There are many “differences” among young people on the five continents – the first being that between male and female -, but what young people aged 16 to 29, the addressees of the Preparatory Document of the Synod, have in common is the fact that they live in a “situation of fluidity and uncertainty never before experienced”. The text released today insists that such situation demands “complete attention and an ability for long-term planning, while bearing in mind its endurance and the consequences of today’s choices for the future”. “The growth of uncertainty results in a state of vulnerability, that is, a combination of social unease and economic difficulties as well as insecurity in the lives of a large part of the population”. Among the evils affecting young people are, according to the text, unemployment, an increase in flexibility in the labour market, exploitation “especially of minors”, as well as an “overall series of civil, economic and social causes, including those of the environment, which explain the overwhelming increase in the number of refugees and migrants”. “Compared to a privileged few, who can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the processes of economic globalization, many people live in a precarious and insecure situation, which has an impact on the course and choices taken in life”. The Document, like the Encyclical Letter Laudato Sì, points the finger at the “culture based on ‘science’” and the “throw-away culture” which “excludes millions of people, including many young people”.
Among the challenges to be addressed is that of “multiculturalism”, which is typical of globalised societies, where “in many parts of the world, young people are experiencing particular hardships”. This “includes young people experiencing poverty and exclusion; those who grow up without parents or family, or are unable to go to school; children and young boys and girls who live on the street in many suburbs; the young who are unemployed, displaced persons and migrants; those who are victims of exploitation, trafficking and slavery; children and young people forcefully recruited in criminal gangs or as guerilla fighters; and child brides or girls forced to marry against their will”. As the Document points out, despite these dark situations, “many” young people “wish to be an active part in the process of change taking place at this present time”, although reference is also made to the opposite phenomenon, that of the NEETs, namely young people who are not engaged in any activity of study or work or vocational training. “The discrepancy between young people who are passive and discouraged and those enterprising and energetic – this is the argument put forward – comes from the concrete opportunities offered to each one”.