Why are the young people leaving the churches? is a question many are now beginning to ask. The problem being addressed is not solely a Catholic or a Protestant concern but one common to all beliefs. The young are obviously not finding what they are looking for among the present religious establishments. The desk column of the Catholic Times attempts to find an answer by introducing us to the Taizé Movement.
Taizé, a little village in France, is home to a
community of brothers who hold everything in common and live a simple
life as celibates. Brother Roger, born in Switzerland, founded the
community in 1940. Three times a day they gather together for
prayer, which is the center of their communal life. Each Sunday
thousands of young people come for prayer, reflection and sharing; and
each year over 100 thousand visitors, mostly young people, make the trip
to Taizé from all over the world.
the young join the community for short periods of time, they do what
the brothers do: pray three times a day and join in the work of the
community. It's a very simple life and yet visitors from all over the
world are motivated to leave home and share this simple lifestyle.
those who leave the churches in Korea this kind of thinking is foreign to them, says columnist, and she
wonders why this is the case. She found the reason by reading the book
The Community Called Taizé. The author asked many of those at
Taizé why they came. Most said they had the feeling of being accepted by
the community of brothers. Race and religion had nothing to do with
being accepted; it was the first time they had experienced this kind of
acceptance. Moreover, the brothers of the community showed great trust
in them, they said, allowing them to make their own plans for service
and work, which gave them an unexpected sense of freedom.
columnist quotes from a news account from a
State-side newspaper on the results of a questionnaire that asked the
young why they
had left their churches. The answers were not what we would have
expected. Many of them explained that it was the inability of the
churches to satisfy their thirst for the spiritual. The messages given
by the churches were not clear, they said, and their answers to the
problems of life were superficial. "The young are looking for faith and
are offered only entertainment" was a typical view of the problem.
Another put it this way, "If you
really believe that the church can change for the better the behavior
of others, why is this not more readily seen in the behavior of
concludes with the observation that the questionnaire was for the young
in the United States, but that it also had a great deal to teach us.
Those who have authority in the Church and the older generation should
take a hint from what has been accomplished at Taizé, she advised, and
from the thinking of many of the young who have left the churches.