Vatican – Youth Ministry in the Amazon at center of Pan-Amazon Synod reflections

15 October 2019

(ANS - Vatican City) - During the Synod for the Pan-Amazon region, taking place in the Vatican from 6 to 27 October, cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, experts and listeners enrich the work of the assembly with their pastoral, cultural and professional experience and knowledge. Msgr. Antonio de Assis Ribeiro, SDB, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Belém, a participant in the Synod, spoke about the experience of Youth Ministry in the Amazon and its challenging context. He also spoke about the desire of young people to find "spiritual paternity" in priests and that "young people expect the Church to be a decisive preferential option".

Dear Holy Father, dear brothers and sisters,

The population of the Amazon is young, it is the region of Hope. However, we are called to contemplate the reality of its children and young people. The situation is very delicate and this must resound in the heart of the missionary Church.

It is a sad reality, that of the hundreds of thousands of young people living in the Amazon. A reality marked by poverty, violence, diseases, child and youth prostitution, addictions, drug trafficking, early pregnancies, unemployment ... We also still have phenomena such as a sense of existential emptiness, self-mutilation, suicide, inadequate professional training, the disaffection of young people for traditional values, loss of cultural roots ... Young people are part of our flock and deserve our love and our creative care.

Behind this reality, there are a series of causes: the fragmentation of the family, the ineffectiveness of preventive public policies, the fragility of education, the insufficient attention of the State to education, the seducing pressure of ideologies (a secularized culture, technicist, presumptuous, short-sighted, merely economic and hedonistic).

It is important to recognize that most of the young people of Amazonia are healthy, they are young people with ideals, committed, critical in the face of corruption and violence, they give testimony of Christian life, of love for the Church ... But there is an urgent need for a dynamic and renewed pastoral approach that follows the horizons of Christus Vivit.

The pastoral response of the Church to the problems of young people has so far been very timid; this pastoral timidity manifests itself visibly in many facts and situations. There is  the need for a specific project for the evangelization of the young people of the Amazon dioceses. The evangelization of the young is still very closely linked to religious and liturgical activities ... The vision of a pastoral "of the processes", which goes beyond the pastoral "of events" and activities, is lacking.

Many young people complain of a "lack of spiritual paternity" in priests because they perceive them with little pedagogical wisdom and lacking empathy. The young people of the Amazon expect a decisive preferential option from the Church and a strong revival of Youth Ministry in all the dioceses, one leading to the formation of young leaders, fostering youth leadership, strengthening catechesis, proposing missionary volunteering ...



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