I HAVE read with interest Tony Robertson’s letter of November 24 concerning the recent World Youth Day.
I would like to recall my earlier comments in a letter to your newspaper. I said that I came away from the World Youth Day with a deep sense of sadness. My sadness resulted from the apparent failure of the organisers to create situations during the week of celebrations where their fellow youth shared their spirituality and beliefs and life stories with their fellow youth.
The other source of my sadness was that I felt that the Holy Father and the other bishops who spoke to the youth could have addressed many of the vital issues concerning our world – Third World debt, the environmental crisis, the place of women in Church, religious intolerance and more. I affirmed the way the World Youth Day addressed issues of prayer, the sacraments, the need for evangelisation and more. I simply suggested that while these things were good – there is more to be addressed if our Catholic faith is to have credibility in today’s world!
Having said this I cannot agree with much of what Tony Robertson said. I was not at the Australian Catholic University gathering but I know from personal experience that both Archbishop John Bathersby and Fr Morgan Batt have a deep commitment to social justice and would both agree it is central to our celebration of Jubilee.
I was present at the University of Queensland in the week preceding the “pilgrims” leaving for World Youth Day and heard a real sense of them being “missioned” by the people of the archdiocese and invited to return to us ready to “make a difference”.
While I believe that there is always room for improvement in our ministry with youth and while I personally am trying to do my little bit to awaken in youth a sense of social justice I also believe that our archdiocese and particularly Parish Youth Ministry Services are doing a wonderful job of “walking with youth” as they dream great Kingdom dreams.
If there is one recurring theme I have heard our archbishop develop time and again in recent years it is the challenge to our youth (and to each of us) to fall in love with Jesus and His Church so that we can – from this relationship – change and challenge our world.
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