The CCCB’s Pastoral Letter to Young People. Photo courtesy CCCB

Canadian bishops address youth concerns

  • October 22, 2022

Fr. Joshua Roldan commends the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for meeting today’s young Catholics where they are at in a new normal shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are still a lot of things that young people — and all people — are struggling with in the reality we live in now,” said Roldan following the release of the CCCB’s Pastoral Letter to Young People Oct. 12.

“The letter is very honest and true when it comes to speaking about things regarding virtual conversations, live-streamed Masses and even the anxieties they are experiencing throughout their lives,” added Roldan, director of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth (OCY). “It reminds them of the baptismal promises of Christ, that He is there even in the face of uncertainty, worry and anxiety. And it also reminds them that Jesus is the source where we can find peace, courage and comfort.”

Extensive time and effort was undertaken over the past two years to ensure the letter speaks persuasively to teenage and young adult Catholics. The CCCB’s Office for Evangelization and Catechesis and the Office for Family and Life engaged in over 200 virtual conversations with young people between the ages of 12 and 25 in the autumn of 2020. These offices then drafted the letter, which received the seal of approval by the CCCB permanent council in June.

“As Bishops of Canada,” an opening paragraph of the letter reads, “we wish to walk with young people, not only to understand better the world through their experience of it, but also to encourage and support them as they grow in their own faith.”

Following the introductory remarks, the letter delves into different themed sections, each with reflection questions meant to spark lively discussion and deep introspection about the content. The CCCB envisions this letter being effective for both individual reflection and assemblies such as youth groups, school classrooms and other faith-based communities.

One section details the Gospel story of Mary and Joseph discovering a teen Jesus astonishing temple elders with His wisdom and prophetic insight after they searched for three days. This portion asks youth to think about the people who have nurtured their faith. The technology and faith part implores the youth to ponder how the Church might do a more effective job levying technology to speak to the leaders of tomorrow, while a segment devoted to Mary asks, “How does Mary’s ‘yes’ help you better understand God’s plan for your life?”

Roldan said he liked the inclusion of a quote from Pope Francis’ 2019 Apostolic Exhortation to young people Christus Vivit: “Jesus does not teach you, young people, from afar or from without, but from within your very youth, a youth He shares with you. … He was truly one of you.”

“I think when (youth) see the witness that other Catholics have an encounter with Christ, they want to walk and talk and discover who this Jesus is, not just by the witnesses that they see, they wish to have that same experience for themselves,” he said.

Eleanor Wong, a youth coordinator at St. Matthew’s Parish in Surrey, told The B.C. Catholic that she appreciated the empowering tone of the letter.

“It was good to see issues that I see in my ministry addressed in a document from Church authorities. It makes us feel heard.

“A lot of youth don’t feel they have autonomy or agency in their faith, maybe because their parents make them go to church,” she said. “It’s great for them to see that their perspective matters.”

Releasing the letter on Oct. 12 was a purposeful decision by the CCCB. It was issued on the anniversary of Blessed Carlos Acutis’ (1991-2006) death from leukemia. The English-born Italian Catholic youth, beatified Oct. 10, 2020, has emerged as a model of faith that can particularly inspire millennial and Generation Z followers of Christ to be dynamic disciples of the Gospel. An avid computer programmer, he catalogued all the Eucharistic miracles around the world on a website he designed.

A question in the letter asks young people, “How does Blessed Carlos Acutis’ legacy inspire you to be an extraordinary, ordinary young person of faith?”

The letter can be found at

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