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Sexuality, dissent high on agenda for Synod meeting on youth [News analysis]

June 19, 2018

Young Catholics are seeking “an authentic Church,” and “a Church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching,” according to the working document for the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

The working document calls for candid discussion of themes that trouble young Catholics, and insists that Church leaders should “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.”

In a significant step to accept the language favored by homosexual activists, the Vatican document refers to “LGBT youth,” saying that these young people need “greater care from the Church” and hope for “a community open and welcoming to all.”

More generally, the document observes that “many young Catholics do not follow the indications of the Church’s sexual moral teachings,” and bishops agree that “questions about sexuality must be discussed more openly and without prejudice.” The Synod document says that young people who dissent from the Church’s teaching on controversial issues nevertheless “express the desire to remain part of the Church.”

The 67-page document, known as the Instrumentum Laboris, was released by the Vatican on June 19. The document—which was initially released only in an Italian translation—will form the basis for discussion at the Synod meeting, which will focus on the theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” The Instrumentum is the product of a lengthy preparatory process, in which the office of the Synod collected comments from the world’s episcopal conferences, from religious orders, and from thousands of young people who participated in conferences or responded to an online survey.

While issues of sexuality loom as crucial points for debate at the October Synod meeting, the Instrumentum covers a wide range of other topics, including challenges to young people such as drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, unemployment, bullying, and threats to the environment. The document notes a “mutual estrangement” between generations, and suggests that this “generation gap” might be overcome by “ecological conversion.” Introducing the document at a Vatican press conference, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the general secretary of the Synod, remarked that today’s young people—especially those who are poor—are keenly aware of the ills caused by a mentality of “buy, use, and discard.”

In its final section, the document explores the ways in which young people might live out the Beatitudes, suggesting that “youth is a time for holiness.” Cardinal Baldisseri told reporters:

The Synod’s primary aim is to make the whole Church aware of her important and not at all optional task of accompanying every young person, without exclusion, toward the joy of love; secondly, by taking this mission seriously, the Church herself will be able to reacquire a renewed youthful dynamism; thirdly, it is also important for the Church to take this opportunity to carry out vocational discernment, so as to rediscover how she can best respond today to the call to be the soul, light, salt and leaven of our world.


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  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Jun. 21, 2018 6:15 PM ET USA

    Anyone who believes that this document was compiled with anything less than dishonest preordained pop culture cliched results with participants having no real familiarity at all with Catholic teaching, there's a bridge in Brooklyn that is still for sale.

  • Posted by: marksauser4128 - Jun. 20, 2018 1:32 PM ET USA

    Heaven is exclusive and hell is inclusive.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 19, 2018 9:52 PM ET USA

    Thank you for the analysis, and... no surprises there at all. I think that the almost maniacal preoccupation with homosexuality could be the direct result of disproportionately large numbers of homosexually inclined individuals ordained to the Priesthood. It's interesting that in the end they included something about the Beatitudes and personal holiness.