Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Synod on Young People focused this morning on giving more room to women in the Church, a topic that could also be the subject of a separate Synod. Another issue was the renewed proposal of setting up a Youth Council in the Roman Curia with representatives from the five continents present in the Pope’s “home”.
In addressing the issue of an adequate female presence in the Church, participants agreed to reject all forms of exclusion and bias as well as speed up the fight against the still dominant male chauvinist culture as well as clericalism in order to develop respect for women and the recognition of their charisms. For one Synodal Father, this is a real urgency.
Others looked at how to approach youth needs in a concrete way starting with the places, schools and university, where the first contact with the Church occurs in some countries. Young people also need help to stay connected with God, the “GPS” of their lives.
Faced with the challenges of today’s world, the Fathers insisted on not denying the symbols of Christianity, on not letting the Catholic religion be ridiculed, and above all on fighting the scourge of abuse. The Church’s credibility is at stake.
What is required is living amid the people, far from palaces, “to smell young people”. The Gospel of Jesus, who was born poor and died on the cross and was resurrected, must be proposed without any watering down. Christ is worthy of love and following; he is the “leader” young people seek.
During the morning, some presentations dealt with tragic issues like the war in Ukraine, a conflict already in its fifth year whose indelible repercussions on the lives of young people will be felt for a long time to come. The latter, some participants noted, have a “certain dislike for the Church, seen as a cold structure fighting for its survival and geopolitical interests.”
From the Church, young people want a moral authority that offers clear reference points for their lives. “A young man who saves civilian lives under bombardments, some said, understands better the price of human life than an arrogant priest or a miserly politician.”
The bishops’ attention was also drawn to the suffering endured by young Catholics in the Central African Republic, a country torn by violence, fundamentalism and religious syncretism, which cause wounds that are hard to heal. The spotlight was also turned on certain countries like Madagascar where the lack of access to education for young people makes the promotion of evangelical values a losing proposition.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, addressed the Synod. As a brotherly delegate, he brought the greetings of Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia.
“The Church, old and always young, holds the millennial Christian Tradition, a force that transfigures and changes the surrounding world. The participation of the representatives of non-Catholic Churches in the Synod has now become a well-established tradition that bears witness to the ever-higher level of inter-Christian collaboration on the most important issues of our time, which concern all Christians regardless of their religious affiliation.”
Hilarion stressed the value of brotherly Orthodox-Catholic collaboration in the face of de-Christianisation, secularism, denial of Christian values and persecution. He noted that a shared mission is to teach young people to discern good from evil, what is authentic from what is false, in a society in which “freedom is perceived in wrong ways and religion is rejected in the name of relativism”.
For Hilarion, defending moral values, guaranteeing access to the sacraments, and providing good theological education are important answers. Above all, the Churches must offer the person and the unchangeable truth of Christ, who died and rose, the one who can transform life and fill it with meaning.