This past week, the Vatican’s Synod on Youth began and there have already been several interventions made by prelates. In particular, some of the English-speaking Bishops have made some excellent points.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Conv., of Philadelphia, Pa.; Brooklyn-born Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn.; and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, Calif., have all spoken in the first two days of the Synod and all have made valid points. So, too, was the intervention of Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia.
In his intervention, Archbishop Chaput reminded the assembly “Who we are as creatures, what it means to be human, why we should imagine we have any special dignity at all – these are the chronic questions behind all our anxieties and conflicts,” and further “And the answer to all of them will not be found in ideologies or the social sciences, but only in the person of Jesus Christ, redeemer of man.”
Bishop Caggiano beautifully reminded the assembly that young people are well aware of the failures of some in Church leadership stating: “It is both a crime and a sin that has undermined the confidence and trust that young people must have in the Church’s leaders and the Church as an institution, so that they may again trust their priests and bishops to exercise true spiritual fatherhood, serve as adult figures in their lives, and as authentic mentors of faith.”
Bishop Barron, in his intervention, called for the creation of a new apologetics, stating: “I hope it is clear that arrogant proselytizing has no place in our pastoral outreach, but I hope it is equally clear that an intelligent, respectful, and culturally-sensitive explication of the faith (“giving a reason for the hope that is within us”) is certainly a desideratum.”
Archbishop Fisher offered an apology to youth “for the shameful deeds of some priests, religious and laypeople, perpetrated upon you or other young people just like you, and the terrible damage that has done” expressing regret “for the failure of too many bishops and others to respond appropriately when abuse was identified, and to do all in their power to keep you safe; and for the damage thus done to the church’s credibility and to your trust.”
These words need to be heeded so the Church can remain a vital presence in the lives of the young people of the world.