Synod's final document, the Church's responses to the challenges of young people
Three parts, 12 chapters, 167 paragraphs, 60 pages: this is how the Assembly's final document presents the theme "Young people, faith and vocational discernment". Full text only available in Italian.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Dialogue, openess and attention to the reality of young people today while being able to offer gudance to them along the path. A reality which is full of positive aspects and enthusiasm, but which is also marked by dramatic issues, from formation to migration, from abuse to identity sexual. This is a sweeping summary of the main themes discussed by bishops from 3 October to yesterday, in the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Youth and which are reflected in the final document.
Three parts, 12 chapters, 167 paragraphs, 60 pages: this is how the Assembly's final document presents the theme "Young people, faith and vocational discernment". The text was delivered to the Pope who authorized its publication.
The document looks at the context in which young people live, highlighting their strengths and challenges, in the conviction that young people want to be "heard, recognized, accompanied" and want their voice to be "considered interesting and useful in the social and ecclesial field", while the Church has not always had this attitude.
This is the essential lense through which the issues of family, work, technology, defense of the embryo and the migrant are viewes. The educational sphere was also addressed, in particular the irreplaceable role played by schools and universities where young people spend a lot of time. Catholic educational institutions in particular are called to face the relationship between faith and the demands of the contemporary world.
The document then dwells on the theme of migrants, "paradigm of our time" as a structural phenomenon, and not a transitory emergency. The Church's concern aims at an authentic human promotion that passes through the reception of migrants and refugees, and is a point of reference for the many young people separated from their families of origin. And if migrants are also an opportunity for enrichment for the communities and societies in which they arrive, more effort is also needed to guarantee those who do not want to migrate the right to remain in their own country.
On the theme of "different types of abuse" (of power, economic, conscience, sexual) made by some bishops, priests, religious and laity: the text states that these abuses cause suffering that "can last a lifetime and which no repentance can remedy ". Hence the appeal of the Synod to the "firm commitment to the adoption of rigorous preventive measures that prevent its repetition, starting from the selection and training of those who will be entrusted with tasks of responsibility and education". The Synod, then, is grateful to all those who "have had the courage to denounce the evil suffered", because they help the Church to "become aware of what has happened and of the need to react decisively". "Mercy, in fact, requires justice".
Bringing a healthy restlessness that engenders dynamism, we read in the second part of the document, youth can be "ahead of the pastors" and for this reason must be welcomed, respected, accompanied. Thanks to it, in fact, the Church can renew itself, shaking off "heaviness and slowness". Hence, the reference of the Synod to the model of "young Jesus among the young" and to the witness of the saints, among whom are countless young people, prophets of change.
Another "safe compass" for youth is mission, a gift of self that leads to an authentic and lasting happiness: Jesus, in fact, does not take away freedom, but freely gives it, because true freedom is possible only in relation to the truth and to charity. Vocation is closely linked to the concept of mission: every life is a vocation in relation to God, it is not the fruit of chance or a private good to be managed on its own and every baptismal vocation is a call to holiness for all. For this reason, each one must live his own specific vocation in every area: the profession, the family, the consecrated life, the ordained ministry and the permanent diaconate, which represents "a resource" yet to be fully developed.
Mary Magdalene, the first missionary disciple, healed of wounds, witness of the Resurrection is the icon of a young Church. Fates and fragility of the young "help us to be better, their questions challenge us, their criticism is necessary because often the voice of the Lord calls us through conversion and renewal". All young people, even those with different visions of life, no one excluded, are in God's heart.
The document also addresses the theme of mission in the digital world: an integral part of the daily reality of young people. The web presents lights and shadows. If on the one hand, in fact, it allows access to information, activates socio-political participation and active citizenship, on the other it presents an obscure side - including the so-called dark web - where solitude, manipulation, exploitation, violence , cyberbullying, pornography are found. Hence, the Synod's invitation to inhabit the digital world, promoting its communicative potential in view of the Christian announcement, and to "impregnate" its cultures and dynamics with the Gospel. It is hoped the creation of Offices and organizations for digital culture and evangelization that, in addition to "promoting the exchange and dissemination of good practices, can manage certification systems of Catholic sites, to counter the spread of fake news regarding the Church ", emblematic of a culture that "has lost the sense of truth", encouraging the promotion of "policies and tools for the protection of minors on the web".
The document also highlights the need for greater recognition and valorisation of women in society and in the Church. We hope "a feminine presence in the ecclesial organs at all levels, even in leadership roles " and a "female participation in decision-making processes in the Church in respect of the role of the ordained ministry".
On the subject of the body, affectivity and sexuality, the Synod reminds families and Christian communities of the importance of jelping young people discover sexuality as a gift. The bishops recognize the effort of the Church in transmitting in the current cultural context "the beauty of the Christian vision of corporeity and sexuality": it is urgent to look for "more adequate modalities, which are concretely translated into the elaboration of renewed formative paths".
The document then "reaffirms the decisive anthropological relevance of man-woman difference and reciprocity and considers it reductive to define the identity of people based solely on their sexual orientation". At the same time it recommends that pastors "favor" the "paths of accompaniment in the faith" of homosexual people, which are "already existing in many Christian communities". In these ways people are helped to read their own story; to adhere freely and responsibly to one's baptismal call; to recognize the desire to belong and contribute to the life of the community; to discern the best forms to make it happen. In this way we help every young person, no one excluded, to integrate more and more the sexual dimension in their personality, growing in the quality of relationships and walking towards the gift of self ".
"The vocational differences - is the conclusion of the Document - are gathered in the one and universal call to holiness. Unfortunately the world is outraged by the abuses of some people of the Church rather than revived by the holiness of its members", for this reason the Church is called to "a change of perspective" : through the sanctity of many young people willing to give up their life in the midst of persecutions in order to remain faithful to the Gospel, may She renew her spiritual zeal and apostolic vigor.