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Rome Reports

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Church and Youth: change in approach suggested after Synod


The final Synod document points out that adolescents leave the Church when they perceive sexual morality as a set of oppressive norms.

That is why the focus must change, so ethics is not only explained from a doctrinal point of view. 

POPE FRANCIS
June 27, 2018

“I must do this, this, this. Only duty. But you're missing something. What is the basis of this duty?”

The Synod suggests relying on other human sciences, such as psychology, to help them understand the human basis of doctrine. 

For example, in the final document, pornography is described as a potential dependency. At a December 2018 conference on addictions, experts explained why.

PETER C. KLEPONIS
Institute for Marital Healing (United States)

“We're now finding that it is an addictive substance, and this is coming from the neuroscience community where they compared brain scans from drug addicts with sex addicts and they both are identical.”

On the other hand, the final document underlines the need for educators, parents or priests to prepare themselves well. It is not uncommon for their lack of attention to lead young people away from the Church because they do not feel loved or respected.

Federico Tonioni is a psychotherapist at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome. He points out that it is essential to make young people feel valued at home.

FEDERICO TONIONI
Psychotherapist, Policlínico Gemelli Hospital in Rome

“We parents have discovered that there is no better babysitter than a smartphone, a tablet or a computer. We often allow ourselves to be replaced by them because, it is true, from time to time, it is convenient to rest, isn't it? Then, we have mothers say, ´When you put my son in front of the computer, you don't see him, you don't notice him.´ What that means is that when they put their child in front of the computer they manage to forget about him.”

Tonioni explains the root of many of children's problems are caused by the lack of affection they feel, and not by their incapacity.

FEDERICO TONIONI
Psychotherapist, Policlínico Gemelli Hospital in Rome

"All learning problems, in my opinion, are related to affection. If there is no biological problem, almost all the hyperactive children I know had mothers with depression. They were hyperactive to try to revive their mothers.”

The final point made in the final document is to remember that educating a young person is not only the task of the parents but of all the adults around him or her. It is a call for social responsibility. As an example, a proverb repeated by the pope is cited in schools. 

POPE FRANCIS
May 10, 2014

“This makes me think of an African proverb, which says: 'It takes a village to raise a child.' Let us all say it together, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' All together, 'It takes a village to raise a child.”