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Chapter I: Being Young Today
Diverse connections
In the face of globalization
The role of the family
The relationship between the generations
Life choices
Education, school and university
work and job
The young people, the faith and the religions

Chapter II: Experiences and Expressions
Commitment and social participation
Spirituality and religiosity
The youth in church life
The transversality of the digital continent
Music and other artistic forms of expression
The world of sports

Chapter III: Living in the throwaway culture 
The problem of work
The young migrants
Forms of discrimination
Illness, suffering and exclusion

Chapter IV: Anthropological and Cultural
Body, emotional life and sexuality
New cognitive paradigms and the search for truth
The anthropological effects of the digital world
Disappointment towards the institutions and the new forms of participation
Inability to make decisions in the face of too many choices
Beyond secularization

Chapter V: Listening to the Youngsters   
The effort of listening
The desire for an "authentic church"
A church that "places more emphasis on relationships"
A community that "works for peace"
The word of the seminarians and the young religious


INTERPRET: Faith and calling knowledge


Chapter I: The Blessing of Youth 
Christ, a "youth among youth"
The universal call to the joy of love
Physical strength, strength of soul and the courage to take risks
Uncertainty, fear and hope
Fall, repentance and acceptance
The willingness to listen and the need for accompaniment
The maturation of faith and discernment
Life plan and calling dynamics

Chapter II: The Call to the Light of Faith   
Human life within the calling horizon

Called up in Christ
Go out of yourself
Towards the abundance of joy and love

The call to follow Jesus

The calling of the Church and the calling to the Church
The different ways of calling

Chapter III: The Dynamics of Recognition of a Calling      

The request for discernment
The distinction in everyday language and in the Christian tradition
The offer of vocational knowledge
Recognize, interpret, choose
The role of conscience
Dealing with reality


Chapter IV: The Art of Accompaniment    
“Accompaniment” can mean a lot

The characteristics of the companion
The accompaniment of seminarians and young religious




Chapter I: A Holistic Perspective     
The distinction as the style of a church on the move
People of God in a fragmented world
A generative church

Chapter II: Integrated into everyday life
The accompaniment in school and university

We need a holistic view and training
Specificity and richness of Catholic schools and universities

Economy, work and the care of the common home

Looking for new development models
The work in the face of technological innovations
Contribute to creating employment for all

In the heart of youth cultures

Training to become an active citizen and introduction to politics
Learning to live in the digital world
The music between inwardness and assertion of identity
Sport and competition
Friendship and accompaniment in the peer group

Proximity and support in deprivation and exclusion

Disability and illness
Dependencies and other vulnerabilities
With the young prisoners
In situations of war and violence
Young migrants and a welcoming culture
facing death

Accompaniment and proclamation

Chapter III:
An evangelized and evangelizing community
The Christian community as an evangelical concept
The Church: A Family Experience
The pastoral care of the young generations
The family as the preferred subject of upbringing
Listen to the Lord and speak to Him
Reading the Word of God
The beauty of the liturgy
Nurturing the faith through catechesis
Accompany the youth in selfless service
An open church that welcomes everyone


Chapter IV: Pastoral animation and organization          
The young people are the main characters
The church out in the country
The contribution of the consecrated life
Associations and movements
Networks and cooperation on a civil, social and religious level
Pastoral planning
The relationship between the big events and everyday life
Towards an integrated pastoral work
Seminars and training centers

Final remarks                                              

The universal call to holiness
The youth, a time for holiness
The young saints and the youth of the saints


for young people with a view to the 2018 Synod of Bishops





AL Amoris laetitia

BK Bishops 'Conference / Bishops' Conferences

DC Deus caritas est

CL Christifideles laici

DV Dicastery in the Vatican

EG Evangelii gaudium

EN Evangelii nuntiandi

GE Gaudete et exsultate

GS Gaudium et spes

IE Iuvenescit ecclesia

ISJ International Seminar on Youth (September 11-15, 2017)

FoL online questionnaire

LF Lumen fidei

LG Lumen gentium

LS Laudato si ’

NMI Novo millennio ineunte

PD Placuit deodorant

PdV Pastores dabo vobis

PO Presbyterorum ordinis

PP Populorum progressio

RFIS Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis

USG Association of Superiors General

VC Vita consecrata

VDok preparation document

VG Veritatis gaudium

VD Verbum Domini

VS Pre-Synod (March 19-24, 2018)

WYD World Youth Day




On October 6, 2016, the Holy Father announced the theme of the XV. Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “Young people, faith and knowledge of the vocation”.

The concrete path to the Synod began immediately afterwards with the development of the Preparatory document (VDok) published on January 13, 2017 together with a “Letter to the Young” from the Pope. The VDok contained a questionnaire, mainly addressed to the Bishops' Conferences, the Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches and other ecclesiastical organs, with 15 questions for all and three questions specifically designed for each continent, as well as a request for notification of three best practices.

From September 11 to 15, 2017, a International seminar on youth took place, in which numerous experts and young people took part and which was of great help in determining the situation of young people in today's world from a scientific point of view.

In addition to these initiatives aimed at involving the Church as a whole, there was also no lack of opportunities to hear the voice of the young people who were to be the protagonists of the event from the very beginning. Above all, it became a multilingual Online questionnaire elaborated and translated by some bishops' conferences, in which the responses of over 100,000 young people came together. The amount of material collected is extensive. There was also one from March 19 to March 24 Pre-Synod of Young People in Rome together on Palm Sunday with the delivery of a Fromsclosing document ended to the Pope. About 300 young people from the five continents were involved in this measure, as well as 15,000 other young people via social networks. The event, as an expression of the Church's wish to listen to all young people, met with a considerable response.

The material that emerged from these four main sources - which is accompanied by various “observations” that have been sent directly to the Synod Secretariat - is certainly very important in quantitative terms. After extensive analysis and careful summary by those skilled in the art, it finally became the present Instrumentum laboris collected, which from the XV. Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops was adopted in the presence of the Holy Father.

