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Adults have abandoned youth, says prelate; synod hears calls for ‘deworldification’ of Church, ‘multimedia liturgy’

October 16, 2012

On the ninth day of the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 42 synod fathers spoke on various aspects of the new evangelization.

In addition to the dominant theme of the need to proclaim Christ, prelates from Romania, Cambodia, and elsewhere spoke about persecutions of recent decades, while bishops from Mali and Pakistan touched upon sharia and blasphemy laws.

Some Muslims “have even reached the point of discovering in Christ the loving face of God the Father,” said Archbishop Joseph Absi, a Melkite Greek Catholic prelate in Syria. He cautioned, however, that many Muslims tend to identify the actions of Westerners, including the relaxation of morals, with Christianity. The synod, he said, “should lean towards this question, to learn how to avoid, as much as possible, tensions and misunderstandings and what to do so that the Muslims may be more receptive with regards to the Church and to the Gospel.”

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan (Poland) lamented the “absence of care that adults show to the new generations.”

“Our youth today find themselves in an unsustainable condition,” he said. “On the one hand, they are thrown long before the appropriate mental age into a world rich in information, knowledge, sensations, and opportunities for encounters, but on the other hand, they are left alone by adults on the path of their formation.”

He added:

No other age has known the individual and mass freedom that is experienced by our young people. But this liberty does not correspond to any promise for the future, as the older generation has abandoned its educative role.

The current problem is the absence of care that adults show to the new generations. It is not that adults in general are not concerned about the future of their children, but rather that their concerns do not coincide with caring for them. The concerns of parents are not sufficient to offer support in the formation of their children. As in a sort of reversal of the Oedipus myth, it is the fathers who kill their offspring.

Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela traced the rise of secularism from the seventh century to Nazism and Communism, adding:

the “revolution of 1968" relaunched it and radicalized it to the extreme of denying the dignity of every human being: the healthy offspring of a chimpanzee is worth more than a disabled child, according to a famous English-speaking anthropologist.

Has the Church - bishops, priests, religious and lay people - been up to this challenge? Have they perhaps sometimes been influenced by the secular ideology? … The Holy Father called us to “deworldification.” We have to respond by examining our consciences and with the conversion of our hearts. Without this profoundly spiritual premise, the undertaking to evangelize would be pointless.

“I believe that the Church needs to explore the possibility of turning the celebration of the sacraments themselves into more efficacious moments of faith impact which can attract non-Christians to catechesis and commitment,” said Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo (Nigeria). “This can be done if we continually update homiletics and sacramental procedure with engaging art, language, idioms and imagery which can better communicate their power and meaning.”

“The engaging power of solemn but exuberant, multimedia liturgy can focus the restive faculties of modern man on the work of the Holy Spirit to stabilize him against consumerism, corruption, materialism and relativism to become a witness to the Gospel,” he added. “New evangelization could exploit this model which Africa counts on so much in its liturgy.”


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  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Oct. 17, 2012 12:39 AM ET USA

    We have a generation of adults for whom religious education was not a priority - even by the church. They are unprepared to teach their children even the very basics of the Catholic faith. I look to our Bishops and priests to make the most of this Year of Faith delcared by our wise Holy Father - to map out and execute a plan of Catholic education for both adults and children this year to begin grounding Catholics in the treasure that is their faith.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Oct. 16, 2012 11:29 PM ET USA

    This young adult Catholic suggests the media of Gregorian chant and organ, incense, beautiful and traditional painting and sculpture of Jesus, Mary, Saints, Angels, etc.

  • Posted by: ebierer1724 - Oct. 16, 2012 7:31 PM ET USA

    @Gil125 Here are some possibilities: the creation of multimedia works for evangelical purposes that incorporate liturgy so as to familiarize people to liturgy or use of multimedia in the liturgy as means to augment the churchgoers understanding of what exactly they are taking part in (while celebrating Mass). This, of course, could be done with tact (or without) but would not be so different than using any other currently used art form to do the same. The bishops should commission these pieces.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 16, 2012 1:45 PM ET USA

    What do you suppose he meant by multimedia liturgy? The mind boggles at the thought.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 16, 2012 11:03 AM ET USA

    It's not so much that adults have abandoned their children but that there really aren't very many adults left; perpetual adolescence is where many "adults" are today. When all care for our eternal destiny has been left behind and a materialist evolutionary nihilism left in it's place the only thing left for man is to try to hold on to perpetual adolescence in order to stave off the endless nothingness that awaits beyond the grave. Such is the sick condition of a world without Christ.