Invite students to participate in an imaginary Church Council to discuss what they consider the needs and challenges facing the Church today. Depending on the size of your class, divide the students into small groups (at least three total groups).
Make a handout of the following material and distribute a copy to each person. Ask a volunteer to read th opening paragraph aloud. Then go through the directions for completing the inventory, pointing out how the students can add concerns of their own.
Once the inventories are complete, the students should share results, then decide as a group on major concerns they would like to see addressed by the Church and for which they are willing to add a personal effort. Then the small group members should work together to draft a joint statement (see the bottom of the handout below) that addresses their commitment toward addressing their concerns.
Afterward, invite small groups to share their statements. If time allows, you may wish to have the class work to consensus on one class statement that can be posted in the classroom or wherever they meet.
“We exhort you to open your hearts to the dimensions of the world, to heed the appeal of your brothers, to place your youthful energies at their service . . . . Fight against all egoism. Refuse to give free course to the instincts of violence and hatred which beget wars and all their train of miseries. Be generous, pure, respectful, and sincere; build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had.”
Closing words of the Fathers of Vatican—addressed to young people—as the Council closed in 1965
The inventory below is designed to help you gather thoughts and make decisions about what you believe to be the pressing concerns the Church needs to consider. Fill out the inventory on your own by rating each of the following statements: N for No Concern; G for Great Concern, or U for Urgent.
The Church must work harder on accepting non-Christian religions.
The Church needs to do more to accept and learn from the traditions and rituals of Third-World cultures.
The Church should stay out of governmental affairs.
The Church should work harder at converting non-Christians.
Since Scripture tells us that the poor will always be with us, the Church should help the poor be content with their lot in life.
The Church should allow more room (opportunities) for young people to work and have a say in the life of the Church.
We have too few priests.
The Church should stop changing the liturgy once and for all.
Bishops need to do a better job of listening to the concerns and needs of the people.
The pope needs to have a tighter control over what goes on in the Church throughout the world.
Now join with others in your group to share opinions and to draft a joint (collegial) statement that shows your resolve to work toward addressing (changing, easing, etc.) your concerns. Use the following format to get started.
We, the youth members of the Church, concur that some of greatest needs and challenges facing us are_______. To meet those needs and confront those challenges, we propose that the Church undertake the following _________. Toward these goals we join hands in the name of Christ Jesus, the Lord.