“Do not talk about us, but with us!”

How does the church relate to youth? More than 250 bishops are expected to answer this question at the Synod on Youth at the Vatican. In the plenum there are also nearly 40 young people. But you have no right to vote. Are they still heard?

"The youth are not properly represented," finds Julia Braband. The 25-year-old Protestant from Erfurt is a member of the Council of the Lutheran World Federation, where she is responsible for youth work. At the Catholic Youth Synod, she participated in the discussion for a week as a guest speaker. However, these "auditors", the representatives of the youth at the synod, do not have the right to vote.

In the Council of the Lutheran World Federation, on the other hand, Julia has a right of co-determination. But the fact that she is not allowed to vote in Rome bothers her. "I always find it difficult when we young people are talked about rather than with."

Old men and youth: How fair is the synod??

Indeed, the pictures from Rome these days convey an unbalanced image: old men with gray hair can be seen in almost all the photos of the youth synod. And they are supposed to show the way of the church into the future?

The 250 bishops face only a few dozen young people. Without voting rights, mind you.

So is the voice of the youth in Rome not heard at all? Even if the youth played only a small role in the actual synod, they had a great influence in its preparation.

Already more than a year ago, a Vatican online questionnaire went out to tens of thousands of Catholic youth around the world. "What do you think about the sexual morality of the Church??", "Do you feel represented in the church?" The answers of the young people were evaluated and flowed into a working paper, which forms the basis of the Synod. In addition, several hundred young people came to Rome in the spring for the so-called "pre-synod", and summarized the questions and problems of the youth once again.

"It is, after all, a synod of bishops"

But is that enough? Wouldn't it be appropriate to put 250 young people in front of the 250 bishops at the synod?? "It's a synod of bishops now, so it makes sense that more bishops are there," reflects young auditor Marie Gutierrez of Manila. "I very much hope that they will take the polls and the results of the presynod seriously, and incorporate them into their decisions."

Even though the synod may not represent youth perfectly, for another auditor it is one thing above all: a step in the right direction. That's what Thomas Andonie thinks, he is on site as a representative of the German Catholic youth. "Church is just learning to speak with and not about young people."This is a success, but one should not rest on one's laurels: "In order to be on the right path, further steps must follow after this first one."

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