By Cian Molloy - 18 June, 2018
“Youth, faith and vocational discernment” is the theme set by Pope Francis for the Synod of Bishops meeting due to be held in Rome in October.
Synods, which act to advise the pope on key matters, are assemblies of bishops from around the world. They generally take place every three or four years. The last synod, held in 2015, was on the theme “the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”. The synod informed Pope Francis’s best known apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia, which will inform the deliberations of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in two months’ time.
Other recent synods have looked at “new evangelisation” (2012), “the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church” (2008), “the Eucharist” (2005) and “the bishop as servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (1998).
At this October’s synod, Ireland’s bishops will be represented by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, who is president of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, and Bishop of Derry, who is chair of the Council for Pastoral Renewal and Adult Faith Development.
The Irish bishops discussed preparations for the synod as part of the agenda for their June meeting, which was held in Maynooth last week. During the meeting, they also met with representatives of those involved in youth ministry to discuss key themes identified in a web-based consultation with 2,500 young people.
The discussions highlighted several key issues that the bishops noted: young people face many challenges including peer pressure, mental health issues and pressure relating to social media; young people are passionate about justice, equality and fairness, and desire to be listened to even when their opinions are not in line with Church teaching; many young people want to learn, experience and have a greater role in their faith, but sometimes struggle in achieving this; and many young people have positive experiences of chaplaincy services, pilgrimages and other dedicated national and international youth encounter events.
As a result of these discussions, the bishops agreed that during the World Meeting of Families in August they would meet a group of young adults, representing many aspects of youth culture, to further discuss these issues.