The Younger Generation May Be Lost to the Church
June 1997By Marian E. Crowe
Marian E. Crowe is Adjunct Professor in the Freshman Writing Program at the University of Notre Dame.
I want to propose a radical idea. Perhaps the reason teenagers bolt from the Catholic Church the minute they are out from under the parental roof is not that they want a trendier liturgy with more contemporary music. Perhaps what they really want isn't more pizza parties and more "ski-retreat" weekends. Perhaps their biggest argument with the Church isn't even her teaching on pre-marital sex or birth control or abortion or the ordination of women.
Perhaps they just don't believe.
Perhaps they don't believe in God. Don't believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Don't believe in the saving power of the sacraments. Don't believe in an afterlife.
I think it's time to consider the possibility that young people's indifference to, defection from, and -- in some cases -- contempt for the Catholic Church (and often for Christianity in general) may not be so much a matter of style as of substance. Their attitude may be due not so much to the desire for a church more in tune with contemporary secular society as to their lack of desire for any church at all. Furthermore, I would like to offer the unsettling suggestion that their lack of faith may reflect a lack of faith they see in their elders -- especially certain Church leaders.
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