The text is divided into three parts and thus deals with the relevant topics, taking into account the work plan of the Synod in October, using the procedure recommended for knowledge of the vocation: Part I is under the motto “Knowing” and is divided into five chapters and a snapshot of today's reality of young people from different perspectives; Part II, “Interpretation”, which comprises four chapters, offers assistance in interpreting the crucial questions that are presented to the Synod for discussion; With the objective of “choosing”, Part III collects various elements in four chapters that are intended to help the Synod Fathers to take a position on the decisions to be made and to indicate the general direction.

The text closes with special consideration of holiness, so that the Synod may recognize in her “the most beautiful face of the Church” (GE 9) and may recommend her to all young people today.

In the Vatican, May 8, 2018

Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri
General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops

* * *


Objectives of the Synod

1. Caring for and accompanying young people is not an optional task of the Church, but an integral part of their vocation and mission throughout history. And the next Synod will also move in this specific area: just as the Lord Jesus wandered with the disciples to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24, 13-35), the Church is also called to accompany all young people without exception to the joy that love is.

With their presence and their word, youth can help the Church to rejuvenate its face. An ideal tape ranges from that Message to the youth of the Second Vatican Council (December 8, 1965) to the Synod of Young People (October 3-28, 2018), which the Holy Father explicitly addressed in his introduction to the pre-synod: Second Vatican Council […] It is an invitation to look for new paths and to tread them with boldness and trust, while focusing firmly on Jesus and opening oneself to the Holy Spirit in order to rejuvenate the face of the Church ” . At this moment of the turning point, we want to accompany the young people on their way to the realization of their calling.

Method of distinction

2. In the ability to cognize and differentiate, we recognize a way of looking at the world, a style, a basic attitude and at the same time a working method, a path that we walk together and which consists in sharing the social and cultural dynamics that surround us to look at the disciple's eyes. The discernment leads one to recognize the work of the spirit and to bring oneself into harmony with it in true spiritual obedience. This path means opening up to the new, having the courage to go out and resisting the temptation to reduce the new to the already known. Discernment denotes a truly spiritual attitude. Since it is obedient to the Spirit, discernment means above all being careful, listening, which can also become the driving force of our actions, the ability to be creatively faithful to the only mission entrusted to the Church from time immemorial. In this way, the distinction becomes an instrument of pastoral care, with the help of which we can show the young people of today viable paths and make suggestions regarding the assignment that are not fixed from the start, but are the result of a path on which we follow the spirit. A path structured in this way invites you to open up and not to isolate yourself; he asks us to ask questions to others and to ourselves without providing ready-made answers; to point out alternatives and explore opportunities. Given these prerequisites, it is clear that the synod itself in October will also be under the sign of the discernment process and must be approached with its methods.

Structure of the text

3. That Instrumentum laboris records and synthesizes the contributions collected in the run-up to the synod in a document, the three parts of which expressly refer to the structure of the discernment process as set out in EC 51: Recognize, interpret, choose. The respective parts do not stand on their own, but rather describe a path.

Detect. The first step is to look and listen. It requires a close look at the reality of today's youth and the different conditions and circumstances in which they live. And it requires humility, closeness and empathy that bring us into harmony with them so that we can get to know their joys and hopes, their grief and their fears (cf. GS 1). This includes looking and listening full of care and caution towards the realities of life in the parishes that work with young people all over the world. In this first step, attention is focused on recognizing the characteristics of reality: here the social sciences make an invaluable contribution, well represented in the sources consulted, but seen and reinterpreted in the light of the faith and experience of the Church.

Interpret. With the second step we return to the knowledge gained by applying the criteria of interpretation and evaluation, which we want to view through the lens of faith. The reference categories can therefore only be biblical, anthropological and theological in nature and are expressed as such by the key terms of the Synod: youth, vocation, knowledge of the same and spiritual accompaniment. It is therefore of strategic importance to create an adequate frame of reference from the theological, ecclesiological, pedagogical and pastoral point of view, which can serve as anchoring and remove the assessment of the volatility of the impulse, while at the same time recognizing the fact, “… that in the church there are different types and ways of interpreting many aspects of doctrine and Christian life legitimately coexist ”(GE 43). Therefore, open spiritual dynamism is essential.

Choose. Only in the light of the accepted calling can we see the specific steps the Spirit is asking us to take and the direction in which we should move in order to answer His call. In this third phase of the cognitive process, pastoral instruments and practices must be scrutinized and we must gain the necessary inner freedom to choose those who will help achieve the goal and to abandon others who are less suitable. It is, therefore, a critical assessment and review for work purposes, and not a judgment of the value or importance these resources had or have in different circumstances and at different times. With the help of this step we can determine where a reform or change in church practices is necessary and thus save them from the danger of ossification.




4. “Reality is more important than the idea” (cf. EG 231-233): In this first part we are asked to listen to and look at the young people in their actual living environment, as well as the actions of the Church towards them. It is not a question of collecting data and sociological facts, but of facing the challenges and opportunities that emerge in the light of faith in the various contexts, and we must allow them to touch us in depth and form a concrete basis there for the entire following route (see LS 15). For reasons of lack of space, we limit ourselves to a few remarks when dealing with far-reaching and complex questions - the Synod Fathers are urged to recognize in them the call of the Spirit.



5. We want to put ourselves in the shoes of Pope Francis during his first official meeting with young people: “This first trip is about visiting young people, but not isolated from their lives , I just want to visit you in your social context, in society. Because if we isolate the youth, we are doing an injustice; we take away their affiliation. The young people have an affiliation, an affiliation to a family, a homeland, a culture, to a faith "(Apostolic trip to Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the 18th World Youth Day,Press conference with the Holy Father on the flight to Brazil, 22. July 2013).

