Posted On 21. January 2017 In Francis - Message

The Church consults with the youth of the world to prepare the 2018 Synod

POPE FRANCIS IN ROME, BY Ary Waldir Ramos Díaz vía Aleteia.org •

“A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity,” Pope Francis wrote in his letter addressed to the youth.

The Pontiff said that he was “pleased” to announce that in October 2018, the Synod of Bishops will take place under the topic: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

“I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart,” said the Pontiff who decided that the 2019 World Youth Day will be held in Panama.

The Preparatory Document, which the Pope offered as a “guideline” for this meeting, was presented in the Vatican on 13 January.

The Bishop of Rome does not want the youth to stay on the sofa while others decide their future and invites them to entrust their hopes, thoughts and proposals about life and pastoral work to the Church.

“St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best” (Rule of St. Benedict, III,3), he explained.

In this way, he invited young people to be active and not be afraid to listen to the Holy Spirit that gives them “bold choices.” “Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.”

Speaking about young people who take risks to follow Jesus, he said that the “Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism.”

How does it work?

The document is a guideline ahead of the Synod and is addressed especially to young people between the ages of 16 and 29 years, taking into account a variety of social and local contexts.

The text has been sent to the leadership councils of the eastern Catholic churches, the Bishops’ Conferences, the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and the Union of Superior Generals.

This is to elaborate the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the Synod, explained Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, during a press conference in the Vatican on 13 January.

However, he highlighted the need to gain a better understanding of the current language of the youth, including digital language. “We will do this together with the young people, we seek their participation in the bishops’ conferences,” said Baldissieri.

He added that listening to the youth is the pastoral and theological vision of Francis’ pontificate: “The centrality of joy and love, underlined several times in the text.”

The text

“The document is divided into three parts. The first urges listening to reality. The second highlights the importance of discernment in the light of faith in order to make life choices that truly correspond to the will of God and to the good of the person. The third focuses on the pastoral action of the ecclesial community,” said Baldisseri.

The questionnaires

Fabio Fabene, the under-secretary for the Synod of Bishops commented that the preparatory document has been designed so that that “young people are truly involved” in the “synod agenda.”

The questions have been divided according to geographical areas and what is new this time, compared to the last Synod, is that three questions for each continent are added to the 15 general questions.

“We will assess the answers on the questionnaires in specialised centres,” said Fabio Fabene.

Website

From 1 March, there will be a website where young people can send their concerns about Jesus, their life plans, society and the local community: http://www.sinodogiovani2018.va. The digital continent is an important issue to evaluate and to enter into youth culture, an opportunity to bring the “bishops and prelates who are sometimes unpractical” up-to-date, said Baldissieri.

The website is open to all of the faithful and people far away.  “Everyone can write, we will respond to each one at our discretion,” he added.

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Pope’s letter to the youth on the occasion of the presentation of the Preparatory Document for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

My Dear Young People,

 

I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.

 

I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.

 

When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?

 

But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).

 

I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.

 

In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, […], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).

 

A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).

 

Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).

With paternal affection,

FRANCIS

Given at the Vatican, 13 January 2017

(English translation from www.vatican.va)

Original: Spanish. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa

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