"I never would have guessed this was the first issue on their mind."
The archbishop of Sydney told Zenit’s Deborah Castellano Lubov that the main issue preoccupying Australian youth wouldn’t have occurred to him as being their first concern.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher explained that sociologists helped Church leaders preparing for the synod underway in Rome to distill information that they gathered from young people in online surveys, forums at youth festival, diocesan listening sessions, and various other ways.
“It was quite interesting,” he told Castellano Lubov. “For instance the biggest single issue they raised was mental health issues.”
The prelate explained that a lot of young people brought to the table the struggles their generation has with depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, issues with eating disorders, and other related issues.
“I never would have guessed this was the first issue on their mind,” he said, stressing: “They care very strongly about mental health issues.”
In the interview, Archbishop Fisher goes on to mention other primary issues for Aussie youth:
- Ethnic identity was one of them: “We have a lot of immigrant and migrant groups in Australia,” he said, noting, “They and the next generation are trying to work out, what am I? Am I Australian? Am I Italian? Am I African? Am I Indian? What am I?”
- As well, they are grappling with their sexual and spiritual identity: “How I sort out who I am, and what matters to me.”
- And with this, there is the question of relationship issues, their fear of loneliness and their concerns about finding someone to accompany them in life, and that that person be the right person, “especially when they have seen so many relationships on the rocks, and perhaps even their family hasn’t gone so well …”
The archbishop said he was surprised to find that young people’s main concerns are at such an “existential” level, about “deeper questions.”
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