Vicar General of Opus Dei, Synod Father at the Synod for Youth

The Holy Father Francis appointed the Vicar General of Opus Dei, Msgr. Mariano Fazio, as a synod father for the Assembly of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment. In an interview with Vatican News, Msgr. Fazio stressed what he views as some key words for this Synod: “listening and accompanying.”

“Young people need to be listened to, accompanied, understood and also guided,” he said. “But it’s not just about hearing,’ he stressed. “To hear is just to register the noise of words. It’s about listening with empathy, trying —as Cardinal Newman said— to establish a heart-to-heart relationship. It’s about listening so as to offer suggestions and guidelines.”

Msgr. Fazio recalled that the Synod had stressed that “Jesus knew how to listen to all his contemporaries and in particular to the young.”

The Vicar General of Opus Dei also pointed out that at the Synod “there has been a lot of talk about the scene of Emmaus, the Lord who comes to encounter people who were disoriented, and the young people whose heart is filled with enthusiasm just by coming into contact with Jesus. Jesus listens to them, but he also offers specific suggestions: he advises that they go to the Scriptures; he offers them the content of his merciful Love. I think young people need this especially today: to be very close to Jesus and to listen with an open heart to the proposal he makes, which is a proposal of Love.”

To recover the trust of those whose lives are far from the faith, Msgr. Fazio said that while one of the key words of the Synod is “listening,” the other one is “accompanying.” “We have to accompany young people. The one accompanying needs to be a person identified with Christ, who tries to bring young people into relation with Christ. We need to disappear, to stop being the protagonists, and instead become instruments for young people to find Christ again. If they see Christ in the people who accompany them, I think we can recover the trust that has been lost in the institutional Church.”

In the same interview, he said that the Synod had helped him to grasp the diversity of situations faced by young people today. “It is moving to listen to bishops from the Middle East about the persecution they are suffering; and to those from Africa, where they are experiencing unprecedented violence; and to those from the more developed countries, where the people live amid a society of well-being and comfort, but who seem to be suffocating in an atmosphere of materialism that lacks any spiritual content.”

Monsignor Fazio concluded with his hopes for the Synod: “I hope that we learn how to listen more, how to accompany better, and that we renew our apostolic zeal to reach not just the young people who have the gift of faith, who have been baptized, but also, as our Lord said, that we reach the ends of the earth, with renewed enthusiasm, closely united to Jesus.”

Romana, n. 67, July-December 2018, p. 300-301.

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