Portugal - "Young people commit to participate in Church life"

20 June 2018
Photo: Agencia Ecclesia

(ANS - Fátima) - The Portuguese bishops met in Fatima to address the theme of young people, youth ministry and vocations in the context of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops. On the agenda, issues related to accompaniment, faith, vocational discernment, the space that young people have in parish communities, the integration of young people and their contribution to evangelization. In support of the work of reflection of the Portuguese episcopate were Fr Fabio Attard, General Councilor for Youth Ministry, and Fr Mario Óscar Llanos, SDB, Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences of the Salesian Pontifical University.

In his initial speech, Fr Attard examined the results of the preparatory questionnaire for the Synod, a document sent by the Holy See to the dioceses of the whole world; once returned, the answers helped form a working document; through these, young people put forth many questions addressed to the Church.

Based on faith, the young people's answers indicated the need to "review the offer of catechesis" and "its validity for the new generations". Furthermore, they showed their commitment to participate in the life of the Church. Yet, says the document, "sometimes this availability is faced with excessive authoritarianism on the part of adults and pastors".

"Faced with these challenges, what attitudes should we not only generate, but also foster and strengthen?" Fr Attard asked the bishops, stressing the need for the Church to have "an attitude of openness, listening, acceptance" towards the young.

"'What does God want from me, what is my future, where do I go, what awaits me ...?' Young people are asking themselves these questions and how is the Church responding today?" added Fr Attard. "The challenge is not in the content. The greatest challenge is in the attitude of the Church, which must encourage listening, discernment and propose something new to the young."

For his part, Fr Llanos, an expert on Youth Ministry, Vocations and Family, focused on the "concept of vocation", placing it in relation to young people, and also emphasized the need for bishops to be more involved in the accompaniment of young people, if not directly, at least in the "mission of animating the communities".


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