Diverse connections

6thThere are around 1.8 billion people between the ages of 16 and 29 in the world; they represent just under a quarter of humanity, even if the surveys suggest a gradual decline in the number of young people compared to the total population. The concrete situations in which the young people find themselves differ greatly from country to country, as the answers given by the Bishops' Conferences show. There are countries where young people make up a significant proportion of the population (over 30%) and others where their proportion is significantly lower (by 15% or less); there are also countries where life expectancy is less than 60 years, while in others it is over 80 years. Access to education, health care, environmental resources, culture and technology, as well as the opportunity to participate in civil, social and political life vary greatly from region to region. Even within the same country, there are often considerable differences, for example between urban and rural areas.

7. The consultation process during the pre-synodal assembly only underscored the potential that the younger generations represent, as well as the hopes and desires that are inherent in them: young people are great seekers of meaning and everything that gives value to their endeavors to make their own lives worthwhile lend, meet, attracts their attention. In the course of our research, their fears came to light, as well as social and political dynamics, which - depending on the region of the world, in varying degrees of intensity - hinder their path to comprehensive and harmonious development and lead to vulnerability and a lack of self-confidence. Examples include the severe social and economic imbalance that creates a climate of violence and drives large numbers of young people into the arms of crime and drug trafficking; a corruption ruled political system that undermines trust in institutions and legitimizes fatalism and indifference, as well as war and extreme poverty that drive people into emigration in search of a better future. In some regions, the denial of basic, including religious, freedoms and personal independence on the part of the state weighs heavily, while elsewhere social exclusion and pressure to perform push some of the youth into the vicious circle of dependence (especially on drugs and alcohol) and into social isolation. In many places, more and more young people are living in precarious conditions, both material, social and political, due to poverty, unemployment and exclusion.

In the face of globalization

8. Despite all regional differences, the impact of globalization on young people around the world is undeniable; it is a process that requires them to articulate themselves on different levels of social and cultural affiliation (local, national and international, but also within and outside of the church). As some BK report, we are faced with demands for more space for freedom, independence and expression on the basis of the experiences of the western world, which are shared - mostly via social media. Other BC warn of the danger that, regardless of what young people themselves may desire, a culture of individualism, consumerism, materialism and hedonism, in which appearance dominates everything, will eventually prevail.

9. Many of the non-Western BK are wondering how to help the youth to face this cultural change that is undermining traditional civilizations, cultures rich in solidarity, social ties and spirituality; and they have the feeling that they do not have adequate tools at hand. In addition, the acceleration of all social and cultural processes increases the distance between the generations, also within the Church. The responses we received from the individual BCs also suggest a certain effort in classifying the context and the culture that make up the reality of the young people. And some BK welcome the otherness, the bearer of which is the youth, not as the fruitful new, but see and complain about it as the decline of morals.

10. In this context, the perspective pointed out by Pope Francis is and remains a fixed point of reference: “There is a multiform globalization, there is unity, but every person, every race, every country and every culture always preserves their identity: that is the one Unity in diversity "(Impromptu address on the occasion of the encounter with the young people of the University of Roma Tre, February 17, 2017). The young people also repeat this thought in their explanations; in their view, diversity equals wealth, and pluralism is an opportunity within a networked world: “Multiculturalism has the potential to foster an environment for dialogue and tolerance. We value the diversity of ideas in our globalized world, the respect for the thoughts of others and the freedom of expression. […] We should not fear our differences, but celebrate our differences and what makes each of us unique ”(VS 2). At the same time, the young people want to “preserve their cultural identity and avoid standardization and throwaway culture” (VS 2).

The role of the family

11. In this context of change, the family continues to represent a special point of reference within the holistic development of young people, all of the respondents agree on this. There is therefore a close connection between this Synod and the path taken by the previous Synods, which should be underlined. But there are also important differences in the way the family is viewed. The young people claim this in words that are very similar to those of some BK: “In many parts of the world the role of elders and respect for one's own ancestors contribute to the formation of identity. However, this is not perceived in this way everywhere, since in other places the traditional family model is losing importance ”(VS 1). The young people also stress that the difficulties, disagreements and fragility of families are a source of suffering for many of them.

12. The answers in the online questionnaire show that the mother is the most important caregiver for the young people. The figure of the father, on the other hand, is not so clearly documented; an absent or only vaguely perceived father creates ambiguity and emptiness, especially in western societies, which also encroach on spiritual fatherhood. Some BC highlight the particularly important role that grandparents play in passing on beliefs and values ​​to young people, which raises questions about the future development of society. The increasing number of families with only one parent is also highlighted.

13. However, the relationship between young people and their parents is not self-evident: “Some of them move away from their family traditions in the hope of being more original than what they consider 'stuck in the past' and 'old-fashioned' ' look at. On the other hand, in some parts of the world, young people long to develop their identity by being rooted in family traditions and staying true to the way they were brought up ”(VS 1). These situations require closer examination of the relationship between youth culture and family morals. Various sources suggest that the distance between the two is increasing; others emphasize that there are still young people who are interested in authentic, lasting relationships and who want to live them, and who regard the instructions of the church as valuable. For many, marriage and family remain a wish for life and are among the projects that the young people want to realize.

The relationship between the generations

14. One of the characteristics of our time, which has been confirmed by many BK, the international seminar and numerous sociological analyzes, is a kind of reversal of the intergenerational relationship: in a culture of individualism that is dominated by the overemphasis on the ego, the youth often serve the adults as an example of their own lifestyle. As one DV explains, “So the problem is the extinction of adulthood that is the true hallmark of the Western cultural universe. We are not only lacking adults in the faith. We are missing adults, period ”. Various BK report that today there is no real generation conflict between young people and adults, but rather a "mutual strangeness" prevails: the adults are hardly interested in passing on the fundamental values ​​of life to the younger generations, while the adults are more likely to be competitors because see them as possible allies. The relationship between young people and adults runs the risk of being limited to the affective without even touching on the educational and cultural dimension. As for the Church, the involvement of young people in the Synod was seen as an important signal for dialogue between the generations: “It is fantastic to be taken seriously by the hierarchy of the Church and we believe that this dialogue represents a vital and fruitful listening process between the young and the old church ”(VS 15).

