PHILADELPHIA – In a time of cultural confusion and challenge, youth need clarity and guidance from the Church – and failure to give it could be disastrous, says a young father who wrote to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.
For Chaput, who reproduced the letter April 18 at First Things, the man’s thoughts are worth considering as Catholics “seek a fuller understanding of the pastoral challenges facing young adults in a changing world.”
The Catholic Church will hold a Synod on Youth this October, and Chaput is among the Church leaders preparing for it. He received the letter just after a pre-synod meeting in Rome where about 300 young adults gathered to discuss how they view the Church and the faith.
“We young people crave the truth and clarity of good teaching,” said the unnamed author, a self-described 26-year-old father of three. He suggested this craving is proved by the swift rise of Canadian professor and author Jordan Peterson, whose videos on YouTube have drawn a large following.
“We crave the truth, no matter how blunt or difficult it is for us to swallow or for the shepherds of our flock to teach,” the young father said.
“We urgently need the Church’s clarity and authoritative guidance on issues like abortion, homosexuality, gender dysphoria, the indissolubility of matrimony, the four last things, and the consequences of contraception (moral, anthropological, and abortifacient). My generation has never, or rarely, heard these truths winsomely taught in the parishes.”
The author claimed young Catholics hear most forcefully from the U.S. bishops’ conference and from dioceses about the federal budget, border policy, gun control, and the environment. Efforts to reach out effectively to those who don’t affiliate with a religion, colloquially known as the “nones,” may also be at risk.
“Though the Church’s growing focus on evangelization of the ‘Nones’ is encouraging, there have been recent discussions emanating from several prominent figures in Rome and throughout Church leadership regarding a so-called ‘paradigm shift’ relative to doctrine, the supremacy of individual conscience, and pastoral accommodation,” the man continued.
“My wife and I find these developments disturbing and potentially disastrous for the evangelization of the young and the fallen-away.”
“Our culture is roiled in confusion concerning the basic tenets of human nature,” the author continued, citing controversies over gender, masculinity, the family, and “propaganda” that “desecrates the nature of sex and its fruits, especially the unborn child.”
This letter prompted Chaput to reflect: “The future of the Catholic faith belongs to those who create it with their fidelity, their self-sacrifice, their commitment to bringing new life into the world and raising their children in truth, and their determination to walk Christ’s ‘narrow way’ with joy.”
The archbishop prayed that God would grant the fathers of the 2018 Synod on Youth “the grace and courage to lead young people on that path.”