Two unusually important happenings in the Catholic Church this season include the V Encuentro (Spanish for “encounter”) that met in Grapevine, Texas, from September 20 – 23, after many prior gatherings on the parish, diocesan and regional levels, and the Synod of Bishops currently meeting in Rome. Both meetings focus on young adults who, as part of the Body of Christ, or as “strangers among us,” have been asked to express their ideas and dreams about the church rather than leave it, as well as their dreams for building a future of freedom among us.
Given the scandals currently experienced, both on the political as well as ecclesial levels, the V Encuentro message was a special call to Latin/Hispanic young adults to express their experiences amidst the escalation of dehumanizing treatment over the past 4 years…and the call to us, as citizens and as church, to heed the oft-repeated message of Pope Francis: Welcome the migrants! Build bridges, not walls! It is Jesus who walks among us in the form of the poor and needy. Migrants guide us toward God.
Idealistic, unrealizable calls, from the V Encuentro? Only if, in our self-centeredness, we choose to be losers in the eyes of God and in the rich culture our immigrant ancestors have created for us!
The second important happening is going on before our very eyes, unless we choose to be blind to the press or internet accounts of the Synod of Bishops, which opened in Rome on October 3 and will continue until the end of October. According to the Catholic News Service, and the perspective of one editorial, Phyllis Zagano, a basic decision needs to be made as to whether all members of the church have a right to vote: the bishops, the invited observers, lay people, including women and some 300 young adults who serve in their parishes. Youth, especially, male and female, are asking to be heard, to be taken seriously; they wish to act responsibly and publicly as Catholics. What can be the future of the church if she gives voice to the voiceless? How can the Body of Christ rise again to full stature? What message will the Synod of Bishops give to the entire church? Please stay tuned. Pray for these brothers and sisters meeting in our name. We need help, don’t we?
Renée Domeier, OSB