Understanding the Exhortation

Language Distinctions: Who is Pope Francis Talking About?

Remember—cross-culturally, there are many different ways of referring to young people. From a U.S. perspective, the word “youth” means something different than what the document originally intended.

Question:    What does the word “youth” mean in Christus Vivit?  
Answer:      Women and men age 16 to 30s (“youth and young adults”)

It does NOT only mean adolescents (which is what “youth” typically means in the United States), but it is a more inclusive term that extends through young adulthood. When Pope Francis and the Synod Fathers (and other Vatican officials and documents) use the word “youth” in international settings, they mean those age 16 to those in their 30s. This is how “youth” is used in other parts of the world. 

Please keep this language distinction in mind when reading Christus Vivit.

See more about the organizational structure of Christus Vivit, key quotes from the exhortation, and the synodal timeline (coming soon!)

Document Organization and Structure: See, Judge, Act Model

Reflecting the “see, judge, act” pastoral action framework (a classic style used frequently in Latin America), the synodal process and the organization of Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit follows this same structure. During the Synod, the three-fold framework was also given the words, “observe, interpret, choose.”

Chapters 1-3: See Observe

Pope Francis helps us to see young people in the context of Scripture (Chapter 1), the Church (Chapter 2), and the world today (Chapter 3). This is inclusive of some key observations about youth and young adults he received through the synodal process, especially in his encounters with young people at World Youth Days in Rio (2013), Krakow (2016), and Panama (2019), with the international delegates at the Pre-Synod Meeting (March 2018), and with the young adult auditors at the Synod of Bishops (October 2018).

Chapters 4-6: Judge | Interpret

Pope Francis offers his response to the situation of young people (shared throughout Chapter 3) by providing three essential understandings of life and faith: that God loves us, that Jesus saves us through his death, and that Christ is alive through his resurrection, and gives us hope with the help of the Holy Spirit (Chapter 4). He then shares his commentary on, or assessment of, what it means to be a young person, and how youth and young adults move from dreams to fully participating in today’s global society (Chapter 5). This includes his expression of the great hope he has for young people and intergenerational cohesion (Chapter 6).

Chapters 7-9: Act Choose

Pope Francis concludes Christus Vivit by pointing to needed improvements and actions in both youth and young adult ministries and by the global Church in response to young people. He outlines ideas for parishes and academic institutions and proposes a radical ministry model beyond church walls and with youth and young adults as the chief protagonists (Chapter 7). He then provides a framework for understanding and acting on one’s calling/vocation in life (Chapter 8) through an intentional process of listening, dialogue, and discernment (Chapter 9).

The entire document is grounded in hope: 

Christ is alive, which means that darkness and death do not have the final answer. The situation young people face today, and that the Church faces today, may seem daunting and overwhelming; but a hopeful outlook, aided by the Holy Spirit, who guides our actions, reminds us that if local communities proactively implement Christus Vivit to the fullest, new life will surely emerge.

See more about the background of Christus Vivit, key quotes from the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, and the synodal timeline (coming soon!)

CNS Stories and Other Coverage

CNS has been covering all pre- and post-Synod 2018 developments. Find full coverage in the Catholic News Service Special Section.

Read Christus Vivit and Young Hearts that are Witnesses of Justice and Peace. . . , a reflection from Mike Buckler on To Go Forth, a blog from the USCCB Department of

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A round table discussion in USCCB's Studio