The Pope announced that from 19 to 24 March 2018 – in view of the Synod of Bishops on young people in the following October – a pre-synodal meeting will take place “inviting young people from different parts of the world, both young Catholics and young people from different Christian denominations and other religions, as well as non-believers” because, Francis said “the Church wants to listen to the voice, the sensitivity, of faith and also the doubts and criticisms of young people”. He also said that a true Christian is not “whiny and angry” nor they are, echoing John XXIII, “prophets of doom”.
This initiative is part of the preparations for the next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will have as its theme “Young people, faith and vocation discernment“ scheduled in October 2018. With this journey the Pope continued, “the Church wants to listen to the voice, the sensitivity, of faith and also the doubts and criticisms of young people”.
According to General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops: “This initiative is part of the synodal tradition, as pre-synodal meetings have been organised in the past, such as the one held in preparation for the Seventh Ordinary General Assembly in 1987 on the vocation and mission of lay people in the Church and in the world, and the Symposium prior to the 1991 Special Assembly for Europe”.
In this pre-synodal meeting, young people will be invited to represent the Episcopal Conferences; the Oriental Churches; consecrated life and those preparing for the priesthood; associations and Church movements; other Churches and communities, both Christian and of other religions; the worlds of school, university and culture, work, sports, arts and volunteering; and the world of young people who find themselves in extreme existential peripheries, as well as experts, educators and trainers engaged in helping young people to discern their life choices.
The pre-synodal meeting will contribute to enriching the consultation phase already undertaken with the publication of the Preparatory Document and its questionnaire, with the opening of the online website containing a specific questionnaire for young people, and the International Seminar on the condition of young people, held last September. The fruit of the works of this meeting will be offered to the Synod Fathers, along with other documentation, to encourage their reflection and further examination.
The planned date for the pre-synodal meeting was specially chosen to enable all participants to take part, at the end, in the celebration of the Eucharist on the Palm Sunday with the Holy Father in Saint Peter’s Square at the 33rd World Youth Day 2018 on the theme “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God” (Lk 1:30).