Sara Manzardo, a young married woman connected with the Italian Catholic blog “Cor XIII”, wrote this beautiful letter to the bishops on the occasion of the Synod on youth; it’s appeared on a couple of sites. The translation is mine. She writes:
Now that the Synod has just begun, the media buzz has started too and, looking at what the newspapers report, this synod on youth will be talking mostly about migrants, LGBT, and naturally about premarital sex, because chastity seems to be the main reason why youth drift away from the Church.
But we young people deserve much more. We aren’t satisfied any more to hear homilies full of politics, the common good, the news, the environment. And above all we don’t need anyone to be soft about premarital chastity: there’s already a whole world that gives us permission to live our sexuality any way we want. We young people in the Church are looking for valid, credible, convincing reasons to understand and choose a different sexuality: one that knows about waiting, choosing, bearing fruit.
We don’t drift away from the Church because it’s preventing us from having sex before marriage, let alone if we’re interested in any of what the priest thinks. We drift away because we don’t find anything in the Church different from what they say to us outside: nothing more moving, nothing worth the trouble of living and dying.
Instead we come closer to the Church when someone explains to us why they have chosen chastity (and it’s never “because the Church says so”, hardly). We come closer when someone opens our eyes about our life, when someone says words to us that burn like salt in a wound, but they’re living, true, strong words.
We come closer when someone gives us testimony of real, lived faith. We come closer when someone shows they wish us well and wish what is good for us, helping us to grow as persons from every point of view, even showing us the junk that makes us sad and unsatisfied.
We come closer when we see courageous people who make extreme choices, who know what they want, who live sexuality as a gift and as a responsibility. We come closer when someone tells us that to make love is an experience of paradise and it needs to be done well. Not to possess, not to please the other person, not a game, not out of habit. And precisely for the sake of this, they have chosen to become one flesh with the one person they have really chosen, once and for all, for ever, for eternity. Because youth know that love is for ever, or else it’s not love, it’s something similar, a nice friendship, or a substitute.
Dear bishops, don’t be fooled by the headlines in the newspapers. Don’t be influenced by what the world would like from you, but be daring. Have the courage to be fathers. Have the courage to be attentive and merciful guides, have the courage to say great things that start us discussing, things that unveil the mystery, that speak of the infinite.
Have the courage to address us, young married people, young engaged people, young priests, young consecrated people, young people searching. Have the courage and the patience to ask us the “why” for our choices, to ask us the “Who” we are living for, and then, tell the young people you see around you that it is possible to be happy, to live fully, to make great choices, to go against the current.
Have the courage to form future priests and future married people conscious of what they are choosing, in love with Christ and the Gospel, ready to give testimony to the youth who are far away, shy, undecided: that they will not be coming back to a Church in line with the world. They will be coming back to a beautiful and holy Church that lives what it believes in and has the courage to show it.