The woman pictured above is American Catholic Katie Prejean McGrady and right now she is in Rome, together with around 300 young people from all over the world who are discussing the future of the Catholic Church with the Pope.
Reporting for the Religion News Service, Thomas Reese wrote:
The pope shows he understands that a bunch of old, celibate bishops are not going to come up with solutions for the Catholic Church’s failure to attract or keep young people.
The meeting this week is in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, which will be held in October. Pope Francis said:
The Church wants to listen to the voices, the sensibilities, the faith as well as the doubts and criticisms of young people. We must listen to young people.
The Church has a big problem with young people, said Reese, which means that it has a big problem with its future.
While nearly 1-in-3 Americans (31 percent) were raised in the Catholic faith, fewer than 1-in-4 (24 percent) now describe themselves as Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center.
Almost half of Catholics who identify as unaffiliated (48 percent) left Catholicism before reaching age 18. As a result, only 18 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 identify as Catholic. In the United States, twice as many young people are unaffiliated with any religion.
McGrady, a wife, new mother and youth minister from the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, found that young people have a great mistrust of institutions, including the Church.
It does not help that the sex abuse crisis happened when we were all kids.
But the real problem, she said, is that:
For many, many years in our church, what we have done is just teach the facts of the faith – do this, don’t do that; believe this, don’t believe that – instead of engaging young people in trying to help them have a personal relationship with Christ, actually know him, and not just have ideas about him in their heads.
No Ms McGrady, the real problem is that young people recognise superstitious bullshit when they see it in all it’s many guises.
Another delegate in Rome is Sean Deighan, 23, above left, a youth worker for Glasgow Archdiocese, who said in this report that young people:
Are leaving the Church in droves for all the wrong reasons. They are leaving the Church because of what they think the Church is and not the reality.
If we want to pursue the new evangelisation authentically then we need to present the Church authentically and young people need to see that.
When young people see the Church being presented authentically, it’s attractive. We have never had to dress things up or use false pretences to get people in the Church. It has always been the reality of the Church’s message which they are attracted to.
The Pope’s little shindig coincides with research that shows increasing number of young people abandoning Christianity in Europe.
A survey of 16- to 29-year-olds found the Czech Republic is the least religious country in Europe, with 91 percent of that age group saying they have no religious affiliation. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of young adults in the UK, Estonia, Sweden and the Netherlands also categorise themselves as non-religious.
Hat tip: AgentCormac (survey report)