The nine answers that Father Frank Brennan gives to our searching Catholic youth will not solve the problem of the approximate 95 percent failure rate in Catholic education.
His suggestion that we "take them beyond their comfort zones; help them to count their blessings without feeling guilty; assure them that the balance holds, etc", smacks of the vacuous waffle that has passed for Catholic catechesis for two generations. It has been a disastrous failure.
A learned priest like Father Brennan would be familiar with the maxim, "Nil volitum nisi praecognitum" ("You cannot be enthusiastic about something you know nothing about").
Our students, during their ten or twelve years of education, need to be taught Catholic doctrine in its entirety. It is set out in the Catholic Catechism. It contains plenty of "do's" and "dont's": do pray daily, do be faithful to the Mass and regular confession, do obey Church moral teaching; don't disobey the ten commandments. The ultimate aim of all this is a close personal relationship with Christ.
If our students were presented with full-blooded Catholicism and its exhilarating challenges, their native enthusiasm and generosity would inspire many to embrace it. We have betrayed our youth by offering a Catholicism so watered-down as to be unrecognisable. Naturally they reject it.
Fr Brennan's endeavour to put Cardinal Pell and the Pope at loggerheads on the role of conscience demeans no one but Fr Brennan.