CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 March 2018

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Young people should not feel excluded from pre-synod meeting

VATICAN (CNS): “In short, even through the new technologies of communication, the pre-synod meeting wants to broaden as much as possible the audience of young people involved so that no one should feel excluded,” Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists on February 16, as he elaborated that that the Church is making use of every means of communication available to listen to young people from all walks of life in the runup to a March 19 to 24 preparatory meeting for the Synod of Bishops on Youth.
Cardinal Baldisseri, the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, said social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will allow young people to follow and interact “with their peers in Rome” who will be attending the meeting.
The 300 young people invited to the pre-synod meeting were chosen to represent national bishops’ conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches, men and women in consecrated life and seminarians preparing for the priesthood.
The gathering also will include representatives from other Christian communities and other religions, as well as experts in the fields of education, culture, sports and arts, who “are involved in helping young people discern their choices in life,” according to the synod office.
“In this pre-synod meeting, we will listen to young people ‘live’ to better understand their situation: what they think of themselves and of adults; how they live their faith and what difficulties they find being Christian; how they plan their lives and what problems they face in discerning their vocation; how they see the church today and how they would like to see it,” Cardinal Baldisseri said.
He added that the meeting will also include young men and women from what many consider the margins of society, particularly young victims of human trafficking and prostitution.
During an October 2017 meeting at the Vatican with adults and teenagers who had taken part in a reflection on human trafficking, Pope Francis said he hoped some survivors of trafficking would address the Synod of Bishops to share their stories and “call the Church to action.”
He sais, “It is my great desire that young people representing the ‘peripheries’ would be the protagonists of this synod.”
Filippo Passantino, a young Italian who will attend the pre-synod meeting, said a group of young people are helping develop the meeting’s social media and hope to use it as an “open forum for all.”
He said they plan to open a WhatsApp messaging group so that young people from around the world can send messages, questions and concerns during the pre-synod meeting..
“We are trying to open various doors so that many more than the 300 people invited can enter the pre-synod meeting hall,” Passantino said.
Stella Marillene Nishimwe, a young woman from Burundi, who is also attending the gathering, told journalists she hoped the synod will be a new era in the Church’s dialogue with “all young people, not just Catholics.”
She remarked, “Who knows what fruit this synod will bring? What I am sure of is that everything will depend on our participation. The ball is in our court.”
The theme chosen by the pope for the Synod of Bishops, which will be in October, is: Young people, faith and vocational discernment.

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