Archbishop Eamon Martin - Courtesy of http://www.armagharchdiocese.org/

Archbishop Eamon Martin Ponders With ZENIT: 'How Can I Bring More of These Talented, Articulate, Faith-filled Young People Into Daily Life & Decision-making Roles Within the Church?'

President of Irish Bishops’ Conference and Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna Tell Us Their Priorities After the Synod

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“How can I bring more of these talented, articulate, faith-filled young people into the daily life and decision-making roles, within the Church?”
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and President of Ireland’s Episcopal Conference, told ZENIT he will be challenging himself to better respond to this very question, when he returns to his country, just visited by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families this August.
The Irish Archbishop was speaking at a briefing in the Vatican’s Holy See Press Office today, with its Director, Greg Burke; the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications’ Prefect, Paolo Ruffini; Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P. of Vienna, Austria; and Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri, Kenya.
Responding to what he will be taking back with him from this Synod and putting to practice, Archbishop Martin reflected: “I think for me, it is really this realization that young people are not only objects of our ministry. I came to the Synod with this sense: ‘I need to learn here how I can minister better to young people.’ I am going home with a far greater sense of how young people can be agents of evangelization themselves, be missionary disciples, and aware of the challenges of how I can work to make that happen.”
“One of my greatest takeaways,” Archbishop Eamon said, “is that phrase from the Gospels on new wine and fresh skins, where Jesus said that no one tries to put new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the skins will burst and the wine is lost.”
“I think that for a long time, certainly speaking personally,” he reflected, “I have been trying to squeeze ministry to young people into an old way of thinking, a way of maintenance.”
Through the structures we have in the Church, the way we do things, the Archbishop said, somehow “we at times seem to be trying to push and conform our young people into this old way of thinking and old way of doing things.”
“The Synod,” the leader of Irish bishops observed, “has encouraged me to think a little more ambitiously about engaging in new ways with young people, where they are at, to hear them, to listen to them, to walk with them and then to encourage them to become missionary disciples to their peers.”
He acknowledged there have been wonderful young people partaking in the Synod.
“I am thinking throughout the Synod: Do I know these people at home? Do they exist? And the answer is: Yes they do. Do I encourage them enough? No, I do not. Do I enable them to exercise them enough to exercise their role as young people within the Church? Not enough.”
Therefore, the Archbishop reasoned, “I must go back home, and seek new ways of re-imagining parishes, re-imagining dioceses, even re-imagining our own episcopal conference.”
“How can I bring more of these talented, articulate, faith-filled young people into the daily life and decision-making roles, within the Church?”
There was also a question posed by a journalist about what new would be coming out of the synod, in terms of women’s roles or questions relating to priesthood or homosexuality. The Irish Archbishop responded, clarifying: “It was not a Synod that was facing doctrinal questions .. it was concerned with the young, vocations and discernment.”
Discussion of the abuse crisis, Archbishop Eamon Martin also confirmed, was important to the Synod, in particular “speaking forcefully and affirming our willingness to confront this scandal.”
On questions about his country repealing the 8th Amendment, and in doing so legalizing abortion in Ireland, the leader of the nation’s bishops lamented that many young people voted for this legalization. He recalled how some who fought against it afterward said to him that their efforts were futile, to which he responded: Each effort you made to speak to someone to defend life and show the importance of life was important and has left an impact.
Cardinal Schonborn also told ZENIT what he has taken away from this Synod. He noted that when the young people have invited him to join him in their environments.
“I have been invited to go with them to coffee shops, to restaurants, where I never I go,” the Austrian Cardinal said, noting: “This has been positive, a possibility for a sharing of experience.”
He noted Pope Francis has been a good role model in this sense, to set out, go on such “missions,” which have helped him understand and get to know young people better.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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