“If we really learned something in the end, i'll be glad of it”

Bishop Oster with young people in Rome © Cristian Gennari (CBA)

When will young people ever hear a priest make a statement on the subject of sex that is not just morally detached?? Youth Bishop Oster, who is currently in Rome looking for ways to inspire young people to join the church, wonders the same thing.

Interviewer: Bishop, you have just come from the press conference of the German delegation to the Synod on Youth. On some topics, the young people present clapped and really enjoyed themselves. With others less. How did you feel?

Stefan Oster (Bishop of Passau and Youth Bishop of the German Bishops' Conference): Whenever it was noticeable that the bishops put themselves very much in the shoes of the young people, this was well received. It was the same when criticizing institutions and talking about ies like unequal educational opportunities, addiction problems or diseases. When the young people felt that the bishops were passionate about what they were doing, there was sometimes jubilation and loud applause.

Interviewer: In the run-up to the synod there was a big survey among 200 young people.000 young people. You have a lot of contact with young people. Where does the shoe pinch the most?

Easter: As diverse as young people are today, there are so many different shoes to fill. In any case, we have to offer the topic of relationships and community more strongly. We need people who are able to walk with them, to like young people, to put up with them sometimes. Only in good relationships can good faith develop. It will be difficult otherwise.

We often have a certain speechlessness in the areas of our preaching that affect young people the most. Of course, young people are interested in topics related to sexuality. When do you hear something substantial from a priest that is not just a morally detached statement?? It should be in such a way that young people can hear it, that they go along with it, struggle for it and understand it.

There is also a certain speechlessness when it comes to the topic of science and faith. Another important theme is justice. We are often perceived as the ones who come first with morals and dogma, and not first with "You belong first, no matter who you are and where you come from."

Interviewer: How can church change that?

Oster: That depends on individual people. It's always the case that young people who find a way in the church are very strongly influenced by certain people. We simply need people who have a heart for young people.

Interviewer: What role do the social media play here??

Easter: It is a huge ie in many ways. On the one hand there is the danger of addiction. On the other hand, there is also the possibility of reaching them there. But even that is not so easy. It's not as if all the young people immediately follow you. You have to make it attractive somehow. There are some good examples. We have room for improvement.

Interviewer: Authentic it should be, or?

Oster: A very important keyword. Only, we take the word quite often in the mouth. But I always ask myself: How do you actually become authentic?? How do you and I become more authentic? We should ask ourselves how this can actually be done. For me as a Christian, a very strong theme is: "Am I a person of inwardness?? Do I live out of the presence of the Lord? Is this something that also carries over into my life practice with people? These are things where authenticity grows in the church. This is also still a really difficult topic.

Interviewer: What has to happen so that you can be satisfied in three weeks after the synod?

Easter: I hope that we will get a document, or perhaps examples, that are really suitable to be able to play them into the youth pastoral in Germany. I don't think we automatically do something that appeals directly to young people. But we will produce a message or a text that can be worked with. Vatican texts are hardly noticed among young people. But I hope for something that you can then really work with: A new perspective or a best-practice example. If in the end we have really learned something, then I am glad to hear it.

The interview was conducted by Renardo Schlegelmilch in Rome.

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