PRE-SYNODAL MEETING IN ROME, Magdalena Hartmann and Lucas Galhardo •
At 12.30 today, in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held for the presentation of the Document of the pre-Synodal Meeting in preparation for the 15th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in October 2018, on the theme: “Young people, faith and vocational discernment”. Meanwhile, the two members of the Schoenstatt Youth who participated in the pre-synodal meeting, Magdalena Hartmann (Germany) and Lucas Galhardo (Braszil), sent the following video message to all Schoenstatt. —
Presentation given by Mons. Lorenzo Baldisseri during the Press Conference on the Pre-Synodal Meeting
On Monday 19 March the work of the Pre-Synodal Meeting began, in the presence of Pope Francis. The Holy Father spoke with the young people for three and a half hours. His words, frank and direct, addressed to all participants – both those physically present here in Rome, over 300, and those connected through social networks, about 15,000 – have inspired immense interest. The Pope spoke bravely and asked the young people to leave shame outside their door. He asked them to be protagonists of this synodal journey, and said that their contribution is indispensable for the preparation of the Synodal Assembly in October. Citing the Sacred Scriptures, he recalled that it is often young people who reopen the door of hope in times of crisis, and that a Church who does not dare to set out on new roads is a Church condemned to grow old. Above all, the Holy Father warned everyone against the pretension of talking to young people without questioning them. It must be said that the meeting, now concluded, was a response to this appeal.
The approximately 15,300 young people who took part in the Reunion, physically or virtually, come from the five continents and in various ways represent their peers all over the world. This presence dispels many false myths and prejudices about new generations. We have seen young people able to sing at the top of their lungs but also to be silent and listen with extraordinary attention, to dance with the enthusiasm typical of their age but also to spend hours in plenary assembly or working groups, to reason, talk, compare and put their ideas in writing.
The work conducted this week – during the day but when necessary even at night – has resulted in a lengthy document, discussed in the hall and in the linguistic groups, which was finally approved this morning. As we can see, the method adopted was synodal in all respects: during these days we journeyed together and listened to each other, resulting in the drafting of a shared text reflecting all the contributors.
The document of the Pre-Synodal Meeting is one of the sources that will contribute to the preparation of the Instrumentum laboris for the Synod. The other contributions will come first from the syntheses sent by the Episcopal Conferences and the Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches, syntheses which are also the fruit of extensive listening conducted in dioceses around the world. The results of the online questionnaire proposed to young people and the interventions of the international seminar on the youth situation organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod in September 2017 will be added to those summaries, without forgetting the observations freely sent by individuals and groups from all over the planet.
The document drawn up during this week is divided into three parts, preceded by an introduction: the first part deals with the challenges and opportunities faced by young people in today’s world; the second, faith and vocation, discernment and the accompaniment of young people; the third, the Church’s formative and pastoral activities. Without wishing to provide a detailed summary of the text, which will be offered by those who will speak after me, I would like to point out some key ideas and keywords that can help us to understand their content.
The young people, who speak in the first person plural, define themselves as “the young Church”: there is a Church of young people that is not “in front of” or “in opposition to” an adult Church, but “inside” the Church like the leaven in the dough, to use an image from the Gospel.
From the text there emerges a great desire for transparency and credibility on the part of the members of the Church, and especially pastors: young people expect a Church that knows how to recognize with humility the errors of the past and the present, and courageously commit to living what it professes. At the same time, young people look for educators with a human face, ready if necessary to acknowledge their fragility. Other fundamental categories of the document are vocation, discernment and accompaniment. Young people today suffer from a lack of true companions, who can help them find their way in life, and ask the Christian community to take on their need for authoritative guides.
Ultimately young people reclaim an “extrovert” Church, committed to dialogue without preclusions with the advancing modernity, in particular with the world of new technologies, whose potential needs to be recognized and its correct use oriented. “An attractive church is a relational church”, says the document. Pope Francis, quoting the prophet Joel (see 3: 1), recalled on Monday that his youth is to make prophecies and have visions: the youth of today foretell a Church of dialogue and acceptance, of renewal and of listening, as indeed the Holy Father has asked from the very beginning of his Petrine ministry.
I would like to add in conclusion that the young people gave us this week a demonstration of great seriousness, of the passionate search for meaning, of generous openness and spontaneity. They expressed confidence in the Church and great expectations for her. They feel mobilized, as they are protagonists.
Tomorrow some of them will have the privilege of offering the document resulting from the Meeting to the Holy Father. Ideally that document is given to all the Synodal Fathers in view of the October Assembly. Significantly, the text will be submitted to the hands of the Pope by a young man from Panama, a nation that – as you are aware – will host World Youth Day in 2019.