Young people are “hungry for mission,” Bishop Robert Barron said Friday during the 2018 Synod of Bishops, convened to discuss young people, the faith, and vocational discernment
“They’re hungry for involvement in the life of the Church, and to be out in the field declaring the Lord,” Barron said at an Oct. 12 Vatican press conference.
Barron, the auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, is a delegate to the bishops’ synod. He has advocated in conversations in and around the synod that young people should be challenged intellectually and morally.
In his four-minute intervention at the Synod of Bishops, he called for greater intellectual faith formation of young people, particularly catechesis and apologetics.
“Why has it been the case, over the past several decades, that young people in our own Catholic secondary schools have read Shakespeare in literature class, Homer in Latin class, Einstein in physics class, but, far too often, superficial texts in religion?” Barron asked the synod.
Barron also said that acceptance and outreach to young people needs to be accompanied by a call to holiness and conversion, in response to a question about outreach to same-sex attracted young people.
“As always, the church’s first move in regard to everybody, in regard to gay and lesbians, is to reach out and say … ‘You are a beloved child of God,” Barron responded to reporters in Rome. “It is under that rubric that the Church does its work.”
“Now, having said that, the Church also calls people to conversion. So Jesus calls, but then he always moves people to fullness of life, and so the Church also has a set of moral demands to everybody, and it calls them to conversion,” Barron continued.
“My hesitation is that ‘inclusion’ is more of a secular term. I would use the word ‘love,’” he said.
“The Church reaches out in love, and love is ‘willing the good of the other,’ and sometimes that means calling people to a change of life.”
“I think that is where the Church’s attitude is situated is included in both those moments. Of course outreach in love, but acceptance and inclusion doesn’t mean that we don’t call to conversion. So that’s again to speak about it in a more general term.”
Barron also touched on the idea that many young people will be called to holiness through a generous family life, connecting it to Pope Paul VI’s upcoming canonization Oct. 14.
The canonization on Sunday will be “a moment to celebrate some of that prophetic quality of Humanae Vitae,” said Barron.
“We certainly have talked about marriage and family life in the small groups,” he added, speaking about the synod discussions.
Youth delegates are auditing the 2018 Synod of Bishops and participate in the discussions in the synod hall in a historic first.
“Pope Francis told the young people present in the synod hall to ‘continue making noise,’” Barron shared.
At the Oct. 12 press conference, one bishop from the Netherlands said that a youth testimony in the synod hall motivated him to work with young Catholics to aid persecuted Christians.
Bishop Everard de Jong, auxiliary bishop of Roermond, Netherlands said he was very moved by the testimony from an Iraqi young man in the synod hall.
“At that moment, I realized, ‘what am I doing in my diocese for these Christians there?’” Bishop Jong reflected.
He said that in his experience Christian refugees from Iraq have brought “a lot of faith into our Catholic communities that are getting grey, getting older, dying.”
Jong concluded that it will be good for all involved to stress the importance of learning about issues of Christian persecution all around the world in the youth pastoral care in his diocese.
“This global solidarity for our church would be very good because it is also for our faith,” Jong said.