Showing concern for Youth should be a priority in the Church Pope Francis in his message for the 2018 World Youth Day celebrations appealed to adults in the Catholic Church to have confidence in the youth by courageously engaging them with important responsibilities.

I have no doubt that UCAP agrees with the Holy Father that many young people today are afraid of never being accepted, of finding a good job and even of their real selves. The gathering of the youth at both the local and the International World Youth Day celebrations should be seen as a manifestation of God’s goodness for a future that will bring hope, peace, prosperity, liberty and salvation to the youth.

The current generation of youth need the necessary help through formation programmes to overcome obstacles hindering their spiritual and economic development.The youth as the principal agents of development should be reminded that they are not only the future of society but a gift to their families, their nation and Africa and the world at large.Because the youth are important to society, they are highly sought in sports, entertainment, advertising, communications however they have to be cautioned not to fall prey to negative influences of such institutions.

The issue of proper upbringing of the youth of today has been of great concern of Parents, the Church and the nation as a whole. It does not take a keen observer to notice that there appears to be a noticeable spiritual ferment among the youth of today. The enormous energy, talents and potentials of the youth need to be continually tapped and channelled to sustain the overall development agenda of the Church and the larger society.

The youth as future leaders must be well-prepared and trained to assume responsible positions in society. Generally, the youth of the world seem to be in crisis, related among other things to improper upbringing which had been of great concern to the Church and State.Unfortunately, the youth of today are faced with many problems including, sexual indulgence, drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, armed robbery, homosexuality, lesbianism, internet fraud and watching of pornographic films.There is therefore the  urgent need to organise formation programmes for the youth to enable them contribute meaningfully to the development of the Church and the nation.

To achieve this, they will need adults as reference point meaning that adults themselves must be exemplary in character and acceptable role models. Unfortunately, some adults themselves are indiscipline that they have very little to offer the youth.To help curb indiscipline among the youth, I think thatsociety must pay more attention to the activities and welfare of the youth. Parents and adults must be pace-setters.

They must lead peaceful and responsible lives to be emulated by the youth.The youth  shouldnot to be carried away by excessive love for material things and new ideologies. We call for strategic, systematic and conscientious youth Policy  at the continental level to produce quality leaders for the Church and nation since no nation can progress without a strong human resource base. It is time stakeholders invested in the education of the youth to secure for them a future.Indeed the importance of the youth in the Church cannot be overemphasised since they play a critical role in keeping  it alive.It is for this and many other reasons that I feel that the Church in Africa as anywhere in the world needs to intensify its new evangelization  efforts by placing more interest in the youth and  helping the younger generations to find meaning to life and their faith. Particular attention should  also be given to those who find themselves in  very difficult  and challenging situations or  having been led astray by bad role models or their peers.The Church has a duty to let them understand that it also depends on the youth for fulfilling its evangelisation mission.

This is very necessary in these day when there  are many competing interests of  numerous  fake pastors and churches that are attracting the youth with  fake gospel of prosperity.As a Church we have a collective responsibility to assess our Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and establish goals and projects for the evangelization of young people who are in a culture that is quite different from that of yester years.  The rapid effects of information, communication and Technology requires the Church to modify its evangelization efforts and by so doing make the church  very strong,  more alive and relevant to the youth.As the saying goes: People do not care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

The youth want to see a clergy, married couples and the older generation who are   more authentic, God-fearing and caring.It may appropriate to recall what Pope Benedict XVI explained to the youth some years ago: "Experience shows that personal qualities and material goods are not enough to guarantee the hope which the human spirit is constantly seeking."It is only when the youth and even  the older generation observe these  that the Church will truly be a community of faith that is relevant, authentic, and courageously honest.

Indeed, the way that the youth respond to their culture now and the way their parents and priests respond to them are predictors of the Church’s future. As it  is often said, the youth are the future of the church. The youth are not only the future, but God’s gift to the Church and society. For any tangible growth to take place in the Church, the youth must be acknowledged and given the space in that process of growth.

The questions are what amount of attention do we give the youths and what is the level of devotion that the youths give to the church?We can see all over the world in indeed in Africa that the Catholic Church, even though it possess the fullness of Truth, has a real difficulty in keeping her youth.  The reason for this cannot be farfetched; for far too long the Church has to a greater extent   not given them their rightful place or tapped their great potential  in making them feel part of the Church community.It is gratifying to note that Pope Francis has called for a Synod of Bishops in October this year-2018. The Synod, will among others discuss young people, how they are experiencing the life of faith amid the challenges of our time.

