Vatican Youth Pre-Synod Calls for ‘Listening,’ Ignores Young Traditionalists

by David Nussman  •  •  March 26, 2018   

Calls for orthodoxy, Latin Mass get downplayed in pre-synod document

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VATICAN ( - Young, traditional-minded Catholics are feeling marginalized and ignored by the Vatican.

Last week, about 300 young people gathered in Rome to help draft a document in preparation for the Vatican's Synod of the Youth in October. The document they composed is meant to provide talking points for the bishops at the synod later this year. According to Catholic News Agency, these young people were "of different cultural and religious backgrounds."

Organizers of the pre-synod used online surveys and social media platforms to gauge young people's opinions. Even though proponents of traditional liturgy were outspoken on these platforms, they claim their opinions were excluded from the pre-synod's final document.

Isaac Withers, a young man involved in writing the pre-synod document, claims the writers were only given a summary of what was said on social media, instead of sifting through the original statements themselves. When he went to a pre-synod Facebook group to see what fellow young people were actually saying, Withers was surprised to see how many were praising the Traditional Latin Mass. He wrote about his experience checking out the comments first-hand:

There was a huge online community asking for the Extraordinary Form to be represented in the document, and I realized going through these comments that we, as a writing team, had not been shown the wealth of online commenting. We were given only a summary of these comments, and so I was saddened to see that many in this group felt disheartened or not listened to.

Withers continues, "I included the phrase, 'reverential liturgies' hoping to express those things, but looking online, I really saw that the document would have been different had the online world been represented properly."

The document would have been different had the online world been represented properly.

Indeed, the pre-synod's final document has only a very brief statement on liturgy, noting, "Some of us have a passion for 'the fire' of contemporary and charismatic movements that focus on the Holy Spirit, others are drawn towards silence, meditation and reverential traditional liturgies."

One person who took part in the English Pre-Synodal Facebook group, Matt Leitner, said on Twitter that "it was incredibly refreshing to see so many demands for tradition, reverence and strong leaders that [defend] Church teaching instead of bowing down to modernism."

He added, "Then ... they ignored us."

Other Catholics shared similar dismay. One young Catholic said about the situation, "As someone who participated in the online Facebook group, there [were] numerous requests for more reverent liturgies and the wider availability of the Extraordinary Form. Many of us were very disappointed and felt ignored that there was no mention of it anywhere in the final document."

Another Catholic man who was in the closed Facebook group, Łukasz Kożuchowski, told Church Militant, "On the Facebook group 'Pre-Synodal Meeting,' numerous young people (to be honest I was really positively surprised by their number), while writing their answers for questions posed by moderators, mentioned such topics as the Extraordinary Form, traditional unambiguous teaching, reverence in liturgy, etc."

Kożuchowski continued:

Unfortunately, when the first draft of the document was presented, it came out that there is no mention of any of these. Instead of this, there were lots of unprecise sentences and cliché slogans. Negative comments appeared at once, but there was no response from moderators. Members of the group reacted even more strongly when the final version was published, with merely one very ambiguous statement about the Church's tradition.

He also informed Church Militant, "A few hours ago, there appeared an official statement of the moderators, in which they accused us of creating a pro-tradition lobby and underestimated the number of people presenting traditional views in the group."

Instead of this, there were lots of unprecise sentences and cliché slogans.

At one point, the pre-synod document states, "There is often great disagreement among young people, both within the Church and in the wider world, about some of Her teachings which are especially controversial today. Examples of these include contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation, marriage and how the priesthood is perceived in different realities in the Church."

It goes on, "Even though there is internal debate, young Catholics whose convictions are in conflict with official teaching still desire to be part of the Church."

The Synods on the Family a few years ago were used by Vatican media officials to push homosexuality and Holy Communion for those in a state of grave sin. Now, there is concern among faithful Catholics that the upcoming Synod on the Youth will likewise be hijacked by theological dissidents. The National Catholic Reporter has already published a headline on the pre-synod that reads, "Vatican youth meeting notes that some want changes to Catholic teachings."

The pre-synod text repeatedly mentions the role of women in the Church, claiming it should be reconsidered or modernized. But some complain that the document ignores modern culture's dire need for authentic femininity and authentic masculinity. One young man wrote on Facebook, "How can 300 people forget about half the youth they are trying to reach? How is it that there is not one mention of the crisis young men are facing?"

"In fact," he continued, "how can we, as Catholics, talk about authentic complimentarity when men and their trials are not even represented at the table?"

"For all four of the mentions about the role of women in the Church," he said, "I don't understand how we can hope to have 'empowered' women if half their human partners in this life are completely ignored."

Robert Royal from The Catholic Thing wrote in the lead-up to the pre-synod, "What we already have is a lot of weak sociology, as we also saw before the two synods on marriage. No one should be surprised if this event turns into something quite different than planned."


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