15. Not to be forgotten, in addition to the relationships between the generations, are those between peers, which represent a fundamental experience both of interaction with others and of increasing emancipation from the environment of family origins. Several BCs emphasize the basic values ​​of welcome, friendship and mutual support that characterize young people today. Relationships with peers, often in more or less structured groups, offer the opportunity to strengthen social skills in a context in which nobody has to feel assessed or judged.

Life choices

16. Adolescence is a privileged time in which people make decisions that determine their identity and the course of their lives. The young people of the pre-synodal assembly are aware of this: “The decisive moments for the development of our identity are the choice of our course of study and our profession, the choice of what to believe in, the discovery of our sexuality and the making of commitments that run our course Change life ”(VS 1). The point in time at which you leave the family or make fundamental decisions varies greatly depending on the social, economic, political and cultural factors that apply. In some countries, people marry or choose the priesthood or consecrated life before the age of 18, while in other countries they do not marry or choose the priesthood or consecrated life until they are 30, when youth is over. In many countries, the transition to adulthood is a long, complicated, non-linear path, alternating steps forward and backward, and where job search generally takes precedence over the affective dimension. This makes it more difficult for the young people to make final decisions and, as one African BC writes: "shows the need to create a formal framework for their personal support".

17. In the phase of important decisions in view of the opportunities and restrictions, as they arise from a context in continuous change, which creates provisionality and uncertainty (cf. VDok I, 3 and III, 1), all the possibilities and typical of adolescence meet psychological difficulties that need to be recognized, dealt with and resolved, where necessary with appropriate support. Among the difficulties, experts cite rigid or impulsive behaviors, instability in keeping commitments, coldness and lack of empathy, insufficient emotional intuition, inability or excessive fear of making bonds. Behaviors that signal the need for purification and liberation are more common: affective dependence, feeling of inferiority, lack of courage and strength in the face of risk, tendency towards self-centered sexual satisfaction, aggression, exhibitionism and the need to be the center of attention. Valuable resources, on the other hand, that should be cultivated and used in the concrete reality of life are: empathy towards other people, a balanced sense of guilt, contact with one's own intimacy, as well as willingness to help and willingness to work together, the ability to meet one's own needs and responsibilities To distinguish from those of others, to defend one's own decisions if necessary, to resist and fight in the face of difficulties and failures, to finish the accepted tasks in a responsible manner.

18. Adolescence is therefore not only a transition phase between the first steps taken in adolescence towards independence and responsibility of adulthood, but rather a leap in quality in terms of personal involvement in relationships and obligations as well as the ability to Seclusion and loneliness. It is certainly a time of experimentation, ups and downs, ups and downs of hopes and fears and the necessary tension between positive and negative aspects, with the help of which one learns, the dimensions of affective, sexual, intellectual, spiritual, physical and social articulate and integrate. On this path, which develops between the small decisions of everyday life and those of greater importance, each person will gradually recognize their own uniqueness and the originality of their own vocation.

Education, school and university

19. Institutions for upbringing and education are not only the places where young people spend a large part of their time, but above all an existential space that society makes available to them for their intellectual and human growth and for their professional orientation. But there is no lack of problems, which are mostly caused by the fact that schools and universities limit themselves to informing without educating, and that they neither promote the development of a critical mind nor the meaningful deepening of learning and study Vocation. In many countries there are significant inequalities in access to education, differences in educational opportunities in rural and urban areas and alarming drop-out rates: all of these pose a threat to the future of young people and society. Equally worrying in some countries is the phenomenon of those who neither work nor study (the so-called NEETs), which also requires attention from pastoral care.

20. In many countries with poor school systems, the Church and its educational institutions play a fundamental role, while elsewhere they struggle to keep up with the quality standards of the respective countries. A particularly sensitive topic is vocational training, in which the Catholic schools in many countries play a very important role: They are not limited to imparting technical skills, but rather help students to discover their skills and use them constructively, no matter which one Kind they are. Distance learning or informal learning initiatives that counteract the imbalance in access to education are very important, especially in areas of extreme poverty and disadvantage.

21. But there is not only school: As the pre-synod has shown, “the identity of a young person is also shaped by external interaction, by belonging to certain groups, associations and movements that are also active outside the church. Sometimes parishes are no longer meeting places ”(VS 1). There is still a great desire for positive role models: “We recognize the importance of educators and friends, including, for example, the leaders of youth groups, who can serve as good examples. We have to find attractive, coherent and authentic role models ”(VS 1).

work and job

22. The transition to work and professional life is still of great importance, and the distance that can be observed in some places between school or university education and the demands of the world of work makes this moment even more difficult. The young people who answered the online questionnaire state that a permanent job is essential (82.7%), as it brings economic security, stability of relationships and the opportunity for self-fulfillment with it (89.7%). Work is the necessary, if not sufficient, means for realizing one's own life plans such as B. starting a family (80.4%) and having children.

23. The main concerns are where youth unemployment is particularly high.Where people are poor, work also gains the connotation of social liberation, while the lack of work is one of the main causes of emigration abroad. In Asia in particular, children grow up in a culture of success and prestige, against which they measure themselves as well as against the work ethic that permeates parents' expectations and structures the school system. This creates a climate of intense competition with a strong selection-oriented orientation, enormous workload and great stress. As emerges from the pre-synodal assembly, the young people still want to “reaffirm the dignity of work” (VS 3), but they also point out how difficult it is to maintain hope in extremely harsh, fearful socio-economic conditions (see VS 3). Some BK also call for a more thorough examination of the relationship between calling and occupation; the different "intensity of the vocation" for the various professions should also be examined more closely.

The young people, the faith and the religions

24. The religious context in which the young people grow up is also very different and varied: in some countries the Catholics make up the majority, in others they form only a small minority, sometimes socially accepted, sometimes discriminated against and persecuted to the point of martyrdom . There are circumstances in which Christianity must be judged by the consequences of past decisions that undermine its credibility and others in which Catholics must grapple with the cultural and spiritual riches of other religious traditions and traditional cultures; there are also secularized areas that regard faith as something purely private, while in others the influence of religious sects or other spiritual currents (New Age etc.) becomes disproportionately strong. There are regions where Christianity and religion are considered legacies of the past and others where they are still the target of social life. In some countries the Catholic community does not present itself homogeneously, but also includes minorities, both in terms of ethnic-cultural (e.g. indigenous communities) and religious (plurality of rites) affiliation, in others it is asked to give space to create for the believers from the migration.

