Young People today – Lots of Facebook Friends, but how much real friendship?

June 14 – Being open minded and ready to dialogue are essential attitudes if the Order is to respond well to contemporary issues — this was the conclusion of many of the friar councilors as they continued to listen to presentations from the different OFM Conferences during the third day of the Plenary Council of the Order. The PCO heard from the Central European Conference, the English-Speaking Conference, the North and South Slavic Conferences, and from the Custody of the Holy Land.

Among the many concerns discussed was how to respond in a relevant way to young people. The friars observed that interpersonal relations in this demographic are losing depth and becoming more superficial. A more ‘virtual’ kind of relating (social media) has become common among young people. Thus, while opportunities and possibilities for interconnection multiply, still many young people experience emptiness and loneliness — and so many have a thirst for spiritual connection.

Given that many young people profess that they don’t see the importance of being religious, the friars see that the Church needs to be closer to young people. Instead of presenting a judgmental attitude, friars must strive to be more open and learn how to utilize new methods in the service of the new evangelization.

Another issue that was raised was whether through a more inclusive approach the friars can foster a greater voice for women in the Church. It was recognized that when women have fuller engagement in Church life, evangelization is more fulfilled.

Finally, the friars continue to hold in their hearts the people and the friars of the Holy Land whose sufferings are intense, but whose hope is strong. May the Spirit rain down peace and justice on those countries.