VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The faults of one person cannot be blamed on the entire Catholic Church, Percival Holt, a 25-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops, told reporters.
“It is wrong to judge the church for the acts of certain people within the church,” he said Oct. 11 during the Vatican’s daily briefing on what is happening inside the synod on young people, the faith and vocational discernment.
Holt, president of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement and member of the National Youth Commission of India’s bishops’ conference, said he wanted to make it clear that the church has “immense love and concern” for young people.
“The church cares for you,” he said.
When asked specifically about the clerical abuse scandal, Holt told Catholic News Service, the abuse was not caused by the structure of the church, but by its members.
His message to young people is that “if we want the church to be different, we have to hold onto our values and principles.”
As his generation steps into more leadership positions within the church, he said, they will have the opportunity to make a positive change if they are led by their principles. But if their values are compromised now, the cycle of poor behavior among church leaders will only continue.
Repairing the damage, he said, will require an honest dialogue between young people and their elders.
“It’s a challenge for the bishops and the priests to break the generation gap, and to be more inclusive and friendly with us,” Holt told CNS.
“All we need is someone there, to listen to you, to help you find the way,” Holt said. “We don’t want the church to make decisions for us, but we want them to help us make our decisions.”
Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, who also spoke at the briefing, noted that young people are ready to take charge. “It is worth listening to them,” he told reporters.
The major question at the synod, Archbishop Forte said, is what church do people yearn for? Young people can help answer that question, he said.
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