In one of Arturo Mari's famous photos, he shows Pope John Paul II celebrating his final international World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002. CNS photo/Arturo Mari

'John Paul II guided me through my youth', synod bishop says

By  Catholic News Agency
  • October 22, 2018
VATICAN – John Paul II spent much of his papacy speaking to youth. Now some of those youth are bishops.

On the feast of Saint John Paul II, one synod bishop reflected on how the Polish pope inspired generations of young people, including himself, to pursue holiness.

“Catholic youth want to implement ‘the civilization of love’ that was promised by John Paul II,” French Archbishop David Macaire said at a Vatican press conference Oct. 22.

The archbishop of Saint-Pierre and Fort-de-France in Martinique is in Rome for the 2018 Synod of Bishops convened Oct. 3-28 to discuss young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.

“I attended my first World Youth Day when I was 19 years old in Santiago de Compostela,” Macaire said in French.

The 1989 World Youth Day in Spain was the fourth global meeting for young people established by the John Paul II, who went on to celebrate a total of 19 World Youth Days in his pontificate with millions of young people from all over the world.

“John Paul II guided me through my youth,” Archbishop Macaire said.

Synod fathers should convey the Gospel, he continued, because “young people will receive this legacy.”

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis prayed at the tomb of Saint John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica. In April 2014, Pope Francis canonized John Paul II along with Pope John XXIII.

The Synod of Bishops did not meet Monday, while committees complete writing the draft of the final document and the synod letter to young people.

The draft document of the post-synod apostolic exhortation will be presented Oct. 23 and synod fathers will be able to propose their changes individually or as groups, Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communications, announced.

It is up to Pope Francis to decide when the document will be made available to the public, Ruffini added.

As the synod nears its close, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut said Monday that bishops and other diocesan leaders need to bring “synodality” to the local level.

“The document that we will receive tomorrow ... is an attempt to speak to a global community,” Caggiano said.

“Let's be realistic, young people in Bridgeport have a very different experience from young people in Nairobi or young people in Caracas,” he continued.

One unique experience was shared by a young girl from Guinea, Henriette Camara, who told the synod her story of growing up in a Muslim family. Camara converted to Catholicism, despite parental disapproval, through the witness and community that she encountered in a Catholic scouting group.

“The pursuit of holiness is recognizing the will of God and choosing to do it,” said Bishop Caggiano. “This entire synod has been an ecclesial exercise to unlock that pursuit of holiness.”

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