We will be running a blog series on the departure of our young people from the Church and how we need to understand this as well draw lesson on how we innovate the ways we share Christ with our young people.
We encourage you to accompany us in this dialogue as we spend a few blog posts on this most important matter. Share with us your views and concerns. We will be sharing them in the social media world.
Fr. Carl Chudy, SX
Missionary work in the northern hemisphere of the 21st century lies in part, a way of understanding what the Catholic bleed is and how we respond to it.
What is the Catholic bleed? Pew Research Center provides statistics that point toward important realizations why people leave the Catholic Church, and in particular youth and young adults who see themselves as “unaffiliated” from any religious institution, or the “nones.”
The New Evangelization is the commitment of the Church to renew our faith and innovate new ways to share our faith in Christ in a diverse and multi-religious world where our young people face a plethora of choices no generation before it ever experienced.
The Catholic Bleed
The Catholic bleed looks at the disenchantment of our young people with their inclusion in the Church and the meaning and inspiration we wish to provide, but in many cases, do not. One way to make a snap shot of this bleed is to say this: For every Catholic convert in the US, six Catholics leave the Church. There are more than 30 million Americans who see themselves as “ex-Catholics.” Finally, our young people are disengaging themselves in droves. The number of those who left the Catholic Church has risen around 30 percent since 2007, and the number grows.
Finding Community Outside the Church
The first thing to say is that many young people are finding a sense of community, if only tentatively tethered to faith, elsewhere. The Interfaith Youth Core provides resources and places to share for young people of all faiths. One of the largest group among them are unaffiliated young people who anchor their search for meaning, direction, and hope outside of religious institutions of any kind. This is not merely a Catholic issue, it affects all faiths, both Christian, and non-Christian.
In my work of dialogue with atheists and humanists, I find this group not to be mono-lithic at all, but quite diverse. Their common dissatisfaction or all out distaste for religious groups is within the context of a wide variety of experiences that disavow God all together, to a stance of openness to the possibility of God, to defining themselves with a personalized spirituality that brings together religious ritual and belief with secular groundings.
Listen to this podcast by Interfaith Youth Core entitled: Unaffiliated but Not Unconnected: Community Among Religious Nones. Share your own reflections on this in the comment section, whether you consider yourself unaffiliated or not. Let us begin a fascinating conversation in something that is important to us all.