The XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops begins on Wednesday. The Synod’s theme is Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”.
VATICAN – Today begins the Synod of Bishops in which young people are the subject. From 3-28 October, Synod Fathers from all over the world, and other invited participants, will explore the theme “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”.
The Synod process began in October 2016 when Pope Francis announced the Synod’s theme. In January 2017, the initial phase of the Synod began with a letter of the Holy Father to young people, and the publication of the Preparatory Document.
Input solicited through the Preparatory Document was gathered from the local Churches. In addition, input from young people was requested through an online questionnaire. More than 200,000 young people responded either completely or partially to this questionnaire.
Young people participate
In order to include the voices of young people in a more concrete way, a Pre-Synod meeting was held in Rome from 19-24 March 2018. 300 young people participated in Rome and 15,000 others participated virtually. On that occasion, Pope Francis said, “the Church wants to listen to the voice, sensitivity, faith and also the doubts and criticisms of the young. We must listen to the young.” A document prepared by the young people who came from all over the world, and represented Catholics, non-Catholics, and unbelievers, was presented to Pope Francis on Palm Sunday. The working document for the Synod contains material from this document as well as a summary of the input sent in from the local churches.
The Synod begins
Until the closing Mass of 28 October, Synod participants will be meeting daily. Their days will begin and end with prayer. Much of the time will be spent listening to the interventions given by a number of the over 250 bishops, the almost 40 young people, and other auditors, experts, consultants and fraternal delegates invited to participate in the Synod. In the midst of the Synod, on 14 October, Pope Francis will canonize Pope Paul IV, under whose pontificate the first Synod of Bishops was held in 1967. The Synod of Bishops will present to the Holy Father their final report on which the Pope is expected to base a future Apostolic Exhortation on the Synod theme.- Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp,Vatican News, 03 Oct 2018
VATICAN – Pope Francis leads the assembled gathering in the Liturgy of the Hours, and gives the opening address at the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
In his Opening Speech for the Fifteenth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis said “the Synod we are living is a time for sharing” – sharing that must involve both speaking with courage and frankness, and listening with humility. The Synod, he said, “must be an exercise in dialogue,” especially for those directly participating in the event.
Pope Francis emphasized that the Synod “is an ecclesial exercise in discernment,” an “interior attitude rooted in an act of faith.” One of the innovations in this General Assembly will be moments of silence after every five speeches, precisely in order for participants to discern what they have heard.
The importance of listening was in important motif in the Pope’s speech. In order to be a Church that “listens and journeys,” Pope Francis said we must “leave behind” our “prejudice and stereotypes.” In particular, he warned against both the “scourge of clericalism” and the “virus of self-sufficiency.”
Despite the troubles the Church faces today, Pope Francis reminded us that “our faith tells us that it is also the Kairos,” God’s time, “in which the Lord comes to meet us in order to love us and call us to the fullness of life.”
“May the Synod awaken our hearts!” he proclaimed, expressing the hope that “the meeting between generations” might “be extremely fruitful for giving rise to hope.”
During the Synod, Pope Francis said, “let us ‘spend time with the future,’” in order “to take from this Synod not merely a document – that generally is only read by a few and criticized by many – but above all concrete pastoral proposals capable of fulfilling the Synod’s purpose.” – Christopher Wells, Vatican News, 03 Oct 2018
VATICAN – The Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Discernment opened on Wednesday in the Vatican. One of the young people invited to attend and to address the Synod talks about his hopes, expectations, and even about the issues he intends to raise.
We’ve heard the presentation and listened to the General Secretary explain its aims, we know that the over 300 Synod Fathers gathered in the Vatican Synod Hall will produce a final document, and that there are 34 young people who will have the precious opportunity to address the Synod on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” and even have an impact on its outcome. But who are they? What are their expectations for the next three busy weeks? What does it feel like for them to have been chosen to represent their peers and raise new issues at such a crucial event for the life of the Church?
I had a word with 25-year-old Julian Paparella from London Diocese in Ontario, Canada. He followed a degree in biology with a Masters in Theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris and is currently working as Campus Minister at McGill University in Montreal helping accompany students in their faith.
Julian told me of his great surprise upon receiving the invitation from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Canada to participate in the Synod.
