.

FAFCE also said the family is “the antidote to the culture of waste and unrestrained consumption,” explaining families can be empowered to educate on the environment and live sustainably.

“The problem is not the children but consumerism. There is no ecology without the person; no person without the family. Therefore, there is no ecology without the families and communities of families at the heart of the transition,” Bassi said.

“Crucial to the success of the ecological transition will be intergenerational solidarity, which requires a protagonization of the family and networks of families. It is through these networks that we can combat the pandemic of loneliness and build a hopeful future. As more than 400 million Europeans vote in June for the next parliament, we remind political representatives that to protect the planet is to protect the family,” he continued.

Bassi said policies that prioritize the family are also policies that prioritize the common good.

“The family, as the basic cell of society, is itself a service to the common good. When parents have a healthy work-life balance, children are able to access education and housing when they grow up, and when older persons are valued and cared for – these all serve the common good,” he explained.

“Across Europe we see how invaluable family networks are to the flourishing of communities, particularly when we are in this pandemic of loneliness. By supporting and investing in them can we build the solidarity between generations that our future depends on. The family is not a cost, but the best possible investment that can be made,” the FAFCE president said.