Church's hope lies in young people, say Synod participants


As bishops and delegates from ecclesial communities around the world continue to meet in Rome for the 11th General Synod of Bishops, one of this morning's major focuses was the role and attention which should be paid to the Church's young people, a group which the late John Paul II called, the future of the Church.

Brother Alvaro Rodriguez Echeverria F.S.C., President of the Union of Superiors General in Costa Rica told the group that, faced with immense cultural challenges today, the Church must give special attention to the young who, he said, seek a "mystical experience of union with Jesus."

Brother Echeverria said that the 'Instrumentum laboris', or the working document of the Synod, particularly "underlines the Church's hope in its young people."

"Young people today," he said, "living in globalized cultures marked by the incessant change of perspectives, and in a society ruined by so much economic insecurity and by the glorification of violence, find it difficult to articulate the story of their lives in a way that gives meaning, direction and purpose to their youthful dreams."

"Today more than yesterday, then, we need to satisfy the thirst and hunger felt by young people as they search for a mystical experience of union with Jesus. There is not doubt that He is a force attracting young people today. ... Drinking from the source that is the Eucharist, ... they also find the strength to discover in this world their own crucified brothers and sisters, those who suffer under the oppression of wars, of violence, of hunger. Those without a future."

"From this source and summit," the brother stressed, "they come away burning with a new passion, and with the strength of grace to participate in the Church's mission in society and in the world. ... The Eucharist is also the summit whence all (young people's) actions flow. In this way, the Eucharist is not unconnected to the social and political concern felt by Christ's disciples among the men and women of the world, especially among the poor."

Moyses Lauro de Azevedo Filho, who is Founder and Moderator General of the Shalom Catholic Community in Brazil highlighted Brother Echeverria's thoughts with an example from his own country.

"In the period of carnival, in Brazil, when youngsters are exposed to serious dangers," he recalled, "the Catholic Shalom Community promoted ... a moment of adoration before the Most Holy Sacrament."

"It was impressive", he told the Bishops, "to see what many consider impossible: one hundred thousand young people in deep adoring silence before the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This was a prelude to Cologne. Even more impressive were the fruits of this and of other actions of this type: many conversions, a large number of confessions, commitment to the Church with a return to participation in Mass, an awakening of priestly vocations, and love and service to the poor.

"We discovered", he said, "that the best reply to the challenge of secularization is to present Christ with audacity!"

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