VATICAN CITY — No one is excluded from the love of God or from being welcomed into the Catholic Church, but God’s love and the Church’s welcome also come with a call to conversion, said the English-language groups at the Synod of Bishops.
Young people need to know “the Church’s beautiful, yet challenging, vision, teaching and anthropology of the body, sexuality, love and life, marriage and chastity,” stated the English-A group.
“At the same time, we restate the Church’s opposition to discrimination against any person or group, and her insistence that God loves every young person, and so does the Church,” the group stated in its report.
The reports, published by the Vatican Oct. 20, were the result of reflections in the small groups — divided by language — on the final chapter of the synod working document, which dealt with “pastoral and missionary conversion.”
Most of the 14 working groups called for further local and national dialogue with young people on what they need from the Catholic Church and what they can offer the Church. Most also called for a greater involvement of women in the life of the Church, including in the training of priests, and many acknowledged how the sexual abuse scandal undermines the Church’s credibility.
None of the synod groups in any language used the term “LGBT,” but many of them did refer to a need to help young people who struggle with Church teaching on sexuality or, more explicitly, those who experience “same-sex attraction.”
The English-B group stated that it “discussed the issue of Catholics who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria,” which refers to believing one’s biological sex does not correspond to his or her true identity.
The group asked that the synod’s final document include “a separate section for this issue and that the main objective of this be the pastoral accompaniment of these people which follows the lines of the relevant section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” The catechism teaches that homosexual activity is sinful, but that people with same-sex attraction must be respected and welcomed.
The English-D group stated it, too, “spent a good deal of time reflecting on the motif of the Church’s stance of welcome and inclusivity. We fully and enthusiastically acknowledge that the Church of Jesus Christ reaches out in love to absolutely everyone.”
“No one, on account of gender, lifestyle or sexual orientation, should ever be made to feel unloved, uncared for,” the group stated. “However, as St. Thomas Aquinas specifies, love means ‘willing the good of the other.’ And this is why authentic love by no means excludes the call to conversion, to change of life.”
The group also echoed a sentiment shared by other groups that through the synod, the speeches and the contributions of the young adults present, “it became eminently clear that young people crave holiness of life and desire practical training that will help them walk the path of sanctity.”
The French-B group asked for a special section in the synod’s final document on “the gift of the body (and) the grace of affectivity and sexuality.”
The section should explain Church teaching clearly and in a way young people understand “to avoid confusion,” the group stated. But “we believe it is important to deepen a reflection on pastoral outreach and the mission of the Church regarding certain categories before introducing them into the document.”
Participants: Final synod document to focus on all young adults
By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — The synod’s final document will seek to address issues concerning all young people and not just those issues facing young men and women living in Western countries, said members participating in the Synod of Bishops.
The various speeches and small-group discussions within the synod process have “enabled us to see the entirety of the many issues that young people face around the world,” Samoan observer Joseph Sapati Moeono-Kolio said Oct. 23 at a Vatican briefing for journalists.
Throughout the discussions leading up to the synod’s final week, Sapati said, small groups “have been very specific and intentional that we don’t become too Western with our approach.”
“Whether or not there will be a Western focus on the document, we don’t know, we haven’t read it, it’s not fully finished yet. But I can say for certain that in the process leading up to that, everyone that has been part of the synod has been very intentional in making sure that that it is not Eurocentric,” he said.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila told journalists that, as someone involved in the preparations leading up to the synod, “there was this sort of attention to the diversity and complexity of contexts so that” the process would not be “accused again” of being Eurocentric.
However, he noted, even the small language groups are challenged in understanding and expressing the issues discussed because “every language carries a whole world and culture.”
“I belong to the English-speaking group. But we came from different continents and, wow, I realized we were using eight or nine different types of English,” Cardinal Tagle said. “And so, having the label ‘English Group D’ doesn’t mean we understand the same things when we use the same word. So, there will always be this challenge of finding some sort of common ground in the midst of diversity.”
Congolese Bishop Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou of Dolisie also confirmed that during the synod discussions, there was “a universality of themes” that centered on how they affect all young people and not just those in Europe or farther West.
