ROME – Hours before the closing of an Oct. 3-28 summit of bishops on young people came to an end, the 35 young participants in the summit sent a letter to Pope Francis thanking him for the opportunity to be heard and also promising their support in challenging times.
“At the closing of this synod, we want to tell you that we’re with you and all the bishops of our Church, even in the moments of difficulty,” says the letter, written in Italian and shared on social media. It was signed by the young participants who, although having no power to vote in the final document that will be presented to the pope on Saturday, did have a say in the discussions leading up to it.
“We pray that you continue the path that you’ve started, and we promise our full support and our daily prayer,” they wrote.
Though the letter made no reference to the clerical sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Church in 2018 and brought accusations of cover-up even against the pope himself, others have written the pope to express support precisely against that backdrop.
The letter was presented to Francis Friday evening, during a moment of celebration shared among the young people and the cardinals and bishops participating in the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment.
Saturday is the last day of the official work of the synod, with prelates reading the final version of the document and then voting on it, paragraph by paragraph. Eventually, the Secretary General of the Synod, Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, will present it to the pontiff, who will decide if he approves and/or if he clears it to be released.
Friday’s celebration was organized in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, where many of the indoor public papal audiences are held, and which is in the same building of the synod hall, where the month-long meeting was held.
Some of the young people danced, sang, and even read poetry, but they weren’t the only ones joining the celebratory mood. Baldisseri, for instance, an accomplished pianist, played the theme from the 1970 film “Love Story.”
“Dear Pope Francis, we young people, present at the synod, want to take the opportunity to express our gratitude and joy for the fact that you gave us the space to make together this small bit of history,” the young people wrote in the letter. “New ideas need space, and you have allowed for it.”
The world of today, they continue, presents young people with both many unique opportunities but also much suffering, and it “needs new responses and new energies of love. It needs to find hope again and to live the happiness that is found more in giving than in receiving, working for a better world.”
They also told the pope that they share “his dream” of a Church that goes out, that is open, “particularly for the weakest one, a Church that is a field hospital.”
“We are already an active part of the Church and we want to continue to work concretely in improving our cities and schools, the socio-political world and the places of work, spreading a culture of peace and solidarity putting the poorest at the center, in whom Jesus himself is recognized,” they wrote.
After the celebration, the young people, accompanied by the Synod’s communication team, had a Holy Hour at a parish church close to the Vatican. According to Jonathan Lewis, a young participant from the United States, they had dinner afterwards featuring “improvised singing.”
A beautiful holy hour tonight at San Lorenzo with Bishops and young adults at the end of the second to last day of the Synod. Followed by pizza and spontaneous song! This is #synod2018. This is accompaniment. pic.twitter.com/8h5MbYoWuO
— Jonathan Lewis (@jlewDistrict) October 26, 2018