Synod Commission to Write Message to Youth; Discussion Group Names Not Released

The text will be put to the entire assembly for approval before it is published.

Briana Santiago, synod youth auditor
Briana Santiago, synod youth auditor (photo: Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — The 2018 Synod of Bishops has elected a group of eight participants to begin drafting a message from the synod to the youth of the world, it was announced in an Oct. 18 press briefing.

The text will be put to the entire assembly for approval before it is published.

Among members of the commission are youth auditors Briana Santiago, an American consecrated women of the Apostles of the Interior Life, and Anastasia Indrawan, a member of the youth commission for the bishops’ conference of Indonesia.

The bishop members of the committee are Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic; Auxiliary Bishop Emmanuel Gobilliard of Lyon, France; Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia; and Bishop Eduardo Horacio Garcia of San Justo, Argentina.

Brother Alois Löser, prior of the Ecumenical Community of Taize, and auditor Michele Falabretti, leader of the youth pastoral care office at the Italian bishops’ conference, are also part of the group selected to write the message.

Contrary to what was communicated to journalists earlier in the week, names of the members of each small-language group, called circoli minori, will not be released, the Vatican’s chief of communication, Paolo Ruffini, said Oct. 18.

The reason for this, he said, “is to seek to show forth the spirit of the synod, which is a spirit of communion,” and to reflect the desire of the synod’s general secretariat “to not transform the synod into a debate about ‘who said what,’ but to tell it for what it is: a communal reflection of the Church.”

During the news conference, veteran Vatican journalist Sandro Magister noted that the names of members of each small group were published by synod organizers at the 2015 synod on the family, to which Ruffini replied that he would share the suggestion, though “each synod has its rules.”

Ruffini told journalists the small groups are now discussing the third part of the instrumentum laboris, and the final document is well underway. Among those who spoke at the news conference was Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church who is participating in the synod as a “fraternal delegate.”

Topics of discussion and speeches inside the synod hall the last two sessions included the importance of sanctity, reading the Bible, prayer and community for young people. The importance of fasting was also brought up as a practice that has been mostly abandoned in Western culture and should be rediscovered.

Other proposals from inside the hall were the creation of a pontifical council of young people on the same level as other Vatican departments and which could be led by a woman. Discussing the role of women in the Church, a synod of bishops on women was also suggested.

The issue of the migration of youth was also covered. Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel of Ethiopia spoke about the issue during the press briefing, explaining that, in Africa, about 80% of migration is internal, within the continent.

He said lack of good governance, corruption, conflict and civil war and the arms trade all contribute to the challenge of migration and displacement in the African continent.

The cardinal spoke about a loss, particularly in parts of Europe, of what he sees as the biblical tradition of receiving guests and refugees well. “It is sad when we hear that some borders are being closed to people seeking safety,” he said. “Where are the Christian roots of Europe? Where are the Christian values?”

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