Synod: Youth Need a Church that Listens
The 15th General Assembly of Bishops or Synod will be held in October in Vatican City
Young Catholics are looking for a Church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face, said a working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.
The synod’s instrumentum laboris (working document), published by the Vatican, stated that young people “want to see a Church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching”.
Quoting a pre-synod gathering of young people who met at the Vatican, the working document said young Catholics “want an authentic Church. With this, we would like to express, particularly to the Church hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community”.
The working document is based mainly on comments solicited in a questionnaire last June from national bishops’ conferences around the world as well as the final document of the pre-synod gathering.
“Young people are great seekers of meaning, and everything that is in harmony with their search to give value to their lives arouses their attention and motivates their commitment,” it said.
Presenting the instrumentum laboris Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod’s goal is that young Catholics may find “the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love” in a world that often robs them of their “affections, bonds and perception of life”.
The working document also states that while the Church highlights the importance of the body, affection and sexuality, many young Catholic men and women “do not follow the directions of the sexual morality of the Church”.
Young people attending the pre- synod meeting said issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage are often debated both by young Catholics and non-Catholics.
Church Must Speak on Issues Youth Are Talking About
The working document also highlighted the need to reaffirm Church teaching on the body and sexuality at a time when biomedical advancements have pushed a more “technocratic approach to the body”, citing examples such as egg donation and surrogacy.
Church leaders, it said, must “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.”
Some bishops’ conferences are asking what they can recommend to young people who enter into a homosexual relationship, but want to be closer to the Church, the document said.
The working document also said young Catholics would like more initiatives that allow further dialogue with non-believers and the secular world to help them integrate their faith in their dealings with others.
Young men and women from primarily secularised areas “ask nothing from the Church” and “expressly asked to be left in peace, because they feel its presence as annoying and even irritating”. These feelings, the document stated, do not come from contempt but rather due to “serious and respectable reasons”.
Among the reasons are the Church’s sexual and economic scandals, priests who do not know how to engage with young people, and the way the Church justifies its doctrinal and ethical positions to modern society.—By Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS