Added to this is the disparity between rich and poor nations, and the access young people therefore have to education, healthcare and a stable home. In some areas they also face pressures such as drugs, corruption, violence and the challenges brought on by an increasingly globalized world.
For what regards the role of the family, the document said that responses to the online questionnaire showed that mothers are a key reference point for youth, while the subject of fatherhood requires a deeper reflection due to the “ambiguities and voids” left as a result of the lack of father figures, particularly in the west.
According to the document, family will be a key topic of discussion, especially in light of the conclusions on the 2014-2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family.
Bishops also noted that religion no longer holds the same weight that it did in the past, and that for many young people, simply being “spiritual” is enough.
In terms of the Catholic Church itself, the document noted that many youth are committed to the Church through different activities, and bishops conferences have affirmed that youth outreach is a key priority in most parishes.
However, on the flip side, the text also noted that in the pre-synod meeting, youth had voiced concern about feeling as if they were being put into a corner, and felt that generally they were not taken seriously, especially when it comes to leadership.
The document also touched on both the risks and benefits of technology and social media, including the dangers of the “dark web,” and the role of music, art and sport as forms of expression.
Work, young migrants, and discrimination were all touched on in the document, along with racism, discrimination against women, and religious persecution, especially for Christians in areas where they are a minority.
Discrimination against women, even in ecclesial environments, was also addressed in the text, and was a key concern raised by youth themselves during the pre-synod meeting in March, during which they questioned how and where women can really, fully participate in the Church and in society.
The Church, according to the document, “can face these problems with a frank dialogue and a mind open to different ideas and experiences.”
The document also cited a growing paralysis on the part of young people when it comes to making a decision for their lives, whether it is due to a lack of opportunity, economic instability, or, at times, a the lack of a sense of meaning and purpose.
It also spoke of the need to listen to youth, who frequently lack good role models, and who want a Church which is “authentic” and which is capable of talking to them about the issues that matter.
In the second section of the document, the text spoke of “the blessing of youth” from a biblical standpoint, emphasizing the importance of accompaniment in the discernment process.
To follow Christ, it said, “is a call to risk, to lose what has already been acquired, to trust. It is a provocation to break with the planning mentality which, if exasperated, leads to narcissism and the closing in on oneself.
The section placed a heavy emphasis on the need to accompany young people in determining what path is best for their lives, saying the task of accompaniment “is not an option with regard to the task of educating and evangelizing youth.”
Rather, “it is an ecclesial duty and the right of every young person,” the document said, adding that only the presence of a “prudent and wise” guide can help youth to correctly interpret God's will for their lives.
The text then offered a brief reflection on the different vocational paths, including the vocation to the family, to ordained ministry and to consecrated life. However, it also touched on the increasing number of people who opt to stay single, without making a move toward consecrated life or marriage.
No concrete answer to the question of “singles” was given, but due to the growing number of singles in the Church and in the world in general, the document said “it is important that the synod reflect on this question.”
In terms of discernment, the document noted that it goes “well beyond” simply deciding whether to get married or live a consecrated life. Rather, discernment is a broader concept, and also includes helping youth to determine their profession and what sort of social or political commitments to make.
But to discern well, accompaniment is needed, the document said, noting that youth themselves have voiced their desire for an accompaniment which is both free and authentic, while bishops said they wanted to provide a “broad” and varied accompaniment for young people equivalent to a sort of “Christian coaching” in life.
The text emphasized the need to provide both spiritual and psychological accompaniment, and a formation which reaches the family, educational and social aspects of life.
Those who accompany youth ought to be able to respect each person and what God is already doing in their lives, and should be able to influence “with who they are, before what they can do or propose.”
For youth in particular, the document said it is important that those who accompany them are committed in the Church and on the path to sanctity, but it is also crucial that they are able to recognize their own limits and able to walk with young people, rather than being put “on a pedestal.”
The document also stressed that accompanying young people is not a task limited to priests and religious, but is also something laity can do.
In terms of helping youth to make concrete choices that are right for their lives, the document stressed the need for an integral formation and education, and emphasized the role that Catholic schools and universities can play in helping to mold young people.
It also emphasized the importance of finding new models of development in terms of generating employment, fostering a better economy, and caring for creation. It also called for innovation in the technical sphere and for greater collaboration so that everyone has access to the resources and opportunities they need.
Faced with the challenge of modern society, bishops said it is increasingly important to form youth in politics and in how to be active citizens. Particular attention, the document said, ought to be paid to professional competence, opportunities for service, care for the environment and a better understanding of the Church's social doctrine.
Emphasis was also placed on the role of the internet and digital media outlets as a means of evangelization, and the need to accompany prisoners, and young people who live in war zones or areas of conflict, especially women and migrants. The document also called for a greater attention to and accompaniment of young people who are sick or dying.
In terms of pastoral care, the document stressed the role of family and the education and formation of children. In this regard, bishops also presented their “best practices,” underlining the need to set aside daily times of prayer and silence for personal devotion, as well as pray in one's community.
Catechesis and opportunities to practice charity are also important, the document said, especially through mission trips, retreats with movements and associations, all of which the document said help provide space for vocational discernment.
The document also stressed that those living a consecrated life live under the same cultural and societal conditions as other people their age, so a pastoral approach adapted to different local situations is needed.
It warned against the tendencies toward narcissism and self-sufficiency, particularly in consecrated vocations, which have a common root in “a potentially pathological concentration on oneself.”
It cautioned against the dangers of individualism, which is “centered on the autonomous subject, which excludes recognition, gratitude and the collaborating action of God,” and “emotionalism,” which the document said “closes the person in the virtual world an in a false interiority, where the need to deal with others and the community is excluded.”
The document closed emphasizing the universal call to holiness and inviting young people to become saints.
“Jesus invites each of his disciples to the total gift of life, without calculation or human self-interest,” the text said, and spoke of the need to highlight not only young Saints in the Church, but also the “youth of the Saints,” who all passed through the phase of being young.
Doing this, the document said, would make it possible “to intercept many youth situations which are neither simple not easy, but where God is present and mysteriously active.”
“To show his grace is at work through torturous paths of the patient construction of a holiness which matures in time through many unexpected ways,” the document said, “can help all young people, no one excluded, to cultivate hope in a holiness which is always possible.”
Correction: A previous version of this story said reported 1.8 million people in the world between 16-29. The story has been corrected to read 1.8 billion people.