Pre-Synod on Youth Reflection by Alina Oehler

Pre-Synod on Youth, Rome

19th-24th March 2018 

It was great to see that we really managed to share our different perspectives in a respectful and calm way although we came from very different cultural backgrounds. The procedure worked like this: the over 300 young participants were divided into small language groups, and I think they took care of a good "mix“, as in my group there were young people from Africa, Asia, Europe and America. The moderator of my group was a Vatican priest working in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. In my view we could discuss freely in our group and we used a good method - everyone had the chance to make a short statement on the presented questions in two rounds, than we started a free discussion. Our summary then was forwarded to a team of editors who worked on the final document and then presented drafts to all of us in the aula. There it was possible to ask for corrections. 

In the end I am happy with the document because I think it is a good synthesis. Although some asian participants claimed only to be 80 percent happy, because in their view the document did not include their perspective very well. As I am European, I can’t judge that. But if one reads it carefully it is obvious that we did not agree on everything and that there were different views on things like liturgy for example. I really appreciated that there weren’t big fights about what is "right“ and what is "wrong“ and therefore love the following statement in the document: "All of these things are good as they help us to pray in different ways". 

Among the youth you clearly could feel that most of us shared the love to Jesus (there were also non-belivers and Muslims) and that our main concern was that many other young people (at least in the western parts of the world) are not experiencing this love anymore. So I really like that the document is also a statement for a free and open-minded discussion. And of course I was very happy to see that the women’s issue were mentioned prominently four times. That cannot be ignored.  

I really hope that the Synod fathers take a close look to our document as it is only one part of their "instrumentum laboris" - and I think it would be necessary that young people are present at the synod too. Because no document can replace a personal encounter. In the document you find a good overview what young people expect from the church and how they feel. But it gives you no possibility to ask questions and start a discussion what is needed in my view - if you really want to listen and to understand. So I hope that the bishops will at least discuss the questions brought up in the document in advance with some young people and that they don’t leave it to a reading impression.

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