When I received the news that I will be going to Rome for the International Youth Forum I did not know what to expect. I was told to read Christus Vivit, a post-synod exhortation as it was going to be the main theme of the forum but little did I know that the International Forum was going to fill me with a lot of hope and energy.
The forum was very enriching because of the variety of the program and the variety of experiences. Everyday we had inputs from speakers and also time to contribute by sharing our experiences in small groups and also in the larger assembly. The fact that we could also ask questions to the speakers, also gave rise to some very current issues that the young people in the Church around the world are facing. It was very fascinating for me to see that despite the variety of countries that we came from, there was a lot of common ground between us such as the fact that young people still feel that some clergy are not always listening and suppporting young people. On the other hand, some talked about the persecution or struggles of catholic communities in government-controlled or secularised states. We also discussed that for many young people the Synodal process and Christus Vivit are still very alien to them and together we discussed concrete ways to bring these closer to the young people. Therefore, in sharing these challenges and discussing them, we not only appreciated the courage of every individual but we also encouraged each other to stay hopeful and work harder to continue sharing the great message that ‘Christ is ALIVE’.
The 3 words that Reverend Giacomo Costa used to describe the synodal journey: Recognise, Interpret and Choose, perfectly summarise the process of understanding, through this forum what Christus Vivit really is. By recognising the power of Christus Vivit and listening to what it is telling us, by looking even more deeply with the help of other instruments and other people and by choosing how to make this discernement concrete, I realised in the end that Christus Vivit is a real love letter – it is a letter of hope to young people and as Professor Robert Cheaib beautifully said (quoting Chapter 4 of Christus Vivit), it reminds every young person that he is loved :
A God who is love
112. The very first truth I would tell each of you is this: “God loves you”. It makes no difference whether you have already heard it or not. I want to remind you of it. God loves you. Never doubt this, whatever may happen to you in life. At every moment, you are infinitely loved.
Moreover, it is also a letter addressed to lay men and women, clergy and youth ministers and leaders on how to accompany young people, listen to their struggles and bring Christ even to the peripheries..
As Cardinal Baldisseri said ‘the synod process never really ends, it is only the beginning of this journey’. And in this journey the young people are protagonists. Christus Vivit, therefore invites everyone to create ‘a Church that calls youths by name’ (Gioele Anni) and a Church that is affectionate. Keeping all this in mind, I returned back to my organisation with a lot of hope and energy to concretely see how to make Christus Vivit more accessible to young people and see what needs to be done to create a safe space to all those young people who feel unloved and have lost hope.
- Franziska Grech - CA Malta