The Apostolic Secession

Brad Miner | February 7, 2018

An axiom in the legal profession is that a lawyer should never ask a question in court to which he doesn’t already know the answer. Getting an answer you don’t want can be embarrassing and may even harm your case.

Pope Francis has asked young people to write to him with their concerns. This is part of the lead up to October’s synod: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. Reading that text, you may be surprised that every papal document cited is by Pope Francis. No Paul VI, no John Paul II, no Benedict XVI? This somewhat narrows the catholicity of the Catholicism framing the upcoming discussions.

In addition to the request for letters to the pope, there are surveys being circulated in every diocese – all designed to take the temperature of Catholics in their teens and twenties, who are, of course, the “future of the faith.”Perhaps not coincidentally, a recent report by Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) about why young people leave the Church states flatly that: “eighty-seven percent of these former Catholics [in their teens and twenties] said that their decision to leave the Church is final.”

We may wish to chalk that up to the arrogance of youth, but 87 percent is an impressive number. As Crux summarized the shocking takeaway: “More Catholics are leaving the faith than ever before – more so than in any other religion . . .” and also at ages younger than ever.

Of course, it has long been the case that, as the Pew Research Center put it a few years back: “Americans change religious affiliation early and often.” One expects young people to wander, whether it’s Christian kids off to college or Amish kids on their Rumspringa, although there’s also the expectation that they’ll return. But will this new generation of Catholic youth come home?

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