Following is the October 19, 2018, Synod2018 intervention by Archbishop Rys, provided by the Polish Bishops Conference.
Most Holy Father,
My Brothers Bishops,
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Please, let me call Your attention just to one – but in my opinion crucial – a moment of our reflection based on the Instrumentum Laboris. In the point 173 we read: All accompaniment is a way to introduce the call to joy and can thus become the appropriate place to proclaim the good news of Easter and foster the encounter with the risen Christ: a kerygma that «expresses God’s saving love which precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part; it should not impose the truth but appeal to freedom; it should be marked by joy, encouragement, liveliness and a harmonious balance» (EG 165) – the last piece is a quotation of Evangelii gaudium.
This is surely an important statement, but – even in it’s own light – it has to generate at least few capital question tags: In a whole Instrumentum Laboris the word KERYGMA is used only twice (both in the III Part) – here and in the point 151, but in that second usage (n. 151) is – to be honest – put without great understanding. The text speaks about the need of contemplation of the KERYGMA in the Catholic schools and universities. The KERYGMA is certainly not a theory to be contemplated in an academic way. We do not need too much to talk, to discuss the KERYGMA. It is not a mere discourse; it is an event – or THE EVENT! The experience – THE ENCOUNTER with living Lord. It is fundamental. Nothing happens without it. It is an Evangelization. It is the reason for our existence as the Church: Ecclesia evangelizandi causa e
And it is also not without meaning that when we do speak about the KERYGMA it is already point number 173. And what we have before? Many „things”: the idea of out-going Church (YES! but why? And with what a massage?); then we speak about economy, technology, work (job), social and political activity (common good), promotion of the dignity of women (as the first area of engagement”), music, sports, marginalization, culture of hospitality. Does it really show our priorities?
Please, let me call just one example showing how important is the matter I speak about. Last Lent in my diocese we organized the retreats for youth. Two days. We had altogether 14 thousand young people. On the second day there were seven thousand, being 16 to 19 years old. At the beginning of our meeting we ask them: „Is there any question You would like to ask God?” [the retreats were based on the Gospel of Jesus meeting a young fellow, and he – as You remember – comes to Jesus with a question: what I am to do to receive the eternal life?”). So: „Is there any question You would like to ask God?” And… more than two thousand (1/3) of them responded: „I have no question to God!” And we know: it is not that they have no important questions, but they do not address them to God (and to us). It is not their fault – it is our fault surely: the God they know is just a name, a word, a catechetical definition, an abstract – but not a PERSON – living and important enough to ask Him questions! Last year we have asked more then 4 thousand youth being 19 years old about the most important values in their life. They said: FAMILY (94%), health (92%), FRIENDSHIP (91%). They put FAITH on the 13th place (60,5%) – before the POLITICS (44%) and FAME (15%). When asked where do they seek the important values in their life, only 20% pointed to FAITH. But only 10% say they are not believers, and more than 50% of them come at least few times a year to the church, and also at least once to the sacrament of penance and Holy Communion. This is the fruit of the twelve years of catechesis without the EXPERIENCE OF KERYGMA. They know the name of Jesus, and they do not meet HIM! Do not know HIM! Not as their Lord and Savior! Out of all the questions being asked to young people the most difficult for them to answer is a question about the experience of God.
We have spoken so much about „listening” to young People, and it is surely the right thing to do; but without the KERYGMA they do not even come to ask the questions, or they will put the answers they got on the „13th place”. The main aim of the 3rd part of Instrumentum Laboris is to show us the pastoral way and first: our pastoral CONVERSION to Youth. It is to be summarized – I believe – in two words: THE KERYGMA (what to offer) and FRIENDSHIP (how to offer).