Dear Companions on the Journey,
Last week, I shared with you Marianist Father James Heft’s report on “Youth, the Catholic Church, and Our Future.” I continue with his reflections. He notes that there are contrasting interpretations of why Catholics, especially young Catholics, are disaffiliated:
- Many academics stress the causes of disaffiliation as rigidity of Church teachings (especially on sexuality), role of women, and homosexuality;
- Many religious leaders believe disaffiliation is caused mainly by the culture (relativism, commercialism, and science) and by poor teaching of the faith;
- Still others believe that we are passing through a major change on a global scale, a second “axial age,” when religions will become more personal, more hospitable to the earth, and find more common ground.
Which group do you agree with?
Among “What Needs to be Done for Youth Now?” are the following:
- Research shows that parents whose faith and practice is weak produce children who, in our culture, rapidly disaffiliate. The family needs immediate and extensive pastoral care, especially by educated lay ministers;
- Vocations to the priesthood and religious life depend considerably on families, parishes, and Catholic educational institutions. Colleges and universities provide an especially fruitful time and place for the accompaniment of young adults;
- Catholics need to find public ways to demonstrate their faith, to remain Catholic, where respecting and appreciating others who believe differently or not at all;
- One of the greatest needs of the Church today is competent teachers who are able to explain and witness to the faith;
- Educating college students and young adults in forms of leadership as Catholics will do more to strengthen the life of the Church than stressing rules;
- The impact of social media and the internet, for good and for evil, cannot be underestimated. Pre-teens and young adults need to be educated how and when to use it. Even at its best, social media is no substitute for face-to-face communication.
Admittedly, the above is from only one source. Those who took part in our roundtable discussions almost all spoke about our Paulist Center’s opportunity to work for a more inviting, effective future.
What do you think?
And let us pray for/with one another.
The Paulist Center