The Synodal Journey

Pope Francis at a White House ceremony in September 2015.

Christus Vivit Within The Context Of The Synodal Process

To fully understand Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit, it is important to have a sense of the context and process that led up to and continues to follow the exhortation. Many actions and experiences prior to and after that process began, have had significant impacts on the development and ongoing implementation of Christus Vivit.

  • October 2016: Pope Francis announces the XV (Fifteenth) Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that will focus on "young people, the faith, and vocational discernment" to provide a Catholic response to the reality of young people in connection to Christ, the Church, and each young person's vocational call.
  • January 2017: The Vatican releases a Preparatory Document for the XV Synod, that includes questions for reflection and examination by each diocese, ecclesial movement, organization, apostolate, and episcopal conference. The document also includes an introductory letter to young people from Pope Francis.
  • April 2017: The Holy Father, along with the General Secretariat of the Synod and the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life, meets with young people and national pastoral directors of youth and young adult ministries from around the world in Rome in advance of Palm Sunday 2017, and the transfer of the World Youth Day (WYD) Cross and Icon from Poland to Panama.
  • June 2017: The Vatican launches an online survey of youth and young adults from around the world in advance of the XV Synod.
  • September 2017: The General Secretariat of the Synod meets with and listens to researchers and experts on the social-scientific realities facing young people around the world.
  • October 2017: National episcopal conferences, movements, and other organizations submit executive summaries to the Holy See in response to the questions posed in the XV Synod Preparatory Document.
  • November 2017: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, USCCB President, reports on the United States contribution to the XV Synod at the Bishops General Assembly in Baltimore. See this USCCB webpage for video and more details.
  • December 2017: The Vatican online survey of young people closes.
  • March 2018: The Holy See convenes a Pre-Synod Meeting of 300 young adults from around the world in Rome (and concurrently engages with many more young people through social media), with the participation of Pope Francis along with the General Secretariat of the Synod and the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life (using a pre-synodal working document), resulting in a Pre-Synod Final Document, presented to the Holy Father on Palm Sunday 2018. In attendance were several young people from the United States including Nick Lopez of Texas (who offered a presentation on the situation of young people in the Americas), Katie Prejean McGrady of Louisiana, Nicole Perone of Connecticut, Br. Javier Hansen, FSC of the LaSallian Christian Brothers, Christopher Russo of the Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passiac, Sr. Marie Faustina Paige Wolniakowski, RSM, from the Sisters of Mercy in Michigan; Cherise Klekar and Briana Santiago of San Antonio and the Apostles of the Interior Life, and Christian Huebner from Washington DC. See this USCCB press release for more details.
  • June 2018: The USCCB approves the slate of episcopal delegates to the XV Synod who will travel to Rome in October 2018. See the USCCB press release for more details.
  • June 2018: The Vatican releases its XV Synod Instrumentum Laboris ("Working Document") that contains input from the episcopal conference executive summaries, the input from pastoral leaders and social scientists, the online survey, and the Pre-Synod. The Instrumentum Laboris is sent to all XV Synod delegates. See Vatican press conference and presentation on document release.
  • October 2018: The XV Synod of Bishops is held for four weeks in Rome, presided over by Pope Francis. Delegates include bishops from around the world, accompanied by auditors and observers that included young adults, ministry leaders, social scientists, and other key experts working with young people. The conclusions of the Synod Fathers are contained in a Final Document, along with a special letter to young people, released at the close of the month-long Synod. The Final Document was given to Pope Francis at the XV Synod Closing Mass. In attendance at the Synod were the following individuals from the United States: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Kevin Farrell of the Vatican Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Marionite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon in Los Angeles, Archbishop William Skurla of the Rutherian Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, Jonathan Lewis of Washington DC, Yadira Vieyra of Chicago, and Briana Santiago of San Antonio and the Apostles of the Interior Life, among others, and assisted by staff from the USCCB.
  • January 2019: Pope Francis gathers with young people around the globe at World Youth Day 2019 in Panama.
  • March 25, 2019: Pope Francis completes and signs Christus Vivit, his post-synodal apostolic exhortation following up from the XV Synod on "young people, the faith, and vocational discernment," at Our Lady of Loretto Shrine in Italy. 
  • April 2019: Christus Vivit is officially published and released to the public.
  • June 2019: The Holy See convenes a Post-Synod Forum of 300 young adults from around the world to discuss the reaction and impact of Christus Vivit. In attendance were the following individuals from the United States: Brian Rhude of Washington DC, Briana Santiago of San Antonio and the Apostles of the Interior Life, Brenda Noriega of California, Luke Henkel of Seattle, Kelly Calderon of Brooklyn, and accompanied by Paul Jarzembowski from the USCCB. According to the Dicastery, “the Forum was a space for community discernment, maintaining the synodal missionary style promoted by the Synod.” More information is available in the full press release and you can watch highlights from the Forum as well.

We have created a timeline that provides an understanding of Pope Francis’ extensive research, listening, and discernment in writing Christus Vivit (many aspects of the timeline are referenced throughout the document).

With the document’s release in April 2019, youth, campus, and young adult ministries and pastoral juvenil hispana are eager to explore what this means for young people in their area and in the global Church.

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