06/21/2019, 16.16
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Indian youth tell bishops and politicians to take them seriously as they already do

by Anna Chiara Filice

In Rome, hundreds of young people have gathered from around the world for a post-synod meeting. Three young Indians share expectations, challenges and daily life. Indian society is marked by strong competition and political parties that exploit religious differences for their own purposes. Young people need qualifications, but people without qualifications sit on the government benches.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The International Youth Forum (19-22 June) is currently underway in Rome at the initiative of the Vatican. Its purpose is to allow participants to share experience following the Synod of Bishops on youth.

For a group of young Indian delegates, the goal for young people's expectations to be taken seriously, both in the Church and in public life. Time has come “to stop seeing as youth, without rights, or good only for protest. We are the future of our country.”

Their words show they are aware of their own value as Catholics and citizens, in a context defined by strong personal competition, in school and in parishes.

They talk about their daily life, their relationship with parents and friends, their faith, which helps them "find the true value of life, of human bonds, the joy brought by the fact that we belong to the Father, that we have a holy mission during our life on Earth."

Around 350 young people came to Rome from around the world to share their experiences after the Synod on young people of October 2018, followed by the post-synod exhortation Christus Vivit.

The Indian delegates are: Percival Holt, 25, from Delhi, a recent biotechnology graduate and national president of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM); Jesvita Princy Quadras, 20, from Mangalore (Karnataka), a recent graduate in journalism and psychology and former president of young Christian students; Becaremeo Nongtdu, 28, from Jowai (Meghalaya), a PhD student in philosophy, and president of the ICYM in the North East Region.

Jesvita and Becaremeo stressed the importance of Percival’s work, the only one of the three present as an auditor at the Synod meetings in the Vatican. Back in India, he travelled to more than 30 dioceses.

Jesvita, who has been involved in the youth ministry for five years, stressed that his testimony was fundamental. "If it hadn't been for him, I would never have known about the meeting. His stories made me understand that we young people have to make a commitment, that we have a task towards the Church, to encourage our intuitions, our different ways of thinking."

The three have very different stories: Percival was born and raised in a high-tech metropolis; Jesvita comes from a place subject to a high rate of emigration and is very committed to the youth apostolate; Becaremeo was once a seminarian, then rebelled in pursuit of absolute fun, until finally "I returned to the right path. I realised that I didn’t want empty human relationships.”

The three come from areas with different challenges and problems. For Jesvita, "Many leave the city in search of a better job elsewhere. The challenge of the Church is to bring them back.”

North-East India instead “is a territory with a strong tribal presence, based on particular traditions and clan culture,” said Becaremeo. “This is why young people, even if they get a good job in the capital, do not move. They have a more introverted mindset, tied to family and tribe of origin. Unless they are forced, they do not explore themselves, they do not go further."

As regards the life of the Church in India, "it is we who must work for Christ, spreading the Christian message and sustaining the spiritual dimension," said Becaremeo.

"For this reason,” Percival noted, “bishops and priests should accompany us. Instead, they always seem very distant. First of all, they should translate the apostolic exhortation into Hindi, instead they consider it only as another text to study.”

Jesvita agrees. "The bishops' message has not yet reached ordinary people, especially due to language barriers and the cost of the book."

All three “have had it with divisions” in society, or “using religion to for personal goals. This does not help the development of the country."

Politicians ought to "Bet on us. We have so many untapped resources. Many of us are abroad. We are full of qualifications and degrees, whilst unqualified people sit on government benches. If we want real change, we must focus on quality, appoint the right people for the right role ".

Lastly, Jesvita pleads: "Don't use us for your purposes. Already the media are in the hands of political parties. Don't push us against one another by spreading negative messages."

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