Not every person important to young people need be a minister. In fact, mentors in many circumstances might have an even deeper influence. Most of this paragraph is quoted from the synod’s prep document:
246. The same young people described to us the qualities they hope to find in a mentor, and they expressed this with much clarity. “The qualities of such a mentor include:
- being a faithful Christian who engages with the Church and the world;
- someone who constantly seeks holiness;
- someone who is a confidant without judging.
- Similarly, someone who actively listens to the needs of young people and responds in kind;
- someone deeply loving and self-aware;
- someone who recognizes his or her limits and knows the joys and sorrows of the spiritual journey.
What do you make of this checklist? (The bullet-points are mine, not the Holy Father’s.)
An especially important quality in mentors is the acknowledgement of their own humanity – the fact that they are human beings who make mistakes: not perfect people but forgiven sinners.
This is a difficult current to swim against in some corners of the Church. One impulse is that religious authority is seen to be rooted in being right, correct, and therefore perfect. This leads to a kind of pelagianism that can be hard to buck.
That said, serious scandal can rock the followers of a beloved mentor:
Sometimes mentors are put on a pedestal, and when they fall, it may have a devastating impact on young people’s ability to continue to engage with the Church.
A job description of four points:
- Mentors should not lead young people as passive followers, but walk alongside them, allowing them to be active participants in the journey.
- They should respect the freedom that comes with a young person’s process of discernment and equip them with tools to do so well.
- A mentor should believe wholeheartedly in a young person’s ability to participate in the life of the Church.
- A mentor should therefore nurture the seeds of faith in young people, without expecting to immediately see the fruits of the work of the Holy Spirit.
How many of these fit you as a parent, a cleric, a tutor, a youth minister?
This role is not and cannot be limited to priests and consecrated life, but the laity should also be empowered to take on such a role. All such mentors should benefit from being well-formed, and engage in ongoing formation”.[Document of the Pre-Synodal Meeting for the Preparation of the XV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome (24 March 2018), 10]
Any comments? Remember to check the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on this link at the Vatican site.
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