Despite the Pope’s best efforts, the Youth Synod lacked any sense of urgency


Catholic Herald, 31 October 2018

The evangelical zeal I've encountered in many young people was missing from the Synod

Igiovani! Yes, the young people! It seemed as if every synod speech, media interview and commentary exalted over the presence of the young “auditors”, some three dozen 20- and 30-somethings invited to spend the three-plus weeks of the synod with the Holy Father and the bishops.

They were protagonists, not merely spectators, we were told. And the insertion of the young people into what remains, in large part, a bureaucratic exercise was supposed to inject a measure of energy and model of evangelisation.

Perhaps, but I have my doubts. Admirable though they were in their own faith and leadership, I found their approach more bureaucratic than I had expected. Many of the auditors, when asked what they planned do upon returning from the synod, spoke of urging their bishops to do this or that, or working with the youth commission of their bishops’ conference. Their own personal testimonies of faith were inspiring, but they often sounded like those employed by a commission rather than being seized with the urgency of missionary discipleship. I have worked for 15 years in campus evangelisation with many zealous missionaries, and have never heard any speak about collaborations with agencies of an episcopal conference.

The young auditors addressed a concluding message to the Holy Father. It sounded a lot less like the Acts of the Apostles than it did promotional material from the Dicastery of Integral Human Development.

“New ideas need space and you gave it to us,” they wrote to Pope Francis. “We share your dream: an outgoing Church, open to all, especially the weakest, a field hospital Church. We are already an active part of this Church and we want to continue to make a concrete commitment to improve our cities and schools, and the social and political world and working environments, by spreading a culture of peace and solidarity and by putting the poor at the centre, in whom Jesus himself is recognised.”

Jesus just barely made it into the message, which meant the auditors were not listening very carefully to the bishops. The synod fathers themselves had decided to write a message to the youth of the world, and the first draft was soundly rejected for not clearly beginning with Jesus. So they fixed it.

Continue reading at the Catholic Register: