The challenge for the Church in Africa is clear – it must “welcome this youth with open arms, with all the questions and all the anguishes it raises, with the lively concern to educate it to discernment”.
Globally, the current generation of youth is the largest in history, with as many as 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24.
African youth account for 226 million (19%) of the global population. By 2030, the number of youth in Africa will have increased by 42% and by 2055 this figure is expected to have more than doubled, according to the United Nations.
The Synod of Bishops dedicated to young people, which will be celebrated in October 2018, will be an important moment for young Africans. “Never before in history was a Synod for young people organised with the creation of structures for communication that allow them a wide margin of expression”, said Fr. Donald Zagore, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) engaged in Togo, in a comment on the long-awaited event among the youth of the African continent.
“The Church is attentive not only to young people but to all the young people of every creed. Today, no structure, ecclesial or otherwise, can claim to survive in the present world by ignoring the importance and the weight of the young”, the priest continued.
“Youth is a symbol of the future. This is why closing the door to young people is equivalent to self-planned death”, said Fr. Zagore. “The challenge for the Church in Africa is clear. It must welcome this youth with open arms, with all the questions and all the anguishes it raises, with the lively concern to educate it to discernment”.
“Beyond the simple dynamic of a renewal of the bond with its young people, the Church wants to find youth with this Synod. An authentic youth, which springs from the source of eternity, from Christ. It is Christ who gives light to go forward. It is in this light that the Church, in Africa and throughout the world, can safely find the youth necessary to face the most difficult issues. In Christ, no matter how old she may be, the Church always maintains her youth”, concluded Fr. Zagore.
Meanwhile, from the 19th to 24th March 2018 – in view of the Synod of Bishops on young people in the following October – a pre-synodal meeting will take place. In this pre-synodal meeting, young people will be invited to represent the Episcopal Conferences; the Oriental Churches; consecrated life and those preparing for the priesthood; associations and Church movements; other Churches and communities, both Christian and of other religions; the worlds of school, university and culture, work, sports, arts and volunteering; and the world of young people who find themselves in extreme existential peripheries, as well as experts, educators and trainers engaged in helping young people to discern their life choices.
The pre-synodal meeting will contribute to enriching the consultation phase already undertaken with the publication of the Preparatory Document and its questionnaire, with the opening of the online website containing a specific questionnaire for young people, and the International Seminar on the condition of young people, held last September. The fruit of the works of this meeting will be offered to the Synod Fathers, along with other documentation, to encourage their reflection and further examination.