Julian’s involvement with the Canadian Catholic “Salt & Light” TV where he has interned and his experience at the Catholic Institute in Paris were probably the reason, he said, his name came to the fore when the bishops were asked to select a candidate.
“I was surprised and I hope I’ll continue to be surprised” he said as he begins this experience, “a great gift” during which he has been asked to serve the Universal Church.
A voice for young people
“I’m just hopeful that I will be able to serve in this capacity, as a voice for young people, trying to make the Synod Fathers, the Holy Father, more sensitive to the current realities and needs of young people”.
Julian stressed that he will not be presenting his own views and opinions, but “the questions and the needs of young people, their concerns, their questions of faith, their lived reality so that the Church can better accompany young people of today”.
A perennial need to re-adjust
Julian spoke of what he sees as a constant need for the Church to continue to re-engage with young people and really be in their midst pointing out that those needs and concerns will constantly evolve.
“With every new generation there will be a need to re-evaluate, re-understand what young people are living”, how can the Church be better present to walk with them towards Jesus, he said.
He pointed out that there certainly is a need right now in the Church for re-adjustment and expressed his appreciation for the fact that the Pope sees that and has responded with something as significant as a Synod of Bishops but, he said “I don’t think that need will ever go away”.
Jesus Christ will never be irrelevant
Reiterating his deep belief that the Gospel will never be irrelevant for young people, Julian recalled the words of Saint Pope John Paul II when he said “Jesus Christ is the answer to the question posed by every human heart”.
We all thirst for Jesus Christ, he said, and “whether or not they know it, all young people are thirsting for his Love.” And so, he continued, the question is: “how does the Church become an instrument and a vehicle by which young people are able to encounter this love of God”.
The only questions of possible irrelevance, Julian said, regard the ways and the means with which the Church is reaching or not reaching young people. – Linda Bordoni, Vatican News, 03 Oct 2018
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Wednesday will celebrate the opening Mass for the Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment”. But what do young people hope this Synod will achieve? Sean Deighan, a Youth Officer from the Archdiocese of Glasgow in Scotland says, the Church needs to “present the faith to them in a way that is worth attaining.”
The Bishops of the world are gathering in the Vatican for a Synod that will put the spotlight firmly on young people. Over the course of October, the Church will aim to support young Catholics in their faith, and discuss issues that concern them, so that they can be the standard bearers for a new generation. In March of this year, young people from around the globe met in the Vatican for a Pre-Synodal meeting. One of the participants was Sean Deighan, a Youth Officer from the Archdiocese of Glasgow in Scotland.
Idealism of young people
He says, that Church needs to tap into the idealism of young people and present the faith to them in a way that is worth attaining. “I think the finding of the documents shouldn’t read so much as a manifesto of an NGO but, rather unapologetically proclaims the truth of the faith and of the Church in a way that is doctrinally… sound.”
So, is this a good time for the Church to be holding a Synod on Youth? The Youth Officer believes it is, especially, he says, at a time when “many young people are leaving the Church for all the wrong reasons”. I think it’s a very important time re-evaluate how the Gospel is preached to young people in a way that they can understand, so that the outcome would be that less people would leave the Church…”
Crisis of Sexual Abuse
In recent times the Church has been engulfed by the crisis of clerical sexual abuse. The Secretary General of the meeting, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, has stressed that the Synod will not shy away from the issue, but will use the gathering as a platform for exchange. Sean himself says, that the scandal has obviously damaged the Church’s image, but despite that he adds, this generation of young people is resilient. “The faith of young people is still very strong although obviously they are very, as am I, sorrowful and saddened to hear of the recent abuse cases”.
Sean points out, that young people appreciate when the Church is bold and courageous, and says that this Synod offers it a real chance to authentically proclaim the truth. – Lydia O’Kane, Vatican News, 02 Oct 2018
VATICAN CITY – As the Church gears up for the Synod of Bishops, Youth Ministry worker, Megan Cox who participated at the Pre-Synod meeting in March says “young people were at the forefront of that conversation.”
The countdown maybe on to the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment which begins on Wednesday, but it was in March that the youth of the world came together in Rome to have their say. Youth Ministry Development Worker, Megan Cox represented the Archdiocese of Birmingham in England at the Pre-Synodal meeting.
