On October 6, 2016, the Holy Father announced the theme of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment”.
The synodal journey began immediately with the preparation of the Preparatory Document (DP), published on January 13, 2017 together with a “Letter to the Youth” of the Holy Father. The DP included a Questionnaire , mainly intended for Episcopal Conferences, Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches and other ecclesial bodies, with fifteen questions for all, three specific for each continent and the request to share three “best practices”.
From 11 to 15 September 2017 an International Seminar on Youth Status was held with the presence of many experts and various young people, who helped to focus on the situation of young people in today’s world from the scientific point of view.
Alongside these initiatives destined to involve the Church as a whole, there have been opportunities to listen to the voice of young people, because from the beginning it was intended to make them protagonists. Firstly, an online questionnaire was prepared in various languages and translated by some Episcopal Conferences, which gathered the answers of over one hundred thousand young people. The collected material is immense. Furthermore, the pre-synodal meeting took place (Rome, 19-24 March 2018), which ended on Palm Sunday with the presentation of a final document to the Holy Father.. This initiative was attended by about three hundred young people from the five continents and even fifteen thousand young people through social media. The event, an expression of the Church’s desire to listen to all young people, no one excluded, has achieved considerable resonance.
The material collected from these four main sources – to which are added some “Observations” directly to the Secretariat of the Synod – is certainly very vast. Through some experts it has been widely analyzed, carefully summarized and finally collected in the present “Work Tool” which was approved by the XIV Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, in the presence of the Holy Father.
The text is structured in three parts and takes up the themes in a functional form with respect to the synodal assembly in October, according to the method of discernment: the I part, linked to the verb “recognize”, collects in five chapters and different according perspectives various moments of listening to reality, taking stock of the youth situation; the II Part, oriented by the verb “to interpret”, offers in four chapters some keys for reading the decisive questions presented to the discernment of the Synod; Part III, with the aim of arriving at “to choose”, in four chapters collects different elements to help the Synodal Fathers to take a position on the orientations and decisions to be taken.
The text concludes with a significant focus on the theme of holiness, so that the Synodal Assembly recognizes in it “the most beautiful face of the Church” (GE 9) and knows how to propose it to all young people today.
Vatican, 8 May 2018
Lorenzo Card. Baldisseri
Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
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1. Taking care of young people is not an optional task for the Church, but a substantial part of her vocation and of her mission in history. This is the root of the specific context of the next Synod: as the Lord Jesus walked with the disciples of Emmaus (see Lk 24 : 13-35), the Church is also invited to accompany all young people, no one excluded, towards joy of love.
Young people can, with their presence and their word, help the Church to rejuvenate their faces. An ideal thread links the Message to the young people of the Second Vatican Council (8 December 1965) and the Youth Synod (3-28 October 2018), which the Holy Father explained by introducing the Pre-Synodal Meeting: “I am reminded of the splendid Message to the young people of the Second Vatican Council. […] It is an invitation to seek new paths and to walk them boldly and trustfully, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit, to rejuvenate the very face of the Church “, accompanying the young in their journey of vocational discernment in this” change of era “.
2. In discernment we recognize a way of being in the world, a style, a fundamental attitude and at the same time a working method, a path to be taken together, which consists in looking at the social and cultural dynamics in which we are immersed with the disciple’s gaze. Discernment leads to recognizing and attuned to the action of the Spirit in authentic spiritual obedience. In this way it becomes openness to novelty, courage to go out, resistance to the temptation to reduce the new to the already known. Discernment is an authentically spiritual attitude. As obedience to the Spirit, discernment is above all listening, which can also become a propulsive thrust to our action, capacity for creative fidelity to the one mission always entrusted to the Church. Discernment becomes a pastoral instrument, able to identify livable paths to be proposed to the young of today, and to offer guidelines and suggestions for the non-prepacked mission, but the result of a journey that allows the Spirit to follow. Such a structured path invites us to open and not to close, to ask questions and to provoke questions without suggesting pre-established answers, to envisage alternatives and to explore opportunities. From this point of view it is clear that the same Synodal Assembly of next October needs to be faced with the proper provisions of a process of discernment. Such a structured path invites us to open and not to close, to ask questions and to provoke questions without suggesting pre-established answers, to envisage alternatives and to explore opportunities. From this point of view it is clear that the same Synodal Assembly of next October needs to be faced with the proper provisions of a process of discernment. Such a structured path invites us to open and not to close, to ask questions and to provoke questions without suggesting pre-established answers, to envisage alternatives and to explore opportunities. From this point of view it is clear that the same Synodal Assembly of next October needs to be faced with the proper provisions of a process of discernment.
3. The Instrumentum laboris collects and summarizes the contributions collected in the pre-synodal process in a document structured in three parts, which explicitly recall the articulation of the process of discernment articulated by EG 51: recognizing, interpreting, choosing. The parts are therefore not independent, but they constitute a path.
To recognize. The first step is that of looking and listening. It requires paying attention to the reality of today’s young people, in the diversity of conditions and contexts in which they live. It requires humility, proximity and empathy, so as to tune in and perceive what their joys and their hopes, their sadness and their anguish are (see GS 1). The same look and the same listening, full of care and concern, should be directed towards what the ecclesial communities present among young people all over the world live. In this first step the focus is on grasping the characteristic features of reality: the social sciences offer an irreplaceable contribution, however well represented in the sources used, but their contribution is taken up and reread in the light of faith and the experience of the Church .
To interpret. The second step is a return on what has been recognized by using criteria of interpretation and evaluation starting from a glance of faith. The categories of reference can only be those biblical, anthropological and theological expressed by the key words of the Synod: youth, vocation, vocational discernment and spiritual accompaniment. It is therefore strategic to construct an appropriate framework from the theological, ecclesiological, pedagogical and pastoral point of view, which can represent an anchor capable of subtracting the assessment from the volatility of the impulse, while recognizing “that in the Church legitimately coexist different ways of interpreting many aspects of Christian doctrine and life “(GE 43). This is why it is indispensable to assume an open spiritual dynamism.
To choose. Only in light of the accepted vocation is it possible to understand what concrete steps the Spirit calls us and in which direction to move to respond to His call. In this third phase of discernment it is necessary to examine pastoral instruments and practices, and to cultivate the interior freedom necessary to choose those that best enable us to reach the goal and abandon those that are revealed to be less able to do so. It is therefore an operative evaluation and a critical verification, not a judgment on the value or significance that those same means could or could have in different circumstances or periods. This passage will identify where reform is needed, a change in ecclesial and pastoral practices to avoid the risk of crystallization.
4. “Reality is more important than the idea” (see EG 231-233): in this Part I we are invited to listen and look at young people in the real conditions in which they find themselves, and the action of the Church towards them . It is not a matter of accumulating data and sociological evidence, but of assuming the challenges and opportunities that emerge in the various contexts in the light of faith, letting them touch us in depth so as to provide a basis of concreteness for the whole subsequent path (cf. LS 15). Obvious reasons of space limit the discussion of broad and complex questions to a few hints: the Synod Fathers are called to recognize the appeals of the Spirit.
5. We insert ourselves immediately into the dynamism that Pope Francis gave to his first official meeting with the young: “This first journey is precisely to find young people, but to find them not isolated from their life, I would like to find them right in the social fabric, in society. Because when we isolate young people, we do injustice; we take away their belonging. Young people have a belonging, a belonging to a family, a homeland, a culture, a faith “( Apostolic trip to Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the XXVIII World Youth Day . Meeting with journalists during the papal flight , July 22, 2013).
6. There are around 1.8 billion people in the world between the ages of 16 and 29, representing just under a quarter of humanity, although projections indicate a progressive decline in the share of young people with respect to the population as a whole. . The concrete situations in which young people find themselves vary greatly from country to country, as highlighted by the responses of the Episcopal Conferences. There are countries where young people represent a substantial part of the population (over 30%), and others where their share is much lower (around 15%, or less), countries where life expectancy does not reach 60 years and others where it is possible to exceed 80 on average. Opportunities to access education, health services, environmental resources, culture and technology, as well as those of participation in civil, social and political life, they vary consistently from region to region. Even within the same country we can find differences, sometimes very deep, for example between urban and rural areas.
7.The process of pre-synodal consultation has highlighted the potential that the young generations represent, the hopes and desires that inhabit them: young people are great seekers of meaning and everything that fits in with their quest to give value to their lives arouses the their attention and motivate their commitment. The path also showed their fears and some social and political dynamics that, with different intensity in the various parts of the world, hinder their path towards a full and harmonious development, causing vulnerability and low self-esteem. Examples are: the strong social and economic inequalities that generate a climate of great violence and push some young people into the arms of crime and drug trafficking; a political system dominated by corruption, which undermines trust in institutions and legitimizes fatalism and disengagement; situations of war and extreme poverty that push to emigrate in search of a better future. In some regions, the lack of recognition of fundamental freedoms, including in the religious field, and of personal autonomy by the state, while in others social exclusion and performance anxiety push a part of the youth world into the addiction circuit (drugs) and alcohol in particular) and social isolation. In many places, poverty, unemployment and marginalization increase the number of young people living in conditions of precariousness, both material and social and political. In some regions, the lack of recognition of fundamental freedoms, including in the religious field, and of personal autonomy by the state, while in others social exclusion and performance anxiety push a part of the youth world into the addiction circuit (drugs) and alcohol in particular) and social isolation. In many places, poverty, unemployment and marginalization increase the number of young people living in conditions of precariousness, both material and social and political. In some regions, the lack of recognition of fundamental freedoms, including in the religious field, and of personal autonomy by the state, while in others social exclusion and performance anxiety push a part of the youth world into the addiction circuit (drugs) and alcohol in particular) and social isolation. In many places, poverty, unemployment and marginalization increase the number of young people living in conditions of precariousness, both material and social and political.
8. Despite regional differences, the influence of the globalization process on the young people of the entire planet is evident and requires them to articulate different levels of social and cultural belonging (local, national and international, but also intra and extra-ecclesial). In general, we see, as some EC report, the demand for growing spaces of freedom, autonomy and expression starting from the sharing of experiences from the Western world, perhaps borrowed from social media . Other ECs fear the risk that, irrespective of the profound desires of young people, a culture inspired by individualism, consumerism, materialism and hedonism will prevail, and in which appearances dominate.
9. Many non-Western CEs ask themselves how to accompany young people to tackle this cultural change that undermines traditional cultures, rich from the point of view of solidarity, community ties and spirituality, and feel they have no adequate tools. Moreover, the acceleration of social and cultural processes increases the distance between generations, even within the Church. The responses received from the EC also indicate a certain difficulty in reading the context and culture in which young people live. On the part of some of them, then, the difference of which young people are carriers is sometimes greeted not as a fruitful novelty, but as the decadence of the customs to complain about.
10. In this context, the perspective repeatedly pointed out by Pope Francis remains a point of reference: “There is a multifaceted globalization, there is unity, but every person, every race, every country, every culture always keeps the own identity: it is unity in diversity “( Meeting with the young people of the University of Roma Tre, 17 February 2017, Speech pronounced arm, published in gina.uniroma3.it/download/1491300733.pdf). The statements of young people echo you, in whose eyes diversity appears as a wealth and pluralism as an opportunity within an interconnected world: “Multiculturalism has the potential to facilitate an environment conducive to dialogue and tolerance. We value the diversity of ideas in our globalized world, respect for the other’s thinking and freedom of expression. […] We should not be afraid of our diversity but value our differences and all that makes us unique “(RP 2). At the same time they wish to “preserve [their] cultural identity and avoid the uniformity and culture of the gap” (RP 2).
11. In this context of change, the family continues to represent a privileged reference in the process of integral development of the person: on this point all the voices that are expressed agree. There is therefore a profound link between this Synod and the path of those immediately preceding it, which should be emphasized. However, there are significant differences in the way we consider the family. Young people affirm this with words close to those of various CEs: “In many parts of the world, the role of the elderly and reverence towards the ancestors are factors that contribute to the formation of their identities. However, this is not a universally shared fact, since traditional family models are declining in other areas “(RP 1). Young people also underline the difficulties,
12. The answers to the online questionnaire show how the maternal figure is the privileged reference of the young, while a reflection on the paternal one is necessary, whose absence or evanescence in some contexts, especially the western ones, produces ambiguities and emptiness that they also invest the exercise of spiritual fatherhood. Some ECs point out that the role of grandparents is particularly significant with regard to the transmission of faith and values to young people, opening up questions about the future evolution of society. The increase in single-parent families is also reported.
13. The relationship between young people and their families is not obvious: “Some young people move away from family traditions, hoping to be more original than what they consider” stuck in the past “or” out of fashion “. In some parts of the world, however, young people seek their identity by taking root in family traditions and striving to be faithful to the education received “(RP 1). These situations require a deeper investigation of the relationship between youth culture and family morality. Several sources report a growing gap between them; however, it is reaffirmed by others that there are still young people interested in living authentic and lasting relationships and that find the indications of the Church precious. Marriage and family remain for many among the desires and projects that young people try to achieve.
14. Among the traits of our time, confirmed by many CE and the International Seminar, as well as by numerous social analyzes, there is a sort of reversal in the relationship between generations: often today are adults to take young people as a reference for their style of life, within a global culture dominated by an individualistic emphasis on one’s self. As stated by a Vatican dicastery, “the problematic point is then the liquidation of adulthood, which is the true figure of the Western cultural universe. We do not lack adults only in the faith. We miss adults “tout court” ». Several ECs affirm that today between young people and adults there is not a real generational conflict, but a “reciprocal strangeness”: adults are not interested in transmitting the founding values of existence to the younger generations, that feel them more as competitors than as potential allies. In this way the relationship between young people and adults risks remaining only emotional, without touching the educational and cultural dimension. From the ecclesial point of view, the synodal involvement of young people was perceived as an important sign of intergenerational dialogue: “It was exciting to feel taken seriously by the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and we feel that this dialogue between the young and the mature Church is a process of vital and fruitful listening “(RP 15).
15. Alongside intergenerational relationships should not be forgotten those between peers, which represent a fundamental experience of interaction with others and of progressive emancipation from the family context of origin. Some ECs underline the fundamental value of hospitality, friendship and mutual support that characterizes young people today. The relationship with peers, often also in more or less structured groups, offers the opportunity to strengthen social and relational skills in a context in which they are not evaluated and judged.
16. Youth is characterized as a privileged time when the person makes choices that determine his identity and the course of his existence. The youngsters of the RP are aware of this: “The crucial moments for the development of our identity include: deciding the course of study, choosing the profession, deciding what to believe, discovering our sexuality and making commitments that change the course of existence »( RP1). It is very different, due to social, economic, political and cultural factors, the moment when the family of origin is left or the fundamental choices are made. In some countries, on average, one marries, or chooses the priesthood or religious life, even before the age of 18, while elsewhere this happens after 30, when youth is now over. In many contexts, the transition to adulthood has become a long, complicated, non-linear path, alternating steps forward and back, where the search for work generally prevails over the emotional dimension. This makes it more difficult for young people to make definitive choices and, as pointed out by an African EC for example, “highlights the need to create a formal framework for their personalized support”.
17. In the phase of important decisions with the opportunities and constraints deriving from a constantly changing social context, which generates precariousness and insecurity (see DP I, 3 and III, 1), the potential and psychological difficulties typical of the youth condition interact. they must be recognized, processed and dissolved during the growth process, possibly with appropriate support. Among the difficulties, experts remember the rigidity or impulsiveness of behaviors, instability in commitments, coldness and lack of empathy, reduced emotional intuition, inability or excessive fear of establishing bonds. Ordinarily, attitudes emerge that signal the need for purification and liberation: emotional dependence, a sense of inferiority, lack of courage and strength in the face of risks, inclination to self-centered sexual gratification, aggressive attitudes, exhibitionism and the need to be the center of attention. Instead, they are precious resources to cultivate and exercise in the concreteness of life: the empathy towards the people they meet, a balanced perception of the sense of guilt, the contact with one’s own intimacy, the willingness to help and collaborate, the ability to distinguish the own needs and responsibilities from those of others, to support even in the solitude of their choices, to resist and struggle in the face of difficulties and failures, to carry out responsibly the tasks assumed.
18. Youth is thus configured not only as a transition phase between the first steps towards autonomy moved in adolescence and the responsibility of adulthood, but as the moment of a qualitative leap from the point of view of personal involvement in relationships and commitments and the capacity for interiority and solitude. Of course, it is a time of experimentation, of ups and downs, of alternation between hope and fear and of the necessary tension between positive and negative aspects, through which one learns to articulate and integrate affective, sexual, intellectual, spiritual, bodily, relational dimensions , social. This path, which winds through small daily choices and decisions of greater importance, allows each person to discover their singularity and the originality of their vocation.
19. Educational and training institutions are not only the place where young people spend most of their time, but above all an existential space that society makes available for their intellectual and human growth and their vocational orientation. However, problems are not lacking, linked mainly to school and university systems that are limited to inform without forming, which do not help the maturation of a critical spirit and the deepening of the vocational sense of study. In many countries there are clear disparities in access to the school system, gaps in educational opportunities between rural and urban areas and alarming abandonment rates: together they pose a threat to the future of young people and society.
20. In many countries where the educational system is lacking, the Church and its educational institutions play a fundamental role of substitute, while elsewhere they struggle to keep up with national quality standards . A particularly delicate area is vocational training, which sees Catholic schools play a very important role in many countries: they are not limited to transmitting technical skills, but help pupils to discover how to put their skills to work, regardless of what and how many. Distance learning or informal initiatives are of great importance, especially in the context of greater poverty and deprivation, which offer opportunities to remedy the gaps in access to education.
21. There is not only school: as the RP states, “the identity of young people is also formed by external interactions and belonging to specific groups, associations and movements, also active outside the Church. Sometimes parishes are no longer meeting places “(RP 1). There is also a great desire to find positive models: «We also acknowledge the role of educators and friends, such as those responsible for youth groups, which can become good examples. We need attractive, consistent and authentic models “(RP 1).
22. The transition to working and professional life remains of great importance, and the distance that in some places is recorded between school and university itinerary and demands of the world of work makes it even more delicate. Young people who responded to the QoL state that having a stable job is essential (82.7%), because it involves economic and relational stability, and the possibility of personal fulfillment (89.7%). Work is the necessary means, even if not sufficient, to carry out one’s life project, like having a family (80.4%) and children.
