Asian Synod bishops concerned: Youth not getting married

Brenda Kim Nayoug of South Korea was one of the lay people chosen to give a personal testimonial at the Synod of Bishops on the Family. (Photo: Nirva Delacruz / CBCP News)

VATICAN City, Rome, Oct. 25, 2015 – What does the Church in Asia, a pulsating center of Catholic membership growth, worry about? Young people saying no to marriage and child-bearing.

“[The question is] how to inspire young people to live out their family life,” said Synod delegate Shillong Archbishop Dominic Jala of India in an exclusive interview with CBCP News.

According to the prelate, mainstream media’s focus on issues affecting the Church in the West obscures the realities that Asian Catholics struggle with.

Why young people aren’t marrying

“These issues that have been so much highlighted in the West, they have become not exactly non-issues but certainly they are not the ones that really engage our mind and attention rather it’s a question of how to help the many young people because our population in Asia is largely composed of the youth,” he added, noting how in his country, 30 to 35% of the population are young people.

This reality was given a face when Brenda Kim Nayoug of South Korea was able to address the bishops at the Synod and talk about what in her country is called the “Sampo generation”, an increasing number of young people who choose to forego courtship, marriage, and childbirth.

In a Radio Vatican report, she is quoted as saying in her Synod presentation: “Many of the young generation have given up these three things because of their social pressures and economic problems. There are so many young people who are suffering due to unemployment, they unfortunately postpone their marriage, and forget that marriage is a calling given by God.”

“The younger generation like me are suffering [very much] because they have a long time to study. In Korea it’s obsessive eduation. It’s been hard for the young generation and also for my parents’ generation, too,” she explained in an exclusive interview with CBCP News.

Attitude change

According to Nayoug, the cost of education in Korea is rising and the work force is highly competitive leaving many young people jobless and unable to afford education for themselves or for their future children.

She notes how an attitude of concern towards young people would be a huge step for the Catholic Church.

“Showing the attitude, I guess it is important. They (young people) want somebody to help but nobody is concerned about the [younger] generation. The young generation needs to be welcomed and encouraged but no one takes care of them. And I think that attitude showing the welcoming attitude for them, that’s quite enough for them,” added Nayoug.

In her final words to the Synod delegates she said, “Dear Fathers, married life is a long journey. There might be lots of possibilities to get lost or to be wounded on their journey of life, therefore the Church should open up and truly accompany us at the various stages of our married life, so that we do not give up but instead find for ourselves the beauty of the Christian family.” (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCP News)