Pope Francis dedicated the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be focused on the theme of “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” He has explained that its aim was to be “to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they discover their plan for life and realize it with joy, opening up to the encounter with God and with human beings, and actively participating in the edification of the Church and of society.”
The bishops first gathered pre-synod data from questionnaires sent out to episcopal conferences as well as a pre-synod youth survey, which was available online in 2017. Afterward, the ‘Instrumentum Laboris,’ or ‘Working Document,’of the Synod of Bishops on young people was released.
What is a synod?
The Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution of the Catholic Church. It was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965, shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council, to continue the spirit of collegiality and communion that was present at the Council. The Synod is an assembly of bishops from around the world who assist the Holy Father by providing counsel on important questions facing the Church in a manner that preserves the Church’s teaching and strengthens her internal discipline. (see the Vatican website and Code of Canon Law, canon 342)
What is the purpose of Synod 2018?
The Preparatory Document describes the purpose of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly as an opportunity for the Church “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 way to announce the Good News today.”
Who are you the “young people” of the Church?
Although the United States defines “youth” as ages 12-18 and “young adult” as ages 18-39, the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will focus on ages 16-29, as defined in the Preparatory Document. The Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment will be aimed at this particular age group and their pastoral needs.
What does "vocation" mean in the context of this Synod?
The Synod Preparatory Document speaks of the “vocation to love,” which “takes concrete form in everyday life through a series of choices, which find expression in the states of life (marriage, ordained ministry, consecrated life, etc.), professions, forms of social and civil commitment, lifestyle, the management of time and money, etc.” In other words, the concept of “vocation” in this context is very broad. So when speaking of the states of life and the vocational journey of young people towards them, the U.S. bishops understand “vocation” to mean the pathway to marriage, ordained ministry, and consecrated life.