23. The concerns are greater where youth unemployment is particularly high. In the poorer contexts, work also acquires a meaning of social redemption, while its lack is one of the main causes of emigration abroad. In Asia in particular young people grow up by measuring themselves with a culture of success and social prestige and with an ethic of work that permeates parents’ expectations and structures the school system, generating a climate of great competition, a highly selective orientation and loads of very intense and stressful work. The young people – says the RP – remain convinced of the need to “affirm the intrinsic dignity of work” (RP 3), but also signal the effort to cultivate hope and dreams in extremely hard socio-economic conditions, which generate fear (see RP 3).
24. Varieties and differences also concern the religious context in which young people grow: there are countries in which Catholics represent the majority, while in others they are only a small minority, sometimes socially accepted, others discriminated and persecuted until martyrdom. There are contexts in which Christianity must confront itself with the consequences of past choices, even political ones, which undermine its credibility, others in which Catholics face the cultural and spiritual richness of other religious traditions or traditional cultures; there are secularized contexts, which consider faith as something purely private, and others in which the influence of religious sects or other spiritual proposals (new age, etc.) grows out of all proportion. There are regions in which Christianity and religion are considered a legacy of the past, others in which they still represent the structuring axis of social life. In some countries the Catholic community is not homogeneous, but includes minorities in ethnic-cultural (indigenous communities) and even religious (plurality of rituals); in others it is called to make room for the faithful coming from migration paths.
25. As sociological research shows, the context is also varied with respect to the relationship with faith and confessional belonging. As highlighted in the SI, “a part of the disinterestedness and apathy of young people in terms of faith (and minor appealingof the Churches) is attributable to the difficulty of the great religious institutions in tune with the modern conscience; and this in social contexts which also present to the people new and lacerating questions of meaning, in the face of the many uncertainties that weigh on individual and collective life. Moreover, in a very differentiated youth world, there are signs of religious and spiritual vitality, which can be found both in the great Churches and outside them ». And again: “This widespread coexistence of believers, non-believers and” different believers “, rather than generating tensions and conflicts, seems to favor – under certain conditions – situations of mutual recognition. This is particularly true when one is faced with an atheism or an agnosticism with a more human, non-arrogant, or presumptuous face;
26. As the RP has put plastic in evidence, the younger generations are bearers of an approach to reality with specific traits, which represents a resource and source of originality; however it can also generate confusion or perplexity in adults. However, it is necessary to avoid hasty judgments. This approach is based on the priority of concreteness and operability with respect to theoretical analysis. This is not a blind activism and a disdain for the intellectual dimension: in the way of proceeding that is spontaneous to the young, things are understood by making them and the problems are resolved when they arise. Equally evident is the fact that for young people the pluralism, even radical, of differences, is a fact. This is not equivalent to a relativistic renunciation of the affirmation of identities,
27. Faced with the contradictions of society, many ECs note a sensitivity and commitment of young people, even in voluntary forms, a sign of a willingness to assume responsibility and a desire to exploit the talents, skills and creativity available to them. Social and environmental sustainability, discrimination and racism are among the issues most important to them. The involvement of young people often follows new approaches, also exploiting the potential of digital communication in terms of mobilization and political pressure: the diffusion of lifestyles and consumption patterns and investment critical, supportive and environmentally conscious; new forms of commitment and participation in society and in politics; new ways of welfareto guarantee the weakest subjects. As some very recent examples in all the Continents also show, young people are able to mobilize themselves, especially for causes in which they feel directly involved and when they can exercise genuine leadership and not simply go to the tow of other groups.
28. Young people emphasize that respect for the promotion of justice the image of the Church is “dichotomous”: on the one hand wants to be present in the folds of history alongside the last, on the other has much to do to undermine situations, even serious and spread, of corruption, which make her run the risk of conforming to the world instead of being the bearer of an alternative inspired by the Gospel.
29. As the RP has pointed out, variety is the number that best expresses also the relationship of young people towards faith and religious practice. In general they declare themselves open to spirituality, even if the sacred is often separated from everyday life. Many consider religion a private matter and consider themselves spiritual but not religious (in the sense of belonging to a religious confession) (see RP 7). Religion is no longer seen as the privileged way of access to the meaning of life, and is flanked and sometimes superseded by ideologies and other currents of thought, or by personal or professional success (see RP 5).
30. The same variety is found in the relationship of the young with the figure of Jesus. Many recognize him as Savior and Son of God and often feel close to him through Mary, his mother. Others do not have a personal relationship with him, but they regard him as a good man and an ethical reference. For others it is a figure of the past lacking in existential relevance, or very distant from human experience (just as the Church is perceived as distant). The false images of Jesus deprive him of fascination in the eyes of the young, just as a conception that considers Christian perfection as beyond human capacities leads us to consider Christianity as a standardunattainable (see RP 6). In different contexts young Catholics ask for proposals for prayer and sacramental moments capable of intercepting their daily lives, but it must be recognized that pastors are not always able to tune into the generational specificities of these expectations.
31. A certain number of young people, variable according to the different contexts, feel a living part of the Church and manifest it with conviction, through an active commitment within it. There are young people who “experience a close Church, as in the case of Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as in various global movements. Even some young people who do not live the Gospel feel a bond with the Church “(RP 7). Various ECs note that young people are and should be considered an integral part of the Church and that commitment to them is a fundamental dimension of pastoral care. It is not uncommon to see youth groups, and also members of movements and associations, little inserted in the life of the communities: overcoming this dynamic of separation is for some CE a synodal goal.
32. Although many young people denounce the risk of being relegated to a corner, there are numerous ecclesial activities that see them actively engaged and even protagonists. The various forms of voluntary work stand out, the qualifying trait of the younger generations. The animation of catechesis and liturgy, as well as the care of the little ones, are other areas of action, which find particular fruitfulness in the oratory and in other similar pastoral structures. Even movements, associations and religious congregations offer young people opportunities for commitment and co-responsibility. In many contexts popular piety remains an important access to faith for the younger generations, who find important channels of expression in the body, in affectivity, in music and in singing. Together with other national, international and continental meetings,
33. Young people have the desire and ability to work in teams , which is a strength in many situations. Sometimes this availability clashes with excessive authoritarianism of adults and ministers: “Often young people struggle to find a space in the Church where they can actively participate and assume leadership roles . Their experience leads them to believe that the Church considers them too young and inexperienced to take on leadership roles or make decisions, as they would only make mistakes “(RP 7). It is equally clear that where young people are and are valued, the style of the Church and its dynamism acquire a strong vitality capable of attracting attention.
34. It is evident that the presence of digital and social media in the youth world is pervasive. This is clearly stated by young people in the RP: “The impact of social media on the lives of young people can not be underestimated. They are a significant part of their identity and their way of life. Digital environments have unprecedented potential in history to unite geographically distant people. The exchange of information, ideals, values and common interests is today more possible than yesterday. Access to online training tools has opened educational opportunities for young people living in remote areas and has made access to knowledge just a click away “(RP 4).
35. The network also represents a territory of solitude, manipulation, exploitation and violence, up to the extreme case of the “dark web”. Young people are aware of the presence of risks: “The ambiguity of technology becomes evident when it favors the development of certain vices. This danger manifests itself in forms of isolation, laziness, desolation and boredom. It is clear that young people all over the world are consuming multimedia products obsessively. Although we live in a hyper-connected world, communication among young people remains limited to similar people […]. The advent of social media has raised new challenges on the power that companies in the sector have on the lives of young people “(RP 4). The maturing of the capacity for a peaceful confrontation and dialogue with diversity is hampered and this is a real educational challenge for young people. The CEs also converge on this duplicity, while accentuating critical assessments. Even because of ignorance and poor training, pastors and adults in general are struggling to understand this new language and tend to fear, feeling in front of an “invisible and omnipresent enemy” that sometimes demonize.
36. As many ECs note, music is a fundamental language for young people: it constitutes the soundtrack of their life, in which they are constantly immersed, and contributes to the path of identity formation in a way that, even in the almost generalized awareness of its importance, the Church rarely deepens. Music makes you feel emotions, also physically involving, it opens spaces of interiority and helps to make them communicable. At the same time it transmits messages, conveying lifestyles and consonant values or alternatives to those proposed by other educational agencies. In some youth cultures the world of music can be a sort of refuge inaccessible to adults. Given its power, the music world is easily influenced and manipulated even by commercial interests if not speculative.
37. Music and its sharing activate socialization processes. The concerts bring together thousands of young people: not without ambiguity, there is the need to be together, making the individual differences overshadow. Great musical events can be experienced as a totalizing experience: visual and acoustic spectacle, dance, movement, closeness and physical contact that allows one to come out of oneself and feel in harmony with other strangers; at the same time they can also be an occasion for passive listening, in which the effect of music, sometimes amplified by the use of drugs, has a depersonalizing role. Even musical practice has a personal and social value.
38.Even less pervasive than music, the use of many other forms of artistic expression plays a fundamental role in the formation of the personal and social identity of young people: painting, sculpture, cinema, visual arts, dance, theater, photography, comics, graphics, web art, writing, poetry, literature, etc. When they are actively practiced, they allow them to exercise their personal creativity and participate in cultural development, in particular through experimental initiatives that increasingly involve the use of new technologies. Of great interest are those forms of artistic expression related to popular and local traditions, with particular regard to those of ethnic minorities,
39. Sport is another great area of growth and confrontation for young people, in which the Church is investing in many parts of the world. Pope Francis inserts it in the field of informal education, on which he invites us to aim for the intellectualist impoverishment of the formal one (see Discourse to the Participants in the World Congress promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education, 21 November 2015). Experts believe that ours are now “sports clubs”, and this is particularly true for the youth world. However, the values and models that, beyond the rhetoric, our society transmits through sports practice, very often focused on success at any cost, even with the fraud, relegating to oblivion the fatigue and commitment of who comes out defeated.
40. Like big concerts, even mass sporting events are experiences of building a collective identity, with markedly ritual characters. Even the world of sport is not exempt from forms of commercial and speculative manipulation, from practices contrary to the dignity of the person as well as to the values of fair play (such as doping, also widespread at youth and amateur level, or corruption) and contiguity with forms of violence on which even discontent and extra-social social tensions weigh. It is also a powerful instrument for the integration of those who suffer forms of exclusion and marginality, as many experiences experience, for example that of the Paralympic movement.
41. The culture of waste is one of the features of the contemporary mentality that Pope Francis never ceases to denounce. The ECs report very frequently that young people are among its victims, in various fields and in different ways. At the same time, we must not forget that young people can also be imbued with this culture and implement behaviors that produce the “waste” of other people or the degradation of the environment as a result of irresponsible consumption choices. Finally, we must recognize that sometimes even some ecclesial leaders are conniving with this way of thinking and acting, contributing to generate indifference and exclusion.
42. The Church, also through this Synod, is called upon to give specific attention to the young victims of injustice and exploitation, through a fundamental work of recognition: the opening of spaces in which they can express themselves and above all find listening is a reaffirmation of their personal dignity against any pretension of negation, and returns a name and a face to those who are too often denied by history. This will favor the expression of the potential that even the “discarded” youths are bearers of: they are capable of being subjects of their own development and their point of view represents an irreplaceable contribution to the construction of the common good, in a dynamic of continuous growth of hope ,Sal 118.22; Lk 20.17; At 4.11; 1 Pt 2,4).
43. As the ECs point out, there are many countries where youth unemployment reaches levels that are not exaggerated to define dramatic. The most serious consequence is not economic, because often families, welfare systems or charitable institutions can somehow compensate for the material needs of the unemployed. The real problem is that “the young man who is without work has an anesthetized utopia, or is about to lose it” (Francis, Discourse to the members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, 28 February 2014). The young people of the Pre-Synodal Meeting expressed themselves with extraordinary consonance: «Sometimes, we end up renouncing our dreams. We are too afraid, and some of us have stopped dreaming. This is linked to the multiple socio-economic pressures that can dry up hope among young people. Sometimes we do not even have the opportunity to continue dreaming “(RP 3).
44. A similar effect is given by all those situations in which people, young people included, are forced by necessity to accept a job that does not respect their dignity: it is the case of black and informal work – often synonymous with exploitation – of trafficking in people. and the many forms of forced labor and slavery affecting millions of people around the world. Like many in the world, the young people of the RP have expressed concern about technological progress that threatens to prove to be the enemy of work and workers: «The advent of artificial intelligence and new technologies such as robotics and automation the employment prospects of entire categories of workers are at risk. 4).
45. Among the migrants, a high percentage is made up of young people. The reasons that lead to emigration are varied, as the RP emphasized: “Young people dream of a better life, but many are forced to emigrate to find better economic and environmental conditions. They aspire to peace, and are particularly attracted to the “myth of the West”, as represented by the media “(RP 3); but they also “fear because many of our countries experience situations of social, political and economic instability” (RP 1), and “a shared dream that crosses continents and oceans is to find a place that the young person can feel to belong to” (RP 3).
46. Situations of particular delicacy are represented by minors unaccompanied by an adult family member and by those arriving in a foreign country of advanced school age (see Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2017. Migrants minors, vulnerable and without a voice , September 8th 2016). Many risk ending up trafficking in human beings and some literally disappear into thin air. To these must be added the young people of the second generations, who experience difficulties in terms of identity and mediation between the cultures to which they belong, particularly when there is a great social and cultural divide between the country of departure and that of arrival.
47. As many ECs point out, the migration of young people represents an impoverishment of human, enterprising and courageous capital in the countries of origin and a threat to their sustainable development. For the societies – and the churches – that receive them, it is instead a huge potential for transformation, whose expression requires to be accompanied by adequate and forward-looking programs. In this regard, however, the young people of the RP express a caution from which to question us: “There is still no binding consent on the reception of migrants and refugees, or on the causes of migratory phenomena, despite the recognition of the universal imperative to take care for the dignity of every human person “(RP 2). Together with those who emigrate, we must not forget the many young people who continue to live in conditions of war or political instability. The young people of the RP, however, held to say that “despite the many conflicts and the periodic explosions of violence, young people continue to hope” (RP 3).
48. International research shows that many young people face inequality and discrimination because of their gender, social class, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, geographical position, disability or ethnicity. This is a topic to which young people are very sensitive and on which the RP has expressed itself with great clarity: “Racism, at different levels, affects young people in various parts of the world” (RP 2). The same phenomenon is reported by numerous EC. Specific attention is paid by the RP to the forms of discrimination affecting young women, also in the ecclesial context: “A widespread problem in society is that women are not yet recognized equal opportunities. This also applies in the Church “(RP 5). Young people then ask themselves “where women can be realized within the Church and society?” (RP 5), in the awareness that “the Church can face these problems with a frank debate and a mind open to different ideas and experiences” (RP 5). Finally, young people report the persistence of religious discrimination, especially against Christians. This is true both in those contexts in which they represent a minority, exposed to violence and the pressure of the majority that claims their conversion, and in situations of high secularization (see RP 2). particularly towards Christians. This is true both in those contexts in which they represent a minority, exposed to violence and the pressure of the majority that claims their conversion, and in situations of high secularization (see RP 2). particularly towards Christians. This is true both in those contexts in which they represent a minority, exposed to violence and the pressure of the majority that claims their conversion, and in situations of high secularization (see RP 2).
49. Many ECs and the RP make no secret that many young people have to deal with the consequences of traumatic events of different kinds, or with various forms of illness, suffering and disability. They also count on the acceptance and support of the Church, whose families need them the same. Particularly in countries with a high standard of living, forms of psychological distress, depression, mental illness and eating disorders, linked to experiences of profound unhappiness or the inability to find a place within the society. There are countries where suicide is the leading cause of death in the 15-44 age group.
50. There are many ECs, from different regions, which signal with great alarm the spread among young people, and even very young people, of abuses and addictions of various kinds (traditional and synthetic drugs, alcohol, drug addiction and Internet addiction, pornography, etc. .), as well as deviant behavior of various kinds (bullying, violence, sexual abuse). For Pope Francis it is clear that in many cases these forms of dependence are not a consequence of the yielding to vice, but an effect of the dynamics of exclusion: “There is a worldwide drug armament that is destroying this generation of young people destined for waste! “( Address to the members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, 28 February 2014). In all this comes to light not only the fragility of those who commit these acts, but also that of victims, families and society as a whole. Abuses and addictions, as well as reactions of violence or deviance in the face of the contradictions of society, are among the reasons that lead young people, even minors, to prison. Given the difficulties of the criminal system to provide opportunities for social recovery, there is a high risk that the detention of young people with low social risk will put them in a criminal circuit from which they are struggling to leave, as shown by the high rates of recidivism. It is also known that detention disproportionately affects members of some ethnic and social groups, as a result of prejudice and discrimination.
51. The societies and cultures of our time, even if in different forms, are marked by some junctions. Their continuous recurrence makes us recognize them as signs of the change of age that we are living on an anthropological and cultural level. Young people, sentinels and seismographs of every age, warn them more than others as a source of new opportunities and unprecedented threats. Some analysts speak of a “metamorphosis” of the human condition, which poses enormous challenges for everyone, especially young people, in the path of building a solid identity.
52. A first junction concerns corporeity in its many facets. Always the body, the frontier and intersection between nature and culture, signals and preserves the sense of the creatural limit and is a gift to be welcomed with joy and gratitude. Developments in research and biomedical technologies generate a different conception of the body. The perspectives of integration increasingly pushed between body and machine, between neuronal and electronic circuits, which are in the cyborgtheir icon, promote a technocratic approach to the body, also from the point of view of the control of biological dynamisms. In this regard, it should be noted that egg donors and surrogate mothers are preferably young. Beyond the exquisitely ethical evaluations, these innovations can not but impact on the concept of the body and its unavailability. Some point to a struggle of the younger generation to reconcile with the dimension of their own creatures. In some contexts it should also be noted the spread of the fascination for extreme experiences, up to the risk of life, as an opportunity for social recognition or experimentation of strong emotions. Moreover, precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, digital pornography, the performance of one’s body online and sexual tourism risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life.
