Synod on Youth

Reforming the Church with the Freshness of the New Generations

The Conclusions of the International Seminar Organized by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops
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Identity, planning, otherness, technology, transcendence: These are the keywords of the reflections at the International Seminar on the Condition of Youth held in recent days in the Auditorium of the Jesuits’ General Curia, in Rome.

In his conclusions, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, H.E. Msgr. Lorenzo Baldisseri, explained that the debate was based on the method of mutual listening: “There can be no synodal path that does not start with listening. Moreover, the word ‘Synod’—as the Pope often recalls—means ‘common path,’ ‘shared path.’”

The seminar on young people, organized especially for experts and intended for the elaboration of a scientific contribution to the October 2018 Synod, was attended by 21 young people, 17 experts from ecclesiastical universities, 15 experts from other universities, 20 formators and youth and vocational pastoral workers, and 9 representatives of entities of the Holy See.

“Today’s young people, despite the many contradictions of the time in which they live, —said Card. Baldisseri—thirst for truth, freedom, love, in other words, they are “seekers of meaning.” Recalling suggestions made during the Seminar, the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops evoked the creation of a youth team to support the work of the General Secretariat of the Synod and its consultants in the preparations for the Synodal Assembly, especially the elaboration of the Instrumentum Laboris. In addition, the possibility of fixing a calendar for special moments in the context of the Synod’s work, when the Synodal Fathers will be able to speak with young people, ask them questions and exchange ideas and opinions with them, was also discussed.

Among other requests, the young people asked for stable involvement of the young in the organizations of the Holy See, with the awareness that, as the secretary said, “if we sincerely want to promote the Church’s reform in the line indicated by Pope Francis, we can and must start with the freshness of the new generations.” The experience of these days, he added, “has strengthened in us a fundamental conviction: even the Synod of Youth can represent a part of the Church’s missionary renewal, which—for the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium—constitutes the unimaginable challenge of our time. We need to turn to the young not only asking them to help us understand how to announce the Christian message, but also to better understand what the Lord Jesus asks of his Church today, what he expects from Her at this historic moment, ‘what’ must be cut and ‘what’, on the contrary, should again be a part of Her mission.”

During the Seminar, Francesco Botturi, Vice Rector of the Catholic University, focused on some “good practices,” insisting on the role of art and music: “The theme of art is extraordinarily important in a course of formation because it synthesizes the human pluridimensionality that young people need. It helps the young person to regain the unity of his existential dimension.” According to the Vice Rector, we should also note “the different forms of volunteering, both institutional and non-institutional.” Botturi also launched an invitation to “practice a concrete, non-abstract, vision of knowledge.”

María Marcela Mazzini, professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, dispelled common ideas about today’s youth, observing that: “sharing, listening, and being listened to are values that young people appreciate on the pastoral level. Our proposals must take into account the dimension of relationships,” starting from the idea that “every young person is unique and should be treated and valued as such, by supporting him and sharing his personal research.” Mazzini continued: “We need adults who are willing to work with young people and have certain features: maturity, openness, availability, charisma, and apostolic patience sustained over time without expecting immediate results.” Finally, the professor highlighted that the evangelization proposals should be “diverse, targeted at multiple and varied routes,” respectful of the graduality of the process of evangelization and not only limited to activities but capable of generating “processes of evangelization.”

18 September 2017