Brasilia (Fides Service) - “The importance of intense and effective evangelisation of youth is unquestionable. Young people are the future of the Church’s life and mission. Their evangelisation is important first and foremost because every young person has the right to be introduced to Jesus Christ and his Gospel”. The statement was made by Bishop Odilo Scherer auxiliary of São Paolo and secretary of the Brazilian Catholic Bishops’ Conference when he illustrated the theme chosen for the Conference’s 44th annual general assembly scheduled for 9 to 17 May 2006. The Bishops identified evangelisation of youth as the most urgent priority today and chose the theme “Evangelisation of Youth: challenges and pastoral perspectives”.
The choice of the theme was determined by the consideration that young people of today include not only the future animators and leaders of the Church, they are also tomorrow’s national leaders. “Therefore if the Church intends to continue exerting its beneficial influence on society and culture it must not forget to sow abundant seed of the Gospel in the hearts of our young people”.
Bishop Scherer highlighted difficulties encountered in the reality of the Church which call for special attention to young people: families find it difficult to evangelise their children sufficiently; it is accepted that traditional means of evangelisation of youth in parishes in preparation for Confirmation or Matrimony or in youth groups are no longer effective; the Church needs to be more present in schools, universities, social centres; initiatives to foster evangelisation of the young are lacking in many church structures, such as parishes and communities.
Hence the need to revise and improve methods, proposals and initiatives geared towards young people in pastoral work and evangelisation more in particular. “Very often existing initiatives to evangelise young people - the Bishop said - are addressed to small groups and fail to reach the greater part of youngsters. Special attention should be given to missionary initiatives aimed for the youthful a stage of life. The Church does well to work with young people who are active in parish life and in society, but it cannot neglect the numerous young Brazilians who do not frequent the church”.
Preparation for the Bishops’ next general assembly and the actual meeting in 2006 will be an excellent opportunity to make evangelisation of youth a ‘preferential option” not only in the pastoral section but in the whole of the church community. With this in mind the Bishops’ Conferences formed a commission of bishops and experts to drat the working paper on the theme to help preparation for the general assembly and to offer suggestions to discuss in the assembly. (RZ) (Agenzia Fides 10/11/2005, righe 38, parole 509)