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Jerusalem bishop: Catholic youth concerned about rising Islamic fundamentalism

December 22, 2017

The auxiliary bishop responsible for the pastoral care of Catholics in Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Israel, and Cyprus told an Italian news agency that Catholic youth are concerned about rising Muslim fundamentalism.

Bishop William Shomali, head of the youth commission for the Holy Land’s bishops, based his assessment on conversations with young people and questionnaires for the upcoming synod on youth, faith, and vocational discernment.

“The youth of the Holy Land want Church [that is] less bureaucratic, more merciful and close to the poor, credible,” he said in an interview with SIR.

Young Catholics in Jordan—a national particularly affected by conflicts in Syria and Iraq—are especially concerned about “the growing radicalization and spread of political Islam.”

The prelate made clear he was not referring to ISIS, but to “a growing fundamentalist mentality” in workplaces and universities, where “Islamic proselytism is evident.” In response, young people desire a “more profound instruction” in Catholic teaching.

Bishop Shomali said that he tells young people that all members of the Church, not simply clergy and religious, are called to “pray together, offer spiritual sacrifices, and assist in the proclamation of the Gospel. The Church is not an NGO [non-governmental organization] that deals with schools, hospitals, hospices, but it is the people of God, gathered around Jesus to pray and to exercise charity. This is a point that ought to be clear to everyone, also to our youth.”

The prelate said that other challenges facing youth include “political insecurity, unemployment, and emigration abroad.” On the positive side, he finds “the existence of a relatively young clergy, the contribution of religious congregations, and the high religiosity of the faithful.”


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