“The document is not exhaustive, but serves as a kind of guide to encourage further discussion, whose fruits will be available only at the conclusion of the Synod”. This is an excerpt from the Preparatory Document for the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in 2018 on the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”. Two are the guiding stars of the text, released today: the Evangelii Gaudium with its call to proclaim “the joy of the Gospel”, which is “the mission entrusted by the Lord to his Church”, and Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic Exhortation which marked the conclusion of Pope Francis’ first Synod – in two sessions – dedicated to “helping families find this joy”. “In keeping with this mission and introducing a new approach through a Synod – the Preparatory Document reads -, the Church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today”. “By listening to their aspirations, the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow”, the Church’s tribute to new generations. The Document starts with an observation: “For each person, the vocation to love takes concrete form in everyday life through a series of choices”: “Whether these are willfully made or simply accepted, either consciously or unconsciously, no one is excluded from making these choices. The purpose of vocational discernment is to find out how to transform them, in the light of faith, into steps towards the fullness of joy to which everyone is called”.
This Document today – addressed to the Synods of Bishops and Councils of Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Episcopal Conferences, the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General – kick starts the phase of consultation of the entire People of God. Indeed, the text concludes with a series of questions addressed to all Episcopal Conferences across the world, which are required to send their answers by October 2017. The consultation will also include “all young people through a website with questions on their expectations and their lives”. The answers to both series of questions will be the basis for drafting the Instrumentum laboris, which will be the reference point in the discussion of the synod fathers. The document presented today is divided into “three steps”: the first part outlines “some of the social and cultural dynamics of the world in which young people grow and make their decisions and proposing that these be read in the light of faith”. The second part retraces “the fundamental steps of the process of discernment, which the Church feels is the basic means she can offer young people so they can discover, in the light of faith, their vocation”. Finally, the third part treats “key points in a pastoral vocational programme for youth”.