A bishop well-versed in social media. On the youths’ most popular platforms –Twitter, Facebook and Youtube – Mons. Emmanuel Gobilliard, the auxiliary bishop of Lyon, elected member of the French Bishops’ Conference, is sharing with posts and videos the atmosphere, the debates and the addresses delivered in the Vatican Hall where the Synod of Bishops on Young People is under way. With a smile he tells us that he manages to sneak in everywhere. He did not stop even before Pope Francis, whom he managed to interview. “I asked him if he could say a few words to young people, and he spoke meaningful, simple words. Such availability was unexpected to me. It’s a sign of fraternity. A brother among his brothers.”
It’s an occasion for communion, freedom, diversity. For example, this afternoon I was seated near the bishop from Continental China. We met in the same minor circle because he speaks French, having completed his studies in Lyon, in my diocese. It was a very emotional moment.
Every address is followed by a minute of silence. What happens in that minute?
I live these minutes in different ways. Sometimes they are an opportunity to jot down some reflections, other times I pray. I pray because when we listen to a Synod father from Africa speaking to us about the suffering of the young, we can only pray. In fact,
I gathered in prayer in many of these dedicated moments of silence.
What kind of problems are emerging?
Young people can show us paths we were not aware of or which they are more familiar with. For example, the world of communication and social networks. The Synod fathers view this realm with concern, while for young people it’s a part of their life. For this reason we must listen to them and try to understand. I was impressed by the phrase, repeated many times, that young people must not be considered outside the Church for they from part of her. Young people are the Church.
Do young people feel the need to speak with the Church? In the Synod Hall, is there a perception of having lost the young?
They yearn for accompaniment and support. Indeed, we have lost them. But it’s also true that they sent us a strong cry regarding their life. Young people expect us to be a realistic hope, a feasible path for happiness.
Sanctity is not a dream. It’s reality.
We learned that many speeches tackled the issue of abuse. What has been said? Young people are moving away from a Church that is so heavily scarred by scandals. How can the Church earn back their trust?
A bishop recited a litany on forgiveness in the Synod Hall. It was a very powerful moment that touched us all. We spoke about sexual abuses and agreed that we must not allow that the sins of others prevent the Church from speaking true, heartfelt words. We must plead forgiveness, we must do everything possible to ensure that our home is safe. But we must also say that this is a good time, for the time when the sins have been revealed is more propitious than the time when the sins were concealed.
In the past, sins were silenced and were a source of suffering. Now the sins have been revealed.
It is therefore possible for the victims to be consoled and have justice, for the perpetrators to be brought to justice for their crimes and to covert, and for the Church to undergo change and renewal. However difficult it may be, even though it caused so much suffering, now it’s the propitious moment for a radical change. Young people are directed towards the future. They don’t think about the past. With a gaze to the future their question is: what are you doing for us?
What is Pope Francis doing? What is his approach? With young people the Church is looking ahead, to her future. Does he seem worried to you?
The Pope is incredible. He is always present. Always. He comes to greet us in person, he stops to talk with us at coffee-breaks. He addresses us as one does with brothers. He is very available. The Pope does not act as a young person. He tells us: I am an old man, young people must listen to old men and adults must try and understand young people. This is beautiful because it’s realistic and it paves the way to a path we create together.