Monika Litynski, The Circuit
During the month of October, the Synod of Bishops met with Pope Francis and leaders of other international faith communities to talk about the youth.
What may not be known is what was talked about and what types of implications it could have on a Catholic young person living in today’s modern world.
First, a definition of what a Synod of Bishops is necessary.
The official website for this year’s synod, synod2018.va, defined the Synod of Bishops as being “a religious meeting or assembly at which bishops, gathered around and with the Holy Father, have opportunity to interact with each other and to share information and experiences, in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application.”
Bishops representing different areas of the world met with Pope Francis to talk about what the Church is doing for young adults and what it could do differently.
Following this meeting, a 55 page document was constructed. This document addresses the three main topics that were discussed including young people, faith, and vocational discernment throughout the world.
In the final document, one particular country or region is not the emphasis, but rather for the document to be adapted to each particular country.
Christian Duran, a sophomore Theology and Evangelization & Catechesis major, knew that the synod was happening and was excited that Church leaders were prioritizing the needs and wants of young people.
“My hope is that dioceses’ will read the document and take seriously its propositions in order to improve our youth formation programs, particularly in America,” Duran said.
Melissa Jimenez, a senior Theology major, thought that the topics of discussion were not what young people in the Church are looking for.
“Everything I heard coming from the synod seemed to give an impression to me that the synod was trying to become more appealing to young people by softening ‘the moral judgment of the church’,” Jimenez said. “My impression was that this synod was trying to help young people, but they may have completely missed the mark because it seems like they are just causing more confusion about what the church teaches.”
Jimenez explains that she views young people as starving for the truth that the Church teaches, as well as all her traditions. Instead of the Synod focusing on young people, faith, and vocational discernment throughout the world, Bishops should have focused on how to spread truth to her generation.
“I would like to see more of an openness to the patrimony of the church that existed for 1900 years, Jimenez said.
Jimenez continued by stressing that this includes reverence for the beautiful liturgies, stressing the importance of Latin in Mass, complete devotion and dependence on the sacraments, instead of ostracizing people who love and defend what was normal in the Church for thousands of years.
Here at Benedictine, there are many opportunities for students to learn and get involved more in their faith outside the classroom, they just have to go looking for the right resources.
“I think that BC does a particularly good job at equipping it’s students to be effective
‘missionary disciples,’” Duran said. “If anything, this Synod/ document is an encouragement for us to continue striving for excellence as a Catholic college.”
Though this may be true for Benedictine, parishes around the country have a lot of work to do in order to keep youth interested in their faith and wanting to pursue a continuing relationship with Christ.
“Most of the Catholic young people I encountered across the country viewed their religious education/ Sunday school more as an obligation than anything else, Duran said.” “Their confirmation marked a sort of ‘graduation’ from Sunday school, or even worse – the faith. This needs to change.”
Duran added that in order to do that, bishops must create and put in place better religious education programs and encourage parish religious educators to talk with parents about how to best form children in their faith.
Other big topics of discussions and within the final document include things such as women within the Church, the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and the Church’s teachings on same sex attractions.
The meeting was meant to bring up what the young people living out their Catholic faith want the Church to know they want from her. They want to be heard by their pastors and other Church leaders.
“I hope that this document does not remain as just another statement that parishes/ youth ministry programs overlook,” Duran said. “Rather, youth ministry should be built on the principles proposed by the leaders of our Church.”
Jimenez agreed with Duran on the aspects of youth needing proper religious education, but disagreed on how the Church should go about doing that.
“Evangelization is no doubt important, and we need to spread the Gospel to others everywhere we go,” Jimenez said. “But that cannot and must not come at the expense of the beauty and traditions of our faith. They are one and the same and as much as some people try; they can not be separated.”
For more on the discussions and what the official document says, visit the following website.