As the synod on young people drew to a close, His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of Mumbai, spoke to America not only about that event and the issues discussed but also about his own plans to adapt the synod process in the church in India—the country with the largest number of young people in the world, 600 million under the age of 25.
As reported by mattersindia.com, His Eminence Cardinal Gracias remarked that “They (Youth) fully participated as youth. They were yelling; they were happy; their presence was made felt. They had no inhibitions about saying what they felt. I think they also gave us an insight into the mind and the world of the youth and their aspirations, their joys, their hopes for the church and their generosity for the church, which is much more than we anticipated, though, of course, this was a special group.” The Cardinal added, “Every synod gives you a tremendous exposure to the world situation and the universality of the church. And while the basic situation is the same all over in regard to subjects like the family and globalization, nevertheless what comes through clearly is that every continent has got its own specific problems.” He noted that at this synod, “certain issues in the West came out prominently, such as the sex abuse question, the role of women and homosexuality, though the latter was downplayed in the final statement because of the lack of agreement.”
As president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, His Eminence Cardinal Gracias is well aware that 60 percent of the world’s population lives in Asia, and 60 percent of Asians are under the age of 30. He noted that the issues that concern young Asians are, perhaps, different from those of their counterparts in the West. The Cardinal highlighted that “For us the issues are planning a better future, wanting to change society. I think the youth of Asia are generally dissatisfied with the political leadership, with a society where there is becoming a big divide between the rich and the poor, a society where human rights are not fully respected, a society where opportunities are not given and not being planned,” he said. Asian youth “are getting impatient today; you can sense that very much in our continent rather than in other places. These are the really the issues which concern us, which concern our youth.”