Thursday, April 5, 2018

What Young Catholics Want

From First Things:
This document does not speak for young Catholics. It fails to represent either the Catholic faith or the young people who profess it. It conjures and condemns a Church that is too institutional, too hierarchical, too focused on the sacred at the expense of the world. This image of the Church is a holdover from the 1950s, when the men who now lead the Church were young rebels. They wanted what Michael Novak called an “open church”—and they got it. All the structures against which they inveigh today were dynamited decades ago. The churches they fear to enter have long since been sold. This document is an obvious counterfeit, an old man’s idea of what the young must want. He thinks they want what he did.

In fact, they want something different. That cassock-wearing priest is the vanguard of a generational change. If current trends hold, there will be more French priests in traditionalist orders in 2040 than in dioceses and other orders combined. As Fr. René Dinklo, head of the Dutch Dominican province, has said: “We are on the brink of far-reaching changes,” because the young want to “re-discover a number of religious practices, rituals, forms of singing and prayer ... which the older generation has set aside.” This liturgical revival is merely the visible expression of a broader embrace of tradition and dogma. Young people want the saving words of Christ, which are found in sound doctrine and by solemn worship. When they ask for bread, do not give them a stone.

But never mind what the young really want. No youthful assembly, however representative, or pious, could help a church that has to consult a focus group before it is able to preach. It should be easy to see now, after so many decades of failure, that “reading the signs of the times” means navel-gazing, while “dialogue and encounter” is a lone man’s voice echoing in empty churches. We need once again to put theology before anthropology, asking what our Lord wants before polling public opinion. Our encounter, our dialogue, is with Him. (Read more.)

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