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To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released the long-awaited online questionnaire YOUNG PEOPLE, THE FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds around the world. The questionnaire - available in English, Spanish, French and Italian - is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief:
Click on https://survey-synod2018.glauco.it/limesurvey/index.php/147718 and choose your language in the top right drop-down menu.
Given the Church's tradition of strict adherence to rules that many feel need to be reevaluated, there is widespread concern for her well-being. Many feel that its future rests in the hands of young people which underscores the importance of this questionnaire. Pope Francis has invited youth from all over the world regardless of whether you are Catholic or not, whether you attend Church or not. The questionnaire is purposefully anonymous so that young people feel free to offer an honest sharing of themselves.
The list of 53 mostly multiple-choice questions is divided into seven sections: general personal information; attitudes and opinions about oneself and the world; influences and relationships; life choices; religion, faith and the church; internet use; and two final, open-ended questions.
It is a well-known fact that many young people have turned away from the Church. Why? Because they are more open to a rapidly changing world, having grown up in it without the prejudices of prior generations. From this vantage point, they see the grace of God in fresher and more vibrant terms than a Church governed by older generations. From the perspective of those of us interested in bringing about needed reform in the church, the questionnaire noticeably avoids raising widely discussed topics, particularly those directly related to the:
1. right of the members to participate in the decision-making of the Church
2. welcoming of all to the Eucharist recognizing it as a sacrament of healing not reward.
3. treatment of the LGBT community
4. equality of women in the Church
5. sexual abuse issue by Catholic priests
6. responsible parenthood vs. the prohibition of artificial contraception
7. couples living together prior to marriage
8. couples entering into inter-faith relationships
The only question that opens the door to address any of these issues or others of particular concern to various cultures is the last question: What do you want to tell people about yourself which has not been asked in this questionnaire? We strongly urge you to utilize this question to share your heartfelt concerns for any needs you might have that are currently not being addressed by the Church or by the parish with which you might be associated. We believe that the future of the Roman Catholic Church is in the hands of young people, If the Church is to continue, she needs the voices of young people to speak up but only if you offer your genuine beliefs and experiences. The Spirit does not speak only through the ordained ministry.
The Church is critically in need of authentic voices speaking up and being heard at this Synod. Unlike the two Synods on the Family that were attended almost entirely by Bishops, Catholic Church Reform Int'l encourages the Holy Father to change the dynamics of this Synod on Youth by filling the chamber with Young People so that it looks more like this:
The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops' conferences and other church bodies, "will provide the basis for the drafting of the 'instrumentum laboris,'" or working document for the assembly, synod officials said last January. It would also be helpful to have all of you who work closely with young people to complete the questionnaire.
Share this link on your Facebook Page and on your Twitter account. Let's encourage young people worldwide of all faiths to complete this questionnaire: https://survey-synod2018.glauco.it/limesurvey/index.php/147718
Thank you for your contributions and continued support. Your donations make it possible for us to continue our work to bring needed reform to the Roman Catholic Church.
Last January, the Vatican promised that a questionnaire open to all young people would be released on March 1st. It is now mid-May and still hasn’t come out. It seems apparent that there is internal resistance in the Vatican from those who do not want just anybody sending in responses, which an on-line survey would be open to. But, on the other side, that is exactly what Pope Francis and Cardinal Baldisseri want. Recently this article was posted on UCA News describing the Synod General Secretariat’s visit to Hong Kong and his meeting there with young people. It is entitled: Synod official listens to Hong Kong youth and subtitled Upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome will take into account the views of young people all over the world. http://www.ucanindia.in/news/synod-official-listens-to-hong-kong-youth/34801/daily
CCRI is encouraged to hear the General Secretariat of the Synod office indicate that this questionnaire is still forthcoming. Cardinal Baldisseri indicated that the Synod on Youth wants the participants to be “all young people on the earth, not just Catholics and Christians. He encouraged Hong Kong Catholics not to ignore the ‘opportunity to be involved’ in the synod and to keep a look out at the General Secretariat website for a questionnaire which you can fill out online." Our young adult sub-committee is standing by ready to promote the Vatican questionnaire or, in the alternative if the matter is left unresolved in Rome, they are ready to release their own questionnaire or a series of comments from young people to be sent directly to his office, the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops.
