The issue of the recent scandals affecting the Church and the need for role models and guidance were some of the concerns highlighted for young people at the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops October 3– 28 in Rome.
Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) delegate Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston, Jamaica, who was among the 300 clerics and religious gathered for discussions on the theme Young people, Faith, and Vocational Discernment shared this account on the three-week assembly.
Other concerns for young people included the challenge of financing ongoing education, employment challenges and migration—the need for pastoral care by receiving countries, local Church preparation at the place of origin for the challenges the migrant will face, illicit trafficking and recognition that migrants not only come with problems but with gifts.
“Religious persecution and martyrdom of many Christians (including young people) and the exclusion of young people as agents (protagonist was the popular word) of ministry in the life of the Church” were also noted.
In his report, Archbishop Richards said that the Synod was highlighted by free and open discussion by the Synod Fathers as per the request of Pope Francis and the President, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.
The active participation of young people was a “high point” of the Synod as they contributed enthusiastically, frankly and respectfully. “Notable moments of the Assembly” were presentations by representatives from the Orthodox Church, World Council of Churches, an Anglican Bishop and others.
Archbishop Richards said that the whole thrust and spirit of the Synod was to recommit to being a Church that intentionally accompanies the faithful by being present with “listening” and “engaging their involvement” in the mission of the Church. He added that clericalism is to be avoided as it is an obstacle to the effectiveness of the Church’s mission.
The Archbishop affirmed that the Synod provided the means and opportunity for igniting a renewed vibrancy of the Church’s apostolate and mission. He believed that those in the position of responsibility have an obligation to actualise and make a reality the process Pope Francis initiated two years ago.