Young people need a clear Catholic identity

Dear Editor, After the referendum result was announced the Archbishop of Dublin is quoted as saying that the Church needs “a reality check” and needs to ask if it has drifted away from young people.

For decades in this country, the young people have not been fed the truth of our Faith but rather an uninspiring and often irrelevant version of it.

The Alive O programme – introduced in 1996 and now being phased out – never called itself a Catholic programme and is does not teach clearly about the divinity of Jesus. Jesus is referred to as the Son of God but never as God the Son. The children themselves are also called sons and daughters of God. In that case, Jesus is just a good guy who died tragically. Consequently, his teaching has no divine authority. The authority of Sacred Scripture or the tradition of the Church is not taught. Young people have never been thought that Catholicism offers something that we need, namely God’s grace.

In secondary schools there is a huge push to practically equate Catholicism with social justice. The secondary senior cycle book The Inner Place opens with three champions of social justice: Mary Robinson, Bob Geldof and Bono. Our faith is presented as helping the poor, being a good neighbour, protecting the environment and defending the rights of people. If this is our faith, then it makes perfect sense that young people would vote in favour of same-sex marriage. They believe that a human right is being denied them and who are we to say who they can or can’t love? Has Catholic religious education formed them to react in such a way?

If we want to be relevant to the youth, we have to teach a clear Catholic identity. We have to know what the Church teaches and why it teaches it. Otherwise the choice made on May 22 in favour of political correctness over the Church’s teaching will be the first of many.

Yours etc.,

Fr Patrick Cahill,


Co. Cork.