VATICAN (SE): A preparatory document for the next Synod of World Bishops scheduled to be held in 2018 on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment was released by the Holy See on January 13 at a media conference at the Vatican.
The document comes in three parts, one addressing young people in the world today, one on discernment of faith and vocation, and the third on pastoral involvement and pastoral care of the young.
In an open letter to the young people of the world, Pope Francis says, “Set out toward a future that is unknown, but one which will surely lead to fulfillment, a future toward which he himself accompanies you.”
He then recalls the invitation Jesus made to his disciples, saying, “I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness.”
He then challenges young people to change the world, to live out the ideals of youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot accept a throwaway culture or give in to the globalisation of indifference.
In introducing the synod working paper at a press conference, Lorenzo Cardinal Baldiserri and Bishop Fabio Fabane, the secretaries to the synod, stressed that it is essential that young people be involved in a consultation in the run up to the gathering of bishops.
Two students who were invited to take part in the press conference spoke with enthusiasm of their dream to create a younger, fresher Church.
In an effort to make the consultation process more young people friendly, a website will be launched in March this year on which young people, preferably between the ages of 16 and 29, will be invited to contribute their comments and thoughts on the process.
A preparatory working document will also be distributed to the bishops of the world and they will be invited to make their own comments, which will be incorporated into the final working document to be used at the synod.
Bishop Fabane said that the bottom line of the preparatory stage will be a widespread involvement of young people, as the synod wishes not only to accompany them in discerning their choice for life, but also to listen to their hopes and desires, plans and dreams for their lives.
In addition, it wants to hear about the obstacles that are placed in their way in realising their plans in society, as they are being encouraged to be active agents in the creation of a better world for all people to live in.
“The text is not exhaustive, but serves as a kind of guide to encourage further discussion, whose fruit will be available only at the conclusion of the synod,” the introduction to the document says.
In presenting the document, the two bishops said, “With his words, the pope wishes to provide a three-dimensional human and ecclesial motivation for the next synod on youth, ranging from 16 to 29 years of age, aware that youth needs to be adapted to different local circumstances, as shown by the Preparatory Document.”
Churches and dioceses all over the world are being asked to conduct consultations on the working paper among the entire people of God, in much the same way as was done in preparation for the Synod on Marriage and Family Life in 2014, but it is hoped that more time will be allowed for the process to take place.
The paper stresses that young people are both the subject and object of this consultation, as they are being asked to identify what they believe is the most effective way in which to announce the good news in today’s world.
The questionnaire, which is included in the paper, seeks statistical information as well as asking general questions.
The two bishops said that the novelty in this paper is that apart from the 15 specific questions addressed to the whole world, three additional questions are asked on a territory specific basis, which are to be answered only by respondents from those areas.
It also includes another novelty, a sharing on local practices, aimed at enriching the Church by making knowledge of local practices available for all to learn from and broadening knowledge of the Church in other parts of the world.
In April this year, the secretariat for the synod will participate in a reflection to be held in Rome on From Krakow to Panama: The synod journeying with the young.
It will be presented by the Dicastery for Laity and Family Life and the working paper for the synod will be presented there.
The two bishops finished with a plea to the media to give more space to young people and present not just their weaknesses and foibles, but also the positive and encouraging aspects of their generation.
In his greeting, the pope reminds young people that in Krakow he asked them if they want to change the world and with one voice they shouted “yes.”
He then assured them that the whole purpose of this synod is for the Church to listen to the voices of the young.