Asked after a press conference at the Vatican about the possibility of priestly celibacy and a women’s deaconate being on the agenda in 2018, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri responded abruptly, “No.”
Cardinal Baldisseri is the secretary for the Synod of Bishops.
There has been speculation that the synod would focus on priestly celibacy and the question of married priests.
Also mentioned as a possibility was the topic of creating women deaconesses after Pope Francis set up a 12-member commission headed by Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer last August to research the subject.
Archbishop Ferrer is the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
Instead, the upcoming 15th meeting of the Synod of Bishops next year will focus on youth, with the motto: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Slogans calling for “a younger and fresher Church” and fostering an “outgoing” Church were presented during the press briefing.
Cardinal Baldisseri asked for feedback in the form of an online questionnaire to help shape the agenda. Questions include: “How can the values of the local culture be combined with the Christian proposal, with consideration of popular folklore?” and “How can the youth language be used in pastoral work, especially in the media, in sport, and in music?”
The questionnaires are organized by continent to give more precise responses about the expectations of the youth for the synod.
“The questions will inform us about the experiences of the youth,” Baldisseri said.
His answer followed what Pope Francis wrote in an accompanying letter published for the XV Synod “to Young People on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Preparatory Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.” Francis told the young people: “The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities, and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism.”
Cardinal Baldisseri, also involved in shaping the agenda at the last Synod for the Family, added that the Church must abandon her “highly complicated theological language” and step down to the level of the new generation.
“The youth has her own language,” the 76-year-old Cardinal explained. “Sometimes the faith has a Eurocentric taste. We have included those questions to be able to deal with the cultural contexts better.”