From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has made it clear that listening to others is an important part of his pastoral leadership of the Church. For this reason, he puts a strong emphasis on the process of synodality. A synod, properly understood, is when bishops formally gather under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to deliberate about issues in the life of the Church. The laity as well as professed religious can also play a part in these deliberations.
One of the goals of a synod is to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church through the People of God. This is not to say that the Church is a democracy which simply listens to a majority opinion. It is to say, however, that the Holy Spirit often sheds light upon important issues in the life of the Church through God’s people.
Pope Francis has called another synod which will convene in 2018, the theme of which is “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” The Pope understands that the Church must continue to make it a priority to listen and minister to young people. There is much confusion in the world today to which young people often fall prey. But we must listen to their voices, to their concerns and to their hopes and fears. All of this with the goal of helping them to understand, as St. John Paul II said to them, “It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness… It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives…”