Will the Synod come alive at local level?

The Synod of Bishops on young people concluded at the Vatican on Sunday Oct 28 with a letter addressed to the young people of the world appealing to them to get involved in both the Church and the world that “urgently needs [their] enthusiasm.”

Nov 03, 2018

By Nicolas Senèze
The Synod of Bishops on young people concluded at the Vatican on Sunday Oct 28 with a letter addressed to the young people of the world appealing to them to get involved in both the Church and the world that “urgently needs [their] enthusiasm.” The letter is a brief exhortation written after the final synodal document was adopted by the bishops.

Earlier, Pope Francis had told the bishops that “we are the people to whom the document is addressed.”

In this sense, Pope Francis sought to remind the Synod Fathers of their responsibilities and their key roles in transmitting the Synodal experience to their local churches.
All 167 paragraphs of the 55-page document were approved by a two-thirds majority, several articles nevertheless raised objections from a significant number of bishops.

There is, for example, a sentence stating that “sexual morality is frequently the cause of incomprehension and distancing from the Church which is often perceived as judgment and condemnation.” This was pointed out by the young people themselves.

Similarly, with respect to women’s participation in the Church, the document says is a “matter of justice” and recommends creating “spaces in the decision-making process, particularly when they do not specifically involve ministerial responsibilities.”

However, it was the issue of welcoming homosexuals in the Church that created the most resistance with 65 votes. This was so despite the fact that the text did no more than reject “all discrimination or violence on a sexual basis” and recommended that there be the promotion and development for the accompaniment in the faith of homosexual persons.”

Looking beyond these contentious issues, the final document adopts many insights expressed during the Synod.

It highlights the need for a presence in the digital world and for involving young people more broadly in the decision-making processes of the Church, including at the Vatican, as well as encouraging their involvement in politics, economy and justice.

The document emphasised that it is now up to bishops’ conferences and dioceses to make the Synod come alive.

Following the “preparatory phase” and the “celebratory phase” of the last three weeks, it will now enter its “implementation phase,” which will also need to be “synodal.”

This new form of living the Church was not welcomed unanimously. No global institution other than the Catholic Church has ever offered more than three weeks to listen to young people.Bravo! However, this exercise was achieved with some difficulty.

Nevertheless, the very method of the Synod was criticised and the synodal working document was presented as an “almost sacred document,” one bishop lamented. Sadly, the participants lacked time to develop their own process of reflection.

The aim of the Synod organisers was clearly to encourage the bishops not to exclude the preparatory phase, particularly the responses of young people, but it did not happen in many places.

In addition to this, the young people came from diverse situations and problems, although this was sometimes overplayed by some bishops to avoid facing certain issues.

The sexual abuse issue also overshadowed the whole discussion with a significant number of bishops, particularly from Africa, believing that it had been given an exaggerated place at the Synod whereas it was not a major issue facing them.

To avoid such blockages, several bishops are now pleading for continental synods and for debate closer to the grassroots.

That is precisely what will occur next year at the Vatican with the Synod assembly on Amazonia.--LCI (international.la-croix.com)

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