The Vatican has released a working document for the October, 2018 youth synod that calls for candid discussions on the real issues impacting young Catholics from homosexuality and gender issues to disagreement with Church teaching.
Catholic Culture is reporting on the 67-page document, known as the Instrumentum Laboris, which was released by the Vatican on June 19. The document will form the basis for discussion at the Synod, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” which is scheduled to take place in Rome from October 3-28, 2018.
This document is the result of a lengthy process of collecting comments from the world’s episcopal conferences and religious orders as well as from thousands of young people who participated in conferences or responded to an online survey.
According to youth who chose to participate in the process, young Catholics are looking for “an authentic church” and “a Church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching,” the document states.
Youth are asking Church leaders to “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.”
Today’s youth are indeed facing some thorny issues, such as technological advances that allow a person to manipulate the body and to participate in practices such as surrogacy and egg donation.
Youth are also facing issues such as precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, displaying one’s body online and sexual tourism, the text said, all of which “risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life,” according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
The document acknowledges that the Church is not able to communicate it’s teachings well on these issues and, as a result, even though there are young Catholics who find Church teaching to be a “source of joy” and who want to follow this teaching in spite of how unpopular it may be, there are others who want more clarification on the issues.
As for family, the online questionnaire revealed that mothers remain a key reference point for youth while fathers do not due to the “ambiguities and voids” that exist as a result of the lack of father figures, particularly in western nations.
Bishops also found that religion no longer holds the same weight that it did in the past, and that for many young people, simply being “spiritual” is enough, CNA reports.
The document also deals with the need to accompany youth in the process of determining the best path for their lives, and that only a “prudent and wise” guide can help them to correctly discern God’s will.
The various vocations will also be discussed, as well as that of the “single,” the person who chooses to remain single without making any effort to marry or to enter consecrated life.
“No concrete answer to the question of ‘singles’ was given, but due to the growing number of singles in the Church and in the world in general, the document said ‘it is important that the synod reflect on this question’,” CNA reports.
The document also stresses the need for formation and education when it comes to helping youth make the right choices for their lives, and placed particular emphasis on the role Catholic schools and universities can play in molding young Catholics.
According to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, who spoke at a press conference yesterday, the second chapter is the most consistent of all the Instrumentum laboris.
“It shows the need for the Church to confront the daily life of young people and to be present and operative where they live out their concrete existence,” the Cardinal said.
“Often the young are blamed and held responsible for moving away from the Church en masse. But they very often experience situations that lead them to affirm that it is the Church that has moved away from them. And they say so openly. In many cases they have not felt and do not feel close to her in the different experiences and in the different areas of their life: school, university, the world of work, political commitment, digital environment, music, sport and friendship.”
He added: “Being part of the daily life of young people means being able to recognize that their existence is traversed by the presence of God and by the action of grace that is to be welcomed, accompanied and brought to fulfilment.”
The Cardinal expressed high hopes for the synod and the youth whose lives it may affect.
“Above all, in a world that no longer helps us to dream, it can be interpreted as an invitation to start wishing for the impossible, to dream great things for and with young people,” he said.
This is an especially poignant goal considering some of the responses given by youth who claim that: “Sometimes, we end up discarding our dreams. We are too afraid, and some of us have stopped dreaming. This is seen in the many socio-economic pressures that can severely drain the sense of hope among young people. At times, we have not even had the opportunities to keep dreaming.”
Let us begin today to keep this important event in our prayers, that it will bring about a new springtime in the lives of young Catholics and, as a result, the entire Church.
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