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The Building Bridges Initiative

The Building Bridges Initiative

Pope Francis has called the Roman Catholic Church, in its entirety, to undertake a global process of shared discernment. He is calling us all, at all levels, and in all types of institutions and situations to participate in a specific process so that we can learn to proceed together. This is the Synod on Synodality 2021-2024.

Inspired by this call of Pope Francis, Loyola University Chicago launched the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a student-centered and university-organized series of events. Through this Initiative, wfacilitate the creation of student groups across large geographic regions, accompany those students as they engage in listening, dialogue, and discernment, and then invite student representatives of those groups to a live-streamed encounter with Pope France where they can share and discuss with him their group’s experiences and hopes. 

A chapel interior
“It is not enough to have a synod. Every day we must be a synod, striving to walk together [and] not only with those who think in the same way.” Pope Francis, July 5, 2019


Across the Americas

(February 2022)

In the first Building Bridges event, Pope Francis listens to and engages 16 students representing groups of young people from 22 different countries across South, Central, and North America.

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Across Africa

(November 2022)

Partnering with the Pan-Africa Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) and the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University, the second Papal encounter with students includes representatives from groups stretching from across Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Across South Asia

(September 2023)

The third encounter of Pope Francis with university students brings together students from across South Asia, with students from across the region convening with universities in Nepal, Pakistan, and throughout India.

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Across Asia Pacific

(June 2024)

The fourth Building Bridges event brings together students and university partners from across the Asia-Pacific Region. Professors are accompanying students in 12 working groups from locations such as Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and more.

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