Youth often don’t understand the Church

Dear Editor, In an article of IC 23/7/2015 Fr Peter McVerry is quoted as saying that the young people telling the Church there is “something fundamentally wrong” with its message, need to be listened to.

I can’t help but agree that yes, we must listen to those who are leaving the Church, but at the same time we need to ensure that the youth know what it teaches and why. When I do school retreats we always have a Q and A session. It is surprising to see how the same questions appear time and time again: Why should I believe the Bible? What happens after this life? Why do good people suffer? It is not a question of intelligence but our young people do not know the Faith which leaves them defenceless when doubts or questions assail them. Rather than there being something “fundamentally wrong” with its message, I would say that the message is not getting out there at all. They unfortunately don’t know the basics of our Faith or of how God has revealed himself. The Trinity, Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Church are vaguely understood if at all.

Yes, we need to listen to their questions, but we also have to answer them so that they see the Church is worth belonging to and so that their Faith has a solid foundation.

The way forward is to confidently teach the truth in its fullness with great compassion and understanding, but without compromising the teaching of Christ. If people choose to leave the Church, let them at least know what they are leaving. The danger is to think that since the youth are leaving we must change the teaching to keep them on board, rather than educate them to understand what we believe.

Yours etc.,

Fr Patrick Cahill,


Co. Tipperary