Final Synod Document Draws Both Praise and Criticism


This past Saturday, the final document of the Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was approved. The synod has focused on the role of young people in the Church and discernment. The final document of about 60 pages brings together the collective reflections of the synod participants through the lens of the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

The three major parts of the document draw their inspiration from that biblical story: “He walked with them,” “Their eyes were opened,” and “They left without delay.” These three major parts of the document trace how the experience of faith for young believers today requires that the Church accompany them through often tumultuous years of self-discovery and maturation, that the call to baptismal holiness is universal and must be supported and encouraged among young people, and that youth have a central role in furthering the mission of the Church. Critics of the synodal process and of the final document expressed concerns that young people, while they must be heard and accompanied, must also be willing to hear the Gospel of Christ, including its uncomfortable challenges.

The Church must accompany young people, but some felt that the role of the Church in speaking authoritatively and clearly about matters which are a source of great confusion in contemporary culture was not highlighted enough in the synodal process or in the final document. In the final estimation, however, the document highlights the universal call to holiness and the increasing urgency of that call in the Church today. May both the youth and the pastors of the Church hear that call anew and respond to it in selfless generosity.