25. As sociological studies show, the context is also extremely complex with regard to the relationship to faith and denominational affiliation. In the course of the ISJ it became clear that “the disinterest and apathy of young people about the faith (and the low appeal of the churches) is due in part to the difficulties major religious institutions have in dealing with modern consciousness in harmony, and that in social contexts that pose new, uncomfortable questions of meaning to people in the face of the many uncertainties with which the life of the individual as well as that of the community are burdened. Furthermore, in the youthful world, which is very differentiated, there are certainly signs of religious and spiritual vitality, both inside and outside the major churches ”. And further: “This widespread coexistence of believers, non-believers and 'non-believers' seems less to generate tension and conflicts than - under certain conditions - to promote mutual recognition. This is especially true if on the one hand there is atheism or agnosticism with a human face without arrogance and presumption, which is opposed to a religious belief that is more inclined to dialogue than fanatical.



26. As the pre-synod of young people made it unmistakably clear, the younger generations stand for an approach to reality with very specific characteristics, which is a resource and a source of originality, but can also cause discomfort or perplexity in adults. But one should beware of hasty judgments. This approach is characterized by the priority of the concrete and the practical usability over the theoretical analysis. This is not a question of blind activism or a disregard for the intellectual dimension: within the spontaneous behavior of adolescents, one understands things by doing them and solves problems when they arise. Equally obvious is the fact that pluralism, including the radical pluralism of differences, is simply a fact. This does not mean relinquishing the assertion of one's own identity in a relativistic way, but is a sign of an original awareness of other forms of lifestyle and of their conscious inclusion, so that everyone can feel represented by the result of the joint effort.

Commitment and social participation

27. In view of the contradictions that exist in society, many BC notice a particular sensitivity and increased commitment, also in the form of volunteering, on the part of young people: undoubtedly a sign of willingness to take on responsibility and of the desire to share their talents, their skills and theirs Using creativity fruitfully. The topics that are particularly close to their hearts include social and ecological sustainability, discrimination and racism. The young people often pursue innovative approaches and use the possibilities of digital communication when it comes to mobility and political pressure. This includes the spread of critical, solidary and environmentally friendly ways of life and consumption and investment models as well as new forms of engagement and social and political participation, and new modalities in the conception of social benefits to protect the weaker. As several recent examples on all continents have shown, young people are quite capable of mobilizing, especially when it comes to issues to which they feel directly connected, and even when they can actually be protagonists rather than merely following others Groups to act.

28. The young people emphasize that the image of the church with regard to the promotion of justice is “dichotomous”: On the one hand, it wants to be present on the darker side of history and to support the last; to refute widespread corruption that runs the risk of conforming to the world instead of being the bearer of an alternative inspired by the gospel.

Spirituality and religiosity

29. The pre-synodal assembly also showed that the characteristic that best describes the relationship of young people to faith and religious practice is diversity. In general, young people declare that they are open to spirituality, even if sacred things are often separated from everyday life. Many consider religion to be a private matter and see themselves as spiritual, but not as religious (in the sense of belonging to a certain denomination) people (cf. VS 7). Religion is no longer seen as the best way to grasp the meaning of life; Rather, it stands alongside ideologies and other schools of thought and is partly replaced by these or also by personal or professional success (cf. VS 5).

30. The same diversity can also be seen in the relationship between young people and the figure of Jesus Christ. Many recognize him as Savior and Son of God, and often they feel close to him through Our Lady. Others have no personal relationship with him, but see him as a good person and an ethical role model. For still others he is a figure of the past with no relevance to their own life, or he is perceived (like the church) as very far from the experiences people have today. False images that some young people have of Jesus destroy his magic for them; the same applies to a set of rules within which Christian perfection lies beyond human abilities, so that Christianity is ultimately seen as an unattainable standard (cf. VS 6). Often times, young Catholics ask for suggestions for prayers and sacramental moments that can chant their daily life, but it must be said that shepherds are often unable to meet the specific expectations of the younger generation on an equal footing with them.

The youth in church life

31. A certain number of young people, however different from region to region, feel that they are a living part of the Church and show this with conviction through their commitment there. “Other young people experience the Church as very close to them, in regions such as Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as in various global movements. Even young people who do not live the gospel feel a bond with the Church ”(VS 7). Various BC note that young people are an integral part of the church and should also be perceived as such, and that their commitment represents a fundamental dimension of pastoral care for them. It is not uncommon for groups of young people and also members of associations and movements to be little involved in the life of the communities: Overcoming this spiral of separation is one of the goals of the synod for some BC.

32. Although many young people have the feeling that they are relegated to the lower ranks, they are still involved in numerous activities, which they often even actively promote. These include in particular various forms of volunteering, which is a characteristic feature of the younger generations. Participation in the catechism and liturgy and looking after the children are further areas of voluntary work that are very popular in parish homes and other pastoral care institutions. Religious movements, associations and congregations also offer young people the opportunity to become involved and share responsibility. In many areas, popular piety remains an important gateway to faith for young people who find important means of expression in music and singing, both physically and emotionally. Together with other national, international and worldwide encounters, the WYD plays an important role in the lives of many young people, as it offers, as a BK confirms, “a lively experience of faith and community that helps them deal with the great challenges of life and to take their place in society and the ecclesiastical community on their own responsibility ”.

33. The desire and ability of young people to work in a team is striking, which is a great advantage in many situations. Sometimes this willingness to help comes into conflict with an excessive demand for authority on the part of adults and the representatives of the church: “It is often difficult for young people to find a place in the church where they can actively participate and also take on leadership roles. In her experience she considers the Church too young and inexperienced and implies that they would only make mistakes ”(VS 7). It is very clear that the style of the Church and its dynamism, wherever there are young people and where they are valued, acquire a great vitality that can certainly attract attention.

