Young Catholics: traditionalists and modernists

There are two groups of young Catholics: those who want to “draw the Church back” to a previous era, and those who think the Church should conform to social trends, according to a report from the bishops of England and Wales.

The bishops surveyed around 3,000 young Catholic Britons ahead of next October’s synod of bishops, whose theme is “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment”.

Describing the two main groups, the report said the first is “a small but vocal group who want to draw the Church back into an era which they have been told was far better than it is today”.

The other group, which the report describes as “much larger, though less evident”, adheres to the “predominant narratives in society, wanting the Church to follow suit”.

“The first group asks for clarity, the second for authenticity,” the report claims.

“If we’re brave enough not to dismiss either of them, it’s possible to hear their yearning for a compelling narrative of how to live as Christians both faithfully and authentically.”

The report also says that while the percentage of young Catholics is declining, a young person who identifies as a member of the Church is more likely to practice their faith than older generations.

Young people of all faiths and none were invited to take part in the survey, although the majority of the respondents described themselves as Catholic.

Bishops’ conferences around the world are sending out similar surveys ahead of next year’s synod.

Similar surveys, handed out before the synod on the family in 2014 and 2015, were criticised for being too complex and taking too long to fill out.

The Youth survey, by contrast, could be completed in less than half an hour.

The synod on the family was marked by sometimes acrimonious debates over the Church’s teaching on divorce and the sacraments.


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