Youth and Church towards the Synod: a commitment in chiaroscuro
by Bernardo Cervellera

In the Instrumentum Laboris published today, young people are "seekers of meaning", but also suffer from "volubility of impulsiveness". The Church struggles to understand them. The "mutual estrangement" between generations can be overcome with the discovery that we are all "called" to life, and an "ecological conversion": the discovery of relationships with the history and environment that make up each person. An "outgoing" Church, close to the religious outbursts of young people, able to propose the person of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of every road taken. Mission and friendship.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – A great deal of light is reflected in the portrait that emerges on the young reading the Instrumentum Laboris (IL) published today in preparation for the next Synod on the theme "Young people, faith and vocational discernment", which will be held at the Vatican from October 3 to 28 next. Young people present themselves as "great seekers of meaning" but at the same time marked by an "impulsive volubility "; lovers of sharing and community life, yet often assailed by loneliness.

Even the depiction that emerges of the Church and her commitment to the world of youth is a contrasting one: a Church that wants to be close to the young, but has difficulty understanding them, or sometimes even considers that "their voice is not ... interesting or expedient to the adult world, in both social and ecclesial spheres "(No. 65).

One point that I find significant and true of the IL is when it speaks of "mutual estrangement" (# 14) in the relationship between young people and adults. It is a fact that can be easily observed everywhere, even in religious communities: young people are on one side; the most adult or older people on the other. And this not in the name of interests or different projects, but out of a unconscious indifference to others. The IL speaks of the eclipse of the paternal figure in the family, of individualism and of the protagonism of the young; of distrust in the world of adults and of the Church; of the deafness of these to the needs of the new generations ...

The key to overcoming this impasse is not just dialogue, but returning to look at one's own common humanity. From this point of view, beyond the thousands of aspects regarding the problems of youth and on the other thousand s of aspects of the new youth ministry, in order to overcome the crisis of the educational proposal of the adult world, IL proposes the theme of "vocation" and "Ecological anthropology" as a basis for reconciliation.

In short, we must rediscover that we are all young and not young, "call (= vocation)" to be human, to live with meaning and joy. This unites us, as  does this "ecological culture" (No. 147), which is not only a respect for nature, but the discovery that every individual is composed of a relationship with the history of their country, with the generations that went before, with the natural and human environment that surrounds them.

Another element that I find fundamental is the fact that young people push the Church to live its "outgoing" mission more decisively. The " precariousness and insecurity" (n.17), that young people suffer in terms of their social life, their affections and employment, the "institutional disappointment" (n.59) that young people experience towards Church, school, university, State and family pushes the Christian community to find new and ancient means to be close to the young generations: either we speak with the language of witness, or nobody will listen; or we are welcoming and capable of giving the reason of our faith "with gentleness and respect", or the Church becomes arid and the youthful world is set adrift.

One last point worth highlighting is that of the search for the meaning of life and of God which takes place among the young in non-traditional ways, so much so that there is talk of overcoming secularization (No. 63). In fact, throughout Asia, where careerism and misery dominate, but also in Europe, we come to discover young people who, with great fatigue and personal effort, not without some complications and misrepresentations, open themselves to a profound religiosity, which comforts them and animates them with hope. For all of them we need missionary witnesses who can walk with them in friendship and with their lives make clear that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of every journey: "the disciples of the Lord – says the IL - are called to value all the seeds of good present in every person and in every situation. The humility of faith helps the community of believers to let themselves be instructed by people of different positions or cultures, in a mutual beneficial logic in which one both gives and receives "(No. 196).