Today Pope Francis published his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation to young people and to the entire People of God, entitled Christus vivit (Christ is Alive), now available on www.catholicbishops.ie. It is the considered fruit of planning, consultation and over three weeks of deliberation involving senior representatives of Bishops’ Conferences from around the world who attended the Synod in the Vatican to discuss the theme ‘youth, faith and vocational discernment’ from 3 – 28 October.
In the document, composed of nine chapters and divided into 299 paragraphs, Pope Francis explains that he allowed himself to be “inspired by the wealth of reflections and conversations of the Synod” on young people. Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the President of the Bishops’ Conference and Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, chair of the bishops’ Commission for Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development, represented the bishops of Ireland at the 2018 Synod.
Welcoming the publication of Christ is Alive, Bishop McKeown said, “Christ is Alive is an accessible and inspiring document! I remember clearly, at the end of the Synod, Pope Francis reminded his listeners that the Synod’s work will continue both internationally and nationally. Today is a further such step. The early publication of the document is a welcome sign that Pope Francis recognises the urgency of a renewed emphasis on creating new young disciples of Jesus. The final document of the Synod was clear that youth ministry is essential for two reasons. Firstly, there are so many young people crying out for good news in their lives. And, secondly – in the prophetic words of Pope John Paul II during his 1979 visit to Ireland – every new generation is like a new continent to be conquered for Christ. Christ is Alive develops these important pastoral challenges.
“Across our country we prepared for the Synod on Youth by beginning a dialogue with young people and youth leaders. This initiative was followed-up with a meeting involving a representative group of youth directors who came to Rome in October for discussions with Archbishop Eamon and myself. Since that time, the bishops have met with young adults during our annual retreat, in Knock, last February.
“Looking forward, we have nominated two young people to attend an International Youth Forum in Rome, in June, and we welcome the setting up of Catholic Youth Ministry Ireland (CYMI) as a national forum for the mutual support of those involved in youth ministry across our island.
“I earnestly encourage everyone to read today’s Post-Synodal Exhortation Christ is Alive so that the Church can – as widely as possible – speak into the lives of our families and parishes to proclaim the good news of God’s mercy and love for our young people,” Bishop McKeown said.
The Synod is an assembly of bishops from around the world, gathered with the Holy Father, to share their wisdom and experiences in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application. Taking place every three years, the October 2018 synod was the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.