Indeed the Synod will look at how best to share with our young people the joy, the truth and the beauty of our faith.Iam therefore making a passionate appeal to the Church in Africa to hold a continental seminar or workshop to brainstorm and to illuminate a way of evangelisation for young people, who are now threatened, distressed and perplexed with so many economic and social models that do not respond to their horizons.   Through this, I feel it  will afford the Church an opportunity to evaluate its programmes for the youth. From this the Church may establish new goals and projects for the evangelisation of young people in our continent.Secondly, the Church has to improve upon her channels of Communication.

We have to understand the scope, mission and challenges of the youth in a young language, through the various existing social media, for example, through regular meetings  and by using Facebook, twitter, email, electronic newsletter  and other social media platforms to generate overall interest among the youth, particularly at the Parish level. This should be a priority because very often or not parents, priests, and the youth themselves have expectations and demands that do not always mesh or overlap. It is only through efficient and effective communication that issues could be brought to the fore for them to be addressed collectively.  

Failure to respond to the needs of the youth in the church may give them cause to drift more to the gospel of prosperity churches thatare  already preying on them.

CONCLUSION : The Catholic Church was for a long time in the past a leader in communication.

This cannot be said of her today.  For the Church to regain this position and more it is highly recommended that she engages more  in the use of the media, particularly the  new media – the new forms of social communications. St. Paul instructed the Corinthians to “run so as to win the race (cf. 1 cor.9:24). We therefore have no choice; we have to wake up otherwise we will have ourselves to blame. It calls for commitment and the desire to do things differently in order to attract the youth more than ever before.Most of the conflicts in the world are invariable caused through the involvement of the youth. These could be reduced drastically if the young people could be effectively  engaged in peace- building activities.

  • Bio Data

Benedict (Ben) Batabe Assorow,  is the immediate past Communications Director of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

He is currently  the Managing Editor of The Catholic Standard,  the only  national Catholic weekly of the Church in Ghana.Assorow was once the Acting Editor of the National Catholic Weekly, The Standard from 1984 to 1985 and 1995 – 1998; Acting Manager of SNAM Ltd. from 1996 to 2000 and a Board Member SNAM from July 1999 to 2008. During that period, he was the Executive Secretary of the Department of Social Communications of the National Catholic Secretariat of the GCBC.

From 2006 to 2012, he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as one of his Consultors on Social Communications at the Vatican. He was the first Lay person from Africa to have held that position.He was once Board Member of Asempa Publishers of the Christian Council of Ghana from 1984 to 1989; Secretary of the Catholic Media Association of Anglophone West Africa (CAMAWA) from 1984 to 1993; Acting Executive Secretary of Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) of SECAM from July 1989 to March 1992. 

He served as President of UNDA-Africa (International Catholic Association for Catholic Radio and Television) from June 1987 to September 1994 and 1998 to November, 2001; Board Member of UNDA International from 1998 to 2001; Chairman of the Elections Committee of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) 2006 to date; Board member of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) from 2004 to 2009 and Board member of the Graphic Communications Group Ltd. from 2013 to May 29, 2015.He had the honour of  having represented the Vatican (Holy See) at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in February 2005 in Accra, Ghana, through the Apostolic Nunciature in Ghana. Since 1978, he has been a member of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA); Private Newspapers Publishing Association of Ghana (PRINPAG)and the  Institute of Public Relations, Ghana (IPRIn 2006, he played a role in getting SECAM to introduce the Good Governance programme at the continental level- in Africa.

He has many Awards to his credit including a Papal Medal for the role he played in representing the Vatican at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in February 2005 in Accra, Ghana; Papal Award as a Knight of St. Gregory the Great in 2005. This award goes with the title ‘SIR”; a Citation from the National Catholic Secretariat for Dedicated Service to the Church; and a Citation from The Catholic Standard for the role he played in developing the Paper.He entered the Ghana Institute of Journalism from October 1976   and graduated in June 1978.

Between 1978 and 1980, he studied Journalism and Public Relations in Rome, Italy.He undertook a Course in International Relations and German language at the University of Vienna, Austria in 1980 and another Course in Financial and Administrative Management in Christian Institutions organised by the Christian Organizations Research and Advisory Trust for Africa (CORAT Africa), Kenya in 1984.

In 1979, he also undertook a Summer Course at the National Catholic Radio & Television Centre-Hatch End, Britain during which he produced a Radio programme on the “Boat People” of Vietnam.In pursuit of higher academic laurels, Sir Assorow entered the Gregorian University in Rome in October 1993 and graduated in June 1995 with a Master of Arts Degree in Missiology and Communication.

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Cape Town 2018 : Conference Theme

Using the media for promotion of Integral Human Development in Africa

Conference Venue

Schoenstatt Retreat and Conference Centre Cape Town, South Africa 021 794 3132 Follow @ucapafrica Like Us