The Catholic Church must be a place of justice and mercy, and its members must be catalysts for change, some young observers said at the Synod of Bishops Oct. 11.
Even on the ninth day of the 25-day-long Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, two bishops said they already had ideas for things they would want to start in their ministries.
Church leaders and members need to be “spiritual mentors” — like Jesus and the saints — befriending, accompanying and enriching the lives of young people, one U.S. observer told the Synod of Bishops.
At a Synod of Bishops where “cultural shift,” “epochal change” and “massive challenge” are almost buzz phrases, Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg said, “I’m very optimistic.”
Despite many positive and joyful moments during the Synod of Bishops on young people, bishops also have set aside the agenda to discuss the serious scandals and unfolding allegations affecting the church, two synod fathers said.
To reach young people and teach them the faith, Catholics must first show them that they are loved, “not just judged, discarded, or abused,” said a 29-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops.
rchbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia told members of the Synod of Bishops their task was to help young people understand Catholic teaching on sexuality and to avoid using terms like “LGBTQ” that make it seem as if the church categorizes people that way.
Australian Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney used his speech at the Synod of Bishops to formally apologize to young people for all the ways the Catholic Church and its members have harmed them or let them down.
Brazilian Cardinal Sergio da Rocha, relator general of the synod, introduced the synod’s work Oct. 3, urging the bishops to pray for “the gift of a healthy spiritual uneasiness,” recognizing that while the church has some programs that help some young people, much more needs to be done.
To strengthen and support young people in the faith, members of the Synod of Bishops will need to listen to their real-life stories, interpret what they hear in the light of the Gospel and make decisions that will lead to an authentic renewal of the Catholic Church, said Brazilian Cardinal Sergio da Rocha.