Bishops seek input from youth ahead of 2018 synod

Bishops seek input from youth ahead of 2018 synod

World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, July 2016. JEFF BRUNO

VATICAN— An international conference this week in Rome is seeking feedback from young people on the upcoming 2018 Synod of Bishops, as preparations are also underway for the 2019 World Youth Day in Panama.

The purpose of the April 5-9 conference, “From Krakow to Panama: The synod on the way with the young,” was primarily to de-brief on WYD in Krakow and to help with the planning and implementation of WYD Panama in January 2019.

A new aspect this year, however, the conference also dedicated two days to a presentation of the prepatory document for the 2018 Synod of Bishops, which will discuss “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

According to an April 6 statement, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, said it’s important to note that the upcoming synod is not being put on by young people or about them as subjects of study, but that it is for them, and that is why it is important they are included.

He also explained that the preparatory document is just the beginning of the process.

Bishop Fabio Fabene, Undersecretary of the Synod, also explained the document and the dynamics of how they are consulting with local Churches, learning about the situation of young people around the world, and involving youth throughout the process.

“We also want to talk to those who are distant and indifferent,” he said, “showing them a Church that is caring for their present and their future.”

The conference included 300 delegates from bishops’ conferences from 104 countries and from 44 different movements, associations, and communities, as well as a large number of youth.

Put on by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the meeting is leading up to the diocesan-level World Youth Day in Rome April 9.

Presentations throughout the week included testimony from youth on WYD Krakow and from Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama on the preparations for WYD Panama.

Delegates from various countries gave feedback on the preparatory document and the topic for the upcoming Synod, including the United States, which asked that the document be presented to young people in a creative manner, including social media.

Some countries, like Burundi and Colombia, face many challenges to the faith, but said they have high expectations for the outcome of the Synod.

In the afternoon on April 6, Alessandro Rosina, Professor of Demography and Statistics at the Catholic University of Milan and a Synod consultant, presented analysis on the situation of young people from the first part of the synod document.

Rosina said that “people are not young in the same way in all periods of history: the experience of being young today is unique and must be recognized as such. Furthermore, while the young share common traits throughout the world, there are also local features, and regions have their characteristics.”

The Church “must grow more attentive to the young and become a positive experience in their lives so that they may choose her,” he said. “We need audacious young people,” he continued, quoting Pope Francis, “who are aware that they are a value for the world.”

In addition to the working days, the conference included a Friday evening concert for youth put on by two musical groups of the Focolare Movment: Gen Rosso and Gen Verde, of which the latter is a musical group made up entirely of women of various nationalities.