Day 11, May 11, 2017
Our day began at 5:30 when we walked together into old Jerusalem to follow the Way of the Cross. Remember, yesterday, we walked the route of Palm Sunday and left off at the dungeon where Jesus was arrested, imprisoned, and scourged. The first station is the place where Jesus was then brought before the Roman governor and accused of rebelling against the government. From there we made our way through each station taking turns carrying the cross (Pic 1). This picture is Julius carrying the cross. When I took my turn, I felt the weight of the cross and the burdens of the world on my shoulder. The last five stations are all within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (Pic 2) Once inside, we knelt and touched the rock of Calvary where Jesus hung on the cross (Pic 3).
After breakfast, we headed to Emmaus about 18 kilometers from Jerusalem. It was on the road to Emmaus that some of the disciples ran into Jesus. Cleopas, who was with them, invited Jesus to dine at his home. Sometimes the places where we honor the memory of Jesus are approximate estimates of where the event may have happened. But when the site is located under or near a Byzantine church from the period three to four hundred years after the time of Christ, the likelihood of this being the actual location is far greater. So it is with this site depicted by this icon of Jesus dining there (Pic 4). We celebrated Mass here with Julius presiding (Pic 5). `Neither of us will ever again here this Gospel reading and feel the same way about it. According to the Gospel reading, once those who saw Jesus in Emmaus had experienced the risen Christ, they felt some urgency to go back to Jerusalem and share the good news. That is how I’m feeling as I prepare to return home: wanting to share this experience with everyone back home.
Nearby the remains of this church were first-century tombs. The Jewish custom at that time was to carve out a few niches to bury the bodies (Pic 6) and then roll a stone over the outer opening (Pic 7). After a couple of years when the body has decayed, the bones are removed and placed in a box for burial. Then the tombs are reused.
As we bid farewell to our pilgrim community and prepared to leave St. Georges, Julius led me to read the sign at the entrance to one of the chapel’s inside the cathedral here:
“Pray not for Arab or Jew, for Palestinian or Israeli. Pray rather for ourselves that we might not divide them in our prayers but keep them both together in our hearts.” (Based on a prayer of a Palestinian Christian)”
How fitting to leave with this prayer as we bring an end to our Journey through the Holy Land. Know that our cause to bring renewed life to the Catholic Church and our remembrance of all our loved ones have been carried with us throughout each step along the way.
Day10, May 10, 2017
Today we are in Jerusalem walking the route of the Palm Sunday procession. Across the street from the Jewish cemetery is the Church of Gethsemane (Pic 1) which means olive branch. This church is built at the base of the Mount of Olives where Jesus spent his final days on earth. Mass was being said while we visited the Church (Pic 2) and the altar is built on (or near) the rock where Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Pic 3). Our guide reminded us that it was Peter, James, and John who were with Jesus at the time of his transfiguration when they saw him in his divine state. Now these same three are with him at Gethsemane and see him in his human state. Jesus is in agony as he faces what is in store for him and saddened further by these three closest to him unable to stay awake and pray even one hour with him.
We next visited the Church of Beth-Phage, which means house (Pic 4) and is where Jesus set off for Palm Sunday. Riding on a donkey, he is greeted with Palms by a celebratory crowd. Here is Jerusalem, Palm Sunday is celebrated in a big way.
We followed this as we arrived at the church of Dominus Flevit, which means the Lord wept (Pic 5). It was from here that Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and predicted the destruction of the city and the destruction of the temple, symbolizing, of course, his own destruction (Pic 6).
