Working document approved for synod on youth

By Elise Harris

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World Youth Day in Krakow, July 2016. Credit: Jeff Bruno.

After a two-day meeting in Rome, the governing council of the Vatican office for the Synod of Bishops approved the text to be used as the working document for the upcoming October gathering dedicated to youth.

The May 7-8 meeting of the governing council was presided over by Pope Francis and centered on finalizing the text.

A compilation of ideas and thoughts from five sources, the document includes information from answers to a questionnaire sent out to bishops conferences; answers to an online questionnaire for youth; an international seminar on youth that took place in Rome in September 2017; contributions and suggestions from both individuals and groups; and the concluding document of the March 19-24 pre-synod meeting in Rome, which gathered some 300 youth from around the world.

According to a May 9 communique on the Synod of Bishops' council meeting, a draft of the working document was presented which generated “an interesting exchange of opinions.”

Suggestions were made for changes to the text. Once the changes were incorporated, the document was approved by each of the council members participating.

Participants also discussed how the October synod will be organized. The meeting was closed by Pope Francis, who thanked the council for their contributions and for “the spirit of fraternal communion in which the meeting took place.”

A preparatory document for the October synod released in January 2017 insisted on the need for a global approach and stressed that the voices of youth needed to be heard, and that they would be protagonists in the discussion leading up to the synod.

In the final document written by youth during the pre-synod meeting in March, young people urged the Church to be more authentic, more modern, and more creative in the way it interacts with young people, specifically in how it addresses controversial issues.

The youth, who included Catholics and non-Catholics, largely said they felt left out and that they wanted to be taken seriously, as leaders and contributors to important discussions happening in the Church.

They also said they didn't want the Church to shy away from talking about hard or controversial topics, such as sexuality and women's roles in the Church, but wanted people who could speak with them openly and honestly. They also asked for mentors who could help them navigate the tough issues and listen patiently to their questions.

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