ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican is launching a new website to solicit input from youth of all faiths, ranging in age from 16–29 years old in preparation for next year's synod focusing on them.
In an interview that aired Thursday, Cdl. Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, announced, "We are launching a website next week for the youth. The youth, therefore, can speak with each other and have a direct communication with the center, here in Rome."
One reason for the website, he said, was to provide the youth access to a questionnaire so they could sound off on the synod scheduled for October 2018. Cardinal Baldisseri was extremely influential in the 2014 and 2015 synod focused on the family. Speaking on the value of the questionnaire, he said, "This was given for the youth, and through this, the youth can respond and also ask other questions. We are open to speak with them and want their presence. We want them to feel close to us."
According to a press release from the Vatican on Tuesday, the website would be online as of Wednesday. "This initiative will enable the promotion of wider participation among all young people around the world, not only for receiving information on the synodal event but also for interacting and participating in the path of preparation," read the bulletin.
The bulletin stipulated that all responses must be received by the "General Secretariat" no later than November 30, 2017. It stated the answers will "form part of the wider-ranging consultation that this General Secretariat is carrying out at all levels."
It should be noted that many Catholics believe Cdl. Baldisseri exercised an undue influence or manipulation over the synod in 2014, which paved the way for the Synod on the Family the following year. A book written by Ed Pentin about the alleged "rigging" of the 2014 Synod was endorsed by Cdl. Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban and co-president of the 2015 Synod on the Family. The cardinal called Pentin's book, "An absolutely fascinating account of Synod 2014, especially the machinations surrounding it."
Pope Francis announced the theme of next year's synod in a bulletin in June of 2016. The bulletin reads "in October 2018 the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held, on the theme: 'Youth, faith and vocational discernment.'"
The announcement describes the following goal of the synod:
Its aim is to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they discover their plan for life and realise it with joy, opening up to the encounter with God and with human beings, and actively participating in the edification of the Church and of society.
During their gathering this week in Indianapolis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops discussed the upcoming synod. On Wednesday, both Abp. Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Cdl. Joseph Tobin of Newark urged their fellow bishops to promote the youth survey.
During the meeting, Bp. Felipe Estevez of St. Augustine, Florida, commented on how the youth are drawn to Eucharistic Adoration and have a "renewed appreciation for silence and desire for silence, which manifests a thirst for spiritual life, for growth in the knowledge of the Lord." Wanting to build on this interest, the Estevez exhorted his fellow bishops to "develop more the theology of gift" in today's culture of "pragmatism" and "functionality." He added that meditation on the gift of the Cross is necessary for a youth's "discernment of a vocation."