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UNUSUAL SYNOD. A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

A Synod—an extraordinary meeting of Catholic bishops—will take place in Rome this month. MAGNET spoke of it in the cover story of July 2017.

The theme is: YOUTH, FAITH AND DISCERNMENT.

There is something new about this Synod. The newness is not the topic, but the way this Synod has been prepared and the way it is going to be run.

Pope Francis has insisted that it is not enough to speak TO youth, or ABOUT youth, as we often do in the church. We need to LISTEN—HEAR FROM THE YOUNG.

Hence a questionnaire was sent around, a year ago. Many thousands of replies came in.

In March 2018, Church representatives met with young people from different continents—to really listen.

For the first time, there will be young persons attending the Synod.

Most of us will not attend the Synod, of course. But we are as much a part of the Church as those who will be there.

In the Church that we form and live—whether it be a parish, a school or college, a religious community or a family—do we really listen to the young? Do we treat the young simply as “objects of our attention” or as subjects like ourselves, with ideas, feelings, creative contributions to make and valid but different ways of looking at things? Are we ready to face the discomfort of being challenged, to be invited to look at things differently, to face a generation growing up under different influences?

Thanks to the IT revolution and the prevalence of the social media, the present generation of young people (often called “millennials” elsewhere) are better informed, smarter and less dependent on traditional structures than earlier generations. They are also more confused and more insecure.

They need our understanding and support.

We need their dynamism, out-of-the-box thinking, generosity and daring.

Together, with deep mutual respect and much patient listening, we can truly construct something beautiful—a more humane and humanizing world. In doing so, we can also learn to be church in new ways, more in line with what that unconventional young man from Nazareth showed us so many years ago.

 

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