Bishops urged to walk with young people, bring them to deeper faith

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Archbishop
Christophe Pierre, the new apostolic nuncio to the United States, urged U.S.
bishops Nov. 14 to pay close attention to young Catholics to both learn from
them and help them to deepen their faith.

“Many young people are not
allergic to the truths of the faith or to the church, but they simply don’t
know anything or know very little about the faith,” he said, urging
bishops to take steps needed to help them.

The archbishop, who addressed
the bishops at the start of their fall general assembly in Baltimore, also noted
that it is difficult for today’s young people to live out their faith in
today’s modern world and they need to know they are welcome in the church.

His remarks were geared to
encouraging bishops to prepare for the October 2018 Synod of Bishops, which has
the theme of accompanying young people on the path of faith and in discerning
their vocation, announced by the Vatican this October.

“We know that youth are
critical to the life of the church,” he stressed, adding that they often
“find themselves at the peripheries of both the church and society. We
must go out to them.”

This was the archbishop’s first
address to an assembly of the U.S. bishops since his appointment earlier this
year. He said Catholics in the U.S. were still benefiting from the pope’s visit
last year and from experiences from the Year of Mercy.

The archbishop, who has spent 40
years in the Vatican diplomatic corps, spent most of his 30-minute address
pleading with the bishops to come to understand the young people in their
dioceses, noting that they “tend to place everything in the present moment”
and are often in a state of constant flux and unable to make a permanent

He also noted the impact of
modern technology on today’s youths, saying it has made them change their ways
of showing their feelings and communicating, trading “virtual closeness”
for real encounters.

To truly understand where young
people is not only a way to reach out to them but a way to help them discern
their next steps, particularly regarding vocations, he added.

Archbishop Pierre stressed that
in general they are “open, available and generous” and want authentic
relationships and seek the truth. They want to be heard, he added, saying
church leaders need to listen to them, following the example of Pope Francis.

The archbishop also stressed the
bishops alone do not have the responsibility to help young people connect with
their faith, because it is up to the whole church “to go to and walk with
our young people.”

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