Church needs to meet young people where they are, U.S. observer says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Anne Condodina

CITY (CNS) – To reach young people and teach them the faith, Catholics must
first show them that they are loved, “not just judged, discarded, or
abused,” said a 29-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops.

Vieyra, who works with migrant families in Chicago, told Vatican News Oct. 8
that the church needs to meet young people where they are. And while “a
good portion” of the bishops at the synod are listening, she said, others
are “still focused on preaching the truth to our youth.”

it’s important to communicate the truth,” she said, “but also you can’t
just communicate the truth without treating someone with love and care and

to Vieyra, the church’s message should be attentive to where youth are right
now. It is important for the church to hear their needs and adapt its ministry so that they feel the
church recognizes their humanity as well, she said.

In her small
working group at the synod, she said she reminded the bishops that young people are not
the same everywhere in the world. “I have made it a point to bring them
back to the reality that not all of our youth are the same and their lives are
not the same, not just in the U.S. but in other parts of the world.”

example, Vieyra said, “In the U.S. not everyone is raised by a mother and
a father, or in a heterosexual couple. And so, that’s important for us to be
mindful of, because that’s where our youth are. And it’s important to honor
their experiences and, again, minister to what life is like for them now and
find a way to make them understand that they are so deeply loved by God and
that he is just so excited to embrace them”

Recognizing what life is like for young people will
help the church “find ways to meet them, whether it’s through social
media, through more innovative, fun, happy catechesis,” Vieyra told
Vatican News.

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