Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, has shared his dream for the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, taking place in the Vatican, Oct. 3-28, 2018.
Speaking to press in the Holy See Press Office on Saturday, the Cardinal proposed: “All of us are challenged to reintroduce Jesus back into our lives.” His dream, the South African prelate explained, involves “we as the Church convincing as many young people as possible that we know Jesus and we know what it means to walk with Him.” If we can show we walk with Jesus and have experienced His love and His intervention in our lives, he suggested, this will have an effect.
During his remarks, Cardinal Napier had discussed aspects of the synod which have been particularly praiseworthy, including the young people’s participation in the small study groups, but also criticized three areas of the working document Instrumentum Laboris, which do not reflect or include important realities in Africa. He also commented when journalists were asking about clergy sex abuse, that it is important victims come forward so these issues can be properly dealt with. He also underscored the importance of creating or implementing properly the correct guidelines and practices for prevention of abuse and cover up in the future.
Recognizing the debate around Pope Francis at the moment, Cardinal Napier recalled when Pope Francis, after being elected Pope, went over to greet an older cardinal who had trouble walking, despite the tradition being that everyone makes their way over to greet the newly-elected Pope. “Since that moment,” the Cardinal said, “I have tried to take in everything significant that Pope Francis does.”
One significant memory Cardinal Napier said was during Francis’ first homily, when he took that day’s reading and expressed it in this way: “the true disciple of Jesus is one who walks with Jesus.”
“Of course, the image of Emmaus comes to mind immediately,” the Archbishop of Durban recalled, “He walks with Jesus. What does he do? He tries to reveal to Jesus as much as Jesus is going to reveal to him, explaining to them everything that was in the Scriptures spoken about him.”
“So what I really see being the challenge coming out of the ministry is that we as the Church, not just bishops and priests, but everyone in the Church, all of us are challenged to reintroduce Jesus back into our lives, by walking with him so that when we go and talk to young people about the faith, we are talking about an experience that we have had of walking with Jesus. That, I think, is what this Synod must do, if it’s not going to be a failure.”
“It must convince as many young people as possible that we as the Church, know Jesus, we are walking with Him, we may be faltering, but we are walking with him and this is what we would like to introduce into our lives, this walking with Jesus.”
The second point he made in that homily, Cardinal Napier recalled, was that “we must not just walk with Jesus as if we are selfish people trying to get ourselves into Heaven.” Rather, “We have to build up the Church by our faith and by our works.”
“Here we have a clear indication that we are responsible for each other’s development in the faith.”
The third aspect, he said, is that we must witness Jesus, witness Jesus too to those outside of those in the Church.
“I think this triple challenge is one young people would take up,” the African Cardinal stated, “if we convincingly show them that we are walking with Jesus, we are building up the Church by our example, especially by enabling them to walk with us and also reaching out to those outside, saying: ‘Come along,’ you can have this real life, if you walk with Jesus.”
“This is the outcome of this Synod, I would like to see,” Cardinal Napier said.
“This would be my dream for the Synod,” namely that “we come out knowing that we have convinced people that we know what it is to walk with Jesus and we want them to walk with us.” He added that “sometimes they may even walk ahead of us. But let’s walk together.”
Cardinal Napier also underscored that the Synod can be effective, but only if it is able to move from what happens in Rome to a local level. “If the priests in parishes do not think much about what happened in Rome, all will stay status quo.”
The Cardinal said that we in Rome will first have to try to convince our bishops’ conferences that what happened in Rome matters, then they need to convince their priests.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Cardinal Napier Explains 3 Inadequacies in Instrumentum Laboris for Addressing Important African Realities: https://zenit.org/articles/cardinal-napier-explains-3-inadequacies-in-instrumentum-laboris-for-addressing-african-issues/