The transversality of the digital continent

34. It cannot be overlooked to what extent the world of young people is permeated by the presence of digital and social media. The young people of the pre-synod emphatically confirm this: “The influence of social media on the lives of young people should not be underestimated. They are an important part of their identity and their way of life. The digital spaces have an unprecedented potential to bring people together across geographical distances. The possibilities of exchanging information, ideals, values ​​and common interests are better today than yesterday. Access to online learning opportunities has improved the educational opportunities of young people in remote areas and brought them access to knowledge with one click ”(VS 4).

35. The net is also a space of loneliness, manipulation, exploitation and violence up to the extreme case represented by the Darknet. Young people are aware of the risks: “The downside of technology becomes obvious when it turns into certain vices. This danger manifests itself through isolation, laziness, desolation and boredom. It is evident that young people all over the world are obsessively consuming multimedia products. Although we live in an interconnected world, communication among young people is limited to people who are similar to them. […] The emergence of social media has presented us with new problems, including the power that companies in this new sector have over the lives of young people ”(VS 4). This hinders the maturing process towards a relaxed discussion and a factual dialogue with the new, and with regard to the youngsters this represents a real educational challenge. The BCs also agree on this double aspect, even if the emphasis is on the critical Reviews lies. Also due to ignorance and inadequate training, the shepherds and adults in general are barely able to understand this new language, of which they are more afraid and which they perceive as an "invisible and omnipotent enemy", and sometimes even demonize it.

Music and other artistic forms of expression

36. As many BC note, music is a fundamental form of expression for young people; it is the ever-present soundtrack to their lives and an important contribution to identity formation in a way that the church hardly ever really pays attention to, although the awareness of the importance of music is almost always present. Music is used to experience emotions, it includes the physical dimension, opens inner spaces and helps to communicate them. At the same time, it conveys messages and is the vehicle for lifestyles and values ​​that correspond to or, as an alternative, contradict those conveyed by other educational institutions. In some youth cultures, the world of music serves as an exclusive refuge that is inaccessible to adults. Because it is such a great power, the world of music is often influenced and manipulated by commercial, if not speculative, interests.

37. Music, and the fact that it is shared with others, sets socialization processes in motion. Thousands of young people come together at concerts: this is where the need to be together and to push the individual differences aside emerges. The big music events can be perceived as an experience that encompasses all the senses, as a visual and acoustic spectacle, where dance, movement, closeness and physical contact come together and cause one to come out of oneself and feel in harmony with the unknown; At the same time, however, they can also be an opportunity for passive listening, where the effect of the music, sometimes reinforced by the influence of drugs, takes on a depersonalizing role. The practice of music also has personal and social value. Many young composers and musicians feel the need to interpret the life experiences of their generation and want to convey messages to their peers on socially relevant topics, from sexuality to interpersonal relationships to the revaluation of traditional cultures.

38. Although less ubiquitous than music, other forms of artistic expression play a fundamental role in developing the personal and social identity of young people: painting, sculpture, cinema, the performing arts, dance, theater, photography, comics, Graphics, web art, writing, poetry, literature etc. Their practice promotes the creativity of the individual and thus his participation in the cultural creation process, in particular through experimental initiatives in which the new technologies are increasingly used. The artistic forms of expression that deal with folk and local traditions, especially those of ethnic minorities, are of great interest: They connect young people with the legacy of the past and offer culture regardless of the level of education or the availability of technical or technological means to practice.

The world of sports

39. Sport is another great area of ​​growth and conflict for young people, and this is where the Church is actively involved in many parts of the world. Pope Francis places sport in the context of an informal education, which should be given greater weight, especially in view of the intellectualist impoverishment that can be observed within the official educational channels (cf. Address to the participants of the World Congress of the Congregation for Catholic Education, November 21, 2015).According to experts, we now live in “sporty societies”, and this is especially true in the world of young people. What needs to be questioned, however, are the values ​​and models that our society actually conveys beyond rhetoric through sporting practice; This is because it often relies on success at any price, including the use of fraudulent practices, and thus denies the effort and commitment of those who do not win.

40. Like the big concerts, mass sporting events also represent experiences of collective identity and have a pronounced ritual character. There is also commercial manipulation and speculation in the world of sports; there are practices that run counter to human dignity and the values ​​of fair play (just think of doping, which can also be observed in youth and amateur sport, or of corruption), and there is violence and willingness to use violence, discontent and social tensions are due outside of the sporting context. In addition, sport is a very important instrument for the integration of marginalized and marginalized groups, as demonstrated by the Paralympic Games, among other things.




41. The throw-away culture is one of the features of the contemporary mentality that Pope Francis never tires of denouncing. The BK point out that young people, in different areas and in different ways, are very often victims of this throwaway culture. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that young people themselves are shaped by it and can display behaviors that cause other people to “throw away” or destroy the environment as a result of irresponsible consumer behavior. And finally, it must be recognized that there are church leaders who approve of such ways of thinking and behaving and thus contribute to the spread of indifference and the exclusion of others.

42. The coming Synod also calls on the Church to treat the young victims of injustice and exploitation with special attention and to initiate a fundamental work for their recognition: the opening of spaces in which they can express themselves , where they are heard above all, is a confirmation of their personal dignity and gives a face and a name to those who have all too often been denied this in the course of history. In this way a potential can be brought to bloom, the bearers of which are also the “discarded” young people; only then are they able to be the subject instead of the object in their own development, and then their standpoint is an irreplaceable contribution to the building of the common good - in a dynamic of continuously growing hope, based on the concrete experience that the stones that build the builders have discarded, can become corner stones (cf. Ps 118, 22; Lk 20, 17; Acts 4, 11; Pt 2, 4).

