European bishops launch new platform for youth participation

ROME – As part of a wider European initiative designed to empower young people and encourage their social involvement, European bishops have launched their own new platform where young people can share their views on key policy areas.

In an October 6 press release for the new initiative, called YouthNet, Jean-Claude Hollerich from Luxembourg called on youth delegates to “make YouthNet a place of true brotherhood, an example of how we can be brothers and sisters , aware of our specificity”. cultural identities, truly united in diversity.

Hollerich, who is also President of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), said, “This new consultative body will foster the concrete participation of young European Catholics in shaping EU policies.”

Launched on October 5, YouthNet is an initiative of COMECE and builds on two previous large-scale Catholic youth conventions, held in June 2021 and June 2022.

YouthNet is a group of young delegates, aged between 18 and 35, from the different Episcopal Conferences of the European Union, who have committed themselves for a two-year mandate in collaboration with the COMECE Secretariat on specific projects and in as consultants on political issues.

According to an October 6 press release on the launch of YouthNet, the aim is to bring young people’s point of view to “all dimensions of EU policy-making” and take into account their sensitivities. current political and social challenges.

Hollerich, when launching the initiative, also stressed the importance of empowering young people at all levels of society, while “acting with and across all generations for the common good in the EU”.

Over the next few months, YouthNet members will carry out an in-depth reflection on how to promote EU values ​​such as democracy and fundamental rights, and they will present their findings at the COMECE assembly in 2023.

The launch of the COMECE YouthNet is part of the European Year of Youth, launched in January and announced by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her state of the art address. Union 2021.

It is coordinated by the European Commission, which organizes a series of special events and projects for young people with the collaboration of the European Parliament and the different EU Member States, as well as regional authorities.

The various initiatives carried out during the European Year of Youth are supported by a contribution of 8 million euros (7.8 million dollars) from the Erasmus program and the European Solidarity Corps.

According to a December 2021 press release at the initiative of the European Commission, the main objective of the European Year of Youth is to provide young people taking part in it with opportunities to acquire knowledge, skills and competences. for their professional development, and to improve their civic engagement to “shape the future of Europe”.

To this end, the Year of Youth has four main objectives, the first of which is to renew the “positive outlook for young people”, with particular attention to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, while highlighting the opportunities that “green and digital transitions” and other EU policies can offer young people and society as a whole.

This initiative is also designed to help young people, especially those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or have access to fewer opportunities, to develop both knowledge and skills, “and thus become active and engaged citizens, inspired by a sense of European belonging.”

The initiative also aims to help young people gain a better understanding of the opportunities already available to them by promoting active participation in these areas, whether at European, national, regional or local level, in order to support their development. overall development.

It will also focus on mainstreaming youth policies across all areas of the EU, in line with the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2017, to encourage young people to contribute to shaping policies at all levels.

The organizers expressed the hope that the effects of the Year of Youth would extend well beyond 2022 and develop cross-sectoral projects that would draw on all EU policies.

To comply with the European Year of Youth, the European Commission has urged all EU Member States to appoint a National Coordinator to oversee national participation.

By the end of 2023, the European Commission will submit a report on the implementation, results and overall evaluation of the initiative, and will also include ideas for other joint initiatives in the field of engagement young people.

Pope Francis has often lamented the disillusionment of young people around the world who lack work and meaningful opportunities to advance and contribute to their societies, saying they are often the first victims of a flawed global system more focused on profit than on human flourishing.

Although not linked in any formal way to the European Year of Youth, the pope last month chaired a large gathering of young economists and entrepreneurs called “the economy of Francis” in Assisi, the home of his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi.

There, Francis and the nearly 1,000 young people who participated signed a joint pact outlining their vision for a peaceful and just economy that is more equitable and respectful of the poor and the environment.

In addition to his repeated calls for the poor and the environment and his criticism of global capitalism, the pope urged the young economists and entrepreneurs present to open new paths of justice and equality.

“When a young person sees in another young person the same vocation, and this experience is repeated with hundreds, even thousands of other young people, then great things become possible, even the hope of changing a huge and complex system like the global economy,” he said.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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