CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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Synod on youth calls to get rid of prejudices

The 2018 Synod of Bishops is celebrated in Rome from October 3 to October 28. The 25-day long Synod of Bishops on the theme, Youth, the Faith and Discernment of Vocation, opened with a Mass presided over by Pope Francis. It is a culmination of 20 months of preparations, which involved a worldwide survey of young people to listen to their voices on issues that affect their lives as Christians in a changing world. 
 
As has been with every other endeavor of Pope Francis, so is with the Synod of Bishops on Youth, as controversy and opposition have not spared this one either. Some of the bishops, who were previously confirmed by the pope to attend the Synod, went public asking the pontiff to call off the Synod, saying that in the wake of numerous scandals that rocked the Church, the bishops have lost the credibility in addressing the topic of youth.  
 
Yet, this Synod would perhaps be remembered for those who are present in it. For the first time in the 70 years, there are two bishops from China who travelled to Rome to participate in a synod of bishops, of course with its share of controversy! 
 
Many in the Chinese-speaking world struggle to accommodate the recent pact between Vatican and China. Moreover, one of the two bishop delegates in the Synod was illicitly ordained and was accepted by the pope only with the recent agreement with China. Besides the two Chinese bishops, there is also a nun who will serve as one of the auditors of the Synod. 
 
What would be the outcome of this Synod? History would attest that post-synodal documents tend to have very little impact on the life of the Church. During his homily in the opening Mass of the Synod, Pope Francis quipped a synodal document as a text “generally only read by a few and criticised by many.” Pope Francis does not want yet another document to decorate the shelves of Church libraries. 
 
The biggest take away from this synod would be the space assigned to the young people in the life of the Church, ascertaining that their voice is heard and their concerns are also concerns of the Church. Yet, the biggest challenge before the Church would be to take the young people into confidence that She cares for them. 
 
The challenge before all the concerned parties is to divest of the prejudices they hold against each other. The pope has posed two important challenges while opening the Synod. The adults must get rid of their prejudices that the young people have little to offer and get rid of the temptation to underestimate the abilities of the young people. And the youngsters must strip off their prejudices to consider adults as “archaic, outdated and boring”. 
 
To get rid of these prejudices requires identifying and acknowledging them first, and a willingness to change our convictions and positions. This is so true in the case of the Chinese Church, which has entered into a provisional agreement with the government. The government should divest itself of its prejudices against the Church and the Church on its part must place its confidence in the government. And that requires a lot of spiritual maturity and trust. And this makes an act of faith. jose