Finally, the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, which refers to the cock crowing (Pic 7), is a three-story church with the top floor being the contemporary church. The story below dates back to the Byzantine era (4th century when Queen Helena, Constantine’s mother, built so many churches). On this middle floor, the side wall shows Jesus predicting that Peter will deny him three times before the cock crows. Icons above the altar depict St Peter’s denial, his repentant weeping, and his reconciliation with his Master on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection. From this floor, there is a glass visual through the floor where we could look down to see the dungeon below where Jesus was imprisoned (Pic 8). It is highly likely that this is the exact prison (Pic 9) because of it being found below a 4th century Church and its proximity to the palace of Caiaphas. It is also likely that this was the same dungeon that Peter and John were held and scourged for preaching about Jesus in the temple. This lowest story, the dungeon or sacred pit (Pic 10) is where our group read the Gospel and prayed (Pic 11). Outside the church, there are the sacred steps (Pic 12) that Jesus would have taken to come up and go down from this area.
In the afternoon, Julius and I walked on our own to a Lutheran church in Jerusalem. Quietly in a corner of the church, we lit candles and renewed our wedding vows to each other (Pic 13).
Day 9, May 9, 2017
Some of us arose and headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at 5:30 so we could beat the crowds. We entered by the anointing table, stopped to pray, and have many items blessed (Pic 1). I placed my wedding ring on the table to have it blessed. From there we went to the place where Jesus was buried (Pic 2).
A Mass was being celebrated inside the tomb area (kind of like the vestibule area). This area was barricaded off for a small private party. I managed to slip through and discreetly join the group. It was a Roman Catholic Mass so I fit right in and joined in the responses. It was exhilarating to celebrate Mass and receive communion in the area just outside the tomb (Pic 3) and then to bend down and climb into the tomb (Pic 4). I prayed there in the place where Jesus was buried and ultimately rose again (Pic 5) for our movement to bring new life to our church and to open the minds and hearts of those resistant to change. I prayed for family and friends and for all who are struggling with conflicts throughout the world. As we’ve had the opportunity to explore various first-century underground caves/homes, we learned that when we hear about the stone of Jesus’ tomb being rolled back, it wasn’t large. Two people could easily roll it back. This is exemplified by a stone we saw under the covenant back in Nazareth (Pic 6).
After breakfast, our first stop of the day in Bethlehem was Shepherds’ field, the place where the angel appeared to the shepherds and guided them to follow the star to the place where the newborn king lay (Pic 7). With no crowds around, our guide directed us down to some underground caves (Pic 8) to help us understand what the “manger” and the “stable” were really like. In first-century homes, the people lived in part of the cave-like house and the animals in another part of the house. The animal portion was the stable. There wasn’t an “inn” as we visualize it. Joseph, who had first lived in Bethlehem, before going to Nazareth most likely to find work, had some familiarity with the town. He found Mary the most suitable place available to give birth to Jesus. The crib was most likely a watering trough for feeding the animals much like we saw back under the convent in Nazareth (Pic 9). We all gathered in the cave where Julius was asked to say a prayer. As the light shown down on him, it felt like a Pentecostal moment.
On the way to the Church of the Nativity, built over the actual place (or close to it) where Jesus was born, we stopped at the separation wall (Pic 11). This is the wall that Israelis have built to protect themselves from Palestinians (Pic 12). One place on the wall says: “built by the U.S.” I wonder if we’d be giving all this money if we could see the “fruit” of our contribution.
The wall is about 3 to 4 stories tall with barbed wire on top and completely imprisons Palestinians inside the wall (Pic 13). In order to go about their daily lives, Palestinians have to go through checkpoints just to live in their own country. I can’t imagine living this way. The media has not given us a real picture of the situation that exists in this country. A one-state solution, a two-state solution? Personally, I don’t see any solution in light of what I see happening here. But in spite of this, we read from Ephesians 2: 11 – 22. “For Christ is our peace, he who has made the two peoples one, destroying in his own flesh the wall – the hatred – which separated us.”