Thursday 30 November 2017

Young Catholics

I haven`t seen any reaction to the report in the Catholic Herald about young Catholics in advance of the next Synod of bishops in October in Rome on the theme of "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment` but I thought it was significant. We were asked to encourage our young parishioners to respond to a questionnaire about the Church in preparation for the Synod. I must confess I did very little about it having lost most of my enthusiasm for being consulted after a rather long process in our own diocese over the last three years which I started on with some optimism but that disappeared when the final outcome and report was much as I might have expected before the whole thing started.

However to my surprise the report from the Bishops of England and Wales (which I can find nowhere apart from this article in the Catholic Herald ) instead of coming up with the expected responses seems to have actually noticed what is going on. The CH headline is `Young Catholics `either nostalgic or progressive``. I never thought I`d see the day when a report on Catholic Youth didn`t conclude that what was needed to keep young people at Mass was more balloons and people in leotards hopping around the altar. It seems Juventutem and Faith and others have finally been noticed. Does this mean our Youth Village may soon host a day of reflection led by the Institute of Christ the King? That the Youth Mission Team may start classes on Gregorian chant? 

The artice says the bishops have discovered that `There are two groups of young Catholics: those who want to return to a previous era, and those who think the Church should follow current social trends`. Admittedly the first group is much smaller than the second but I`d bet it produces a far higher proportion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, to the dismay of some vocations` directors.

Well I look forward to seeing the report. I may even begin to offer my opinion occasionally when asked.


  1. Still phrased in pejorative language, though. "Return to the past"? I don't think so, they have found a real alternative to the pagan society around them and hope for a future where the Faith is the focus of their lives, I don't want a return to the past but I would like a more hopeful future. (Though it has been a little while since I was "young"!)

  2. I agree the language is pejorative. I`ve always said I`m not a conservative because I don`t want to preserve what I see about me in the Church but want to see what the EF Mass can do in the present age. This is nothing to do with wanting to return to the past. In fact the more I hear about the past the more I understand people thinking `there must be something better than this`. Unfortunately the response has made things even worse.

  3. Despite what this report says I would say that most young Catholics are neither nostalgic nor progressive because they have no interest whatsoever in their faith. How can they have a considered opinion when it has not been taught in its fullness for decades? The only times they attend church is when school Masses or special events are arranged; they are conspicuous by their absence on a Sunday.
    Four years ago I conducted a world-wide survey among the young people of the International Federation Una Voce, an organisation founded in 1965 to preserve and foster the traditional liturgy of the Church, and the replies revealed the real desires of young people. Information was gathered from all around the world; in the Americas from Canada to Argentina, in Europe from Russia to Spain, and from India and Japan down to Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand. Despite the cultural and language differences the answers given all followed the same themes. Most had abandoned their faith even before leaving school and spoke about desecration, disorientation, loss of the sense of worship, the crisis of faith, the crisis of priestly vocations, and empty churches and convents. They had been brought back to their faith after discovering tradition which they had found through various sources: their friends at university, on the internet, through books and films. They did not want dancing or guitars or informality, they wanted spirituality, dignity in worship, the beauty of Latin, Gregorian chant, and a sense of belonging in an international Church with a link to the past and a continuity of tradition. One pertinent comment said: “there is more reverence, silence for personal prayer, dignity of the rite, respect for the Holy Eucharist, no improvisations on the part of priest, Gregorian chant, continuity with the past, God is here, this is true worship, silence, recollection, preparations and devotions, piety, the sanctity of the ritual, and beautiful ornaments, the exquisite care of the liturgy, its signs, rituals, everything speaks of God.” This report was taken to Rome in 2013 and presented to the major dicasteries. A Spanish version was presented three years ago.
    The International Federation is now effectively a youth movement and the current President is a young family man from Mexico. Our young people have been denied the traditions of the Church for nearly fifty years and the consequences for the loss of souls has been devastating. Where tradition has been reintroduced the effects have been dramatic. It is the traditional priestly societies who are being inundated with applications from young men with vocations and which are building new seminaries to cope with the numbers. The future of the Church lies in its past but not in a return to the past, but in a continuation with the tradition of centuries.


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