Speaking about her experience to Vatican News, she says, “automatically the attention was turned straight to young people, with the idea of, if we are going to talk about young people, we probably need to ask them.” “That really impressed me to start with, that the point of the Synod wasn’t lost from the get go and actually young people were at the forefront of that conversation.”
Megan herself works in Youth Ministry and points out that although youth ministry in her own diocese is very active, that can’t be said for other parts of the UK. She adds, that it is in a “revolution period” and is gaining speed but, it hasn’t yet reached its full potential.
Global Youth Issues
The Pre-Synod, Megan notes, saw participation from all over the world and she describes this as very important. “If we’re talking in terms of a universal Church, it needs to be universal; we need to have the opinions of young people from across the globe. She goes on to say, that it is clear from the document that came out from the Pre-Synod meeting, that there are “issues shared by young people across the world, things that we all have in common.”
Social Justice and Social Media
Megan recalls that during the meeting, what came out strongly was the theme of Social Justice and what it meant to young people, depending on where they were from. Another key theme, she says, was the issue of social media in the lives of young people. Megan comments “it is such a great tool but can also be so damaging, so where is the balance?…” What came out of discussions was that, “if you’ve got a generation looking down at their phones all the time rather than looking up at what is going on around them, what can you do about that?” She says, if that is the case, let’s harness that and let’s use it as a resource for the Church.
Asked what she would like to see coming out of the upcoming Synod of Bishops, Megan expresses the hope that, they will “remain faithful to what they’ve heard young people say, the documents that have been given to them from the Pre- Synod meeting, the conversations that have been held around the world, that when they eventually produce their document that it is just true to what they’ve been told…”
Megan says, the Catholic Church has had its trials and tribulations, but despite that it is an amazing community to be a part of with enthusiastic young people who want it to thrive.- Lydia O’Kane, Vatican News, 01 Oct 2018
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis will celebrate the opening Mass for the Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” on Wednesday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops briefed the media on Synod proceedings and goals at a press conference on Monday morning.
A Synod of Bishops is a crucial moment in the life of the Church. It is a time for it to reflect on its current status and look to its future, a time to adjust to a world in the throes of change and to set itself new goals and adopt new idioms so as not to lose its footing and risk becoming irrelevant.
All that is especially true in the case of the Synod taking place here in the Vatican throughout the month of October, because it focuses on the very people who will make or break it in the future: young people.
At a press conference at the Holy See Press office on Monday morning, Cardinal Baldisseri carefully explained Synod procedures pointing out that a new Apostolic Constitution signed – significantly – by the Pope just two weeks ago, strengthens the involvement of the “People of God” and further promotes dialogue and collaboration between bishops and between bishops and the Pope.
This, he said will give even more clout to the final document Synod Fathers are called to produce, after listening to the interventions of the Synod Fathers themselves and of the so-called 49 auditors, of whom 36 are young people chosen to represent their peers from the five continents.
Bishops from China
All in all some 300 cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay experts will be taking part, and for the very first time since Paul VI established the Synod of Bishops in 1965 to collaborate with the Pope, discuss topics and make recommendations, two bishops from mainland China have been able to accept the invitation thanks to last month’s landmark agreement between the Holy See and Beijing.
Communicating the Synod
As for communicating to the world what is going on inside the Synod Hall, the Dicastery for Communication will be on hand with reports, videos, daily multi-language briefings and lots of social media activity including a special #synod2018 hash tag on twitter.
Clerical sex abuse crisis
Asked whether the latest revelations regarding widespread clerical sex abuse may have spawned a climate of distrust and anger which could lead to a breakdown in communication between young people and the Church, Baldisseri said he is confident the Synod will provide a golden opportunity for exchange on this critical issue as well.
Pope Francis himself is expected to be present for many – if not all – the Synod sessions, but in a clear sign he it does not want it to be seen as a closed-doors event for a few privileged invitees, he has asked hundreds of young people to join him and synod participants on Saturday in the Vatican audience hall for an evening of music and some lively exchange.
The Church wants to do its part
The Church, Baldisseri highlighted again and again, wants to do its part in walking with its people, and that, he said, is what we intend to do in this Synod “with open eyes and ears, but also with open hearts and minds” accepting the challenges put to the Church through the “restlessness of young people”.– Linda Bordoni, Vatican News, 01 Oct 2018