The problem of work

43. As the BK emphasize, there are numerous countries in which youth unemployment has reached a level that can, without exaggeration, be described as dramatic. The worst consequence of this is not so much of a financial nature, as families, state security systems or charitable institutions are often able to meet the material needs of unemployed people. The real problem is that "a jobless youth [has] a narcotized utopia or is about to lose it" (Pope Francis, Address by Pope Francis to the members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, February 28, 2014). The young people of the pre-synodal assembly said with unusual unanimity: “Sometimes we end up giving up our dreams entirely. We are too scared and some of us have given up dreaming. This is related to the multiple socio-economic pressures that severely affect the feeling of hope among young people. Other times we didn't even have the opportunity to continue dreaming ”(VS 3).

44. A similar effect can be observed in all situations where people, including young people, have to accept work that does not respect their human dignity: e.g. B. in the case of undeclared work (often synonymous with exploitation), human trafficking, all forms of forced labor or slavery, which affect millions of people around the world. Like many people around the world, the youngsters of the VS have expressed their concern about a technological development that threatens to turn out to be the enemy of work and workers: “The emergence of artificial intelligence and new technologies such as robotics and automation threaten the employment opportunities of entire professions . Technology can impair human dignity if it is not used with conscientiousness and caution and if it is not human dignity that is at the center of this use ”(VS 4).

The young migrants

45. A large proportion of migrants are young people. The reasons for migration are varied, as the VS has shown: “Young people dream of a better life, but many are forced to emigrate in order to find better economic and environmental conditions. They hope for peace and are particularly drawn to the 'myth of the West' as portrayed in the media ”(VS 3); some, however, “are concerned because many of our countries are facing social, political and economic instability” (VS 1), while “a common dream across continents and oceans is the need for a place where young people can feel they belong “(VS 3).

46. ​​Particularly difficult situations arise when unaccompanied young people or young people of advanced school age arrive in the destination countries (cf. Pope Francis, Message for World Migrants and Refugees Day - Migrant Minors, Vulnerable and Without a Voice, September 8, 2016). Many are at risk of being trafficked and some literally disappear into nowhere. Then there are the young people in the second generation who have difficulties finding their identity and their way between cultures, especially when there are great social and cultural differences between the country of origin and the country of destination.

47. As many BK emphasize, the migration of young people in the countries of origin means an impoverishment of human capital with entrepreneurship and courage and threatens their sustainable development. For the receiving societies - and for the churches - however, it represents an enormous potential, an opportunity for change, which, however, must be accompanied by adequate and long-term programs. In this context, however, the young people of the pre-synod express a caution that should give us food for thought: “There is still no binding consensus on the question of accepting migrants and refugees or how this phenomenon was caused in the first place. And this even though the universal call to stand up for the dignity of every human being is thoroughly recognized ”(VS 2). Of those who emigrate, however, we must not forget the many young people who continue to suffer from war and political instability. The young participants in the pre-synod wanted to emphasize that “despite the numerous wars and recurring outbreaks of violence, young people still have hope” (VS 3).

Forms of discrimination

48. International studies show that many young people experience discrimination because of their religion or social class, because of their sexual orientation, their geographical origin, because of their ethnicity or because of a disability. This is a subject that young people are very sensitive to, and on which the participants in the pre-synod expressed themselves very clearly: “Racism affects young people at different levels in different parts of the world” (VS 2). Many BK also signal the phenomenon. The pre-synodal assembly paid particular attention to the forms of discrimination that young women suffer from in the church environment: “Today there is a general social problem that women are still not given an equal place. This also applies to the church. ”(VS 5). The young people ask themselves “in which areas women can develop in the church and in society” (VS 5), knowing that “the church can approach these problems in actual discussion and with an open-mindedness to different ideas and experiences” (VS 5) 5). Finally, the youngsters point out the persistent discrimination based on religion, especially against Christians. This applies both to areas where Christians form a minority and are exposed to the violence and pressure of the majority who demand their conversion, as well as to strongly secularized regions (cf. VS 2).

Illness, suffering and exclusion

49. Many BK and also the pre-synod do not hide the fact that many young people have to deal with the consequences of traumatic events of various kinds, or with illnesses, suffering or disabilities. They also count on the reception and support of the Church, which, incidentally, their families need equally. In particular, countries with a high standard of living are increasingly experiencing forms of psychological disorders such as depression, mental illness and eating disorders related to situations of deeply felt unhappiness or an inability to find a place in society, especially among young people. There are countries where suicide is the leading cause of death in the 15-44 age group.

50. Many BK from different areas record with great concern that abuse and addictions of various kinds (conventional and synthetic drugs, alcohol, gambling and internet addiction, pornography, etc.), as well as deviant behavior of various kinds (bullying, violence, etc.) , sexual abuse etc.). For Pope Francis it is clear that in many cases these forms of dependency are not the result of sliding into vice, but the effects of exclusion and its dynamics: “There is a worldwide armament of drugs that is destroying this generation of young people who are ready to throw away are determined! "(Address to the members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, February 28, 2014). In all of this, not only does the weakness of those who commit these acts become evident, but also that of the victims, families, and society at large. Abuse and addiction, violent reactions and deviance to the contradictions inherent in society are among the reasons that put young people, including minors, in jail. Due to the difficulties of the penal system in providing opportunities for social reintegration, there is a very great risk that young people in prison who are not very dangerous to society will end up in criminal circles from which they can hardly find their way, as the high proportion of recidivists shows. It is also known that members of certain ethnic and social groups are particularly often sentenced to prison terms, which is also a consequence of prejudice and discrimination.




51. The societies and cultures of our time are characterized by certain developments, albeit in different forms. Their continuous recurrence means that we recognize them as signals of epochal changes that we will experience on an anthropological and cultural level. The young people, sentinels and seismographs of every epoch, perceive them more than others as a source of new possibilities on the one hand and unprecedented threats on the other. Some analysts speak of a “metamorphosis” of the human condition, which poses enormous challenges for everyone, especially young people, on the way to a solid identity.