53. In the ecclesial context we feel the importance of the body, of affectivity and of sexuality, but many times we can not make it the pivot of the educational and faith journey, rediscovering and appreciating the meaning of sexual difference and the vocational dynamics typical of the masculine and of the feminine. Sociological studies show that many young Catholics do not follow the indications of the Church’s sexual morality. No CE offers solutions or recipes, but many are of the opinion that “the question of sexuality must be discussed more openly and without prejudice”. The RP emphasizes that the Church’s teachings on controversial issues, such as “contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation, marriage” (RP 5) are a source of debate among young people, both within the Church and in society. There are young Catholics who find in the teachings of the Church a source of joy and who wish that it “not only continues to abide by them despite their unpopularity, but who proclaim them by teaching them with greater depth” (RP 5). Those who do not share them, however, express the desire to continue to be part of the Church and demand greater clarity in this regard. As a consequence, the RP asks the ecclesial leaders to “face in a concrete way controversial topics such as homosexuality and the issues of however, they express the desire to continue to be part of the Church and demand greater clarity in this regard. As a consequence, the RP asks the ecclesial leaders to “face in a concrete way controversial topics such as homosexuality and the issues of however, they express the desire to continue to be part of the Church and demand greater clarity in this regard. As a consequence, the RP asks the ecclesial leaders to “face in a concrete way controversial topics such as homosexuality and the issues ofgender , on which young people already discuss freely and without taboos “(RP 11).
54. With varying degrees of intensity, many countries in the world are grappling with the phenomenon of fake news , namely the uncontrollable spread of false news through the media (digital and otherwise) and the growing difficulty in distinguishing them from the real ones. In the public debate, the truth and the strength of the argument seem to have lost the capacity for persuasion. This is why the term “post-truth” was coined. As an EC also points out, “in social networks and digital media there is no hierarchy of truth”.
55. Young people are particularly exposed to this climate, given their communicative habits, and need to be accompanied so as not to be disoriented. In the world of post-truth, the phrase “Christ is the Truth that makes the Church different from any other secular group in which we could identify ourselves” (RP 11), which RP uses, inevitably ends up having a different significance compared to other periods. It is not a question of renouncing the most precious specific of Christianity in order to conform to the spirit of the world, nor is it what young people ask for, but we need to find ways to convey the Christian message in changed cultural circumstances. In line with the biblical tradition, it is good to recognize that truth has a relational basis: human beings discovers the truth in the moment in which they experience it from God, the only truly reliable and trustworthy. This truth must be witnessed and practiced and not only argued and demonstrated, something which the young people of the RP are also aware of: “The stories of the people who are part of the Church are effective ways of evangelization,
56. It is now necessary to be aware that some mechanisms of digital media functioning and the need to select which of the endless information offers to access mean that more and more people come into contact only with those who think the same way. Groups, institutions and ecclesial associations also run the risk of becoming closed circuits (see GE 115).
57. From an anthropological point of view, the irruption of digital technologies is beginning to have very profound impacts on the notion of time and space, on the perception of oneself, of others and of the world, on the way of communicating, learning, informing oneself . An approach to reality that privileges the image with respect to listening and reading is changing the way of learning and the development of the critical sense. In perspective, he will also be able to question the ways of transmitting a faith based on listening to the Word of God and reading the Holy Scriptures. From the responses of the EC, it is clear that not many seem fully aware of the metamorphosis underway.
58. A superficial use of digital media exposes to the risk of isolation, even extreme – it is the phenomenon known by the Japanese term hikikomoriand which affects a growing number of young people in many countries, particularly in Asia – and of refuge in an illusory and inconsistent happiness that generates forms of dependency. The young people of the RP are aware of this: «Often young people tend to separate their online behavior from those off-line. It is necessary to provide training for young people on how to live their digital life. Online relationships can become inhumane. Digital spaces make us blind to the fragility of the other and prevent us from introspection. Problems such as pornography distort the perception of human sexuality on the part of young people. The technology used in this way creates a deceptive parallel reality that ignores human dignity. Other risks include: loss of identity linked to an incorrect representation of the person, virtual construction of the personality and loss of social roots. In addition, long-term risks include: loss of memory, culture and creativity in the face of the immediacy of access to information and loss of concentration linked to fragmentation. Then there is a culture and a dictatorship of appearance “(RP 4).
59. Another trait that runs through many contemporary societies is the weakness of the institutions and the diminishing of trust in them, including the Church. The responses to the QoL show that only a minority of young people (16.7%) think they have the possibility to affect the public life of their country: not that they do not want to, but they find themselves with reduced possibilities and spaces. The lack of leadershiptrustworthy, at different levels and in a civil and ecclesial context, it is very denounced by young people. A particularly evident fragility is generated by the spread of corruption. Institutions should have the common good at heart and, when some manage to bend them to their own particular interests, they suffer a dramatic erosion of credibility. This is why corruption is a scourge that affects many companies in the foundations. The challenge of social justice necessarily passes through the construction of just institutions, which place themselves at the service of human dignity in an integral sense.
60. Disenchantment with the institutions can, however, be healthy if it opens up to participation and the assumption of responsibility without remaining prisoners of skepticism. Many ECs point out that, in a context of insecurity and fear of the future, young people are no longer linked to institutions as such, but to the people who, within them, communicate values with the witness of their lives. At a personal and institutional level, consistency and authenticity are fundamental factors of credibility.
61. Various elements mentioned above concur to explain why, in some parts of the world, we live by now immersed in a “culture of indecision”, which considers a choice for life impossible or even senseless. In a world where opportunities and proposals increase exponentially it becomes spontaneous to react with always reversible choices, even if this involves a continuous mortification of desire. The process of vocational discernment, along the axis marked by the stages of “recognizing, interpreting, choosing” often arises at the moment of choice and its implementation. Sometimes it would require external security, which does not require the effort to walk in faith, surrendering to the Word; at other times the fear of abandoning one’s convictions prevails to open oneself to the surprises of God.
62. Even the insecurity of working conditions and social precariousness block any medium-long term planning. Some ECs, especially in the Western world, state that it is very difficult for young people to realize a marital project without risking economic self-sufficiency. Moreover, as the responses to the QoL testify, many young people wonder how a definitive choice is possible in a world where nothing seems to be stable, not even the distinction between true and false. One of the urgent challenges that characterize our time is therefore that of the decision of life as a responsible assumption of one’s own existence.
63. By denying the forecasts made over the last two centuries, secularization does not seem to affirm itself as the ineluctable destiny of humanity. With different accents, scientific literature currently uses expressions such as “return of the sacred” or similar. This phenomenon coexists with the decline of priestly and religious vocations and the emptying of churches that is taking place in some parts of the world: we are not therefore faced with a return to the past, but the emergence of a new paradigm of religiosity, described as little institutionalized and increasingly “liquid”, marked by a radical variety of individual paths even among those who declare themselves belonging to the same confession. Thus, in the SI it was affirmed that “in a very differentiated youth world within itself, there are signs of religious and spiritual vitality “. The dissatisfaction with a purely immanent world view, conveyed by consumerism and scientist reductionism, opens the field in search of the meaning of one’s own existence through spiritual itineraries of various kinds. An EC states: “Many young people claim to be in search of the meaning of life, to follow ideals, to seek spirituality and their own personal faith, but only rarely turn to the Church”. Of this change of attitude towards religion it is necessary to focus on the profile, so as to be able to interpret the causes and possible landings, identifying which opportunities it offers for the proclamation of the Gospel and what risks or ambiguities it can present.foreign fighters and radicalization at various levels are just examples. In a totally different sense it is also significant to note some of the CE of Central and Eastern Europe with respect to the progressive shift of religious and spiritual practices from the ambit of the precept to that of leisure options: in this emerges the aspect of personal choice, but it is clear that such practices are placed in clear competition with many other alternatives.
64. The attention and care for young people expressed in the DP has been reiterated by the EC. Their answers to the question: “What do young people actually ask the Church of your country?” Were wide and articulate. In the QoL many young people expressed themselves with great freedom, trying to communicate their thoughts without filters. In the same direction the experience of the RP has been interpreted by young people. There have been many ways in which the EC have listened to young people. However, it is noted that in general, attention is given to young people who belong to the ecclesial realities and are active there, with the risk of considering them representative of the whole youth world. The QoL, as was foreseeable, saw a majority participation of young people already included in ecclesial circuits. It has been reiterated by many that the best way to listen to young people is to be there where they are, sharing their daily existence. The participants of the RP affirmed enthusiastically: “Our hope is that the Church and the other institutions can learn from the process of thisPre-synodal meeting to listen to the voice of the young “(RP, Introduction). Many of those who intervened in the QoL also expressed gratitude and appreciation for this opportunity.
65. As one young man summarizes, “in the contemporary world the time devoted to listening is never lost time” (QoL) and in the works of the Pre-Synodal Meeting it emerged that listening is the first form of true and audacious language that young people ask for. with a loud voice to the Church. However, the Church’s effort to listen to all young people, without exception, must also be recorded. Many warn that their voice is not considered interesting and useful from the adult world, both in the social and in the ecclesial. An EC states that young people perceive that “the Church does not actively listen to the situations experienced by young people” and that “their opinions are not considered seriously”. It is clear, however, that young people, according to another EC, “ask the Church to approach them with the desire to listen to them and welcome them, offering dialogue and hospitality”. The young people themselves say that “in some parts of the world, young people are leaving the Church in large numbers. Understanding the reasons for this phenomenon is crucial in order to move forward “(RP 7). Certainly among these we find the indifference and the lack of listening, besides the fact that “many times the Church appears to be too strict and is often associated with excessive moralism” (RP 1).
66. A substantial number of young people, coming mainly from very secularized areas, do not ask the Church for anything because they do not consider it a significant interlocutor for their existence. Some, on the contrary, expressly ask to be left alone, since they feel its presence as annoying and even irritating. This request is not born of an uncritical and impulsive contempt, but it also has its roots in serious and respectable reasons: the sexual and economic scandals, on which young people ask the Church to “strengthen its policy of zero tolerance against sexual abuse ‘internal of their institutions’ (RP 11); the unpreparedness of the ordained ministers who can not adequately intercept the life and sensibility of the young; the passive role assigned to young people within the Christian community;
67. Even when they are very critical, in the end, young people ask that the Church be an institution that shines for exemplariness, competence, co-responsibility and cultural solidity. An EC states that “young people want to see a Church that shares their life situation in the light of the Gospel rather than making sermons”! In a synthetic way, young people expressed themselves: “Today’s young people desire an authentic Church. With this we want to express, especially to the ecclesiastical hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community “(RP 11).
68. Many young people consider a renewed ecclesial approach to be decisive, above all from a relational point of view: countless CEs affirm that young people desire a “less institutional and more relational” Church, capable of “welcoming without judging previously”, a Church “friendly and close », An ecclesial community that is« a family where one feels welcomed, listened to, guarded and integrated ». Also according to the Pre-Synodal Meeting “we need a welcoming and merciful Church, which appreciates its roots and its treasures and loves everyone, even those who do not follow those that are perceived as standard” ( RP 1).
69. Young people who are more involved in the life of the Church have expressed various specific requests. The theme of the liturgy often comes back, which they would like to live and close, while often it does not allow an experience of “any sense of community or family as the Body of Christ” (RP 7), and of the homilies, which many consider inadequate. to accompany them in discerning their situation in the light of the Gospel. “Young people are attracted to joy, which should be a hallmark of our faith” (RP 7), but that often Christian communities do not seem able to transmit.
70. Another request concerns the adoption of a style of internal dialogue and external to the Church: young people consider it necessary to face certain nodes of our time, such as the recognition and enhancement of the role of women in the Church and in society. Some young people encourage the Church to deepen a cultural elaboration of the faith that allows a fruitful dialogue with other knowledge and other religious traditions: “In a globalized and inter-religious world, the Church needs not only a model but also a deepening of theological references in view of a peaceful and constructive dialogue with people of other faiths and traditions “(RP 2).
71. In various parts of the world, then, afflicted by many poverty, young people ask for material help or an accompaniment in healing from the forms of suffering that afflict them. On the other hand, where the Church is considered as an institution actively committed to civil and social promotion, they ask that this prophetic presence of hers continue with courage and fortitude, despite the climate of violence, oppression and persecution that surrounds the life of many communities. Christian. Many young people ask the Church for operational concreteness, which touches on various points: to really be in favor of the poor, to have the ecological question at heart, to make visible choices of sobriety and transparency, to be authentic and clear, and even bold in denouncing evil with radicality. not only in civil society and in the world, but in the Church itself.
72. Many seminarians, young religious men and women religious have expressed themselves in various ways on the theme of the Synod, which is a source of great joy for them. Their indications and provocations guide us in three precise directions.
The first concerns the theme of fraternity: coming from contexts heavily marked by competition and individualism, they ask for an authentically fraternal life, which makes shared links and affections its fulcrum. They want a Church that is “prophecy of fraternity”, a house that can become their family.
Then there is the request for spirituality, of a Church in whose center there is prayer and intimacy with God. In some parts of the world there is a spontaneous openness to transcendence; in others, dominated by an “exclusive humanism”, the request to the Church is to be mystical, capable of opening glimpses of transcendence in the lives of men and women. This is why some see the liturgy as an opportunity for prophecy.
Finally, there is a strong demand for radicalism, even if not always supported by personal coherence: beyond some contexts where the choice for consecrated life and the ordained ministry refer to the search for economic and social security, generally by young people facing these forms of life there is a conscious choice of evangelical radicalism, which requires specific and gradual accompaniment towards the generous gift of self for God and neighbor.
73. In this Part II we are called to deepen some elements and dynamics that allow us to adequately interpret the situations set out in Part I. The appeal of Christ to live according to his intentions is our horizon of reference and at the same time remains a source of healthy restlessness and beneficial crisis: “A faith that does not put us in crisis is a faith in crisis; a faith that does not make us grow is a faith that must grow; a faith that does not question us is a faith on which we must ask ourselves; a faith that does not animate us is a faith that must be animated; a faith that does not upset us is a faith that must be upset “(Francis, Audience to the Roman Curia on the occasion of the presentation of the Christmas wishes , December 21, 2017)
74. To understand the truth of youth, which is not just a condition of today, but a specific age of life that is part of the human condition as such, it is opportune to offer an anthropological and biblical view, because the word of God offers us elements to understand and interpret this decisive moment of existence. If then the Church is truly “the true youth of the world”, shedding light on the characteristic and universal features of youth means having precious elements to help her “rejuvenate her face” (Second Vatican Council, Message to young people ), because the Synod « it will also be an appeal to the Church, because it rediscovers a renewed youthful dynamism “(Francis, Discourse to the pre-Synodal Meeting , 2).
75. Youth is an age of original and exciting life, through which Christ himself has passed, sanctifying it with his presence. Irenaeus of Lyon helps us to shed light on this reality, when he affirms that “Jesus neither rejected nor exceeded human nature, nor abolished the law of mankind in himself, but sanctified every age by the likeness which each one had with him. He came to save everyone by himself; I mean all those who are reborn in God: infants, children, boys, young people and adults. And for this he has passed through every age: he became a child for the infants, to sanctify the infants; a child among children, to sanctify those who had this same age, becoming at the same time an example of piety, justice and submission;Against heresies , II, 22.4). Jesus therefore, “young among the young”, wants to meet them by walking with them, just as he did with the disciples of Emmaus (see Lk 24 : 13-35). He still wants to offer himself today so that each of them may have life in abundance (see John10.10).
76. Responding to the QoL, a young man assures that “believing in God is a source of love and joy, not of sadness!” A recurring motif in the age of youth is that of joy: “You may enjoy your youth in your youth, and may your heart rejoice in the days of your youth” ( Qo 11: 9 , see Sap 2: 6 ). The imperative of joy inhabits youth with a certain naturalness, pivoting around the physical beauty that becomes attention and attraction for the other. The body in its full brightness and fullness becomes the space of love, perceived as the same mystery of the human being, destined for eternity precisely because it is interwoven with love. For this love that “all hopes” (1 Cor13,7), every young person is called to become an announcer of resurrection (see Mk 16: 6 ). The whole Song of Songs celebrates the love between two young people who seek and desire themselves as the real symbol of the concrete love between God and his people, showing how the vocation to joy through love is universal and irrepressible. Many note the need for the Church to reinvigorate her call to be a collaborator of the joy of young people in a gratuitous and disinterested way (see 2 Cor 1:24).
77. “The strength of the young is their strength” ( Pr 20,29). A naturally proactive attitude towards existence characterizes youth: a moment of maximum expansion of one’s physical energy, it brings with it a unique strength in facing the challenges of life and in making new paths. In the biblical figure of Joshua, servant of Moses since adolescence, these characteristics emerge, precisely when he is called to lead the people to the conquest of the Promised Land. The invitation to “be strong and courageous” is repeated many times, both by Moses ( Dt 31,7.23) and by God ( Gs1,6.7.9). This same word the Church wishes to address to every young person who faces the challenges and risks of life, following the indication of the Apostle John: “I am writing to you, young people, because you are strong and the Word of God remains in you and you have overcome the evil one “(1 Jn 2:14). In Part I the analysis of the situation has shown us how easy it is for young people today to lose the features of fortitude and courage, typical of this age of life, letting themselves be overcome by fear and discouragement. The Church itself risks losing the enthusiasm that comes from its call to the risk of faith, locking itself up in false worldly security. We need to recover these dynamisms.
78. In the face of life, especially in our time, young people experience contingency and existential fragmentation. The lack of security creates uncertainty, the multiplicity of options available generates confusion and the presence of hatred and violence fills the new generations with fear, lowering their esteem in their own resources. How can a young man be a prophet of hope in a world where corruption and injustice reign? It is the situation in which the prophet Jeremiah finds himself, who in the face of the call to be a prophet of the nations puts before his Lord his young age: “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I can not speak, for I am young “( Jer 1: 6). He feels the need for a neighboring God who through His grace brings reliable hope in his fragile existence.
Youth, on the other hand, is the bearer of inexperience and therefore of a just fear and of a structural uncertainty in the face of the great tasks that life reserves. Every young person asks for company, support, closeness, proximity. Jeremiah is pacified only when God himself speaks to him: “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to protect you” ( Jer 1: 8). For this reason many young people ask for a Church that is a mother and that one never forgets them (see Is 49: 15-16).
79. The development of the capacity to love remains the beauty and risk of youth, because love, when it is sought and lived in a disordered way, can become an unregulated passion and a destructive drive, leading to sadness. Evil and sin also live the lives of young people and their request for acceptance and forgiveness is a cry that we must perceive. One of the most famous parables of the Gospel, which tells the story of two sons and brothers, is that of the “merciful father”, which could also be called the “parable of the father who comes out twice” ( Lk.15: 11-32): a first time to welcome the younger son after the time of carefree and unruliness, and a second to pray to the eldest son, whose heart has stiffened and turned off, to return to celebrate and share the joy of the return of the brother. The Father of this parable is the true figure of “adult” that so many young people seek in their lives and that unfortunately they do not find. This parable has to do with a courageous father, who allows his children to experience the risk of freedom, without imposing the yokes that will mortify their choices. Together, he is a father whose heart is so big that he does not exclude anyone and wants to reintegrate everyone in his house. The Church is called to ensure that all the young people she encounters on her path experience these paternal and maternal attitudes.
