03/20/2018, 15.29
PHILIPPINES
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Ahead of Synod on youth, young Filipinos call for understanding of young people to preach the Gospel

"It’s very important to be accepting and to be a listening church,” says one young person. The Synod of Bishops will focus on “faith and vocational discernment” in young people next October. Church leaders should understand the “questions, hopes, fears and wounds of young people”. A study for the Bishops’ Conference notes that 99 per cent of young Catholics consider religion important.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCPNews) – Filipino delegates to a pre-synod gathering in Rome said Catholic Church leaders need to understand how young people live, think and communicate to be able to preach the Gospel.

About 300 young people from around the world are meeting at the Vatican for a five-day preparatory meeting (19-24 March) for the Synod of Bishops centred on youth slated for next October.

Church leaders need “to understand and journey together with young people so that [they] will have that sense of belonging and support,” said Alyana Therese Pangilinan (pictured).

The 23-year-old youth leader from Bacolod Diocese said it is important for the Church and its leaders “to listen and respond” to the concerns of young people as they face myriad issues.

“It’s very important to be accepting and to be a listening church,” Pangilinan said, adding that Church leaders need to understand the “questions, hopes, fears and wounds of young people”.

The Synod of Bishops in October will focus on the theme "faith and vocational discernment" among young people.

For Gerald Rey Coquia (pictured), 29, from the archdiocese of Palo (Leyte), there is an urgent need for priests and religious leaders to engage the younger generation.

Coquia said the Church is supposed to be a “ministry of presence” and should have an “aggressive but tender embrace” for its members, one that does “not cause pain,” one that is not “so tight that it hurts young people”.

In his view, “We are supposed to share the teachings of the Church, but if no one knows or will give [youth] these teachings then definitely there will be confusion’.

The Philippines is a very religious country. More than 80 per cent of its population is Catholic, and young Filipino Catholics are firmly rooted in this religious tradition.

According to the National Filipino Catholic Youth Study 2014, a study commissioned by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), young Filipinos believe above all in the Church’s teachings on faith and morality and participate actively in her life.

The study found that most Filipino Catholics aged between 13 and 39 recognise the great importance of religion. For nine out of ten interviewees, 80 per cent of whom are aged 13 to 22, religion is "very important", whilst another 8.7 per cent consider it "somewhat important".

With respect to religiosity, 86 per cent consider themselves "religious", including 38.5 per cent who say they are "very religious" and 47.6 per cent are "somewhat religious".

About 71.3 per cent belong to religious organisations and 95 per cent go regularly to Mass. A third goes more than once a week and almost half once a week.

Half of the respondents go to confession several times a year, and one in eight receive the sacrament one or more times a week.

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