231. We are speaking of truly “popular” leaders, not elitists or those closed off in small groups of select individuals. To be able to generate a “popular” ministry to youth, “they need to learn to listen to the sense of the people, to become their spokespersons and to work for their promotion”.[Episcopal Conference of Argentina, Declaración de San Miguel, Buenos Aires, 1969, X, 1]
The caution, which I think Pope Francis recognizes, is when church leaders–for young people or anyone else–are seen in the worse sense of charismatic. They attract people to their own personality, rather than the person of Christ. Do they exemplify the words of the Forerunner in John 3:30? If they were to leave, would the discipleship effort grow and develop in the Spirit? Or would it die on the vine?
What is needed is a focus on people, not leaders or institutions:
When we speak of “the people”, we are not speaking about the structures of society or the Church, but about all those persons who journey, not as individuals, but as a closely-bound community of all and for all, one that refuses to leave the poor and the vulnerable behind. “The people wants everyone to share in the common good and thus agree to keep pace with its least members, so that all can arrive together”.[Rafael Tello, La nueva evangelización, II (Appendices I and II), Buenos Aires, 2013, 111] “Popular” leaders, then, are those able to make everyone, including the poor, the vulnerable, the frail and the wounded, part of the forward march of youth. They do not shun or fear those young people who have experienced hurt or borne the weight of the cross.
The second mark after a people-focused ministry is the inclusion of people from the fringes. If it’s all the cool kids, then the leader has created a country club.
Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation can be found on this link at the Vatican site. Any other comments?
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