Belgium - Synod of Youth in the heart of the European Union

16 April 2019

(ANS - Brussels) - Thursday 11 April, at the headquarters of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) in Brussels, "Don Bosco International" (DBI) promoted a meeting dedicated to the reflection on the Synod of the Bishops on "Young people, faith and vocational discernment" according to a socio-political perspective. A few days after the promulgation of the "Christus vivit" of Pope Francis, the DBI has thus contributed to bringing young people and synodality to the heart of European institutions.

The meeting, with over 50 participants, was divided into three stages. The speakers of the first moment spoke about their experience at the Synod, with a view to its implementation in the context of the European Union (EU). Mons. Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of COMECE, recalled the Synod's attention to young migrants and "rejected" by the economy, and recalled how young people want a future tailored to their dreams, as witnessed by the recent "Fridays for Future". Mons. Luc Van Looy, Salesian, President of Caritas Europe, focused the intervention on the terms "vocation", to be extended to all young people; "Synodality", as the style of an inclusive Church and on the move; and "discernment", inviting young people to take the floor and the initiative. Finally, Annelien Boone, who represented Belgium in the pre-Synodal meeting in April 2018, recalled that important experience of listening to young people.

The second moment concerned the possible synergies between European institutions and young people. Fabienne Metayer, of the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, presented programs and opportunities, as well as challenges, aimed at actively involving all young people. Lukas Pachta, assistant to MEP Michaela Sojdrova, explained the programs able to include and promote the mobility of young people, such as "Erasmus+". Katharina Norpoth, President of the Federation of German Catholic Youth Associations, testified to the desire for greater synergies for young people in the EU.

The last part of the meeting was dedicated to two good practices in accompanying young people to the commitment to the common good: the "Leadership Program" of the "Jesuit Europe Social Centre" of Brussels; and the work of the "Don Bosco Youth Network" for the promotion of youth advocacy.

In the "Christus vivit" Pope Francis invites young people to seek a "social friendship" aimed at building the common good. The meeting concluded with this wish: to discern how to adequately accompany young people even in those contexts, such as the EU, where a space for socio-political commitment prevails.


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