The Vatican recently published the English translation of the final document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.
The Synod ended in Rome on October 28, 2018, after a month of discussions, debates, writing, and voting. Throughout the Synod, bishops, auditors, and observers commented on the discussion.
“We worked together, sharing our deepest concerns, communicating our anxieties, not concealing our burdens,” the bishops wrote in the introduction to the final document. “Many of the interventions touched us deeply and awakened our evangelical compassion: we felt as one body, suffering and rejoicing together.”
Now, the official document from the bishops is available for viewing in English.
Just what can you find in this final document from the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment? Here are just a few topics addressed in the document. To read the document, head over to the Synod’s official website.
1. Young people deserve answers
The Synod recognized that the Church doesn’t always succeed in conveying the attitude showed by Christ in his conversation with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Instead of opening the Scriptures and offering dialogue, “there can be a tendency to provide pre-packaged answers and ready-made solutions, without allowing the young people’s questions to emerge in their freshness and engaging with the challenges they pose.”
The bishops emphasized the role of listening in the Church, including pastors and laypersons.
2. Men and women are equal
Men and women both have different, unique characteristic gifts. This difference is beautiful, but can sometimes lead to “domination, exclusion and discrimination, from which all societies, including the Church, need to be liberated.”
The Synod document explained the Scriptural basis for equality between men and women. “The relation between man and woman is understood in terms of a vocation to live together in reciprocity and dialogue, in communion and fruitfulness in every area of human experience: life as a couple, work, education, and so on. God has entrusted the earth to their covenant.”
3. Cultural and religious roots are important
Bishops from non-western contexts provided a conversation on cultural colonization. They “point out that in their countries, globalization brings with it forms of cultural colonization which uproots young people from their cultural and religious origins.”
The bishops called for the Church to make a commitment to accompany young people to assure they do not lose sight of the “most precious features of their identity.”
4. Youth ministry needs a vocational slant
As the Synod progressed, the bishops realized that youth ministry needs a vocational slant, “and that vocational pastoral care should be directed towards all young people.”
Even though events like World Youth Day play important roles in the lives of young adults, more action is needed. “These gatherings can feed into ordinary pastoral accompaniment of individual communities, where reception of the Gospel has to be deepened and translated into life choices.”
5. We have to rethink youth ministry
From the burden to administration to the situation in some parishes throughout the world, the bishops gathered at the Synod cried for renewal.
“The parish is struggling to be relevant to young people and its mission needs to be rethought,” the document reads. “Even though there have been various attempts at innovation, the river of young life often flows along the margins of the community without encountering it.”
6. Reaching young adults in the digital environment
Social media and digital technology are no longer instruments of communication, but instead areas of young adult’s lives that have a “profound impact on ideas of time and space, on self-understanding, on understanding of others and of the world, on how to communicate, to learn, to inform oneself, to enter into relationship with others.”
The bishops urged the Church to invest in this network of opportunities, and emphasized the importance of communicating with young adults through technology.
7. Treating migrants with dignity
“Migration considered globally is a structural phenomenon, not a passing emergency,” the bishops wrote in the final document. The document mentioned that young adults and their families today face the dangers of trafficking, violence, abuse, and untold suffering.
“Young migrants experience separation from their place of origin and often a cultural and religious uprooting as well,” the bishops explained. “Initiatives of welcome involving the Church have an important role from this perspective and they can bring new life to the communities capable of adopting them.”
8. The Church needs to go to the roots of the recent abuse scandal
“The various forms of abuse perpetrated by certain bishops, priests, religious and laypersons give rise in the victims, many of whom are young, to suffering that can last a lifetime and that no repentance can remedy,” the bishops wrote.
Those gathered encouraged the church to eradicate the irresponsibility and lack of transparency that surround the current abuse crisis.
“The Synod expresses thanks to those who have the courage to denounce the evil they have suffered: they help the Church to acknowledge what has happened and the need to respond decisively.”
9. The family is a privileged point of reference for young people
The family initially teaches children about love, and the role of both parents matters. The increase in separations, divorces, remarriages, and single parent situations “can cause great suffering and identity crises in young people. Sometimes they must should responsibilities disproportionate to their age which force them to become adults ahead of time.”
The bishops emphasized the important role that parents play in forming their children. “Mothers and fathers have distinct roles but they are equally important as points of reference in forming children and passing on the faith to them.”
10. The Church must reawaken holiness in the world
“We must be saints so that we can invite the young to be saints,” the bishops wrote in the conclusion of their document. “The young are crying out for an authentic, radiant, transparent, and joyful Church: only a Church of saints can measure up to such requests!”
Many young people leave the Church because they do not find holiness there. Instead, they are greeted by “mediocrity, presumption, division, and corruption.”
Due to the recent crisis, the Church has to embrace a decisive and radical change of perspective. “There is a language that all men and women of every age, place, and culture can understand, because it is immediate and radiant: it is the language of holiness.”