Monday, June 2, 2014
Young Life Receives Catholic Endorsement
“Many Catholic young people in Tanzania have come to know Jesus more deeply and have grown in their faith because of their involvement with Young Life,” penned Archbishop Josaphat Louis Lebulu in an historic endorsement of Young Life. The letter, signed in May, documented the East African archbishop’s “endorsement and sincere appreciation” for the ministry of Young Life as he has come to know it over the last eight years.
“They live up to their mission to reach every young person with the love of Jesus,” Lebulu attested. “And they achieve this with integrity and humility.” This glowing endorsement serves as a timely overture to other Catholic leaders who may have previously questioned Young Life’s sensitivity to the Church. “We wholeheartedly assure other Christian leaders that Young Life is a ministry that honors the Lord and the Church, and is highly effective at impacting young people with the Gospel.”
We have come to a new chapter in the relationship between Young Life and the Catholic Church. As Cardinal Walter Kasper (President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) has suggested, this kind of collaboration represents “not only an exchange of ideas but an exchange of gifts.” In this gift exchange, each part of the body of Christ has important contributions to bring. As the Second Vatican Council proclaimed, “Each part contributes its own gifts to other parts and to the whole Church.”
The Catholic Church has embarked on “a new chapter of evangelization,” and it can receive the gifts that Young Life offers – dynamic expressions and methods that are reaching disinterested kids around the world with vitality and effectiveness. Likewise, Young Life is entering a new era of openness to the gifts of the Church – its longstanding history and theological depth, its liturgy and sacramentality, and its commitment to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples.
This unity in mission, this endeavor of Christian fellowship and ministry, is kingdom-building work. It is healing balm for the wounds of division and fresh fire for a new Pentecost of evangelization. Thankful for his ecumenical vision and evangelical drive, may our hearts join with the Most Reverend Josaphat Louis Lebulu as he beckons this new era of partnership in prayer:
We pray that the work of Young Life may be extended to every area of Tanzania and beyond its boundaries for the good of the Kingdom of God and for the benefit of humankind.
 Walter Cardinal Kasper speaks in the Forward of Paul D. Murray’s Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), xiii.
 Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), 13.
 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), 1.
 Most Rev. Josaphat Louis Lebulu, Archbishop of Arusha, Tanzania in his May 9, 2014 endorsement of Young Life.