“You and all the whole Church, Holy Father, can be sure to count on our prayers. Thanks so much.”
This is how they delivered the final pre-Synod document to the pope. It was the result of the meeting that united 300 young people in Rome from all over the world and relied on web contributions of another 15,000.
The person in charge of giving it to Pope Francis was Yithzak from Panama, a country placing young people at the center of their next event, WYD 2019.
Representative of Panama
'I arrived, I gave him the document and I said: 'Holy Father, can I embrace you?' He said, 'Sure.' I hugged him and said, 'We love you. Panama loves you and the young people are waiting for you at World Youth Day. Then, he answered me, 'Very well, I will be there.' It was magnificent and he said he is very happy for us. One can feel his closeness to us.'
While Yithzak was the Panama representative at the pre-Synod meeting, Martin represented El Salvador. Both are grateful for the opportunity to have been heard.
Representative of El Salvador
'We had been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. When Pope Francis approached us after Mass, the same words were heard over and over, 'Thank you for listening.''
The document was developed from Monday to Friday, while attendees were broken up into 26 groups. There were two previous documents to the definitive one, which point out the need for 'a more open and merciful Church.'
Representative of Nicaragua
'The document collects all the needs we have as young people, the challenges, the trials, everything that young people want, everything that young people ask for, what we need. Young people demand the accompaniment of the Church, of our bishops, of our priests. The document itself contains a lot.'
Belkys and Daniela come from Central America. They are satisfied with the text and have tried to make it a reality for their continent without covering anything up.
Representative of Costa Rica
'We are very happy. Representing Latin America, we have made a lot of contributions so that the needs of our young people are heard: migration, human trafficking, drug trafficking... Challenges present in the daily life of young people.'
The final document gives insight to the pope and the bishops participating in the Synod that sometimes 'the Church appears too severe and too moralistic' and that, on other occasions it is difficult to understand the logic of 'it's always been done like this.'
They also regret that many young people have left the Church because they felt judged and rejected. They desire to be part of a Church that also creatively meets them in new places such as bars, gyms or soccer stadiums.