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Synod 2018: “Young People Find the Lord in Action”

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Discernment “is one of the greatest problems “ of priestly formation, said Pope Francis to Superiors General, on evoking the forthcoming Synod of Bishops. In a long dialogue, published in L’Osservatore

Romano, dated February 10, 2017, he invited to favor “social work” in the pastoral care of youth, because “young people find the Lord in action.”

On November 25, 2016, the Pope met for three hours in the Vatican with Superiors of masculine Religious Congregations in the framework of the 88th General Assembly of the Union of Superiors General. The exchange, which remained private up to now, was transcribed by La Civilta Cattolica and will be published unabridged in the 4000th issue of the Jesuit Review on February 11.

According to Father Antonio Spadaro, Director of the Review, who presents the account, the Argentine Pontiff encouraged his interlocutors to a frank dialogue, including the formulation of criticisms: “It’s good to be criticized, I love that … Life is made up also of misunderstandings and tensions. And when there are criticisms that make one grow, I accept them.”

Introduce more discernment in the Church

Specifying the theme of the future Synod of Bishops of October 2018 – “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” – the Pope said he had “very much at heart” the question of discernment.” At present, it is one of the greatest problems we have in priestly formation (…). We are used to formulas, to the ‘whites’ and ‘blacks,’ but not to the ‘greys’ of life. And what counts is life, not formulas.”

“We must grow in discernment, stressed the Pope. The logic of white and black can lead to casuistic abstraction. Discernment, on the contrary, is to advance in the greys of life according to God’s will.”

It is “only with discernment, not with abstractions” that young people “can discover their plan of life and live a life truly open to God and to the world.” “Hence I chose this theme to introduce discernment with greater force in the life of the Church,” added the Bishop of Rome.

Young people find the Lord in action

Sometimes “the pastoral of vocations does not answer young people’s expectations,” noted again Pope Francis who says he is worried about “the diminution of religious life in the West.”

For the Holy Father, discernment “is always dynamic”: “What is static isn’t good, especially with young people.” One must be on guard against sterile “meetings.” On the contrary, “it is necessary to work with young people, doing things, … social work” because “young people find the Lord in action.” After action, it is necessary to “make a reflection,” he continued. However, reflection alone is not sufficient, “it is but ideas.” Hoping that “the next Synod will give us ideas,” he recommended “listening to young people” and “action.”