Body, emotional life and sexuality

52. The first of these developments concerns physicality in its many forms. The body, barrier and interface between nature and culture, the feeling for the creatural boundaries and is a gift that should be accepted with joy and gratitude has always been used to describe and preserve. However, advances in research and biomedical sciences bring with them a different conception of the body. The prospect of an increasingly daring merging of body and machine, of neural and electronic circuits, the icon of which is the cyborg, favor an interpretation of the body from a technocratic point of view, which extends to the control of biological processes. In this context, it should be pointed out that egg donors and surrogate mothers prefer young women. Apart from purely ethical considerations, these innovations inevitably influence the view of the body and its unavailability. Some point out that the younger generations find it difficult to reconcile themselves with this dimension of their own creatureliness. Some BK report an increasing fascination for extreme experiences up to the risk of death; the aim is to gain social recognition or experience strong emotions. In addition, precocious sexuality and promiscuity, digital pornography, the display of one's own body on the Internet and sex tourism distort the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life.

53. In the ecclesiastical sphere one is aware of the importance inherent in the body, emotional life and sexuality, but it is often not possible to make them the fulcrum of the path of education and faith, which is achieved by recognizing the sexual differences as well as those that differ according to gender Calling dynamics could happen. Sociological studies show that many Catholic youth do not follow the instructions of church sexual morality. No BK offers solutions or patent recipes for this, but many are of the opinion that “the question of sexuality must be discussed with more openness and without prejudice”. The pre-synodal assembly showed that the teachings of the church on controversial issues such as “controversy, abortion, homosexuality, coexistence and marriage” (RP 5) are well discussed among young people, both within the church and in society. Some young Catholics perceive the teachings of the Church as a source of joy and "wish that the Church [these teachings] not only continues to be faithful, even though they are unpopular, but also that she proclaim them with more depth" (RP 5) . Those who do not share these doctrines wish to continue to be part of the Church and ask for more clarity on this. Consequently, the pre-synod asks those responsible in the church “to speak very specifically about controversial issues such as homosexuality and gender, about which young people have long been discussing freely and without taboos” (RP 11).

New cognitive paradigms and the search for truth

54. Many countries are fighting against the phenomenon of Fake news, d. H. against the uncontrollable spread of false news through the (digital, but also the conventional) media and the increasing difficulty of distinguishing them from the real ones. In public debate, truth and the power of argument seem less and less convincing; the term "post-factual" was coined. As one BK notes, “there is no hierarchy of truth in social networks and digital media”.

55. Because of their communication habits, young people are particularly exposed to this climate and they need support so that they do not get lost. In the post-factual world, the phrase “Christ is the truth, which distinguishes the Church from every other secular group with which we could identify” (VS 11) in the pre-synod inevitably takes on a different conciseness than in the past. It is not about renouncing the most valuable specifics of Christianity in order to adapt to the prevailing zeitgeist, and the young people do not ask that of us at all - but we have to find a way of conveying Christian preaching under changed cultural conditions can. In keeping with biblical tradition, we do well to remember that the truth is based on a relationship: Man discovers the truth the moment he learns it through God, the only one who is truly trustworthy. This truth must be witnessed and lived, not only discussed and proven, which the young people of the pre-synod are also aware of: "The personal stories of people of the Church are effective ways of evangelization, since personal experiences cannot be questioned" (VS 15 ).

56.Today we have to be aware that some functional mechanisms of digital media and the need to decide which of the countless information offers we want to use ensure that more and more often we only come into contact with people who think like us. Church groups, institutions and associations also run the risk of moving in closed cycles (cf. GE 115).

The anthropological effects of the digital world

57. From an anthropological point of view, the incursion of digital technologies is gradually having a profound effect on the notion that we have of space and time, on our perception of ourselves, others and the world, and on our way of communicating, learning and ourselves to inform. An approach to reality that privileges the image rather than listening and reading changes the way people learn and develop critical skills. And he will also question the way in which the faith is imparted, a faith based on hearing the word of God and reading the scriptures. The answers given by the BK show that not many of them are fully aware of the epochal change that is taking place.

58. An unreflective use of digital media harbors the risk of - even extreme - isolation, which is associated with the Japanese term Hikikomori and by which more and more young people in many, especially the Asian, countries are affected: It is the retreat into an illusory, insubstantial happiness in which forms of dependency flourish. The young people of the pre-synod are well aware of this: “Young people often tend to divide their behavior into online and offline areas. It is necessary to provide them with information on how they should lead their digital life. Only online relationships can become inhuman. Digital spaces make us blind to the vulnerability of other people and hinder self-reflection. For example, pornography distorts young people's perceptions of sexuality. A technology used in this way creates a deceptive parallel world that ignores human dignity. But there are also other dangers: the loss of identity combined with a misrepresentation of the person, the virtual construction of a personality and the loss of a down-to-earth social presence. Long-term risks include the loss of memory, culture and creativity in the face of instant access to information, as well as a loss of the ability to concentrate due to severe fragmentation. There is also a culture and dictatorship of outward appearances ”(VS 4).

Disappointment towards the institutions and the new forms of participation

59. Another characteristic that pervades many contemporary societies is the weakness of institutions and a lack of trust in them, including the Church. The answers to the online questionnaire show that only a minority of young people (16.7%) believe that they can influence public life in their own country: They want to, but they have few opportunities and hardly any space to do so. The young people complain about the lack of trustworthy leadership, at various levels and in both civil and ecclesiastical areas. The vulnerability created by increasing corruption is particularly striking. Institutions should care about the common good; if they bow to individual interests, they dramatically lose credibility. Corruption is therefore an evil that shakes the very foundations of many societies, and the challenge of realizing social justice must necessarily begin with the building of just institutions that serve human dignity in the broadest sense.

60. However, disappointment with the institutions can also be beneficial, namely when it leads to processes of participation and the assumption of responsibility and refuses to accept skepticism. Numerous BK point out that in the face of insecurity and fear of the future, young people no longer want to be tied to institutions as such, but rather to people who convey values ​​through their way of life within these institutions. Consistent behavior and authenticity are fundamental conditions for credibility, both on a personal and on an institutional level.

Inability to make decisions in the face of too many choices