Youth respond to Christus Vivit
In the Diocese of Vicenza, Italy, Laphidil Oppong Twumasi, the head of the youth group of the Ghanaian community, recently expressed her evaluation of Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit. She noted her satisfaction that the Pope’s exhortation is not “merely a manual of doctrine and teachings,” but rather “a guide and a set of suggestions, something that we may be referred to when we feel a little lost. It does not have pre-packaged answers to our questions.”
“It is up to us as young people in the Church, involved in youth pastoral care, in the parishes … to get up and to get busy. We must pick up the final document of the Synod and this Apostolic Exhortation, extrapolate the themes and issues closest to us, and adapt them to our needs.”
She enthusiastically continued: “This tells me that there is a mutual need, that there must be closeness between the ‘adult’ Church and the ‘young’ Church, as we young people have strength, enthusiasm, charism, but we need experience and the knowledge of adults who can show us the way and help us channel our gifts.”
A Young Catechist’s View. As an engaged catechist-teacher, Alessio Lorrai has observed that he finds in Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit, an honest attempt to answer deep questions that youth face today. These are the same dilemmas faced by the rich young man in the Gospel (Mk 10:17-27; cf. Mt 19:16-22). There is often a struggle between cultural values that emphasize having material possessions and the following of Jesus’ values and teachings.
How can the Church respond to real challenges facing the youth today? One of the many possible responses that Lorrai finds in Christus Vivit is Pope Francis’ suggestion that the Church needs to “make a home” and “create a family.” “A home, as we all know, demands that everyone work together. No one can be indifferent or stand apart, since each stone is needed to build the home” (n. 217).
Parishes, schools, and Church organizations must seek to create spaces where one truly feels at home, feels loved, and at the same time is accompanied, guided, even corrected. All this is done with the desire that each person, the young in particular, will bear much fruit, rooted in the soil of the Church, our home.
Fostering Open, Authentic Communication. Several youth have noted that an important underlying theme that permeates much of Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit is the promotion of genuine communication in society and in the Church. Truly, this is a never-ending challenge; a few issues and concerns, raised by the youth, are noted here.
“The digital environment is characteristic of the contemporary world…. It is no longer merely a question of ‘using’ instruments of communication, but of living in a highly digitalized culture that has had a profound impact on ideas of time and space, on our self-understanding, our understanding of others and the world, and our ability to communicate, learn, be informed and enter into relationship with others” (n. 86).
The youth today “confront a new challenge: that of interacting with a real and virtual world that they enter alone, as if setting foot on an undiscovered global continent. Young people today are the first to have to effect this synthesis between what is personal, what is distinctive to their respective cultures, and what is global. This means that they must find ways to pass from virtual contact to good and healthy communication” (n. 90). Indeed, a perennial question emerges: How can the Church continue to effectively accompany the “digital youth” of today?