Young people need the truth, not watered-down teachings: priest on Youth Synod

Fr. Joseph Carola, SJ

“Behold a Jesuit indeed, in whom there is no deceit”: Fr. Joseph Carola, SJ, speaks at Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, April 26, 2018

Young people need the truth, not watered-down teachings: priest on Youth Synod

Diane Montagna

ROME, June 1, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Rather than watered-down answers and accommodation, young people want authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ who will lead them to the love and truth that alone can fulfill their deepest desires, an American-born Jesuit in Rome has said ahead of the upcoming Vatican youth synod.

Speaking at a two-day conference organized by the Holy See’s Apostolic Penitentiary in April, Fr. Joseph Carola, SJ, a professor of Patristics at the Pontifical Gregorian University, delivered a talk inspired by the rich young man’s question to Jesus: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17).

“If we hope to be effective evangelists, we cannot water-down Catholic doctrine and practice,” the priest said. “When Jesus accompanies us, He does not seek to accommodate us by compromising the truth.”

The Apostolic Penitentiary’s conference gathered Vatican officials, priests, men and women religious and lay faithful under the theme: “Confession, Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”

“The conference is a lectio divina on Mark 10 intended to help young people wholeheartedly answer the good Lord’s loving call to follow Him,” Fr. Carola told LifeSiteNews. “It has the further goal of helping the not-so-young to understand where young people are today — their challenges and their deepest desires.”

The Apostolic Penitentiary is one of the three tribunals of the Roman Curia. It is responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins in the Catholic Church and has jurisdiction over matters regarding the internal forum.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who serves as Major Penitentiary, opened the conference with an inaugural address.

In his talk (see full text below), Fr. Carola tells the story of the passionate plea of a young man named Matthew during a providential encounter at a medieval cathedral in England.

In light of Matthew’s story, Fr. Carola turns to that pivotal passage on Christ’s dialogue with the rich young man in the Gospel of Mark, which touches directly upon youth, the faith and vocational discernment.

Drawing on Pope John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor(which gives central place to Jesus’ conversation with the rich young man), the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Augustine, and even the wisdom of a country western classic, Fr. Carola examines the final document compiled during the recent pre-synodal meeting in Rome.

With years of experience working with young people — as a teacher, university chaplain, retreat master and spiritual father — the Texan-born Jesuit then reflects on the particular threats that young people face in the technological age, and how the Church can best respond.

He calls on priests, and particularly priest-confessors, to be faithful spiritual fathers and authentic spiritual guides to young people. With keen insight, he says that young people today often need the healing that comes from experiencing “a fatherly love that can be trusted.”

For a priest-confessor, this means providing a love that listens and encourages but also challenges — “a fatherly love which fears neither to discipline nor to speak the truth for the sake of the other’s well-being in time and in eternity,” he says.

“When Jesus accompanies us, He does not seek to accommodate us by compromising the truth,” Fr. Carola said. In his invitation to the rich young man and his teaching on the Eucharist (John 6), Jesus shows us that “accompaniment has nothing to do with accommodation. On the contrary, it entails authenticity.”

In the words of the pre-synodal document, “‘Today’s young people are looking for an authentic Church’ (PMFD §11) — an authentic Church, not an accommodating Church,” he said.

Young people are not interested in “watered-down answers” in doctrine or practice, the Jesuit said. They want to be young men and women of faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And they want faithful and authentic spiritual leaders who know the Lord and want to lead them into the fullness of His love and His truth.

Full text of Fr. Joseph Carola’s talk at

Get AQ Email Updates

One comment on “Young people need the truth, not watered-down teachings: priest on Youth Synod

Leave a Reply