USCCB leaders say apostolic exhortation a call to invest in young people

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Christus Vivit" ("Christ Lives") is a "wonderful summons to the church to more vigorously invest in youth and young adults, especially those on the peripheries and those disconnected from the church," said a trio of leaders within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"We encourage all Catholic leaders to read and study this exhortation and the pertinent documents of the synod. They provide for us the framework from which we can build upon in our dioceses, parishes and communities," the leaders said in a statement April 2 following the release of the exhortation at the Vatican.

The leaders included Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

The apostolic exhortation emerged from the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment.

The exhortation is a combination letter to young people about their place in the church and a plea to older members of the church not to stifle the enthusiasm of the young, but to offer gentle guidance when needed.

The USCCB leaders recognized that the church "must turn our attention to our young people and engage them as 'protagonists' of the church's mission."

"Their insights can help us grow as a church and guide us as we all learn to become better missionary disciples in an intercultural and intergenerational context," the prelates' statement continued.

The leaders added that they are looking forward to the next steps as the church seeks to integrate the apostolic exhortation into various church ministries, especially those involving young people.

They also noted that the document's release coincides with the 14th anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II.

"We look forward to the journey ahead, and pray with St. John Paul II, a patron of young people whose passing we remember today, for the church's ongoing mission to all generations," the prelates said.

"Now the work of the Holy Spirit, manifest in the sessions of the synod, will bear fruit in the dioceses of the United States," their statement concluded.