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Young people give Pope Francis a piece of their mind

Published:Saturday | March 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis


Young Catholics told the Vatican yesterday that they want a more transparent and authentic church, where women play a greater leadership role and where obeying "unreachable" moral standards isn't the price of admission.

In a fascinating final document from a weeklong Vatican-initiated conference, 300 young people from around the world joined by 15,000 young people online gave the older men who run the 1.2-billion strong church a piece of their collective mind.

They urged Pope Francis and the bishops who will gather at the Vatican in the fall to back their recommendations that church leaders must address the unequal roles of women in the church and how technology is used and abused. They warned that "excessive moralism" is driving the faithful away and that out-of-touch church bureaucrats need to accompany their flock with humility and transparency.

"We, the young church, ask that our leaders speak in practical terms about subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, about which young people are already freely discussing," they said.

Among the participants, however, there was no consensus on hot-button issues such as church teaching on contraception, homosexuality, abortion or cohabitation. The document said some young people want the church to change its teaching or better explain it; others accept the teachings and want the church to proclaim them more forcefully.

But overall, the young people concluded, the church often comes off as too severe and its "excessive moralism" often sends the faithful looking elsewhere for peace and spiritual fulfillment.