10 Initial Observations on Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation on Young People, Christus Vivit

  1. Read the document instead of news reports about the document. Talk to Bishops and laity who were a part of the process instead of those paid to talk about it.
  2. Remember that the age range of “youth” refers to those 16-29 but is applicable to all young people making key life decisions (late teens, 20s and 30s)…think grad school not middle school.
  3. Pope Francis lives up to his title as Holy Father by calling young people to a radical holiness he models and speaking as a loving Father.
  4. I cannot recall a more kerygmatic or Christocentric Papal document that shows (not just tells) the Church how to proclaim Christ in the 21st Century. Especially moving is chapter four, where Francis lays out 3 truths: 1) God loves you 2) Christ saves you 3) Christ is alive!
  5. As a letter to young people, Pope Francis does not make concrete recommendations to the Church but regularly points back to the Final Document of #Synod2018. Read that next if you haven’t.
  6. The pre-synodal document, Final #Synod2018 Document, and #CHRISTUSVIVIT form a tryptic of theological reflection on young people, representative of the three phases of the synodal process.
  7. Instead of telling leaders and elders in our Church what to do, he models it for them: inviting young people together, listening to them, and speaking to them of Jesus Christ with tenderness and expectation.
  8. The implementation of Christus Vivit is not a new book or printed resource but a change in culture that prioritizes young people. This should make waves. Christian Smith’s early work (Soul Searching) shows that young people leaving the Church correlates with a lack of investment.
  9. Pope Francis raises up the dignity of youth and young adulthood and reminds Church leaders of all ages that this is a spark that must be kindled through mentorship and intergenerational friendship. Mentorship and intergenerational friendship isn’t ordinary and needs to be.
  10. Pope Francis gives young people the green light to run forward as missionary disciples and asks elders in the Church to trust them:

Dear young people, my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you, outstripping all those who are slow or fearful. The Church needs your momentum, intuitions, your faith. We need them! And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us” (299)

Jonathan Lewis was selected by Pope Francis as a participant in the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. He lives in DC and serves as the Assistant Secretary of Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of Washington.