A major concern for many parents, grandparents and parish clergy today is the massive drift away from the belief and practice of the Catholic faith by the vast bulk of school-leavers. Various estimates put the level of regular Mass attendance among the 16-25-year-olds as at around five percent.
While there are many complex causes for this disturbing state of affairs, one of them is undoubtedly the high level of ignorance, misinformation and rejection of the Faith that young Catholics frequently experience, through inadequate RE courses at school, negative, biased media reports and peer group pressures.
It was with this in mind that AD2000 has taken up a parish priest's suggestion to run a regular series on aspects of the Faith aimed at younger readers. It is hoped the centre pages will contain articles on key topics like God's existence, the reliability of Scriptures, Jesus' divinity and papal infallibility, as well as other subjects where the Church's teachings are often rejected or ridiculed in the media, e.g., divorce and remarriage, abortion, 'gay sex', pre-marital relations or human embryo experimentation.
There are countless ways in which these articles could be used. Parents and grandparents might share them with their children or grandchildren or church-going younger Catholics could offer them to their non-practising friends. Priests, religious and youth leaders might use them as the basis for discussions on different aspects of the Faith, and secondary school teachers might find them useful as additional teaching resources.
With World Youth Day in Sydney imminent, awareness of the need to re-evangelise the large number of young Australian Catholics is greater than ever. While belief and practice of the Faith depend on much more than just knowledge and understanding, these remain an essential ingredient for 'knowing, loving and serving God'.
I would welcome suggestions for future topics and articles from readers. Michael Gilchrist is Editor of AD2000 (email address available on request).