Discussions, such as those on issues of sexuality, are not a major issue in Africa compared to Europe, Bishop Manamika said.
However, the Congolese bishop said these issues “will be more widespread” in Africa as time goes on and, therefore, will be important themes to discuss.
Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, told journalists that the increasingly diverse representation throughout the history of the Synod of Bishops “makes the conversation between synod fathers richer and more complex” and allows the church to be able to listen to and “immerse itself in different cultures.”
“An event like the synod,” Father Spadaro said, “becomes almost a miraculous event where people from every part of the world share the same faith but embody it in different cultural contexts where they can converge on some issues.”
Synod urged to avoid ‘ambiguous language’
SYDNEY — More than 200 Australian Catholic university students and alumni told the Synod of Bishops that young Catholics cannot be well formed in their faith when prelates create confusion by using “ambiguous language” on key issues “despite Christ’s clear teaching, the Church fathers and the clear dogma of the Church.” Among the matters they specified were being treated ambiguously were the Church’s teaching on contraception, sexuality, Communion for divorcees and non-Catholics, married priests and female ordination. “Such ambiguity is neither charitable nor desired by the youth and needs to be addressed by this synod,” they wrote in the letter to the Synod of Bishops on young people and vocations. The letter was signed by 217 students and alumni, including virtually all officeholders and leaders of the Australian Catholic Students’ Association.
Synod about learning from Christ
VATICAN CITY — The point of the Synod of Bishops on young people is not primarily to produce a document, but instead is to learn from Christ how to “bring God’s mercy into the world,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., said in a homily at the synod. “We have come to sit at the feet of the ‘Divine Physician’ and learn from Him how to become physicians of broken hearts, among youth, young adults, and all God’s people,” the bishop said Oct. 18. Each day a different bishop is chosen to give a homily during midmorning prayer at the synod. Speaking on the feast of St. Luke, Bishop Caggiano began by asking, “How can one heal a broken heart? It is a question that no disciple of the Lord can avoid asking, since it was to heal broken hearts that our savior came among us,” he said.
Synod members ‘share the journey’ with migrants
VATICAN CITY — Honduran Bishop Jose Antonio Canales of Danli said that, given what is going on in his country and throughout Central America, he had to walk in the “Share the Journey” campaign of Caritas Internationalis. The 1.5-mile walk Caritas organized Oct. 21 from Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood to the Vatican “is nothing when compared to what migrants are experiencing,” said the bishop, who was in Rome for the Synod of Bishops while thousands of his fellow citizens were in a caravan heading toward Mexico and the United States to flee violence and poverty. Joseph Moeono-Kolio from Samoa, one of the young adult observers at the synod, also joined the walk because “migrants and refugees are being forced from their homes. They don’t want to leave, but they have to, and once they arrive, they aren’t welcome.”
Final document must include scandal of trafficking
VATICAN CITY — The scandal of human trafficking, which affects millions of young people in the world, needs to be included in the Synod of Bishops’ final document, one synod father said. It is estimated that more than 40 million people are held in some form of slavery “and the vast majority of those are young people,” British Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster told the synod Oct. 18. Traffickers and criminals often take advantage of the insecurity or poverty of young people as they seek to find employment or embark on “dangerous journeys” in search of a better life, he said in his talk. The “horrific crime of modern-day slavery and human trafficking” is, as Pope Francis has said, “an open wound in the body of humanity,” said the cardinal, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Church must help young people be ethical citizens
VATICAN CITY — The importance of helping young people become ethical, active citizens who are unafraid of taking part in politics was a topic brought up by two members of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 16. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, told the synod it was “urgent” to help form young people so they become active citizens or active in politics, driven by the commandment to love, which includes building a more just society. The current crisis in democracy in the West, he said, is rooted in a lack of these values to the point that many people today consider “the miracle of unselfish love” as being “absurd.” This skepticism also can be seen in the way immigrants are treated, in the ongoing problems of violence and poverty, the lack of solidarity and people’s indifference toward the law and justice, the cardinal said.
— Catholic News Service