80. In the DP the figure of John and that of Mary have offered an efficacious image regarding the willingness to listen and the desire to undertake a journey of vocational discernment that is not accomplished in a precise act, but becomes an existential path accompanied continually by the presence of Jesus, who becomes a teacher, model and friend of every young person.
81. One of the biblical calls that directly concerns a young person is that of Samuel (see 1 Sam 3: 1-1-21). Here we see very well that the time of youth is the time of listening, but also the time of the inability to understand the word of life and the Word of God on our own. Compared to an adult, the young person lacks the experience In fact, adults should be those who “by experience have the faculties exercised to distinguish good and evil” ( Hebrews 5:14). They should therefore shine especially for their rightful conscience, which comes from the continuous exercise of choosing good and avoiding evil. The accompaniment of the younger generations is not an optionwith regard to the task of educating and evangelising young people, but an ecclesial duty and a right of every young person. Only the prudent and wise presence of Eli allows Samuel to give the correct interpretation to the word God is addressing to him. In this sense the dreams of the elders and the prophecies of young people only happen together (see Gl 3: 1), confirming the goodness of intergenerational covenants.
82. Faith is first of all a gift to be welcomed and its maturation a path to follow. Certainly, however, upstream of all this must be reaffirmed that “at the beginning of being a Christian there is not an ethical decision or a great idea, but the meeting with an event, with a Person, which gives life a new horizon and, thus, the decisive direction “(DC 1; EG 7). From this encounter takes shape an experience that transforms existence, orienting it in a dialogical and responsible form. Growing up, every young man realizes that life is greater than he, that he does not control everything of his existence; he becomes aware that he is what he is thanks to the care that others, in the first instance his parents, have reserved for him; is convinced that to live well, his story must become responsible for others, re-proposing those attitudes of care and service that have made it grow. Above all he is called to ask for the gift of discernment, which is not a skill that can be built on its own, but first of all a gift to be received, which then implies prudent and wise exercise to develop. And a young man who has received and knows how to make fruitful the gift of discernment is a source of blessing for other young people and for the whole people.
83. Young King Solomon, when he is invited to ask God for what he wants in view of his decisive role, asks “a docile heart” (1 Kings 3 : 9). And the appreciation of God does not make us wait: “Since you have asked for discernment to judge, behold, I do according to your words” (1 Kings 3 : 11-12).
Indeed every young person is in some way “king” of his own existence, but he needs to be helped so that he may ask for discernment, and be accompanied so that he may reach fullness in the gift of himself. In this regard, the story of the young Queen Esther is also instructive, accompanied and sustained by the prayer of the people (see East 4.16), renounces her privileges and courageously jeopardizes her existence for the salvation of her people, showing how far youthful daring and feminine dedication can come.
84. In the phase of youth, the construction of one’s identity takes shape. At this time, marked by complexity, fragmentation and uncertainty for the future, planning life becomes tiring, if not impossible. In this crisis situation, the ecclesial commitment is often oriented towards supporting good planning. In the most fortunate cases and where young people are more available, this type of pastoral care helps them to discover their vocation, which remains, after all, a word for a select few and says the culmination of a project. But does not this way of proceeding reduce and compromise the full truth of the term “vocation”?
In this regard it is very useful to draw attention to the encounter between Jesus and the rich young man ( Mt 19 : 16-22; Mk 10 : 17-22 ; Lk 10 : 25-28). Here we see that the Master of Nazareth does not support the project of life of the young man nor does he propose its crowning; he does not recommend an extra effort, nor does he, after all, want to fill the gap of the young man, who had also asked: “What else do I miss?”; at least, he does not want to fill it by confirming the young’s design logic. Jesus does not fill a void, but asks the young person to empty himself, to make room for a new perspective oriented to the gift of self through a new approach of his life generated by the encounter with him who is “the way, the truth and the life” (see Jn14.6). In this way, through a real disorientation, Jesus asks the young man for a reconfiguration of his own existence. It is a call to risk, to lose the already acquired, to trust. It is a provocation to break with the design mentality that, if exasperated, leads to narcissism and closure in oneself. Jesus invites the young man to enter into a logic of faith, which puts his life into play in following, preceded and accompanied by an intense look of love: “Jesus stared at him, loved him and said:” A what you miss: go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven; And Come! Follow me “» ( Mk 10:21).
85. The young people, in the final document of the RP, affirm: “We are looking for a Church that will help us find our vocation, in all its meanings” (RP 3). To do this it is necessary to clarify the meaning of the term “vocation”. Having at heart all young people, no one excluded, the Synod is asked to illuminate in a convincing way the vocational horizon of human existence as such. The young people themselves ask the Church to help them “find a simple and clear understanding of the meaning of” vocation “» (RP 8). From the responses of the various CEs, and also from the many words of the young people themselves, it is clear that the term vocation is generally used to indicate the vocations to the ordained ministry and those of special consecration.
86. If we compare this “narrow” view even with the path of the two previous Synods, where it is stated that “marriage is a vocation” and that “the decision to marry and form a family must be the result of discernment” vocational “(AL 72), it is not difficult to understand that a reductive vision of the term” vocation “creates a strong prejudice in the young, who see in the pastoral care of vocations an activity aimed exclusively at the” recruitment “of priests and religious. Starting from this shared ecclesial imaginary, there is therefore the need to lay the foundations for a wide-ranging “youth vocational pastoral” capable of being meaningful for all young people.
87. The Second Vatican Council clearly regained the vocational horizon of humanity when it used this terminology to express both the destination of all men for communion with Christ (see LG 3.13, GS 19.32) and the universal call to holiness ( see LG 39-42), inserting in this interpretative horizon the understanding of the individual vocations: those to the ordained ministry and to the consecrated life as well as the lay vocation (see LG 31), especially in the conjugal form (see LG 35; GS 48.49.52). The following magisterium has also moved along this line, which also recognizes the analogical character of the term “vocation” and the many dimensions that characterize the reality that it designates in relation to the personal mission of each and in view of the communion between all persons.
88. Affirming that all things were created through Christ and in view of Him (see Col1:16), the Scriptures orientate to read the mystery of the vocation as a reality that marks the very creation of God, thus mysteriously illuminating the existence of every man and every woman. If Blessed Paul VI had already affirmed that “every life is a vocation” (PP 15), Benedict XVI insisted that human beings are created by God as dialogical beings: the creative Word “calls each one in personal terms, revealing so that life itself is a vocation in relation to God “(VD 77). In this sense only a vocational anthropology seems to be adequate to understand the human in all its truth and fullness. It was significant that during the RP some young non-believers and other religions witnessed their desire to discern their vocation in the world and in history (see RP 8).
89. Speaking of life as a vocation makes it possible to highlight some elements that are very important for the growth of a young person: it means to exclude that it is determined by destiny or the result of chance, as well as being a private asset that can be managed on its own. If in the first case there is no vocation because there is no recognition of a destination worthy of existence, in the second a human being thought “without bonds” becomes “without vocation”. Vocational discernment in this direction takes the traits of a path of reconciliation with one’s body and one’s self, with others and with the world.
90. Positively the conception of life as a vocation invites the human being to renounce the lie of self-foundation and the illusion of narcissistic self-realization, to allow ourselves to be challenged through history by the design with which God directs us to the good of others. It is thus a question of giving rise to a renewed vocational culture, which is always linked to the joy of the communion of love which generates life and hope. In fact, the fullness of joy can only be experienced in the moment in which one discovers that one is loved and consequently personally called to love in turn in the concrete circumstances in which each one lives (family, work, social and civil commitment).
91. The Christological event completes creation because it is the Mystery that moves it from the beginning: “Only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man find true light […] Christ, who is the new Adam, precisely revealing the mystery of the Father and of his love also fully reveals man to himself and manifests his very high vocation “(GS 22). In Jesus one finds oneself called to go beyond oneself; in fact, listening to His word invites us to “take to the sea” (see Lk 5 : 4) and to open up to horizons that one could not even imagine with their own strength.
92. In the New Testament, however, the call also concerns the invitation to some people to follow him more closely. The Gospel account of the encounter of Jesus with the first disciples (see Jn l, 36-39), presented in the DP, remains paradigmatic of this call. In fact, the goal of Jesus’ call is revealed only from within the sequela, which is dialogue and relationship with the Master. It can not stand out in front of clear from the beginning, as if it were the outcome of a project of which we are masters and of which we hold the key, so as to be able to foresee all the details. It appears in the gaze of faith which, as Pope Francis wrote, “sees” in the measure in which it walks, in which it enters the space opened by the Word of God “(LF 9).
93. It can not be neglected then that each vocational path, sinking its roots in the experience of divine filiation given in baptism (see Rm 6,4-5; 8,14-16), is an Easter journey, which implies a commitment to deny oneself and to lose one’s life, to receive it renewed. The Christ who calls us to follow him is He who “faced with the joy that was set before him, submitted himself to the cross, despising dishonor, and sits at the right hand of the throne of God” ( Hebrews 12 : 2). The believer therefore, even when he experiences that discipleship involves renunciations and suffered fidelity, does not lose heart and continues to follow the Lord who has preceded us to the right hand of the Father and accompanies us with his Spirit.
94. Among those who follow him, Jesus chooses some for a special ministry. It is what is evidently found in the vocation of the apostles: “He constituted the Twelve – whom he called apostles -, because they were with him and to send them to preach with the power to drive out demons” ( Mk 3: 14-15), inviting them to taking care of his flock (see Jn 21, 15-19); so is Paul, “servant of Jesus Christ, apostle by call, chosen to proclaim the Gospel of God” ( Rom 1 : 1, see 1 Cor1,1). In the texts that refer to a special call for the mission, the free and gratuitous election of God, the choice from the womb, the revelation to the call of the mystery of Christ and the historical salvific position are strongly underlined. Sometimes this vocation is accompanied by the designation of the called with a new name.
95. It is important to underline that particular “calls” are understandable only within the “vocational” horizon of the whole Church. In the same name ecclesia , in fact, the vocational aspect of the community of disciples is indicated, its identity as an assembly of convoked (see 1 Cor 1,26, PdV 34). Within it, vocations to a special task do not have the sense of introducing a privilege, but rather of making evident, with the conferment of a particular mission, the grace with which God calls all to salvation: thus, while Jesus says “follow me” to the publican Levi making him an apostle of the Church ( Mk 2:14 ), he announces to everyone that he has not come “to call the righteous, but sinners” ( Mk 2:17).
96. The vocation of the Church finds its real anticipation and its full realization in the person of Mary, a young woman who with her “yes” made possible the incarnation of the Son and, consequently, created the conditions because every other ecclesial vocation can be generated. The “Marian principle” precedes and exceeds every other ministerial, charismatic and juridical principle in the Church and all sustains and accompanies them.
97. It is not possible to understand fully the meaning of the baptismal vocation if it is not considered that it is intrinsically connected to the missionary nature of the Church, which has as its fundamental goal the communion with God and among all persons. In fact, the different ecclesial vocations are manifold and articulated expressions through which it realizes its call to be a real sign of the Gospel welcomed in a fraternal community. The plurality of the forms of following Christ articulate, each in its own way, the mission of witnessing to the event of Jesus, in which every man and every woman find salvation.
98. Saint Paul returns several times in his letters on this theme, recalling the image of the Church as a body made up of various members and emphasizing that each member is necessary and at the same time relative to the whole, since only the harmonious unity of all makes the body alive and harmonious. The origin of this communion is found by the Apostle in the same mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “There are different charisms, but only one is the Spirit; there are several ministries, but only one is the Lord; there are different activities, but only one is God who works all in all “(1 Cor 12: 4-6).
99. The different forms of Christian life, therefore, can not be thought of or understood autonomously, but only in the reciprocity they draw and in the exchange of gifts they realize (see CL 55, VC 31). Only in this way is it possible for the Church to become an integral image of the face of Jesus in the history of men. The recent letter Iuvenescit Ecclesia , on the relationship between hierarchical and charismatic gifts for the life and mission of the Church, has offered precious indications to elaborate a correct theology of the charisms, so as to welcome with gratitude and make the most of the gifts of grace that Spirit continually rises in the Church to rejuvenate it.
The different vocational paths
100. The elaboration of a broad vocational perspective invites us finally to pay attention to vocational discernment that does not exclude anyone, because, as Pope Francis says, “to speak of pastoral vocation is to affirm that every pastoral action of the Church is oriented , by its very nature, to vocational discernment. […] Vocational service must be seen as the soul of all evangelization and of the whole pastoral care of the Church “( Message to the participants in the international conference on the theme:” Vocation Ministry and Consecrated Life Horizons and Hopes “ , 25 November 2017).
101. The two recent Synods for the family and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia have offered a rich contribution to the vocation of the family in the Church and the irreplaceable contribution that families are called to give to the witness of the Gospel through mutual love, the generation and education of children. It is important to resume this message in a vocational perspective and make it understandable for young people, within the emotional culture in which they are inserted. Reflecting on the paths of preparation for marriage and accompanying young couples seem to be the two strategic points on which to invest pastoral energies.
102. The Church has always recognized the vocations to the ordained ministry as decisive as regards the Christian life and the salvation of all men. For this reason he had a singular attention for the care, the training and the accompaniment of the candidates to this state of life. The concern of many Churches for the numeric decline of candidates is also undeniable; this necessitates a renewed reflection on the vocation to the ordained ministry and on a vocational ministry that can make people feel the fascination of the call of Jesus to become shepherds of his flock.
103. Even the prophetic witness of the consecrated life needs to be rediscovered and better presented to the young in its original enchantment, as an antidote to the “paralysis of normality” and as an opening to grace that disrupts the world and its logics. To awaken the fascination of evangelical radicalism in the younger generations, so as to be able to rediscover the prophecy of chastity, poverty and obedience as an anticipation of the Kingdom and full realization of one’s life is an aspect that can not be put in the background in a time dominated by consumerist logics and merchants.
104. Called to holiness and anointed by the Spirit, the Christian learns to grasp in a vocational perspective all the choices of existence, above all the central one of the state of life, but also those of a professional nature. For this reason, some ECs hope that the Synod will find ways to help all Christians to rediscover the link between profession and vocation in all its fruitfulness for the life of each one and in view of the vocational orientation of young people with a vocational view.
105. Finally, some ECs ask themselves what is the vocational collocation of people who choose to remain “single” without any reference to a particular consecration or to marriage. Given their numerical increase in the Church and in the world, it is important for the Synod to reflect on this issue.
106. During the Pre-Synodal Meeting, a young man expressed the importance of discernment for life: “Today, like thousands of other young people, believers or non-believers, I have to make choices, especially with regard to my professional orientation. However, I am undecided, lost and worried. […] I now find myself facing a wall, that of giving a profound meaning to my life. I think I need discernment in the face of this emptiness. ” The work of those days has confirmed, articulated, deepened his question several times, in addition to highlighting the difficulties that young people encounter: “Many young people can not answer when you ask them what the meaning of life is. They do not always make a connection between life and transcendence “(RP 5). In fact, young people often move between extreme and naive approaches: from considering itself at the mercy of an already written and inexorable destiny, to feeling overwhelmed by an abstract ideal of excellence, in a context of unruly and violent competition. In this situation it is possible to recognize an opportunity for the Church, even if young people struggle to perceive it as being able to provide help: “Many young people do not know how to undertake the process of discernment, and this gives the Church the opportunity to accompany them” ( RP 9). Pope Francis also recognized this: “We must say, on this point, that so many ecclesial communities do not know how to do it or they lack the capacity for discernment. It is one of the problems we have, but we must not be afraid “(Francesco, in a context of unruly and violent competition. In this situation it is possible to recognize an opportunity for the Church, even if young people struggle to perceive it as being able to provide help: “Many young people do not know how to undertake the process of discernment, and this gives the Church the opportunity to accompany them” ( RP 9). Pope Francis also recognized this: “We must say, on this point, that so many ecclesial communities do not know how to do it or they lack the capacity for discernment. It is one of the problems we have, but we must not be afraid “(Francesco, in a context of unruly and violent competition. In this situation it is possible to recognize an opportunity for the Church, even if young people struggle to perceive it as being able to provide help: “Many young people do not know how to undertake the process of discernment, and this gives the Church the opportunity to accompany them” ( RP 9). Pope Francis also recognized this: “We must say, on this point, that so many ecclesial communities do not know how to do it or they lack the capacity for discernment. It is one of the problems we have, but we must not be afraid “(Francesco, and this offers the Church the opportunity to accompany them “(RP 9). Pope Francis also recognized this: “We must say, on this point, that so many ecclesial communities do not know how to do it or they lack the capacity for discernment. It is one of the problems we have, but we must not be afraid “(Francesco, and this offers the Church the opportunity to accompany them “(RP 9). Pope Francis also recognized this: “We must say, on this point, that so many ecclesial communities do not know how to do it or they lack the capacity for discernment. It is one of the problems we have, but we must not be afraid “(Francesco,Pre-synodal meeting , answer to question n. 2)
107. The youth of the pre-synodal meeting also present the difficulty of understanding the term discernment, which does not fall within their language, even if the need to which it refers is felt: “Discerning one’s vocation can be a challenge, especially in the light of day. of the misunderstanding that surrounds this word. But the young will live up to this challenge. Discerning one’s vocation can be an adventure that accompanies the course of life “(RP 9).
108. In fact there is a plurality of meanings of the term discernment, which are not opposed but do not even coincide. In a broader sense discernment indicates the process in which important decisions are made; in a second, more proper to the Christian tradition, it corresponds to the spiritual dynamics through which a person, a group or a community tries to recognize and accept God’s will in the concrete of their situation. Furthermore, as the DP mentioned above, the term applies to a plurality of different situations and practices: “There is indeed a discernment of the signs of the times, which aims at recognizing the presence and action of the Spirit in history; a moral discernment, which distinguishes what is good from what is bad; spiritual discernment, which proposes to recognize the temptation to reject it and instead proceed on the path of fullness of life. The intertwining of these different meanings is evident and can never be completely dissolved “(DP II, 2).
