23 August 2018
World Meeting of Families

Withers (Youth), “My dissatisfied generation is looking for a counterculture. That could be the Church”

Isaac Withers, representative of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales at the 2018 Synod, is the youngest of five siblings. At the Pastoral Congress of the Dublin World Meeting of Families (21-26 August), he gave his own testimony about the discussion with the young people who took part in the pre-synod consultation. The central theme is the role of the family in supporting vocations of different kinds and in enabling young people to live their lives to their own fullest potential. Withers told about how, with his sister (the eldest) who is a contemplative nun, he experienced their parents’ dedication to their brother who is a year older and has Down Syndrome. Moreover, he was a slave to pornography, from age 13 to 21, but was freed from the addiction after having confessed it to his own. Today, he says, “the main challenge for young people is to know how to face life in a strongly pressured, rapidly changing, and fragmented society. There is a sense of isolation, exacerbated by the erosion of previously established rules and amid growing mistrust of institutions.” “The current generation,” he underscores, “is dissatisfied and in need of a counterculture” in face of the risk of “falling prey to confusion and losing sight of things.” “I firmly believe,” concluded the young man, “that, if the Church were an authentic community built explicitly around the relationship with Jesus, we would be that counterculture.”