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Synod on young people: three verbs to help them dream, amidst a “culture of waste and indecision”

Work, migrants, "gender", "fake news", racism, corruption, role of those who choose to remain "single" are some of the themes mentioned in the Instrumentum laboris – working document - of the Synod on Young People to be held next October, where three verbs – “to recognize, to interpret, to choose” – act as a compass guiding “all young people, no one excluded” to support them in their fundamental choice of life, amidst “a culture of indecision” and waste. And to help them cherish their dreams

“Recognizing, interpreting, choosing” are the guiding verbs of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod on Young People on the theme “Young people, the faith and vocational discernment” (2-28 October 2018). The opening remarks underline that “caring for young people is not an option” in order to accompany “all young people, no one excluded”, through “discernment” so as to provide “pastoral tools that propose liveable paths to today’s youths.” “Guidelines and suggestions” that are not “pre-packaged” – is stressed in the introduction– must further the “onset of new processes” and thus offer a compass, in a “culture of indecision” and waste, that deems “lifelong choices” to be “impossible and senseless”.

“The family has a preeminent position in the process for the integral development of the human person”,

states the Instrumentum laboris. The typical features of our present times include a “reversal in intergenerational relationships“ which see adults take young people as an example for their own lifestyle. Proposals include: reflecting on the vocation to remain “single”, given that in many countries the number of those who make this choice is increasing.

The document highlights “the increasing pressure to integrate body and machine, neuronal and electronic circuits, which find their icon in the cyborg, favouring a technocratic approach to the body”.

“Preferably young egg donors and surrogate mothers” is an example mentioned.  “Contraception, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage” are “items of debate among young people”, along with “controversial issues such as homosexuality and gender.”  

“The use of drugs, alcohol and other substances that alter consciousness, along with other old and new addictions, enslave many young people and threaten their lives”, the document warns. “Finding ways for the Synod to involve and give hope to young convicts“, is one of the proposals.

“A steady job is fundamental”

The Instrumentum laboris expresses serious concern for the increase in the number of “Neets” – young people who are not in education or employment. For the young generations “work is a necessary tool, albeit insufficient, to carry out their project of life, like having a family and children.” “There are many countries where youth unemployment rates could be described as dramatic”, and many are the situations “in which people, including young people, are forced by necessity to accept a job that fails to respect their dignity. It is the case of undeclared, informal employment – in most cases a synonym of exploitation -, the trafficking of persons and the many forms of forced labour and slavery affecting millions of people  worldwide.” Not to mention technological progress that “risks running counter to labour and workers”, as seen with “the onset of artificial intelligence and new technologies such as robotics and automation.”

Young people underline the lack of “reliable leadership at all levels – civil and ecclesial alike”, whereby “the spread of corruption, a scourge affecting the very pillars of society” are causes of fragility.

“To prevent disorientation” in a world of “post-truth”, young people need “accompaniment” into the digital world. In fact they are the first victims of “fake news” and of the superficial use of digital media, which exposes them to the risk of isolation, even extreme – as in the case of the Japanese hikikomori syndrome – and to forms of addiction.”

Pornography, child abuse online, cyberbullying and videogames, fuel the development of “a style of relations based on violence.”

Moreover, music and major musical events ought to be enhanced, along with sport initiatives from the perspective of education and pastoral care.

“Young people represent a high proportion of the migrant population.”

It is one of the figures contained in the  Instrumentum laboris, that delves into the question of unaccompanied minors, many of whom risk falling victims of the trafficking of human beings while some are disappearing without trace. The document highlights the alarming lack of “binding consensus on the reception of migrants and refugees, or on the causes of the migratory phenomena.” This explains the urgent need “to activate paths for the juridical protection of their dignity and capacity for action while promoting paths of integration into the societies of the countries of arrival.” The text underlines the situation of many young people who live in areas marked by wars and political instability, some of whom “are recruited by force or deceit in paramilitary groups or armed militia, while young women are kidnapped and become victims of sexual abuse.”

“Racism at different levels targets young people in countries worldwide.”

The document explicitly mentions forms of discrimination against young women, registered also in ecclesial environments:

“A widespread problem in society is that women are not yet granted equal opportunities. This is true also inside the Church.” 

In some Countries, suicide is the first cause of death in the age group 15-44. Various forms of addiction and abuse are widespread among the very young, along with deviant behaviour such as bullying, violence, sexual abuse.

A “less institutional, more relational Church”

is demanded by the young, which leads to the need for a dedicated “style of dialogue inside and outside the Church.” On her part, the ecclesial communities pledges to “accompany” “all young people” no one excluded, which is never “a pre-written script.”

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