“The Synod has been a good harvest and promises good wine.” This sentence that Pope Francis pronounced on Sunday, October 28 at the Angelus, from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace and before thousands of pilgrims, summarizes the work, reflection and living for three and a half weeks at the Synod of the bishops. On this day, the Pope closed this Synod, which began on Wednesday, October 3, with a Eucharist celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter, in the Vatican.
This XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops has been considered as the “Synod of young people.” His motto and theme has been: “Young people, the Faith and vocational discernment.” Therefore, the diversity of issues that have emerged in the dialogue and in the discussion of the fathers and synodal participants, have had as their horizon the young people, their anxieties and hopes, their culture and their real situation in the Church and in today’s society. Always bearing in mind something very specific of a Synod and that Pope Francis has reminded more than once: “The Synod is not a Parliament, it is a protected space so that the Holy Spirit can act.”
The final Document of this Synod has been approved with the required majority of two-thirds of the 268 Synod Fathers. Its writing has as a thread the passage that St. Luke tells us in chapter 24 of his Gospel: the two disciples who were walking to a village called Emmaus. The Document has 60 pages and is structured in three large sections, twelve chapters and 167 issues. The three major sections correspond to the three fundamental incidents of the Lucan text: “recognize,” “interpret,” “choose” (“he began to walk with them,” “their eyes were opened,” “they left without delay”).
To highlight a series of topics among all those studied and reflected in the Synod and gathered in the final Document, we can mention the following: young people ask for an authentic, luminous, transparent, happy Church; a very considerable number of young people do not want anything with the Church, their disconnection with it is absolute; give effective importance to synodality, collegiality and co-responsibility in the Church; the young people ask that their participation in ecclesial tasks be accepted without reservations or fears; enhance vocational accompaniment; clear and firm commitment against abuses, against all kinds of abuses, and radically eradicate the ways in which this type of abuse is grafted, for example, corruption and clericalism; the presence of women in ecclesiastical bodies and in functions of responsibility; the body, sexuality and affectivity, proposing to young people an anthropology of affectivity and sexuality capable of giving a person the right value in all the states of life; favor the accompaniment in the faith of homosexual persons; the promotion of justice against the so-called culture of discarding that affects young people fully; the concern for migrants and the reception of refugees and fugitives, without distrust; contemplate migrants and refugees not as a danger, but as an enrichment opportunity for the communities and societies they reach and that can be revitalized by them; Young people ask that the Church establish specialized departments for digital culture and evangelization.
As is customary at the conclusion of the synods of bishops, they publish a message or communication to the people of God, starting from what was discussed in the synodal classroom. On this occasion, the synod fathers have published a short “Letter to young people” from around the world (at the end of this article, we put the full letter).
It is a letter of “hope, trust and consolation.” A letter where the bishops tell young people that “our weaknesses should not deter you; our frailties and sins must not be an obstacle for your trust.” And they stress: “The Church is your mother; she does not abandon you; she is ready to accompany you on new roads, on higher paths where the winds of the Spirit blow stronger – sweeping away the mists of indifference, superficiality and discouragement.”
Celestino Fernández, C. M.
Letter from the Synod Fathers to Young People
XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
We the Synod Fathers now address you, young people of the world, with a word of hope, trust and consolation. In these days, we have gathered together to hear the voice of Jesus, “the eternally young Christ”, and to recognize in Him your many voices, your shouts of exultation, your cries, and your moments of silence.
We are familiar with your inner searching, the joys and hopes, the pain and anguish that make up your longings. Now we want you to hear a word from us: we wish to be sharers in your joy, so that your expectations may come to life. We are certain that with your enthusiasm for life, you will be ready to get involved so that your dreams may be realized and take shape in your history.
Our weaknesses should not deter you; our frailties and sins must not be an obstacle for your trust. The Church is your mother; she does not abandon you; she is ready to accompany you on new roads, on higher paths where the winds of the Spirit blow stronger – sweeping away the mists of indifference, superficiality and discouragement.
When the world that God so loved, that he gave us his only Son, Jesus, is focused on material things, on short-term successes, on pleasures, and when the world crushes the weakest, you must help it to rise up again and to turn its gaze towards love, beauty, truth and justice once more.
For a month, we have walked together with some of you and with many others who have been united to us through prayer and affection. We wish to continue the journey now in every part of the earth where the Lord Jesus sends us as missionary disciples.
The Church and the world urgently need your enthusiasm. Be sure to make the most fragile people, the poor and those wounded by life, your traveling companions.
You are the present, be the brightest future.
Vatican City, October 28, 2018