On the feast of the Annunciation (25 March), Pope Francis signed a Letter to Young People (Christus Vivit [“Christ is alive”]), the result of the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment last year.
In this Letter, Pope Francis makes a direct appeal to young people, addressing them throughout. He encourages them to grow in holiness by seeking friendship with Jesus and provides guidance and encouragement on discerning vocations. The Pope wishes them to understand the important role they play within the Church, highlighting young saints and biblical figures, and even the youth of Jesus himself, to inspire young people in playing that role today. Missing, however, is any serious engagement with the several LGBT-related issues that were raised during the meeting of bishops and Catholic youth from around the world.
Robert Shine of New Ways Ministry has identified only a handful of references to sexuality in general. In a section under “desires, hurts, longings” of young people today, Pope Francis writes in paragraph 81, quoting from the Synod on Youth’s final report:
“Young people are aware that the body and sexuality have an essential importance for their lives and for their process of growth in identity. Yet in a world that constantly exalts sexuality, maintaining a healthy relationship with one’s body and a serene affective life is not easy. For this and other reasons, sexual morality often tends to be a source of ‘incomprehension and alienation from the Church, inasmuch as she is viewed as a place of judgement and condemnation’. Nonetheless, young people also express ‘an explicit desire to discuss questions concerning the difference between male and female identity, reciprocity between men and women, and homosexuality.'”
Related to LGBTQ issues, Robert says Pope Francis reiterates the largely disproven narrative about “ideological colonization,” which claims Western donor nations tie humanitarian and development assistance to LGBTQ issues. The pope writes in paragraph 78:
“It is true that people in power offer some assistance, but often it comes at a high price. In many poor countries, economic aid provided by some richer countries or international agencies is usually tied to the acceptance of Western views of sexuality, marriage, life or social justice. This ideological colonization is especially harmful to the young. We also see how a certain kind of advertising teaches young people to be perpetually dissatisfied and contributes to the throwaway culture, in which young people themselves end up being discarded.”
For more on this subject visit the New Ways Ministry website and the Bondings2.0 blog. Christus Vivit may be purchased from the Catholic Truth Society or downloaded as a PDF at the Vatican website: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20190325_christus-vivit.html