Young people told the Vatican they want to have a more authentic and transparent church. They want women to be able to have more leadership roles and the “price of admission should not unreachable moral standards.”
In the final document from a conference initiated by the Vatican, 300 young people were in attendance and joined by 15,000 others online. They collective group of young people gave the older men a piece of their mind. The Catholic church is 1.2 billion members strong.
They encouraged Pope Francis and the bishops to stop ignoring the unequal roles of women. They also want to address how technology is used and abused by the Catholic church. “Excessive moralism” is driving the faithful members away and bureaucrats who are not in sync with modern society need to lead with transparency and humility, according to the young people.
They stated to the Vatican, “We, the young church, ask that our leaders speak in practical terms about subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, about which young people are already freely discussing.”
The young people, however, were not in agreement on the issues they wanted addressed. Some want the church to better explain their teachings or change it, while other are accepting of the teachings and want the church to be more forceful.
Overall, they agreed that the church is viewed as severe and the “excessive moralism” sends members looking in another direction to have their spiritual needs met.
“We need a church that is welcoming and merciful, which appreciates its roots and patrimony, and which loves everyone, even those who are not following the perceived standards.”
The 300 who were in attendance at the conference were primarily selected by national bishops’ conferences, church movements, and universities. There were some non-Catholics, non-Christians and atheists, who also attended the week-long conference, and their voices were incorporated into the final document.
The final document and the reflections of those who attended will be presented to Pope Francis on Palm Sunday. It will become one of the working documents that will help guide discussions in the fall. Bishops will gather at the Vatican, in October, to discuss how to better help young people find their way within the church.
In four different areas in the 16-page document, participants demanded equal and greater roles for women. They call for a “real discussion and open-mindedness” about how to promote the integrity of women so they are feeling appreciated and accepted.
The young people believe there are too few opportunities for women to allow their intellectual and professional gifts to shine.
It was also clear that young people enjoy and appreciated their technology and the church is not growing with the modern age. The church was warned that it is in danger of losing its relevance with today’s society. Besides, young people need guidance on how to responsibly use technology. They need to know how to fight online addiction, cyberbullying, and pornography.
They want the Vatican to issue a document for teaching technology and to use it to spread their faith. Parts of the final document are brutally honest, according to the National Post, however, Pope Francis told participants to speak “freely and courageously” on the first day.
According to the final document, large numbers of young people are leaving the church. It is partly because they have experienced “indifference, judgment, and rejection” from the Catholic church.
The young people said that leaders are more focused on administration than community. Mostly, they want the people of the church to admit they are human and make mistakes. Mentors are not perfect people, they are forgiven sinners. The document addressed the sex abuse scandal in the clergy and stated that the ongoing issue requires men to admit to wrongdoing openly.
“Some mentors are put on a pedestal, and when they fall, the devastation may impact young people’s abilities to continue to engage with the church.” If the Catholic church were more transparent and authentic, young people would realize that making mistakes and seeking forgiveness is a part of life.
By Jeanette Smith
National Post: Young people give Pope Francis a piece of their mind
Image Courtesy of David Holt’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License