Responses to the Pope’s Christus Vivit exhortation

Responses to the Pope’s Christus Vivit exhortation
Ger Gallagher
Pastoral Co-ordinator, Archdiocese of Dublin

There are a few things that resonated. The whole thing that the Church needs the momentum of young people – the line, “And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us” – that was fairly melancholic in saying that we know where the young people are, we’re just not there. There is change to be had within the Church.

I thought overall it was very practical and possible, and had solid potential…I felt if you were reading this as a priest, or a youth minister, or as a bishop you would take some hope away from it overall – it’s a very hopeful document.

I think what it was saying was we don’t have to give the doctrine first, you have to kind of give the enthusiasm of faith first. You don’t begin with the young person saying there are the Ten Commandments and this is the Catechism, if they’re there that’s different.

The exercise of listening has been huge in this process, not just for the young people and the document but also for family, so that is something that the Pope really has brought down to the grassroots.

The ability to change the way that we listen. How we respond is next question – you can kind of target the Church and say you don’t listen on this question, but there is an openness to listening now rather than just to preach or teach and I think that is a subtle shift under Francis, that there is a new listening.

It’s a long time since I heard a long plea from the official Church that we need vocation.

A contrast with that, is I think they’ve badly handled some of those who have stepped forward for vocation in recent years, and I mean young priests and religious as well. I think some of them have been damaged by senior people in Church.


Tony Foy
NET Ministries

First of all we’ve had a synod on youth, and it’s been terrific for our own Archbishop Eamon who has come back really on fire. Something happened within that man during that process, and it’s just been beautiful to see. He has caught a vision for the youth, Archbishop Eamon Martin. There is fruit right there, I would say!

I think that in a nutshell is what the Pope is asking us, he’s asking us to treat each person’s heart as ‘holy ground’.

This is something that NET does, it treats the young person as an individual, as holy ground, and this is the language of the Pope, and each young person is worthy of driving from here to Cork for. For one young person it’s worth holding a youth group if one young person comes to Faith, because that is holy ground right there. It’s not about bums on seats, it’s about each young person’s soul, each young person’s life which is enriched by knowing Jesus.

I feel like Archbishop Eamon gets it – it’s not about numbers, it’s about the individual, it’s about unleashing young people to evangelise their peers, but first the young people you evangelise must be evangelised. This takes time and it takes effort and it takes intentionality.


I have great hope for the future of the Church in Ireland and the fact that we have an exhortation, the fact that we’ve had a synod is massive.

Absolutely, anything goes and if it works, and if it’s dynamically orthodox…you can’t just hit people over the head with the Catechism, but what we can do is speak to people and tell them what Jesus has done for us.

We’re not going to have priests unless they know Jesus, we’re not going to have religious sisters unless they know the person of Jesus. So who’s going to teach them about Jesus, who’s going to introduce them? Young people are the most effective evangelisers of the Youth…and Pope Francis knows this.


Pauline Dowd
Living Youth, Diocese of Down & Connor

Christ lives in the energy, enthusiasm and dedication of the young people of our Church. How we harness that for the good of the Church now and not just in the future, has been laid out for us by Pope Francis’ letter Christus Vivit. It is addressed to all the young people of the world and the entire people of God. It is Pope Francis’ practice to provide us with a solid foundation for this work and then suggest a framework for its practical application around the world.

This apostolic exhortation is the final result of the Synod in Rome in October on Young People, Faith and Vocations. The Church listened to the voice of the young and this is the plan.

It is our job as leaders of Youth Ministry in Ireland and everyone in the Church to advocate for our young people and help them belong.

Pope Francis encourages young people to seek holiness like many young people before them through the belief that they are loved by God, that Jesus died for them and that Christ lives in the Church in their willingness to root themselves in Him. This requires outreach and encounter particularly with those on the margins of society and the Church.


Those of us working in youth ministry have long recognised and flagged up the critical need for energy in the field of Youth Ministry in Ireland. This energy requires strategic planning and the necessary funding to bring it to reality. Pope Francis maintains that this process is critical to the renewal of the whole Church and that is why his call for young people to be looked at as the ‘now’ of the Church is our starting point, our reference point and final goal of this challenge. It requires a new way of thinking, a new fire and a new methodology.

Some good news – this process has begun in Ireland, in October a number of Youth Directors joined our Irish Bishops in Rome to make a connection with the synod and to ensure that the messages from the synod were brought home.

With the support of our bishops we have set up Catholic Youth Ministry Ireland (CYMI) and we are now working to network and collaborate across the country to provide training, share resources and celebrate our faith together.  Please keep us on your prayers.


Maura Garrihy-Murphy
Holy Family Mission

The reality is that young people are asking those questions that we need to have some response for. And there needs to be room – as Pope Francis obviously alluded to quite strongly – that it can’t be a museum, there has to be a dialogue, but I even think the fact that he called the document Christus Vivit – Christ is Alive – that is what we’re trying to witness.

That’s what the whole process of the synod was about: what message do we want young people to hear? It’s that we listen, that we walk with you, that we want to show you that Christ is alive, and I think even to see that he actually called it Christ is alive, that’s what we’re trying to witness to for young people.

He spoke about abortion, drugs and homelessness and said some realities of this world can only be seen with eyes cleansed by tears. That really struck me because I think that helps us to be more pastoral with young people who have experienced these things. Abortion, drugs and homelessness are only three things of many.

The key thing on accompaniment for all of us is that it’s a challenge and an invitation all at one.

He says with regards to vocation that we have to learn to hear God’s call, and that we need to build a friendship with Christ.

For priesthood and religious, we need to constantly be reminded that God will be calling us to this way of life. Ultimately God wants what our hearts desire. I think it’s really important that when it comes to vocations, that he did put an emphasis on religious life and priesthood, because young people constantly need to be reminded that God calls us to be extraordinary, and he may very well be calling you to be a priest or a religious sister.