109. A plurality of levels comes into play also in the specifics of vocational discernment. As also highlighted by the intervention of Pope Francis at the Pre-Synodal Meeting, there is a level that unites all men and women: “We all need discernment. This is why in the title of the Synod there is this word, is not it? And when there is this emptiness, this restlessness, we must discern “(Francis, Presynodal Reunion, answer to question n. 2). In this sense, from the beginning the Synod intends to deal with “all young people, no one excluded” (DP 2), offering the willingness to accompany them in the process that leads to clarity and truth about oneself, accepting the gift of life and finding the contribution that we are called to offer to society and the world. The Holy Father has also emphasized how the Church funds on a conviction of faith the proposal of discernment that addresses to all: “God loves each one and each person personally addresses a call. It is a gift that, when it is discovered, fills with joy (see Mt 13 : 44-46). Be sure of it: God has confidence in you, he loves you and calls you. And for his part he will not fail, because he is faithful and truly believes in you “(Francis, Discourse at Presinodal Meeting, 2).
110. For young believers, the perspective of discernment takes on another dimension, since it is part of a dynamic of personal relationship with the Lord: it therefore explicitly aims to discover the possible ways to respond to the love of God, participating as members of the Church in the mission of announcing and witnessing the Good News. The perspective is therefore much broader and more fundamental than the reductive one that, as the answers of many CEs show, leads ecclesial leaders and many faithful to identify the vocational discernment with the path of choice of the state of life (marriage, priesthood, consecrated life) ). Vocational discernment may also concern the choice of social or political commitment, or that of the profession.
111. Above all the vocational discernment does not end with the assumption of the decision between alternatives, but it is prolonged in time accompanying the concrete steps with which it is implemented. In this sense, discernment is also a way of life: “It is necessary not only in extraordinary moments, or when serious problems must be solved, or when a crucial decision must be made. It is a tool of struggle to better follow the Lord. We need it always: to be able to recognize the times of God and His grace, so as not to waste the inspirations of the Lord, in order not to let his invitation to grow fall. Many times this is played in small things, in what seems irrelevant, because magnanimity is revealed in simple and everyday things “(GE 169). Discernment is a gift and a risk, and this can scare.
112. As we have seen, for the Church the possibility of discernment is based on a conviction of faith: the Spirit of God acts in the intimate – in the “heart”, says the Bible; in the “conscience”, according to the theological tradition – of every person, regardless of the fact that they explicitly profess the Christian faith, through feelings and desires, aroused by what happens in life and which are linked to ideas, images and projects. The three “steps” of the discernment that Pope Francis indicates in EG 51 and the DP resumes: recognizing, interpreting, choosing.
113. Recognizing means “giving name” to the great quantity of emotions, desires and feelings that each inhabit. They play a fundamental role and should not be hidden or dormant. The Pope reminded him: “It is important to open everything, do not make up the feelings, do not camouflage the feelings. The thoughts that come up are [brought] into discernment “( Presynodal Meeting, answer to question n. 2). A path of vocational discernment therefore requires paying attention to what emerges in the different experiences (family, study, work, friendships and relationships, voluntary work and other commitments, etc.) that the person performs, today increasingly often along itineraries not linear and progressive, with the successes and failures that inevitably occur: where does a young man feel at home? Where do you feel a more intense “taste”? But this is not enough, because the experiences are ambiguous and different interpretations can be given: what is the origin of this desire? Are you actually pushing towards the “joy of love”? On the basis of this work of interpretation it becomes possible to make a choice that is not only the result of the drives or social pressures, but the exercise of freedom and responsibility.
114. As an act of human freedom, discernment is exposed to the risk of error. As the DP recalled, “the human heart, because of its fragility and sin, is normally divided because it is attracted by different, or even opposed, calls” (DP II, 4). In fact, it is essential that the person who discerns continues to form his own affectivity, his own intelligence, his own style.
115. For those who welcome and inspire you, Christian wisdom offers precious tools including the school of the Word, the teaching of the Church, the spiritual accompaniment; they are all aid to confront the living norm that is Jesus, to know him intimately and get to “have his heart”. An authentic path of discernment therefore requires an attitude of listening and prayer, docility towards a teacher and willingness to take a decision that costs. This is what young people from the pre-synodal meeting are talking about: “Dedicating time to silence, introspection and prayer, as well as reading the Scriptures and deepening self-knowledge are opportunities that very few young people use. We need to be better introduced in these areas. Also being part of groups, Christian inspired movements and communities can support young people in their discernment “(RP 9). Fundamental in this direction is that exercise which tradition calls “examination of conscience” and which aims precisely at making the person attentive to the signs of the presence of God and capable of recognizing his voice in the concreteness of daily life. This is why Pope Francis reiterates it today to all Christians, and even more so to the young who seek their own way: “I ask all Christians not to forget to do a sincere examination of each day in dialogue with the Lord who loves us. conscience “(GE 169). Within this dialogue with Christ, Way, Truth and Life, what is desired for young people by a DV can take place: “A formation of their affectivity,
116. The role of conscience is therefore central to discernment. As a DV reminds us, “if formation must be (and must be!), It can only be configured as education for freedom and conscience”. While Pope Francis underlines how conscience “must be better involved in the practice of the Church” (AL 303), the responses of the EC show how often it is in fact hard to give it space. The role of conscience is not reduced to the recognition of being in error or sin: in the awareness of personal limitations or of the situation, and of all the difficulties in orienting oneself, it helps to recognize what gift we can offer and what contribution we bring, even if maybe not fully up to the ideals.
117. Conscience, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, is “the most secret nucleus and the man’s sanctuary, where he is alone with God, whose voice resounds in intimacy” (GS 16). Starting from this perspective of faith, it is clear that the exercise of conscience represents a universal anthropological value: it challenges every man and every woman, not only the believers, and everyone is obliged to answer them. Each person, thanks to the experience of being loved in his own uniqueness within the network of social relationships that support his life, discovers and receives the call to love, which challenges his conscience as an imperative requirement, becoming a norm. This enhancement of conscience is rooted in the contemplation of the Lord’s way of acting: it is in his own conscience that Jesus, in an intimate dialogue with the Father, makes decisions, even the hardest and most lacerating ones, like that of the Garden of Olives. He is the true norm of every Christian action and of every particular vocation.
118. Young people experience the limits of their freedom and therefore of discernment: “Many factors influence the ability of a young person to discern their vocation: the Church, cultural differences, work needs, the digital world, family expectations, health mental and emotional state, noise, peer pressure, political scenarios, society, technology, etc. “(RP 9). But precisely this concrete reality, which first of all is a gift and an alterity that crosses us, with the constraints it imposes, is the instrument through which to find confirmation of what has been perceived in the heartfelt: even for discernment it is worth the principle that reality is superior to the idea. In theological terms, every desire, even the most sublime, is called to incarnate itself in a concrete and coherent, necessarily limited choice.
119.The comparison with everyday life can play a stimulus role especially when the circumstances impose a sort of “suspension” or “slowing down” in the march towards the achievement of one’s own goals. This is what young people in many countries experience today, either because of the lack of real opportunities to put their skills and talents to good use, or because of the need for long periods of time to begin to emerge in one’s career. These circumstances can prove very fruitful, forcing the person to go through a stage of healthy “disenchantment” and to become aware that no professional success or existential goal satisfies the thirst for life, of fullness, of eternity that brings into the heart. Thus was born the impetus to a deeper search for one’s own authenticity and one’s own vocation.
120. The whole tradition of spirituality insists on how fundamental accompaniment is, especially during the process of vocational discernment. The young people of the RP have repeatedly expressed the same need, emphasizing in a particular way the importance of the witness and humanity of the companions. Many ECs also point out that young people ask for ecclesial officials to be available to this service and highlight that they often find it difficult to assure it.
121. “All young people, no one excluded, have the right to be accompanied on their journey” (DP III, 2). Vocational accompaniment is a process capable of freeing freedom, the ability to gift and integrate the different dimensions of life in a horizon of meaning. For this reason an authentic accompaniment will strive to present the vocation not as a pre-established destiny, a task to be performed, a script already written, to be accepted, discovering how to be good performers. God takes seriously the freedom he has given to human beings and responding to his call is a commitment that requires work, imagination, audacity, willingness to proceed even by trial.
122. The responses received show that some ECs intend to accompany “broadly” (thus including occasional meetings, good advice, moments of discussion on different topics), for others it is something very specific in view of a ” Christian coaching ” “. Those who accompany may be men and women, religious and lay, couples; moreover the community plays a decisive role. The Church’s accompaniment of young people thus takes a variety of forms, direct and indirect, intersects a plurality of dimensions and uses multiple tools, depending on the context in which it is located and the degree of ecclesial involvement and faith of those who it is accompanied.
123. Many CEs see personal spiritual accompaniment as a privileged, if not the only, place for vocational discernment. It is in fact an opportunity to learn to recognize, interpret, choose from a faith perspective, listening to what the Spirit suggests within everyday life (see EG 169-174). In the personal accompanying relationship it is important to be aware of the differences between a male and a female approach, both as regards the carers, and towards those who are accompanied. In this we must safeguard and deepen the richness of tradition that speaks of spiritual paternity and motherhood.
124. Spiritual accompaniment has characteristic traits that distinguish it from other forms of personalized accompaniment such as counseling , coaching , mentoring , tutoring , etc. But there are also relationships and connections. To avoid losing the unity of the person and the integrality of the accompanying relationship, it is necessary to explore the complementarity between the spiritual accompaniment in the strict sense and the other forms of closeness in which, in everyday life, figures can emerge. capable of helping to discern and contribute to the formation of conscience and freedom.
125. As Pope Francis teaches, “spiritual discernment does not exclude the contributions of human, existential, psychological, sociological or moral knowledge. But it transcends them “(GE 170). In particular, it is worth pointing out what distinguishes the spiritual accompaniment from the psychological or psychotherapeutic one, which also, if open to transcendence, can be fundamental for a journey of integration and growth. The second focuses attention on the resources, the limits and the evolution of the person in realizing their own desires. Spiritual accompaniment, on the other hand, aims more specifically at triggering in prayer an intimate dialogue between the person and God, starting from the Gospel and from the whole Scripture, to find the most personal way to respond to the Lord’s call. Careful pedagogy will allow us to integrate the psychological dimension into spiritual accompaniment: not only listening and empathy, but also discernment in comparison with the Word; not only trust, but also struggle recognizing that the joy of the Gospel awakens the greatness of desire; not only the cultivation of dreams, but concrete steps in the bottlenecks of life.
126. The charism of spiritual accompaniment is not necessarily linked to the ordained ministry. In ancient tradition, spiritual fathers and mothers are lay people, often monks, but not clerics. The practice that places him among the roles of the presbyter is likely to restrict him to a dialogue that often overlaps with the celebration of the sacrament of penance. Despite their proximity, minister of reconciliation and spiritual guide have different purposes, methods and languages. Vocational accompaniment in the strict sense is not a specific “matter” of the sacrament of reconciliation, which is the forgiveness of sins; the meeting in the sacrament with the mercy of God is however essential to proceed on the journey.
127. The contexts in which ordinary life takes place offer numerous opportunities for a closeness that accompanies the path of growth, in a specifically spiritual or more widely human sense. There are situations in which this accompaniment falls within the institutional tasks of those who perform it, and others in which it is based on the availability, ability and commitment of the people involved.
Various ECs signal the indispensable role that the family plays in vocational discernment, especially when parents represent a model of faith and dedication that is a source of inspiration: parents are always the first witnesses, and they are even more so in the contexts marked by scarcity of ordained ministers. However, there are also opposing cases, when the emphasis that the family places on success in economic or career ends up hindering the possibility of a serious journey of vocational discernment. Sometimes family failure leads young people to disillusion over the possibility of planning the future in terms of long-term hopes.
The accompaniment, even under different names, is at the center of the attention of many training systems, both at school and at university level. Before a task of some specific figures, it is a basic pedagogical attitude and a mentality that permeates the entire educating community. Even mentoring in vocational training, with a view to starting up work, is very valuable. As various ECs specify, these types of accompaniment are “the most important channel through which schools, universities and other educational institutions contribute to the vocational discernment of young people”, as well as an opportunity to stimulate a critical approach to reality from a Christian perspective. from listening to the voice of God.
Finally, there are many other contexts, roles and professions in which adults who come into contact with young people, perhaps starting from specific problems, can play an accompanying role that favors their human maturation or the solution of problematic knots: we can think the role of coaches in sports, those who have educational duties or work in some types of institutions (prisons, reception communities of various kinds, consultants and clinics) or perform certain professions (doctors, psychologists, teachers, etc.). Even in the specifics of their functions, including professional ones, it must be recognized that these forms of accompaniment can also have a spiritual value and play a role in a process of vocational discernment.
128. Young people are challenged by the social reality they face and that often arouses in them very strong emotions: their reading requires an accompaniment and can become an instrument to identify the signs of the times that the Spirit indicates to the attention of young people and the Church . The anger of young people in the face of rampant corruption, growing structural inequality, contempt for human dignity, violation of human rights, discrimination against women and minorities, organized violence, injustice does not seem to be taken into due consideration from the answers of the EC. In Christian communities there seem to be no space to discuss these problems. In many parts of the world, then, young people find themselves in the midst of violence, as actors or as victims, and they are easily prey to manipulation by adults. Unscrupulous religious leaders and politicians can exploit the idealistic aspirations of young people for their own benefit. In other contexts religious persecution, religious fanaticism and political violence are eradicating the hope of a peaceful and prosperous future from the hearts of young people. These are also frontiers on which the prophetic capacity to accompany the Church must be measured.
129. Finally, there is a daily accompaniment, often silent but not secondary, given by all those who with their testimony interpret life in a fully human manner. Equally fundamental, also in a vocational perspective, is the accompaniment of the Christian community as a whole, which, through the network of relationships it generates, proposes a style of life and supports those who set out on their journey towards their own form of holiness. As a DV states, “the individual aspect of accompaniment in discernment can only be fruitful if inserted into a theological, fraternal and fruitful Christian experience. In fact, the desire for the gift of self is born from the community, presupposed to the right discernment of the specific ways of living it “.
130.The one who accompanies is called to respect the mystery that every person holds and to trust that the Lord is already working in her. The chaperone is invited to be aware of representing a model that influences what he is, before what he does and proposes. The deep affective interaction that is created in the space of spiritual accompaniment – it is no coincidence that tradition expresses itself by talking about spiritual paternity and maternity, therefore a very profound generative relationship – requires the accompanist a solid formation and willingness to work first of all on oneself from a spiritual point of view and to some extent also psychological. Only in this way can he authentically put himself at the service, in listening and discernment, and avoid the most frequent risks of his role: take the place of those who are accompanied in the search for and responsibility for choices, deny or remove the emergence of sexual problems and, finally, cross the borders by involving themselves improperly and destructively with those who are helping in the spiritual journey, up to the possibility of real abuse and addictions. When this happens, in addition to the traumas generated by the people involved, a climate of distrust and fear spreads, which discourages the practice of accompaniment.
131. A number of the EC are aware that accompaniment is a demanding service from the point of view of the personal qualities of those who perform it: “Young people ask for […] effective, reliable, faith-filled companions; imitators of Christ who live a genuinely happy life by promoting a relationship with God and the Church “. Pope Francis recalled how the companion must know how to arouse trust and be a wise person, «who is not afraid of anything, who knows how to listen and who has the gift of the Lord to say the right word at the right time» ( Pre-Synodal meeting , reply to Question 2).
132. The youth of the pre-synodal meeting accurately describe the profile of the companion: “To be a faithful Christian engaged in the Church and in the world; to be in continuous search for holiness; be a confidant who does not judge; actively listen to the needs of young people and give adequate answers; to be full of love and self-awareness; to recognize one’s own limitations and be expert in the joys and sorrows of spiritual life “(RP 10). In their eyes, recognition of their own humanity and fallibility is of particular importance: “Sometimes the companions are put on a pedestal, and their fall can have devastating effects on the ability of young people to continue to engage in the Church” (RP 10). They also add that “carers should not guide young people as if they were passive followers, but walk beside them, allowing them to be an active part of the journey. They should respect the freedom that is part of a young person’s discernment process, providing the tools to do it best. A companion should be deeply convinced of the ability of a young person to take part in the life of the Church and cultivate the seeds of faith in young people, without expecting to see immediately the fruits of the work of the Holy Spirit. The role of companion is not and can not be reserved only for priests and religious, but also the laity must receive the tools to cover it. All carers should receive solid training and commit themselves to ongoing formation “(RP 10).
133. “Personal accompaniment is an indispensable instrument of formation” (RFIS 44) of seminarians, but the same consideration can easily be extended to religious and religious in formation. First of all, it is a service to vocational discernment and to the authentication of charisms: both individual persons and the Church in fact need to subject their choice to verification. For this purpose it is indispensable that those accompanying keep in themselves a real space of freedom: trusting requires to renounce forms of control that are not transparent, while the discovery of the opportunity to interrupt the formative journey and the help to discover a different place can be excluded a priori, nor considered a defeat, even in situations of lack of ordained ministers and of consecrated and consecrated persons. At the same time this accompaniment will be a service to the human and Christian maturation of those in formation and a true training investment, which will aim to make available men and women in possession of the qualities to be able in turn to accompany others to discover their vocation and follow it . Accompaniment is learned first of all by accepting to be accompanied.
134. The experience of the formators shows that the candidates for the ordained ministry and the consecrated life are young people of our time and share with their peers the characteristic features of a culture and an approach to the world, starting from the pervasiveness of social mediaand digital communication. The accompaniment must aim at a deepening of personal spiritual life, as well as of the apostolic zeal, promoting the integration of labor, delusions and moments of aridity; where difficulties arise at the psychological level, a specific accompaniment, which will support the spiritual, will be of great help. At the same time the spiritual accompaniment will aim to avoid dispersion, helping the person to take root in the stage he is living, even if temporary, and not to live in expectation of when the formation will be over. The encounter with the Lord is also played today for those who live in a formation house.
135. One challenge that our time puts in an ever more intense way is that of the integration of differences. Especially in those contexts that bring together people from different countries and cultures, young people will have to be accompanied to face the intercultural comparison, thus training themselves to what the social environment will require them to complete their formation. While on the one hand young people are predisposed to encounter other cultures, on the other hand they have real difficulty measuring themselves with the difference, as they come from a society that makes use of powerful instruments of immunization towards diversity, sometimes pretending to deny them , standardize or devalue them.
