Update the Church, young people tell Pope
The church needs to update its teachings on issues like same-sex marriage and contraception, young people told Pope Francis last week.
Three hundred young people who came from all over the world to meet Francis also had words for the Church hierarchy. It should be a “transparent, welcoming, honest, inviting, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community,” they said.
Their voices were swelled by about 15,000 others who weren’t able to attend the meeting. They took part via six different Facebook groups, in different languages. The Facebook groups, which were moderated by young people, discussed the same topics as those who attended the Rome gathering.
The document released at the end of the gathering says “A credible Church is one which is not afraid to allow itself be seen as vulnerable.” The document calls on the Catholic Church to better include young people at all levels of its global community and notes women are “not given an equal place” in church leadership.
“These positions need to be on a parish, diocesan, national and international level, even on a commission to the Vatican. We strongly feel that we are ready to be leaders.”
Another issue delegates mentioned was that the Church needs to go out to them. It should try to find creative new ways to encounter people: bars, coffee shops, parks, gyms, stadiums and any other popular cultural centers.
Another section of the document says “A credible Church is one which is not afraid to allow itself to be seen as vulnerable. The Church should be sincere in admitting its past and present wrongs.”
There were different views among the participants about a number of issues. Examples include contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation, marriage, and how the priesthood is perceived in different realities in the Church.
“What is important to note is that irrespective of their level of understanding of Church teaching, there is still disagreement and ongoing discussion among young people on these polemical issues,” the document says. “As a result, they may want the Church to change her teaching or at least have access to a better explanation and to more formation on these questions.”
The young people’s views will provide input into this October’s synod of bishops in Rome on “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”
Thanks to our local ‘Cathnews’ here in New Zealand for this link to other Catholic agencies listed above.
One has to wonder how far these recommendations from a world-wide consensus of Catholic youth will probe the hearts and minds of the Roman Catholic hierarchy – especially at the Vatican level.
There can be little doubt that Pope Francis himself will be urgently concerned to listen to the voices of these young people in the Church who are desperate to let their voices be heard on issues that confront each and every one of them and all of us on a daily basis.
The issues are no different in importance from those confronted by every part of the Body of Christ. We Anglicans, currently concerned with matters like gender, sexuality and same-sex relationships, are equally concerned to listen to the voices of our young people, whose lives are already overtaken by their experience of radical difference in understanding of matters which confront them.
Considering the fact that the future of both Church and society will inevitably become dependent upon today’s young people, the Church needs to listen to their arguments for a more inclusive and open attitude towards the moral and social issues that they are actually having to deal with.
Tradition – especially in the Church – needs to become more flexible in the way it deals with hitherto unimaginable conflict on matters that affect everyone, not just the followers of Christ but also every other human being on this planet. What needs to be done is to see matters of traditional doctrine in the light of a more scientifically enlightened society in our world of today – with more knowledge than was available to our forebears in The Faith – especially on things that impinge on common human relationships for the better good of all.
The doctrine of Christ, for Christians, is immutable. How that affects us all is a matter that the Church still needs to tussle with – in ways that are consonant with an ongoing quest for our wholeness (holiness), salted with a realistic dose of common sense.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand