Youth for Common Future – Bridges for Peace-building
“Studying and propagating Christian culture, affirmation of a person, human rights, freedom and peace, of a democratic state, promoting of inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue, tolerance and cross-relating communal life, supporting European values seen as basically Christian values, activating citizens in tackling the most difficult social problems...” -Centre for Peace and Social Issues of the Christian Cultural Centre Mission -
"Inclusion and active participation of young people in parishes and dioceses in Serbia and Montenegro, with the goal of developing trust and cooperation with other faith communities and to build potentials for their creative and active work." - Caritas Youth Commission Mission -
In light of the social and political changes in Serbian society, both the Orthodox and the Catholic Church initiated development of various institutions. On one hand the Orthodox Church approach towards various developments in our society was respecting the transcendental approach, while the Catholic Church approach was more anthropological, respecting the well-known principles of the Church Social Teaching. While the Catholic Church founded various Commissions on the level of Bishops’ Conference (BC) and strengthened the work of already existing institutions like Caritas, the Orthodox Church supported several new institutions. One of them is the Christian Cultural Centre with the seat in Belgrade. This institution has several departments, but the most important one for this project is the Centre for Peace and Social Issues. One of the most significant fields of work for the both Churches in present period is the work with the youth.
The Christian Cultural Centre is a non-governmental and a non-profit organization founded by Orthodox Christians of different education background and ages. The Centre aims at studying and propagating Christian culture in all its aspects, at the affirmation of a person, human rights and freedom, of a legal and a democratic state, as well as at promoting an inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue. The objectives, task and principles of the Centre are organized association and action of citizens in order to: study and spread Christian culture in all of its aspects; study both theoretically and empirically the relation between Christianity and Nationhood, Christianity and Liberal Political Philosophy, Christianity and Democracy, Christianity and Human Rights, Christianity and Modern Market Economy, Christianity and Science, Christianity and Modern Technique and Technology; establish better communication between Christian theologians, scientists and businessmen; establish a more authentic notion of Christianity in the Media; affirm human dignity and the respect of human rights and freedoms; affirm human dignity and the respect of human rights and freedoms; affirm juridical and democratic state; advance inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation; organize and prepare Christian therapy in healing people suffering from war and other traumas and addictions.
Caritas organization has been active on the territory of Serbia and Montenegro for almost 15 years implementing various relief and development projects. In the last 10 years a strong emphases has been dedicated to marginalized groups in our society. The work with the youth started last year and included two main focuses – one is the work of the Youth Commission that is a body of the Bishops’ Conference attached to Caritas organization and the other is a multicultural youth centre that organises various workshops for young people belonging to various ethnic and religious groups. The Youth Commission consists of delegates coming from each diocese of the Serbia and Montenegro joining both priests and laity. The main tasks of the Commission are development of tolerance and mutual respect between youth in our society belonging to various ethnic and religious groups; promotion of common Christian values, moral and personal responsibility; development of capacities among youth for taking leadership, personal initiatives and responsibility; promotion of European civilizational and cultural values; promotion of youth rights; capacity building; implementation of youth projects, etc.
Churches are obliged to take care of the youth work, although the present institutional frames of work with the youth inside the Churches have its own limitations to allow full growth of youth movement.
On the other hand, the last UNDP human development report for Serbia 2005 offers bitter findings : 51, 5% of youth (age 15-25 years) have never travelled abroad including ex Yugoslav republics. The results also suggest that general population is reluctant to accept unique European identity, shows high level of intolerance towards the other religious groups’ sacred objects and ethnic minorities. According to the Report the young people in Serbia are strongly ethnocentric (more then 30%) or strongly committed to the state (28%) or to the religion (26%). Dedication to the unique European identity is on a low level (11%), while more then 50% of the Serbian population consider minorities as causes of tensions and feel that the countries without ethnic minorities are in much better position. For more then 50% of the Serbian non-Muslim population the construction of mosque in their neighbourhood is unacceptable. The strongest intolerance is felt towards the Albanians (41, 4% in average).
Within the Catholic Church, active youth participation in parish life can be the index of youth level in a permanent nursing of Christian belonging and living in accordance with Church’s ethics. The poll that was conducted among the Catholic youth showed that 15, 1% of them are totally included in a parish work, and 16, 3% are not at all. Half of the youth polled wish to be more active in parishes work, and even 9 of 10 think that it is necessary to organize meetings of youth. At the moment, parish work includes various spiritual oriented works, meetings, rarely socially orientated services. Unfortunately, the youth are not well invited to take an active participation in parish work or the current forms are not satisfying their expectations.
Sankt Augustin, October 21, 2006