The forum was convened June 19-22 by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life as a post-synodal conversation on Pope Francis’ latest Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit. The goal was to gauge reaction to the document so far and how well it is being disseminated throughout the world. Noriega noted that the Vatican has issued the Exhortation officially in Spanish, Italian, English and French. Countries that have growing Catholic populations and do not use those languages predominantly have been forced to make their own translations.
“For those who have read it, they find it insightful and hopeful,” she said. “They feel that the Pope is trusting the young people to make change in the Church.
“The challenge is that most people read it in a second language and some of the translations changed the context.”
The forum consisted of general sessions that featured panels of speakers who made presentations and then responded to comments and questions from all of the participants. Later, small groups of 10 people categorized by common language discussed various elements of Christus Vivit.
On June 22, at the conclusion of the dialogue, the approximately 250 delegates representing Episcopal Conferences from around the world had a private audience with Pope Francis. He spoke for about 15 minutes, Noriega said, echoing the themes he had offered at World Youth Day six months earlier.
“He repeated to us, ‘always in a hurry, never busy,’ he talked [again] about being rooted,” she said. “To me that means this is very much in his heart. He has a sense of urgency. He wants us young people to feel it as well.”
Each delegate got about 30 seconds to greet the Holy Father one-on-one. Noriega said that at first he did not appear to recognize her but after she made reference to their meeting in Panama six months earlier, where she had promised to pray for him, his eyes lit up. “He said, ‘oh yes, [you’re from] the United States. But you look different.’ “ (Noriega had cut her hair).
The chance to dialogue with young adults from other parts of the world and to be inspired again by the words of Pope Francis has left Noriega with that sense of urgency that he had spoke of, she said.
“Everything I do needs to link to a concrete action,” she says of her mindset upon returning. “Many times we get lost in the planning, in the logistics. We are more concerned about the cereal box than the cereal, itself.
“I came to this after learning how much other countries are doing with so little.”
Noriega also talked about communicating a simpler message in the Diocese about Christus Vivit.
“We are loved, and Christ is alive,” she summarized. “The message of Christus Vivit is the message of the Gospel. Pope Francis is not inventing anything.”