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Vatican releases preparatory document for next synod of bishops

VATICAN CITY – The Holy See Press Office has released the preparatory document for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October 2018.

The synod’s theme is “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”

In an open letter to the world’s young people, introducing the Synod topic, Pope Francis urges them to hear God’s call and “set out toward a future that is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfillment, a future toward which He Himself accompanies you.” Recalling the invitation that Jesus made to his disciples, the Pope continues: “I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fulness.”

In his letter the Pope challenges young people to change the world, to live out the ideals of “your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a ‘throwaway culture’ nor give in to the globalisation of indifference.”

At a press conference introducing the preparatory document on 13 Jan 2017, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldiserri and Bishop Fabio Fabene—the secretary and undersecretary, respectively, of the Synod of Bishops—emphasised the importance of including young people in the consultations preceding the Synod meetings. Two young students also participated in the press conference, underlining that message, speaking of their hope for “a younger, fresher Church.”

Bishop Fabene said:

Firstly, it is important to involve the young in the preparatory stage of the Synod Assembly because the next Synod wishes not only to ask how to accompany the young in discerning their choice in life in the light of the Gospel, but also to listen to the desires, plans and dreams that the young have for their life, as well as the difficulties they encounter in realising their plan in the service of society, in which they ask to be active agents.

As usual, the preparatory document will be circulated among the world’s bishops, and their comments will be incorporated into the working document for the Synod. The preparatory document includes a questionaire for bishops to complete, based on consultations within their dioceses.

In a new development, the preparations for this Synod will also include a website, which will allow young people to contribute their own thoughts to the process. That website will be active in March, the Synod officials said.

The preparatory document has three chapters:

Young people in today’s world
Faith, discernment, vocation
Pastoral activity.

The document is addressed to “the synods and councils of patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the episcopal conferences, the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General.” It concludes with a questionnaire, the answers to which will form the basis of the synod’s instrumentum laboris, or working document.

The document’s introduction states that the text “is not exhaustive, but serves as a kind of guide to encourage further discussion, whose fruits will be available only at the conclusion of the Synod.” – catholicculture.org

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