Three hundred young people will assemble next month for a preparatory meeting ahead of October’s synod of bishops on youth.
The meeting will reflect on the results of a worldwide survey of young people, Catholic and non-Catholic, conducted by the Vatican, which received more than 220,000 responses.
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the general secretary of the synod of bishops, told journalists that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will allow young people to follow and interact “with their peers in Rome” attending the pre-synod meeting on March 19-24.
“In short, even through the new technologies of communication, the pre-synod meeting wants to broaden as much as possible the audience of young people involved so that no one should feel excluded,” Cardinal Baldisseri said.
Announcing the pre-synod meeting last October, Pope Francis said: “Through this journey, the Church wants to listen to the voices, the sensibilities, the faith as well as the doubts and criticisms of young people.”
The theme chosen by the Pope for the synod of bishops, which will be in October, is: “Young people, faith and vocational discernment.”
The 300 young people invited to the pre-synod meeting were chosen to represent national bishops’ conferences, the Eastern Catholic churches, men and women in consecrated life and seminarians preparing for the priesthood.
“In this pre-synod meeting, we will listen to youths ‘live’ to better understand their situation; what they think of themselves and of adults … what problems they face in discerning their vocation; how they see the Church today and how they would like to see it,” Cardinal Baldisseri said.
The pre-synod meeting, he added, will also include young men and women from what many consider the margins of society, particularly young victims of human trafficking and prostitution.
In a meeting at the Vatican in October with adults and teenagers who had taken part in a reflection on human trafficking, Pope Francis said he hoped some survivors of trafficking would address the synod to share their stories and “call the Church to action”.
“It is my great desire,” he said, “that young people representing the ‘peripheries’ would be the protagonists of this synod.”
Cardinal Baldisseri confirmed that three young survivors would be present at the pre-synod meeting.
I want ‘honest’ dialogue with Muslims, says archbishop
Muslims rarely acknowledge the extent of the persecution of Christians, a leading archbishop in Iraq has said.
Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda, speaking at Georgetown University, Washington, said that the Muslim response to ISIS atrocities will often be to argue that “ISIS does not represent Islam”, but historic Muslim-Christian hostilities are rarely acknowledged.
“We experienced this not for the last four years, but 1,400 years,” Archbishop Warda said. His speech was sponsored by the Religious Freedom Research Project of the university’s Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.
Given the catastrophic impact on Christians of ISIS’s activities, “there is nothing left but to speak plainly”, he said. “When there is nothing left to lose, it is very liberating.” Archbishop Warda added: “We object that one faith has now the right to kill another. There needs to be a change and a correction within Islam.”
Christians must also accept responsibility in dialogue, according to Archbishop Warda. “We did not push back against the recurring periods of terrorism that inflicted cruel pain upon our ancestors,” he said.
Knights press ahead with reforms
The Knights of Malta has announced plans to reform its governance structure after the “constitutional crisis” it suffered last year, its interim leader has said.
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, Lieutenant of the Grand Master, told delegates in Rome: “After the constitutional crisis that we experienced, the need to tackle a process of reform of our fundamental laws became evident.” Some 140 members attended the international three-day seminar.
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