"Young people are leaving the Church!" are the catchwords heard often when we discuss the present crisis in the Church. The cover story in the Catholic Times asks: Is this the reality?--while also mentioning that the absence of the young in the Church is not a recent phenomenon. According to current statistics, only 7 percent of Catholics from 20 to 35-years-old go to Sunday Mass, but this figure is best understood when compared to the overall percentage of Catholics going to Sunday Mass, which is 25 percent; this gives us a more accurate picture of the situation.
figures are correct, what are the reasons for the poor attendance? Have
young people turned their back on the
Church? A survey made by the Seoul diocese revealed that 36 percent of
young feel there is a lack of opportunities to grow in the faith.
But 76 percent have a good feeling about the Mass and the Catholic
liturgy. A sign, says the Catholic Times, that the young are thirsting
for the experience
determine who is practicing their faith by using small paper slips with
the name and address of the Catholics. These are used when the
person goes to confession during Lent or before Christmas. There is a
basket outside the confessional where they put the slip of paper prior
to making their confession. They are later gathered and the names
inscribed in the parish register. When a name is missing for three
years in a row, that person is considered tepid. The statistics which
are reported by each diocese are based on this information.
writer of the article mentions that young people, despite not going to
Sunday Mass in large numbers, are often found participating in religious
programs. There is also a continual increase in the number of young
people who are coming
into the Church. So we cannot assert, says the writer, that they are
turning away from
religion and the faith life. He wonders whether those making
these statements are looking on the young with preconceived ideas and
distorting what can be learned from their non-attendance at Mass.
looking for God in the places where they happen to find themselves, in
their activities and where they feel most passionately alive. Since the
young move a great deal they don't find it easy to plant
their roots in parish life. But find it easier to be active in their
school life and their workplace doing apostolic activities, and
nurturing their spiritual
life. In a variety of different groups they are active in service to
others and helping those who have difficulties.
lists a number of young people who are very much involved in groups
studying the Scriptures. They spend their day in the workplace and
in the evenings are involved as leaders in these Scriptural study
groups. Many of them don't use the identifying slips of paper, but they
are, nonetheless, he says, zealous Catholics.
matter what one may imagine is the case, the writer feels that the
evidence does not support the contention of some that many of the young
have left the Church and their religion. They are still very much
the hope of the Church, he says, and this hope will continue to inspire
the Church into the future.