“Meeting at eye-level as the church for all generations”

From left to right: Pope Francis, LWF Council member Julia Braband and Thomas Andonie, Chairperson of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ). Photo: LWF / Julia Braband
LWF Council member Julia Braband (middle) is representing the LWF at the synod of bishops in the Vatican. Here she also met Pope Francis and Thomas Andonie, Chairperson of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ). Photo: LWF / Julia Braband

LWF Council member Julia Braband speaks to the Synod of Catholic Bishops

(LWI) - “With our good experiences in the Lutheran World Federation I want to encourage you all to accept youth involvement as a ‘laboratory of faith’,” Julia Braband said when she addressed the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is taking place at the Vatican from 3 to 28 October. The synod’s theme is "Young people, the faith and vocational discernment".

Braband is a member of the LWF Council and is representing the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) as an ecumenical guest at this Catholic world conference, to which about 40 young people from all over the world were invited. The 25-year-old theology student from the Evangelical Church in Central Germany can already look back over eight years voluntary involvement in different church governing bodies. She advocates for the full participation of young people in the life and decision-making processes of the church.

Taking young people seriously

Braband is convinced that “the first important step is to listen to young people and take note of their diversity.” But “it is even more important to take the concerns of young church members seriously and to give them a fully-fledged voice in the community, meeting each other at eye level. That is the only way the church can be a church for all generations,” she said in her address.

Today 20 percent of all members in the LWF decision-making bodies are youth and young adults under 30. This quota is now strongly defended – not only by us young people but also by many other members.
LWF Council member Julia Braband at the synod of bishops in the Vatican

She reported on the processes with which the LWF has been involved since its 1984 decision on youth participation and pointed to their practical results: “Today 20 percent of all members in the LWF decision-making bodies are youth and young adults under 30. This quota is now strongly defended – not only by us young people but also by many other members.”

However, Braband was concerned that the journey was not yet over. In the LWF member churches further work remains to be done: “For that reason, the LWF assembly last year in Namibia once again called on all member churches to implement the youth quota.“

Ecumenical relations

Even though speaking to a synod of bishops is an special event for Braband, she has engaged in good ecumenical relations in her own church, particularly with the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) “I think particularly of the many fantastic events that we organize with young Catholics. It is so important in our ecumenical relations to realize that we stand on common ground,” Braband says.