136. Accompaniment will also be crucial to take proper account of itineraries of origin, today more and more differentiated by age at entry, degree of education, training courses, previous professional and affective experiences, ecclesial origins (parishes, associations, movements, etc. .). Accompaniment is a key tool to allow a real personalization of the training path that young people show to appreciate, while they find mortifying standardized proposals. This may also concern the specific teaching accompaniment in the course of studies.
137. On the basis of the interpretative elements of the context that emerged in Part II, now it is a matter of focusing on determining the perspective, style and the most appropriate instruments to enable the Church to fulfill its mission to the young: help them to meet the Lord , feeling loved by Him and responding to His call to the joy of love. In this dynamic of discernment, the Church herself, while committing herself to accompany all young people, will be able to reappropriate a renewed and joyful apostolic zeal, through a path of pastoral and missionary conversion.
138. Pope Francis, meeting the young at the beginning of the RP, declared that the Synod is “also an appeal to the Church, because it rediscovers a renewed youthful dynamism . […] Even in the Church we must learn new ways of presence and closeness “( Discourse to the pre-Synodal Meeting, 3). With great clarity, an EC states that “young people ask the Church for a monumental change in attitude, orientation and practice”. Another, realizing the paths of renewal taking place in its territory, writes: “The real question behind these attempts concerns more generally the form of Church we are looking for and which we intend to propose: the formula” Church outgoing “Identifies the general problem in a pertinent way, but we are still looking for operational indications useful for its implementation”. This requires “a determined process of discernment, purification and reform” (EG 30) and also an honest and in-depth listening to young people who participate fully in the sensus fidei fidelium .
139. In this perspective, “choosing” does not mean giving answers once and for all to the problems encountered, but first of all identifying concrete steps to grow in the capacity to fulfill discernment processes in view of the mission as an ecclesial community. Moreover, we can not think that our offer of accompaniment to vocational discernment is credible for the young people to whom it is directed if we do not show that we can practice discernment in the ordinary life of the Church, making it a communitarian style before an operative instrument. Just like the young, many CE have expressed the difficulty of orientating themselves in a complex world of which they do not have a map. In this situation, this Synod itself is an exercise of growth in that capacity for discernment evoked in its theme.
140. The synodal path, as “journey made together”, contains a pressing invitation to rediscover the richness of the identity of “God’s people” which defines the Church as a prophetic sign of communion in a world often torn by divisions and discords. This people “has the condition of the dignity and freedom of the children of God, in the heart of which the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple. By law the new precept of loving as Christ himself loved us (see Jn13,34). And finally, it has the end of the kingdom of God “(LG 9). In its historical concreteness, the people of God are a people with many faces, since “they are incarnated in the peoples of the Earth, each of which has its own culture” (EG 115). Inside, the Holy Spirit “arouses a manifold and varied wealth of gifts and at the same time builds a unity that is never uniform but multifaceted harmony that attracts” (EG 117). This dynamic identity pushes the Church towards the world, makes it an outgoing missionary Church, not inhabited by the preoccupation of “being the center” (EG 49), but by that of being able, with humility, to be ferment even beyond of its “boundaries”, aware of having something to give and something to receive in the logic of the exchange of gifts.
In this movement the Church can not but assume dialogue as a style and as a method, fostering the awareness of the existence of bonds and connections in a complex reality but which would be reductive to consider composed of fragments, and the tension towards a unity that, without transforming itself in uniformity, it allows the confluence of all partialities safeguarding the originality of each one and the richness it represents for the whole (see EG 236). No vocation, especially within the Church, can be placed outside this dynamism of exit and dialogue, and any authentic effort to accompany vocational discernment can not help but measure itself against this horizon, reserving special attention to the poorer and more vulnerable.
141. This dynamism of self-exiting in order to give life and to spend oneself at the service of the possibility that everyone, singly and together, meet the joy of love, also goes through the way in which the Church exercises the authority entrusted to her, so that it is authentically generative and therefore a creator of communion. According to some analyzes, in the etymological sense the authority is precisely the ability to “grow” ( augeo , in Latin, from which auctor and auctoritas ) every creature in that originality that the Creator has thought and wanted for her. Exercising authority becomes the responsibility of a service to the development and liberation of freedom, not a control that scrapes the wings and keeps people chained.
142. Consequently, the Church “becomes” with the young, allowing them a real protagonism and not putting them in front of a “we have always done so”. This perspective, which determines a pastoral style and also a way of organizing and being institutional, is in great consonance with the request for authenticity that young people address to the Church. They expect to be accompanied not by an inflexible judge, or by a fearful and overprotective parent who generates dependence, but by someone who is not afraid of his own weakness and knows how to shine the treasure that, like a clay vase, keeps inside (see 2 Cor 4,7). Otherwise, they will end up turning elsewhere, especially at a time when alternatives are not lacking (see RP 1.7.10).
143. To be generative, accompaniment to vocational discernment can only take on an integral perspective. In fact, vocation is never a principle of alienation, but rather a fulcrum of integration of all the dimensions of the person, which will make fruitful: from natural talents to character with its resources and its limitations, from deeper passions to the skills acquired through study, from the successful experiences to the failures that each personal story contains, from the ability to enter into relationships and to love to that of assuming one’s own role with responsibility within a people and a society. For this reason, the accompaniment service is measured by a series of elements that only appear to be disparate or not very spiritual and can not be separated from the alliance between training needs.
144. The call to joy and life in fullness is always placed within a cultural context and social relations. It is in the face of the circumstances of daily life that young people wish to be accompanied, trained and made protagonists. This is why the Church is called to “go out, to see, to call” (DP III, 1.3), that is, to invest time in knowing and measuring with the constraints and opportunities of the different social and cultural contexts and making the call to the joy of love. At the same time social and interpersonal relationships and the dynamics of everyday life (friendship, affection, relationship with time and money, etc.) favor the emergence of desires, ideas, emotions and feelings that an accompanying path will help to recognize and interpret.
145. In particular, the experience or the encounter with the personal fragility of one’s own group or community, of a society or of a culture, is as difficult as it is precious. For young people it can be an opportunity to discover hidden resources and to raise questions even in a vocational perspective, pushing them out of a continuous search for small security. Accompanying these paths, the Church will discover new frontiers and new resources to fulfill its mission.
146. Virtually all the ECs emphasize the importance that schools, universities and educational institutions of various kinds have in the accompaniment of young people in their search for a personal project of life and for the development of society. In many regions they are the main, if not the only, non-explicitly ecclesial place where many young people come into contact with the Church. In some cases they even become an alternative to parishes, which many young people do not know or frequent. The young people of the pre-synodal meeting also stress the importance of the Church’s commitment in these contexts: “The resources invested in these fields are never wasted: these are places where many young people spend most of their time and often confront each other. with people of different social and economic backgrounds “(RP 13).
147. In many schools and universities, including Catholic ones, education and training are aimed in an excessively utilitarian way, emphasizing the usability of the concepts acquired in the world of work rather than the growth of people. Instead, it is necessary to place the technical and scientific skills in an integral perspective, whose reference horizon is the “ecological culture” (see LS 111). It is necessary, among other things, to conjugate intellect and desire, reason and affectivity; to form responsible citizens, able to face the complexity of the contemporary world and to dialogue with diversity; to help them integrate the spiritual dimension into study and cultural commitment; make them capable of discerning not only personal sense paths, but trajectories of common good for the societies of which they are a part.
148. This integral conception of education requires a systemic conversion, which involves all the members of the educating communities and also the material, economic and institutional structures they use. Teachers, professors, tutors and all the figures involved in the educational pathways, especially those who work in abandoned and disadvantaged areas, carry out a precious service, of which the Church is grateful. A renewed investment in their integral formation is needed, to facilitate paths of rediscovery and re-appropriation of what is a real vocation: they are called not only to transmit contents, but to witness human maturity, initiating generative dynamics of fatherhood or motherhood spiritual able to make the young subjects and protagonists of their own adventure.
149. Not a few CEs from all over the world express appreciation for Catholic schools and universities. Their goal, as Pope Francis said, is not to proselytize, but “to carry young people forward, children in human values in all reality, and one of these realities is transcendence” ( Address to participants in the World Congress promoted by Congregation for Catholic Education , 21 November 2015). This perspective commits them to collaborate with other educational agencies in the area, and at the same time shows how, within free and open societies that have the need to make different identities dialogue, they no longer make sense ideological closures towards them.
150. Fidelity to their mission requires these institutions to undertake to verify the actual reception of the values proposed by the students and to promote a culture of continuous evaluation and self-evaluation. Beyond the abstract statements, we must ask ourselves how much our schools help young people to consider their scholastic preparation as a responsibility for the problems of the world, for the needs of the poorest and for the care of the environment. For Catholic universities – Pope Francis said to Portuguese – it is not enough to analyze and describe reality, but we need to create “spaces for real research, debates that generate alternatives for today’s problems” and “to include the moral, spiritual and religious dimension. in their search.Audience to the Community of the Catholic University of Portugal , October 26, 2017).
151. Particularly for universities, faculties and ecclesiastical institutes – but similarly for all Catholic schools and universities – it is important to take into account some inspiring criteria: spiritual, intellectual and existential contemplation of the kerygma ; the wide-ranging dialogue; the inter-disciplinarity exercised with wisdom and creativity; the urgent need to “network” (see VG 4).
152. The accompaniment towards full human maturity includes the dimension of the care of the common home. This also requires the Church and its institutions to assume the prospect of sustainability and to promote subsequent lifestyles, as well as to combat the dominant reductionism (the technocratic paradigm, idolatry of profit, etc.). Laudato Si invites us to trust that ecological conversion is possible. To generate a dynamism of lasting change, this must involve not only individual choices, but also community and social choices, including forms of pressure on the leaderspoliticians. This is why the contribution of young people is indispensable, as an African CE states: “Many ecclesial leaders recognize the dynamism of the young people of our country, their responsible involvement in the Church and in policies of social development”. Promoting sustainability requires inviting young people to apply their intellectual resources to them, in the various disciplines covered by their studies, and to direct subsequent professional choices in this direction.
153. The specific contribution that the Church can give to the elaboration of a spirituality that knows how to recognize the value of small gestures and can inspire choices according to a different logic from the culture of waste is crucial. As Pope Francis recalls, “all Christian communities have an important role to play in this education. I also hope that in our seminaries and religious houses of formation we will educate ourselves to responsible austerity, to the grateful contemplation of the world, to the care for the fragility of the poor and the environment “(LS 214).
154. The processes of innovation and penetration of digital and information technology in the production world generate the phenomenon globally known as “Industry 4.0”, with repercussions also on the world of work. The Christian communities are invited to question themselves more about these aspects in their educational and accompanying commitment to the young. In a scenario marked by constant changes, the impossibility to trace today the profile of skills that will be needed tomorrow and the risk that those who can not adapt will remain cut off, training and professional accompaniment emerge as areas of responsibility because the talents of all young people can express themselves and no one is left behind or considered useless. The goal is that the development of professional skills and the ability to give meaning to one’s work and to defend the right of all to a decent job keep the pace of technological innovation. The young generations are bearers of an approach to reality that can make important contributions to the humanization of the world of work: collaborative style, culture of respect for differences and their inclusion, ability to work as a team, harmonization of work commitments and other dimensions of the life.
155. The promotion of a new economic model requires promoting the development of alternatives that spontaneously arise in the suburbs and among the groups that suffer the consequences of the culture of waste, but which retain values and practices of solidarity that have been lost elsewhere. Supporting these experiences, allowing the creation of job opportunities especially for young people, especially in those contexts where youth unemployment is highest, requires first of all to look for resources. As emerged from some observations received, in some countries it is asked to identify ways through which the Church can participate in this research with its land, real estate and artistic heritage, in order to enhance them with initiatives and entrepreneurial projects of young people, and make them “Generative” in social terms,
156. Some ECs point out the sensitivity of young people to issues of social ethics (freedom, justice, peace, ecology, economy, politics), which requires to be accompanied, supported and encouraged. The commandment of love has an intrinsically social value, which includes the preferential option for the poor and the commitment to building a less corrupt and fairer society. Social and political commitment constitute, at least for some, a true vocation, the maturation of which requires to be accompanied also from the spiritual point of view. In any case, no vocational discernment can focus only on the search for one’s place in the world, without making creative the theme of the specific contribution that each one is called to give to the common good.
157. Through social engagement, many young people question and (re) discover an interest in the Christian faith. Furthermore, the commitment to justice and the poor is an occasion for meeting and dialogue with non-believers and people who profess other faiths. Many ECs practice or seek new ways of training in civil, social and political engagement, in particular by stimulating young people’s participation and accountability and peer comparison. The importance of some elements emerges: to enhance the professional skills and the path of study of young people, providing opportunities for leadership; offer concrete experiences of service and contact with the last ones and with social environments different from those of provenance, including international experiences and care of the environment and nature; provide elements for the reading and evaluation of the context, starting from a better understanding of the social doctrine of the Church – of which the RP also emphasizes value (see RP 3) – and of integral ecology; encourage the maturation of a spirituality of justice, enhancing the help that the Bible offers to the interpretation of social dynamics; support paths for changes in lifestyles, which focus on the importance of everyday actions without losing sight of the structural and institutional dimension. enhancing the help that the Bible offers to the interpretation of social dynamics; support paths for changes in lifestyles, which focus on the importance of everyday actions without losing sight of the structural and institutional dimension. enhancing the help that the Bible offers to the interpretation of social dynamics; support paths for changes in lifestyles, which focus on the importance of everyday actions without losing sight of the structural and institutional dimension.
158. Furthermore, young people are generally very sensitive to the fight against corruption and to the issue of discrimination. In particular, the RP affirms with conviction that “the Church can play a vital role in ensuring that these young people are not excluded, but feel accepted” (RP 5), indicating the first area of commitment to promote the dignity of women. More and more multicultural societies, marked by migratory phenomena or by the presence of ethnic, cultural or religious minorities, require the preparation of paths that help fight prejudices and overcome the different forms of racial or caste discrimination.
159. Always with respect to social and civil commitment, the pre-synodal path has also underlined some areas to which attention should be paid. The first is that of young people inserted into the armed forces and police, who must be helped to appropriate some values and to integrate the service dimension to the population implicit in their function, which some circumstances highlight in particular (peace missions, natural disasters, etc.). A second area is that of young people who perform full-time service experiences, which in the world take different names (civil service, gap year, year of social volunteering, etc.); as stressed by the RP, they are often also a time of discernment for their future (see RP 15). The risk of considering young people involved in these experiences as cheap labor to be entrusted with the tasks that nobody wants or can do is to be avoided.
160. Both the EC and the RP recognize the need to tackle the question of accompaniment to a conscious use of digital technologies. The RP has suggested a way: “First of all, by engaging in dialogue with young people, the Church should deepen its understanding of technology so that we can help to discern how to use it. Furthermore, the Church should consider technology – in particular the Internet – as a fertile ground for the New Evangelization. […] Secondly, the Church should face the widespread crisis of pornography, without neglecting the abuse on the internet and the cyber-bullying, and their heavy consequences from the human point of view “(RP 4).
161. Many EC recognize the potential of the Internet as an instrument of pastoral contact and also of vocational orientation, especially where for various reasons the Church struggles to reach out to young people by other means. In this sense the skills of digital natives are to be exploited also within the Church. On the other hand, it is not yet possible to consider acquired social mediaand the digital universe are not just tools to be used for pastoral care, nor are they a virtual reality to be set against the real one, but they are a place of life with their own culture to be evangelized. We only think of the “video games” field, which in some countries represents a major challenge for society and for the Church, because it molds in young people a debatable vision of the human being and the world, which nourishes a relational style based on to violence.
162. Among all the artistic languages, music is particularly connected to the dimension of listening and interiority. Its impact on the emotional sphere may represent an opportunity for discernment training. Furthermore, the choice of genres and musicians that are heard is one of the elements that define the identity, especially social, of young people. A space for musical production opens up to aid the development of spirituality. There is also the need to treat singing and music within the community life and faith journey, as is already the case in some contexts. Some young people are attracted by the quality of the music of different Christian traditions (such as Gregorian chant, that of orthodox monasticism or gospel). Sometimes, however, the proposals that emulate the most commercial contemporary musical languages do not favor recollection and inner listening. Some ECs point out that the proposals of other confessions and religions are attractive to young people, including Catholics, by virtue of a simpler and more immediate language, thanks to “lively and high quality music”.
163. Particular attention should also be paid to major musical events: opportunities should be promoted to rediscover the authentically festive and socializing value of music, starting from productions that young people recognize as being of quality. WYDs and major national or regional events may represent the proposal of an alternative way of understanding great events, integrating music into a program of ecclesial meeting among young people.
164. Given the influence of sport, many ECs suggest the need to enhance it from an educational and pastoral point of view. The care and discipline of the body, the team dynamic that enhances the collaboration, the value of correctness and respect for the rules, the importance of the spirit of sacrifice, generosity, sense of belonging, passion, creativity, make sport an opportunity promising education to take a real path of personal unification. Success and failure trigger emotional dynamics that can become a gym of discernment. In order for this to happen, it is necessary that young people experience healthy competition, which escape from the desire for success at all costs, and that make it possible to transform the fatigue of training into an opportunity for inner maturity. Sport clubs are therefore needed – and this applies in particular to those that refer to the Church – who choose to be authentic all-round educating communities, and not just centers that provide services. For this reason it is fundamental to support the awareness of the educational role of coaches, technicians and managers, taking care of their continuous training. Beyond the strictly competitive sphere, it would be appropriate to think of new configurations of educational sites that contribute to strengthening mutual recognition, the social fabric and community ties, especially in the intercultural sphere. For this reason it is fundamental to support the awareness of the educational role of coaches, technicians and managers, taking care of their continuous training. Beyond the strictly competitive sphere, it would be appropriate to think of new configurations of educational sites that contribute to strengthening mutual recognition, the social fabric and community ties, especially in the intercultural sphere. For this reason it is fundamental to support the awareness of the educational role of coaches, technicians and managers, taking care of their continuous training. Beyond the strictly competitive sphere, it would be appropriate to think of new configurations of educational sites that contribute to strengthening mutual recognition, the social fabric and community ties, especially in the intercultural sphere.
