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4-SEAN

Young people are ‘leaving the Church in droves,’ says Scots delegate to Vatican youth synod

By James Farrell

Young people are ‘leaving the Church in droves for all the wrong reasons,’ according to Scotland’s representative to a global Vatican meeting of young people.

Sean Deighan, 23, a youth worker for Glasgow Archdiocese, will be one of 300 young representatives to attend the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment to be held in Rome from March 19 to 24.

The meeting is being held ahead of a Synod of Bishops in October that will focus on youth.

“I didn’t realise it was such a select group [attending the meeting] and it’s a great privilege,” Mr Deighan said. “I hope that my voice will be heard and by extension I hope the representative voice of all young people in Scotland will be heard. I’m optimistic that real results will materialise from the pre-synodal meeting. I think what needs to be addressed is that young people are leaving the Church in droves for all the wrong reasons.

“They are leaving the Church because of what they think the Church is and not the reality. If we want to pursue the new evangelisation authentically then we need to present the Church ­authentically and young people need to see that.”

“When young people see the Church being presented authentically, it’s attractive,” Mr Deighan said. “We have never had to dress things up or use false pretences to get people in the Church. It has always been the reality of the Church’s message which they are attracted to.”

At the Angelus on Sunday February 18, Pope Francis called on young people from around the world to take part in the preparatory work of the upcoming synod.

“I strongly desire that all young people might be the protagonists of this preparation,” Pope Francis said. “And so they will be able to contribute online through linguistic groups moderated by other young people.”

The Pope was referring to an initiative promoted by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, under the direction of its general secretary, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldiserri. Young people have been invited to join a Facebook group through the Synod website, www.synod2018.va, and from March 12 will have the ­opportunity to send questions to Pope Francis for the Synod on the group page.

“Pope Francis insisted on showing great concern for the ‘distant’—the young people of the ‘peripheries,’ those who are not part of our network of Catholics faithful,” Cardinal Baldisseri said in conversation with the Vatican website.

“The participants will be able to ask questions, propose ideas and therefore act as intermediaries between the ecclesial institution that derives from the people of God and secular society. The experience that will be proposed to them will consist in getting to know the Church better, discovering what we are more deeply.”

At the end of the youth meeting representatives will approve a document, the result of the work of the entire week, which will express their point of view on the reality of youth in the Church and present their expectations, their doubts and their hopes. This document will then help guide reflections at the synod in October.

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