Encouraging paper with missing topics

Encouraging paper with missing topics

"He listened very well and made the different voices recognizable". This is the impression of Regina Laudage-Kleeberg, head of the youth department in the diocese of Essen, about the pope's letter "Christus vivit". Nevertheless important topics are missing.

Interviewer: Does Francis succeed in giving courage to the young people?

Regina Laudage-Kleeberg (Head of the Department for Children, Youth and Young Adults at the Episcopal General Vicariate in Essen): He has done that, to be honest. The young people have 77 pages in front of them, they have to struggle a bit through it. He has done one central thing, which I find particularly important: He has made this very great diversity in the youth area visible.

There is not one youth, but many, many different young people. This is visible in the paper. He listened very well and made the very different voices recognizable in his writing.

Interviewer: The Pope also deals with love and partnership in this letter, but he completely excludes homosexuality. How do you see it?

Laudage-Kleeberg: In any case, I think this is a great omission. At one point he says young people are moving away from the church in many places, especially because of its sexual morality. It alienates her.

You ask for clarification in terms of different ies in this area, identity of man and woman – what is the difference? But even homosexuality. He puts that down and then nothing happens. Then comes the next topic.

Interviewer: In the context of sexual abuse, the advice then emerges that young people should approach a priest if they have the impression that he is prone to assaults. What did you spontaneously think when you read that?

Laudage-Kleeberg: I hit my head. You have to imagine it figuratively. It's not like when I see someone stealing a banana and I say "Listen, this is against what you promised". If I were to perceive that someone is prone to assault, to sexual violence, or has already done something, and I notice that, then I should please remind them that they have an obligation to God and to the church. No one can tell me that anyone does that. It says to preach the Gospel to them, and it's all very well meant.

I think the pope means well. But this is beyond all reality. The person who identifies something like this is usually either concerned or deeply concerned because someone they know may have been abusive. Then I'm supposed to go and say, "Excuse me, you're not fulfilling your obligation to God and the church". This is totally unrealistic.

Interviewer: Can you explain that somehow, how the pope comes to his advice? Is he misadvised there or what is the reason for that?

Laudage-Kleeberg: I believe that this is profoundly his preservation of faith and values. He won't mean any harm. He said a lot around it, a lot needs to happen on prevention. He also spoke very clearly, not specifically, but very clearly. In his mindset, this is about faith. At one point later he becomes quite divine and says that God and Jesus Christ will give us the renewal in the Church. What does not happen is what we demand here in Germany – the realistic and concrete changes of actions by responsible people in the church. The help of God is asked for. That's why I'm not surprised he says addressing others on commitments to God and Church.

Interviewer: Back again. Young people should be the main actors in their own lives and also in the church, the letter says. Does this resonate with young people or are these words that fall flat?

Laudage-Kleeberg: I don't know if you read 77-page Vatican papers like this when you were young. I think the format is very young, pleasant and fresh by Vatican standards. But completely out of place for the actual target audience, in my opinion. Still, if you get through it, there's a lot of great stuff in there. We put it on as postcard slogans, because some young people collect postcard slogans. There are a lot of very nice encouraging things in there, for example, "The heart of a young person is holy ground.". So the adults should please take off their shoes.

There is a lot of encouragement and a lot of promise: make your decisions, develop yourself, let people accompany you. That's a great invitation to faith, that's already great. There is a lot of strong stuff in it, also a lot of balanced stuff. That's good.

Interviewer: You just have to translate it a little bit, or how does it come across to the young people??

Laudage-Kleeberg: Yes, and very neatly. The translation effort is now the "To Do" for us people who act in the youth field.

Interviewer: Again, bottom line, what does the paper bring to work with young people?

Laudage-Kleeberg: For us, it brings a lot, because it confirms, of what we do. The Pope has said there are two central lines of action for youth ministry: one is the search for God, the other is to accompany young people to develop and clarify their own identity. Exactly what we are doing. In this respect, it is a great confirmation and encouragement for what we are doing.

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