165. It is important to recognize the group of peers as an instrument of emancipation from the family context, of consolidation of the identity and development of relational skills. There are great opportunities for growth in friendship, such as moments of free time or shared vacation, as well as opportunities that allow young people to become their peer companions or those who are younger, discovering the beauty of responsibility and the taste of service. The bond of commonality, the sharing of references, the ease of identifying oneself in the other and communicating are at the base of the success of the peer educationinitiatives, and of the “learning communities” they generate. In particular they are useful when they concern issues on which the word of adults would be more distant, less credible (sexuality, prevention of addictions, etc.) and therefore less able to produce a change in behavior.
166. In the life of many young people pain marks the body and also the soul in an unpredictable and incomprehensible way. Mental, sensory and physical illnesses and deficits can sometimes extinguish hope and transform affection and sexuality into a source of suffering. As a young man with disability said in his contribution to the pre-synodal path, “you are never quite prepared to live with a disability: it pushes you to ask questions about your life, invites you to question yourself about your finitude”. Even the young people who live in these situations are called to discover how to decline the call to joy and to the mission – “how can we bring the joy of the Gospel when suffering is the order of the day?” – and discover their inner strengths: “Crying can be a right, but fighting and loving are my duties”. These young people rely on the help of their peers, but they teach their friends to measure themselves with the limit, helping them to grow in humanity. Particularly beneficial are movements and communities that can integrate young people with some form of disability and illness, supporting their families and enhancing the contribution they can give to other young people and to all. The creativity with which the community animated by the joy of the Gospel can become an alternative to unease is inexhaustible. For example, in some contexts, especially in Africa, innovative ways of integration in the youth ministry of young people with HIV or those suffering from AIDS are active. Particularly beneficial are movements and communities that can integrate young people with some form of disability and illness, supporting their families and enhancing the contribution they can give to other young people and to all. The creativity with which the community animated by the joy of the Gospel can become an alternative to unease is inexhaustible. For example, in some contexts, especially in Africa, innovative ways of integration in the youth ministry of young people with HIV or those suffering from AIDS are active. Particularly beneficial are movements and communities that can integrate young people with some form of disability and illness, supporting their families and enhancing the contribution they can give to other young people and to all. The creativity with which the community animated by the joy of the Gospel can become an alternative to unease is inexhaustible. For example, in some contexts, especially in Africa, innovative ways of integration in the youth ministry of young people with HIV or those suffering from AIDS are active.
167. The use of drugs, alcohol and other substances that alter states of consciousness, as well as other old and new addictions, enslave many young people and threaten their lives. Some of them, immersed in such situations of discomfort, can nevertheless cross the good opportunity of a restart, also thanks to the landing in institutions such as family houses, educational communities or recovery. They need to be accompanied to recognize their mistakes and to discern how to direct their own steps, as well as support to face reintegration in a social context that often tends to stigmatize and ghettoise them. The commitment of some ecclesial institutions on this front is remarkable and deserves to be sustained by the Christian communities as a whole, overcoming the temptation of closure. Of great importance is the formation of the operators and volunteers involved in these structures, also from the spiritual point of view. However, this commitment can not exempt from promoting a culture of prevention and from taking a position as a Church in the fight against drug traffickers and those who speculate on mechanisms of dependence.
168. The recovery of young prisoners requires to involve them in personalized projects, stimulating, through an educational action, the re-reading of past experiences, the recognition of errors committed, reconciliation with the traumas suffered and the acquisition of social and work skills in view of reintegration. The spiritual and religious dimensions can play a role of great importance and the Church is grateful to those who work to make it present in these contexts (prison chaplains, volunteers, etc.), carrying out an accompanying role towards the inmates. Among other things, they ask to find out how the Synod should involve and give hope to young prisoners. Finally, the importance of training, both human and professional, must not be diminished.
169. There are many young people in the world who live in situations of war or armed conflict of different intensity. Some are forcibly recruited or manipulated in paramilitary groups or in armed bands, while some young women are abducted and abused. Those who survive suffer various psychological and social consequences. In general, becoming adults in contexts of great violence represents an obstacle to personal growth, which requires an educational effort and a specific accompaniment, especially for the reconstruction of relational skills and the overcoming of the traumas suffered. These are elements to be taken into consideration also in the paths of vocational discernment, because the call to joy is also directed to these young people. Equally important are reconciliation paths at local or national level,
170. The continuous increase in the number of migrants and refugees, and in particular the condition of victims of trafficking and exploitation, requires the activation of legal protection paths for their dignity and capacity for action and at the same time to promote integration paths in the society in which they arrive. For this reason the initiatives of many ecclesial bodies and the involvement of the whole Christian community are of great importance. The accompaniment of young migrants, first and second generation, to find their own path towards joy and the possibility of contributing to the development of society represents a particular challenge in terms of accompaniment to vocational discernment, as it has to deal with the intercultural dimension. With great delicacy and attention will also be accompanied the paths of mixed couples from a cultural and even religious point of view, and those who come from migratory paths feel called to ministerial priesthood or religious life. In the contexts that see the presence of different cultures within the Christian community, the whole pastoral, therefore also the juvenile one, is called to avoid forms of ghettoization and to promote real occasions of encounter.
171. Unfortunately it is not uncommon to come across the experience of the death of young people, as well as young people who have committed murders. In this field the motherhood of the Church and her capacity for listening and accompaniment is decisive. Death is sometimes the point of arrival of the failure of a world, of a society and of a culture which illusions, exploits and finally discards young people; in others it is the traumatic encounter with the limit of human life through the experience of illness and the mystery of pain; there is also the overwhelming experience of juvenile suicide, which creates in many wounds difficult to heal; in other situations the death of young people because of their faith, a real martyrdom, becomes a prophetic and fruitful witness of holiness. In any case, death, especially that of young people, it becomes a source of high questions for everyone. If for the Church this experience is always a reason for a renewed confrontation with the death and resurrection of Jesus, from a pastoral point of view some ECs ask how the death of young people can become a motive for proclamation and an invitation for all to conversion.
172. Who is involved in the many social, educational and pastoral areas in which the accompaniment takes place can testify how each of the young indelibly impresses the image of the Creator and how the Spirit speaks in the heart of each of them, even when they are not in degree or are not available to recognize it. The Church is called to collaborate in the work of God, starting paths that help the young to take life as a gift and to fight against the culture of waste and death. This commitment is an integral part of the Church’s proclamation mission: “The proposal is the Kingdom of God ( Lk4.43) […]. To the extent that he will succeed in reigning among us, social life will be a space of fraternity, justice, peace and dignity for all “(EG 180). Precisely for this reason the Church can not accept to be just an NGO or a philanthropic agency: its members can not avoid confessing the name of Jesus (see EN 22), making their work an eloquent sign of His love that he shares , accompanies, forgives.
173. Every accompaniment is a way of proposing the call to joy and can thus become the suitable ground for announcing the good news of Easter and fostering an encounter with the dead and resurrected Jesus: a kerygma“That expresses the saving love of God prior to the moral and religious obligation, that does not impose the truth and that appeals to the freedom, that possesses some note of joy, stimulus, vitality, and a harmonious completeness” (EG 165) . At the same time, each accompanying service is an occasion for growth in faith for those who do it and for the community to which it belongs. For this reason, the main requirement of a good companion is to have personally enjoyed “the joy of love”, which unmasks the falseness of worldly gratifications and fills the heart with the desire to communicate it to others.
174. This evangelical restlessness preserves from the temptation to blame young people for their distance from the Church or to complain, to speak instead, as some EC do, of a “Church far from the young” called to undertake paths of conversion, without letting others fall into them. their lack of educational momentum and of apostolic shyness. Overcoming the “syndrome of Jonah” still remains, in many respects, a goal (see GE 134). Sent to announce to the inhabitants of Nineveh the mercy of God, the prophet flees because his heart does not share the intention that animates the heart of God. The real question that the story of Jonah highlights is that of evangelization of the evangelizers and of the Christian quality of the community of believers, since only an evangelized community can evangelise.
175. During the SI it was clarified that community experience remains essential for young people: if on the one hand they have “allergy to institutions”, it is equally true that they are looking for meaningful relationships in “authentic communities” and personal contacts with “witnesses” bright and coherent “(see RP 5.1.10). Various ECs have expressed the wish that the Synod reaffirm the open and inclusive nature of the Church, called to accompany young people with a view to safeguarding both the integrity of the announcement and the gradualness of the proposal, thus respecting the rhythms of maturation of their freedom. , which is constituted in a concrete and daily historical event. Following the example of Jesus, “the first and greatest evangelizer” (EN 9; EG 12), the community of believers is also called to go out and meet young people where they are,Lk 24 : 13-35).
176. The risk of ending up in an elitist and judicial belonging was already a great temptation present in the circle of the disciples of Jesus. This is why the Lord praises the faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who does not belong to the chosen people, manifests a faith great ( Mt 15,22-28); rebuke bitterly the disciples who would like to bring down a fire that consumes the Samaritans who do not welcome his passage ( Lk 9 : 51-55); declares that a membership of the chosen people and a legal observance do not offer automatic access to salvation ( Lk 18 : 10-14); shows that the experience of remoteness can be a prerequisite for a renewed communion and the life in the Father’s home an experience that makes us incapable of loving ( Lk.15,11,32). Thus, while Peter denies his beloved Master three times and Judah betrays him, the Roman centurion recognizes him first as the Son of God ( Mk 15:39). The Christian community is called out of the presumption of “seeing” with its own eyes (see Jn 9:41) and of judging with criteria different from those that come from God.
177. As already mentioned by the DP, “compared to the past, we must get used to paths of approach to the faith that are less and less standardized and more attentive to each person’s personal characteristics” (DP III, 4). The Christian community thus lives on different levels of belonging, recognizes with gratitude the small steps of each one and tries to value the seed of grace present in each one, offering everyone respect, friendship and accompaniment, because “a small step, in the midst of great human limitations, may be more pleasing to God than outwardly correct life of someone who spends his days without facing major difficulties “(EG 44; AL 305). Therefore, the young people themselves, with their fragmented life experiences and their uncertain paths of faith, help the Church to assume its natural multifaceted form (see EG 236).
178. One of the most fruitful outcomes emerging from the renewed pastoral care of the family lived in recent years has been the rediscovery of the Church’s family character. The affirmation that Church and parish is “family of families” (see AL 87.202) is strong and orientative towards its form. We refer to relational styles, where the family acts as a matrix to the Church’s own experience; to formative models of a spiritual nature that touch the affects, generate bonds and convert the heart; to educational paths that engage in the difficult and exciting art of accompaniment of young generations and families; to the qualification of the celebrations, because in the liturgy the style of a Church called by God to be his family is manifested. Many CEs wish to overcome the difficulty in living meaningful relationships in the Christian community and ask that the Synod offer concrete elements in this direction. An EC states that “in the midst of noisy and chaotic life many young people ask the Church to be a spiritual home”. Helping young people to unify their lives continually threatened by uncertainty, fragmentation and fragility is now decisive. For many young people living in fragile and disadvantaged families, it is important that they perceive the Church as a true family capable of “adopting” them as their own children. Helping young people to unify their lives continually threatened by uncertainty, fragmentation and fragility is now decisive. For many young people living in fragile and disadvantaged families, it is important that they perceive the Church as a true family capable of “adopting” them as their own children. Helping young people to unify their lives continually threatened by uncertainty, fragmentation and fragility is now decisive. For many young people living in fragile and disadvantaged families, it is important that they perceive the Church as a true family capable of “adopting” them as their own children.
179. Many CEs have clearly perceived the intimate connection between evangelization and education, well developed by many institutes of consecrated life for men and women who for centuries have focused on this combination and offer the whole Church a fruitful experience of youth ministry characterized by a marked attention to educational paths. Several EC responses indicate that different Christian communities and many pastors have a poor educational sensitivity. One of them says that in many situations “young people are not in the hearts of many Bishops, priests and religious”. When a community of believers, on the other hand, is aware of its educational task and is passionate about it, it is able to free spiritual and material forces that bring about a real “educational charity”,
180. The reality of the oratory or of similar pastoral activities deserves a special word, which see the Church as the proposing subject of an experience that in various contexts represents, as an EC says, “the specific care of a Christian community towards young people generations. His instruments are the most diverse and pass through the creativity of an educational community that knows how to put itself at the service, has a perspective on reality and knows how to rely on the Holy Spirit to act in a prophetic way “. Where the oratory is, the young generations are not forgotten and take on a central and active role in the Christian community. Some ECs expect a revival of this experience from the Synod.
181. As far as the link between youth ministry and family is concerned, it will be important to examine, in a synodal perspective, chapter VII of Amoris Laetitiadedicated to the theme of the education of children, which deserves more adequate pastoral valorisation. It is evident that “the family is the first school of human values, where one learns the good use of freedom” (AL 274). The young people themselves, during the pre-Synodal Meeting, have clearly stated that among the places that help the development of one’s personality, the family occupies a privileged position (see RP 1). Several ECs have become aware that investing energy to form good families does not mean taking energy away from young people. Therefore, the predilection and commitment to the young are called to open up decisively to family ministry.
182. Many Churches ask the Synod to deepen the indispensable role of the family as an active pastoral agent in the accompaniment and vocational discernment of children. Many others ask for help to qualify the accompaniment of young people during the time of engagement, in the immediate preparation for marriage and also in the phase following the celebration of the sacrament. The data from the EC show a panorama of very contrasting situations concerning the role of the family with respect to the synodal theme. Among the most secularized countries, in principle, as an EC says, “most Catholic families are not” actively “or” intentionally “involved in the vocational discernment of their children, and some are actively opposed”. In other contexts instead,
183. Many CEs , presenting their “best practices”, have privileged listening and dialogue with God: days of retreat, spiritual exercises, moments of detachment from the routinedaily, national and diocesan pilgrimages, shared experiences of prayer. Shrines, centers of spirituality and houses of Spiritual Exercises where there is a sensitivity for the reception and accompaniment of young people have great attraction in various parts of the world. An EC states: “We know that success does not come from ourselves but from God and for this we try to show young people that prayer is a lever that changes the world”. In a time of confusion many young people realize that only prayer, silence and contemplation offer the right “horizon of transcendence” within which to mature authentic choices. They perceive that only in the presence of God can one take a stand with truth and affirm that “silence is the place where we can hear the voice of God and discern his will on us” (RP 15).
184. In prayer, which can sometimes be an experience of “spiritual combat” (see GE 159-165), one’s own sensitivity to the Spirit is refined, one is educated in the ability to understand the signs of the times and one draws the strength to act in such a way that the Gospel can be incarnated again today. In the care of the spiritual life one enjoys faith as a happy personal relationship with Jesus and as a gift to be grateful to him. It is not for nothing that the contemplative life arouses admiration and esteem among the young. It is therefore evident that in the spiritual quality of community life great opportunities exist to bring young people closer to faith and to the Church and to accompany them in their vocational discernment.
185. The pastoral experiences of greater evangelizing and educational efficacy presented by many CEs focus on the comparison with the power of the Word of God in order to vocational discernment: Lectio divina , schools of the Word, biblical catechesis, deepening the lives of young people present in the Bible, use of digital tools that facilitate access to the Word of God are successful practices among young people. For many EC the renewal of pastoral care passes from its biblical qualification, and for this reason they ask the Synod for reflection and proposals. In areas where there are other Churches or Christian communities, various ECs point out the ecumenical value of the Bible, which can create significant convergences and shared pastoral projects.
186. Already Benedict XVI, as fruit of the Synod on the Word of God, asked the whole Church to “increase” biblical pastoral care “not in juxtaposition with other forms of pastoral care, but as a biblical animation of the whole pastoral care” (VD 73). After having affirmed that “the lamp for my steps is your word, the light on my path” ( Ps 119,105), the psalmist asks himself: “How can a young man keep his way pure? Observing your word “( Ps 119: 9).
187. An EC states that young people “do not come to church to find something they could obtain elsewhere, but seek authentic and even radical religious experience”. Many answers to the questionnaire indicate that young people are sensitive to the quality of the liturgy. In a provocative way, the RP says that “Christians profess a living God, but despite this, we find celebrations and communities that appear to be dead” (RP 7). Regarding the language and the quality of homilies, one EC points out that “young people feel a lack of harmony with the Church”, and adds: “It seems that we do not understand the vocabulary, and therefore also the needs, of young people”. Valuable information on this is found in EG 135-144.
188. Taking into account that “faith has a sacramental structure” (LF 40), some ECs ask that the genetic link between faith, sacraments and liturgy be developed in the planning of youth pastoral paths, starting from the centrality of the Eucharist, « source and summit of all Christian life “(LG 11) and” source and summit of all evangelization “(PO 5). Various CE assure that where the liturgy and the ars celebrandithey are well looked after there is always a significant presence of young people active and involved. Considering that in the juvenile sensibility to speak are not so much the concepts as the experiences, not the notions as the relationships, some CE observe that the Eucharistic celebrations and other celebratory moments – often considered points of arrival – can become a place and occasion for a renewed first announcement to young people. The EC of some countries testify to the effectiveness of the “pastoral care of ministrants” to make the spirit of the liturgy enjoy the young; however, it will be opportune to reflect on how to offer adequate liturgical formation to all young people.
189. The theme of popular piety also deserves attention. In various contexts it offers young people privileged access to faith, both because it is linked to local culture and traditions, and also because it enhances the language of the body and the affections, elements that sometimes in the liturgy they find it hard to find space.
190. Various EC questions have been asked, starting from the Synod theme, on the catechetical paths in progress in the Christian community. Catechesis does not always enjoy a good reputation among young people, because it reminds many of them “an obligatory path and not chosen in childhood” (QoL). Paying attention to the necessary and natural continuity with the pastoral care of adolescents and young people, some ECs ask to review the overall forms of the catechetical offer, verifying its validity for the new generations.
191. A DV invites us to avoid the opposition between experiential and content catechesis, because it reminds us that the experience of faith is already a cognitive opening to the truth and the journey of interiorization of the contents of faith leads to a vital encounter with Christ. In this original circularity the ecclesial community plays an irreplaceable role of mediation.
192. Some CEs and young people themselves advise to follow in catechesis the “way of beauty”, enhancing the immense artistic and architectural heritage of the Church, the authentic contact with the creation of God and the enchantment of the Church’s liturgy in all its forms and rites. There are successful experiences of catechesis with young people. They generally present themselves as an experiential itinerary of a living encounter with Christ, who becomes a source of dynamic unity between the truth of the Gospel and his own experience of life. In this way the conditions are created for the development of a strong faith, which is expressed in a missionary commitment.
193. In some contexts catechesis is carried out within the scholastic paths and therefore the teaching of religion is of great importance for the vocational maturation of the young. All this invites the Synod to reflect on the relationship between the school and the Christian community in terms of an educational alliance.
194. Numerous experiences presented at the end of the responses to the questionnaire of the DP refer to practices in which young people are accompanied in the logic of a “faith in act” that is realized in the service of charity. A Church that serves is a mature Church that attracts young people, because it testifies to its vocation to the imitation of Christ who “as a rich man who was, made himself poor for you” (2 Cor.8.9). In the responses of many CEs, the connection expressed in various paragraphs of the DP between experiences of free service and vocational discernment was well understood and developed. The young people point out that “periods of time spent in service with charitable movements and associations give young people an experience of mission and a space where they can practice discernment” (RP 15). In the QoL there are many testimonies of young people who have rediscovered the life of faith through experiences of service and in contact with the “Church that serves”. On the other hand, the Church will be able to renew its dynamism of service by confronting the needs of young people who push towards a transparent, disinterested and non-assitenzial style. In summary, a DV invites to promote a renewed “culture of gratuity”.
195. For many young people “international volunteering” is capable of combining sensitivity to solidarity with the aspiration to travel and the discovery of other cultures and unknown worlds: it is also a place of meeting and collaboration with young people far from the Church and non-believers. The “missionary voluntary service”, cared for and developed in many countries and by several Institutes of consecrated life for men and women, is a special gift that the Church can offer to all young people: preparation, accompaniment and recovery from a vocational perspective. a missionary experience is a privileged field for the vocational discernment of young people.
196. The pre-Synodal Meeting saw the participation not only of young Catholics, but also of young people from other Christian confessions, from other religions and even from non-believers. It was a sign that the young welcomed with gratitude, because it showed the face of a hospitable and inclusive Church able to recognize the wealth and contribution that can come from each for the good of all. Knowing that authentic faith can not generate an attitude of presumption towards others, the disciples of the Lord are called to value all the seeds of goodness present in every person and in every situation. The humility of faith helps the community of believers to let themselves be instructed by people of different positions or cultures, in the logic of a mutual benefit in which they give and receive.
197. For example, in the SI some experts have pointed out how the migration phenomenon can become an opportunity for an intercultural dialogue and for the renewal of Christian communities at risk of involution. Some LGBT youth, through various contributions made to the Secretariat of the Synod, wish to “benefit from greater closeness” and experience greater care by the Church, while some ECs question what to propose “to young people who decide to heterosexual couples decide to form homosexual couples and, above all, they want to be close to the Church “.
Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, which in some countries takes on the features of a real priority for young people, is born and develops in a climate of mutual esteem and natural openness for a community that comes into play with “sweetness and respect” with a right conscience “(1 Pt3:16). Even dialogue with non-believers and the secular world as a whole is in some contexts decisive for young people, especially in the academic and cultural fields, where sometimes they feel discriminated against in the name of the faith they profess: initiatives such as ” Chair of the non-believers “and of the” Courtyard of the Gentiles “are of great interest for the young generations, because they help them to integrate their faith in the world in which they live and also to assume a method of open dialogue and fruitful dialogue between different positions .
198. To accompany young people in their vocational discernment not only need competent people, but also adequate structures of animation not only efficient and effective, but above all attractive and bright for the relational style and the fraternal dynamics that generate. Some ECs feel the need for “institutional conversion”. Respecting and integrating our legitimate differences, we recognize in communion the privileged way for the mission, without which it is impossible both to educate and to evangelise. It becomes increasingly important to verify, as a Church, not just “what” we are doing for and with young people, but also “how” we are doing it.
199. In the name of many others, a young man responding to the QoL says: “We wish to be involved, valued, feeling co-responsible in what we are doing”. As baptized, the young are called to be “missionary disciples”, and important steps are being taken in this direction (see EG 106). In the wake of the conciliar document Apostolicam Actuositatem , St. John Paul II affirmed that young people “should not be considered simply as the object of the pastoral care of the Church: they are, in fact, and must be encouraged to be active subjects, protagonists of the evangelization and architects of social renewal»(CL 46). Here is the real qualifying point of youth ministry for many CEs: to pass courageously from pastoral care “for young people” to “pastoral care” with young people “.
Benedict XVI often invited young people to be protagonists of the mission: “Dear young people, you are the first missionaries among your peers!” ( Message for the XXVIII WYD 2013 , 18 October 2012), because “the best way to evangelize a young person it’s getting to him through another young man “(QoL). The privileged fields for youth protagonism will be identified. Some ECs denounce the reality of “clericalism” as a sometimes insurmountable problem: an EC affirms that “many of our young people think that the Church is only the whole ordained ministers and consecrated ministers”. Breaking up this vision remains a goal that many ECs hope will be achieved with a clear stance on the part of the Synod.
200. All the people of God are subjects of the Christian mission (see EG 120) and this is expressed with different responsibilities and various levels of animation.
The successor of Peter continually manifests a predilection for young people, whom they recognize and appreciate. Its being a center of visible unity of the Church and its universal media impact put it in a leading position that recognizes and encourages the contribution of all the charisms and institutions at the service of the young generations.
Many CEs offer a central service qualified for youth ministry, but the privileged subject remains the particular Church, which the Bishop presides and animates with his collaborators, fostering synergies and enhancing the good experiences of communion among all those who work for the good for the young. If many ECs claim that there is a quality service in this area of pastoral care, in some parts of the world there is a lot of improvisation and little organization.
From a territorial point of view, the parish, Church among the houses, is the ordinary place of pastoral care and its validity has clearly been reaffirmed in our time (see EG 28). A young person in the QoL states that “where priests are free from financial and organizational tasks, they can concentrate on pastoral and sacramental work that touches people’s lives”. If some ECs point out the vitality of the parishes, for others they no longer seem to be an adequate space for young people, who turn to other Church experiences that better intercept their mobility, their places of life and their spiritual search.
201. Many ECs attest to their sincere gratitude for the many and qualified presences of the consecrated in their territory who know how to “educate by evangelizing and evangelizing by educating” in many different forms and styles. Today the consecrated persons are living a delicate phase: if in some countries, especially in the South of the world, there is an expansion and vitality that bodes well, in more secularized areas there is a consistent numeric decrease and even a crisis identity, generated by the fact that today society seems no longer to have any need of consecrated persons. Some CEs note that consecrated life is a specific place of expression of “female genius”. Sometimes, however, there is an ecclesial inability to recognize, give space and stimulate this unique and much needed creativity today, and to avoid instrumental uses of the different charisms:
202. Convinced that young people are the real resource for the “rejuvenation” of ecclesial dynamisms, the USG asks: “Are we really sensitive to young people? Do we understand their needs and expectations? Do we understand their need to make meaningful experiences? Are we able to overcome the distances that separate us from their world? ” Where young people are offered listening, welcoming and witnessing in a creative and dynamic way, they are born the tunes and sympathies that are bearing fruit. For the USG, the establishment of a “permanent Observatory” on youth at the level of the universal Church would be opportune.
203. Many young people live and rediscover faith through a convinced and active belonging to movements and associations that offer them an intense fraternal life, demanding paths of spirituality, experiences of service, adequate spaces for accompaniment and persons competent for discernment. This is why their presence is generally appreciated. Where the Church struggles to maintain a visible and significant presence, the movements retain a vital dynamism and remain an important garrison; also in other places they are a positive presence: the community style and the spirit of prayer, the enhancement of the Word of God and service to the poorest, joyful belonging and the re-evaluation of the corporeal and emotional sphere, active involvement and the drive for leadership are some of the elements of undoubted interest that explain their great success among young people. Some ECs, while recognizing the fruitfulness of all this, ask that the Synod reflect and offer concrete guidelines to overcome the temptation of self-referentiality of some movements and associations, because it is necessary “to make the participation of these groups more stable within the pastoral care ‘whole of the Church’ (EG 105). In this direction it would be appropriate to enhance the criteria offered by IE 18. because it is necessary “to make the participation of these aggregations more stable within the overall pastoral care of the Church” (EG 105). In this direction it would be appropriate to enhance the criteria offered by IE 18. because it is necessary “to make the participation of these aggregations more stable within the overall pastoral care of the Church” (EG 105). In this direction it would be appropriate to enhance the criteria offered by IE 18.
204. The Church is called to enter into a decisive relationship with all those who are responsible for the education of young people in the civil and social sphere. The current sensitivity towards the “educational emergency” in progress is a common patrimony of the Church and of civil society and calls for unity of purpose to recreate an alliance in the adult world. “Making a network” is one of the qualifying points to be developed in the third millennium. In a world in which the Church is becoming more and more aware of not being the sole agent of society, but recognizing that it is a “qualified minority”, it becomes necessary to learn the art of collaboration and the ability to build relationships in view of a common project. Far from thinking that entering into dialogue with different social and civil organizations means losing one’s identity,
205. Not only on a civil and social level, but also in the ecumenical and inter-religious sphere some CEs testify that pursuing shared objectives in various fields – for example, the field of human rights, the protection of creation, the opposition to any kind of violence and child abuse, respect for religious freedom – help the different subjects to open up, know each other, esteem and cooperate together.
206. A cross-complaint by many ECs is disorganization, improvisation and repetition. In the RP it has been said that “sometimes, in the Church, it is difficult to overcome the logic of” it has always been done so “» (RP 1). Sometimes the unpreparedness of some pastors is highlighted, who do not feel up to the challenge to face the complicated challenges of our time and thus risk ending up in ecclesiological, liturgical and cultural outdated visions. An EC states that “we often notice the absence of a mentality to plan paths” and for various others it would be useful to ask how to accompany the Dioceses in this field, given that today, says an EC, “emerges the request for greater coordination, dialogue, planning and also study, in relation to the vocational youth ministry “. Other CEs hint at a sort of contrast between operational planning and spiritual discernment. In reality, a good pastoral project should be the mature fruit of an authentic journey of discernment in the Spirit, which leads everyone to go deeply.
207. Many ECs have offered reflections on the relationship between some “major events” of youth ministry – in the first place the WYD, but also international, continental, national and diocesan youth gatherings – and the ordinary life of faith of young people and Christian communities. There is great appreciation for the WYD because, as an EC says, “it offers excellent opportunities for pilgrimage, cultural exchange and building friendships in local and international contexts”. However, some ECs ask for a verification and a revival: some consider it an overly elitist experience and others want it more interactive, open and dialogical.
208. In the RP, young people asked themselves how to “bridge the gap between the wider ecclesial events and the parish” (RP 14). If the great events play a significant role for many young people, many times it is difficult to incorporate into the everyday the enthusiasm that comes from participation in such initiatives, which risk becoming moments of escape and escape from the life of ordinary faith. In this regard, an EC affirms that “international events can become part of ordinary youth ministry, and not just unique events, if the relationship between these events becomes clearer and the issues underlying these events are reflected in reflection and in practice. in personal and everyday community life “. Some CEs warn against the illusion that some extraordinary events solve the path of faith and the Christian life of young people: in this sense, attention to virtuous processes, to educational paths and to faith itineraries seems decidedly necessary. Because, as an EC says, “the best way to proclaim the Gospel in our age is to experience it in daily life with simplicity and wisdom”, thus showing that it is salt, light and leaven of every day.
209. An EC, like many others, on the relationship between pastoral care for minors and pastoral care for vocations, says: “Even if there are significant experiences in this regard, there is a strong need to structurally articulate youth ministry and pastoral care for vocations. Furthermore, there is the need to work together with the family pastoral, educational, cultural and social activity around the construction of the personal project of life of every baptized person ». There is everywhere a sincere search for greater coordination, synergy and integration between the different pastoral areas whose common goal is to help all young people to reach the “measure of the fullness of Christ” ( Eph.4:13). Faced with a multiplication of “offices” that creates design and operational fragmentation, difficulty in clarifying the different skills and effort to manage the different levels of relationships, the idea of ”integrated pastoral care”, which leverages the centrality of the recipients, seems to be for some ECs a direction of progress to be consolidated and increased.
210. The key to achieving this integrated unity is for many the vocational horizon of existence, because “the vocational dimension of youth ministry is not something to be proposed only at the end of the whole process or to a group particularly sensitive to a specific vocational call, but one that must be proposed constantly throughout the process of evangelization and education in the faith of adolescents and young people “(Francis, Message to the participants in the international conference on the theme:” Vocation Ministry and Consecrated Life. and hopes “ , 25 November 2017).
211. Young candidates for the ordained ministry and for the consecrated life live under the same conditions as other young people: they share the resources and the fragility of their peers, depending on the Continents and the countries in which they live. For this it is necessary to offer suitable indications to the different local situations. On a general level, with regard to vocational discernment, some ECs identify two major problems: narcissism, which tends to lock the person up to his own needs, and the tendency to understand the vocation in the exclusive perspective of self-realization. Both have a common root in a potentially pathological concentration on themselves. Two dangers that even the paths of formation run are individualismcentered on the autonomous subject, which excludes recognition, gratitude and collaboration in the action of God; l ‘ intimacy , which closes the person in the virtual world and a false interiority, which excludes the necessity of having to deal with each other and with the community (cfr .PD and GE 35-62). Formal paths designed to liberate the generosity of young people in formation must be designed, making them grow in a profound awareness of being at the service of God’s people. It is necessary to guarantee quality educational teams capable of interacting with the concrete needs of today’s young people. with their need for spirituality and radicalism. The organization of times, spaces and activities in formation houses should make possible a true experience of common and fraternal life.
212. The synthetic and unifying figure of the Christian life is holiness, because “the Lord Jesus, master and divine model of every perfection, to all and to his individual disciples of any condition has preached the sanctity of life, of which he himself is the author and perfectioner “(LG 40). Holiness includes from a qualitative and global point of view every other dimension of the believing existence and of the ecclesial communion, brought to fullness according to the gifts and possibilities of each one. This is why St. John Paul II proposed it at the beginning of the third millennium as a “high measure of ordinary Christian life” (NMI 31). The resumption of the theme in GE offers a deepening of holiness in the contemporary world and calls to all the will of the Lord Jesus, who “wants us holy and does not expect us to be content with a mediocre existence, watered down, inconsistent “(GE 1). Everything is clearly played in the practice of daily life: “The strength of the witness of the saints lies in living the Beatitudes and the rule of behavior of the final judgment. They are few words, simple, but practical and valid for everyone, because Christianity is mainly done to be practiced “(GE 109).
213. Convinced that “holiness is the most beautiful face of the Church” (GE 9), before proposing it to the young we are all called to live it as witnesses, thus becoming a “sympathetic” community, as the Acts of the Apostles narrate on various occasions. (see GE 93). Only starting from this coherence it becomes important to accompany young people on the paths of holiness. If St. Ambrose stated that “every age is ripe for holiness” ( De Virginitate, 40), undoubtedly it is also youth! In the holiness of many young people, the Church recognizes the grace of God that prevents and accompanies the history of each person, the educational value of the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation, the fruitfulness of shared paths in faith and charity, the prophetic role of these ” champions “who often sealed their being disciples of Christ and missionaries of the Gospel. If it is true, as young people have stated during the pre-Synodal Meeting, that authentic witness is the most requested language, the life of young saints is the true word of the Church and the invitation to undertake a holy life is the most necessary call for today’s youth. An authentic spiritual dynamism and a fruitful pedagogy of holiness do not disappoint the profound aspirations of the young: their need for life, love, expansion, joy, freedom, future and even mercy and reconciliation. For many ECs it remains a great challenge to propose holiness as a horizon of meaning accessible to all young people and achievable in the ferocity of life.
214. Jesus invites each of his disciples to the total gift of life, without calculation or human self-interest. The saints welcome this demanding invitation and stand with humble docility to follow Christ crucified and risen. The Church contemplates in the sky of sanctity a constellation ever more numerous and luminous of boys, teenagers and young saints and blessed that since the first Christian communities have come down to us. In invoking them as protectors, he indicates them to young people as references for their existence. Various ECs call for the promotion of youth sanctity for education, and young people recognize that they are “more receptive to” a narrative of life “than an abstract theological sermon” (RP, Part II, Introduction). Since young people say that “the lives of saints are still relevant to us” (RP 15), it becomes important to present them in a way that is appropriate to their age and condition.
A special place belongs to the Mother of the Lord, who lived as a first disciple of her beloved Son and is a model of holiness for every believer. In her capacity to preserve and meditate the Word in her own heart (see Lk 2 : 19.51), Mary is the mother and teacher of discernment for the whole Church.
It is also worth mentioning that next to the “young saints” there is the need to present to young people the “youth of the saints”. In fact, all the saints have passed through the young age and it would be useful for the young of today to show how the Saints lived the time of their youth. Thus it would be possible to intercept many youth situations which are neither simple nor easy, but where God is present and mysteriously active. To show that His grace is at work through tortuous paths of patient construction of a holiness that matures over time through many unexpected ways can help all young people, no one excluded, to cultivate the hope of a sanctity that is always possible.
* * *
your Church on the way to the Synod
he turns his gaze to all the young people of the world.
We pray you why with courage
take their lives in their hands,
aim at the most beautiful and deepest things
and always keep a free heart.
Accompanied by wise and generous guides,
help them to answer the call
that you address to each of them,
to realize your own life project
and achieve happiness.
Keep their hearts open to big dreams
and make them attentive to the good of the brothers.
Like the beloved Disciple,
they are also under the Cross
to welcome your Mother, receiving it as a gift from you.
Be witnesses of your Resurrection
and know how to recognize you alive next to them
announcing with joy that You are the Lord.
AL Amoris laetitia
DC Deus caritas est
CE Episcopal Conference / Episcopal Conferences
CL Christifideles laici
DP Preparatory document
DV Dicastery Vatican
EG Evangelii gaudium
EN Evangelii nuntiandi
GMG World Youth Day
GE Gaudete et exsultate
GS Gaudium et spes
IE Iuvenescit ecclesia
LF Lumen fidei
LG Lumen gentium
LS Laudato si ‘
NMI Novo millennio ineunte
PD Placuit Deo PdV
Pastores dabo vobis
PO Presbyterorum ordinis
PP Populorum progressio
QoL Online questionnaire for young people of the Secretariat of the Synod
RFIS Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis
RP Pre- Synodal Meeting (19-24 March 2018)
SI International Seminar on Youth Condition (11-15 September 2017)
USG Union Superiors General
VC Vita Consecrata
VG Veritatis gaudium
VD Verbum Domini
[00978-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]