Pope Francis urges young people not to abandon the church

Young pilgrims display a banner that says "Pope Francis One of us" as the pontiff celebrates Mass for the Youth Jubilee in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in April 2016. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)Young pilgrims display a banner that says "Pope Francis One of us" as the pontiff celebrates Mass for the Youth Jubilee in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in April 2016. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

The Vatican today published a long but inspiring letter from Pope Francis called “Christ Is Alive.” In it, he speaks first of all “to young people” but also “to the entire people of God, pastors and faithful alike, since all of us are challenged and urged to reflect both on the young and for the young.”

Commenting on the painful wounds of the abuse crisis that has been so disheartening to young Catholics, Pope Francis urges them not to abandon “our Mother when she is wounded, but stand beside her, so that she can summon up all her strength and all her ability to begin ever anew.” He reminded them that “in the midst of this tragedy, which rightly pains us, the Lord Jesus, who never abandons his Church, offers her the strength and the means to set out on a new path.”

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This dark moment, he writes, with the help of young people “can truly be an opportunity for a reform of epoch-making significance, opening us to a new Pentecost and inaugurating a new stage of purification and change capable of renewing the Church’s youth.”

Pope Francis wrote that the exhortation was “inspired by the wealth of reflections and conversations” of last October’s Synod on Young People and sought to incorporate in it synod proposals that he considered “more significant” as well as other input from young people, including those who are not believers. He signed the document at the Marian shrine of Loreto in Italy on March 25, as a reminder that Mary was a young teenager when she responded to God’s call and so helped to change human history.

Pope Francis opens the 210-page letter—officially known as a “post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation”—by reminding Christian young people that “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world.”

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the secretary general of the synod, presented the letter at a 90-minute press conference in the Vatican on April 2 and described it as “the Magna Carta” of the church’s work with and for young people. He said it recognized the vastly different situations that young people are living in different parts of the world.

This dark moment, he writes, with the help of young people “can truly be an opportunity for a reform of epoch-making significance, opening us to a new Pentecost and inaugurating a new stage of purification and change capable of renewing the Church’s youth.”

Cardinal Baldisseri emphasized the Christological dimension of the text and said the pope’s “fundamental message” to young people is that “Jesus Christ does not belong only to the past but also to the present and the future because He is the eternal and living One” and that “every generation of believers discovers Christ as a peer and a companion.”

The cardinal noted that the letter is written in the colloquial style that Francis uses in his homilies and in his dialogue with people and is therefore easy to understand. In the exhortation, the cardinal said that Pope Francis draws on the documents of the Second Vatican Council; his own writings and talks as pope, including those at the World Youth Days; as well as documents from the U.S. bishops and other bishops’ conferences, the writings of Sts. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Óscar Romero; and the work of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan and Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Responding to questions from reporters that noted some discrepancies between the exhortation and the synod’s final document, like the absence of the term “zero tolerance” and a diminished reflection on the subject of homosexuality and the role of women, the cardinal explained that the letter should be read in conjunction with that final document.

In the nine chapters and 292 paragraphs of the text, Pope Francis touches the vast range of subjects that were raised in the synod and in its final document. In the first chapter, he explains what is said about young people in the Bible and presents some key young figures, including Joseph, Samuel, David and Ruth.

He discusses in Chapter 2 “the youthful aspects of Jesus’ life” and says that the church’s pastors and youth ministers should not ignore these, “lest we create projects that isolate young people from their family and the larger community.” Because of Christ the church is young, Francis says, so “let us ask the Lord to free the church from those who would make her grow old, encase here in past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill.”

But he cautions against the temptation “of thinking she is young because she accepts everything the world offers her.”

Pope Francis counsels young people that the church’s “long history is not without its shadows. Our sins are before the eyes of everyone; they appear all too clearly in the lines on the age-old face of the Church, our Mother and Teacher.

“We must dare to be different,” Pope Francis says, “to point to ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation.”

He insists that the figure of Jesus be presented “in an attractive and effective way” and says “the church should above all reflect Jesus Christ” and acknowledge that “some things concretely need to change.”

He recognizes that some young people feel the presence of the church as “a nuisance and even an irritant” because of sexual and financial scandals, a clergy that is not sensitive to the young and “her doctrinal and ethical positions.” He says young people want “a church that listens more, that does more than simply condemn,” a church “that needs to regain her humility” and is “attentive to the legitimate claims of women” while “not agreeing with everything that some feminist groups propose.”

In Chapter 3, Francis emphasizes that young people are not simply the future of the church and the world but “the present.” Instead of seeing problems and failings of young people, the pope says pastors and youth ministers should have the ability “to discern pathways where others see walls, to recognize potential where others see only peril.”

Pope Francis draws attention to the many difficult situations in which young people live because of war, exploitation, organized crime, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and rape or as victims of ideologies and notes that many young people end as “individualists, hostile and distrustful of others.” They “become easy targets for the brutal and destructive strategies of political groups or economic powers.” Pope Francis urges young people to learn to weep for the tragedies of their peers and counsels others in the church to do likewise.

He writes also about the impact of the digital world on young people, its positive contribution but also negative effects through cyberbullying, the dark web and “digital migration” that encourages young people to “withdraw from their families and cultural and religious values” and enter “a world of loneliness."

Not surprisingly, he paid considerable attention to the many young people who have become migrants because of war, poverty and the effects of climate change. He worried over their vulnerability in the face of “unscrupulous traffickers” of drugs, arms and human beings. He notes, too, how migration “causes fear and alarm” in host countries, “which is often fomented and exploited for political ends” and can lead to a “xenophobic mentality.”

He devotes a significant part of the letter to the abuse scandal in the church—“the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience, sexual and financial abuse.” He says, “The Synod reaffirms the firm commitment made to adopting rigorous preventative measures intended to avoid the recurrence [of these crimes], starting with the selection and formation of those to whom tasks of responsibility and education will be entrusted.”

Pope Francis thanks “those who had the courage to report the evil they experienced.” He says, “They help the church to acknowledge what happened and the need to respond decisively.” He reminds the young people that, “thank God, those who committed these horrible crimes are not the majority of priests, who carry out their ministry with fidelity and generosity.”

He urges the young “to let themselves be inspired by this vast majority.” He also asks them, “If you see a priest at risk, because he has lost the joy of his ministry, or seeks affective compensation, or is taking the wrong path, remind him of his commitment to God and his people, remind him of the Gospel and urge him to hold to his course. In this way, you will contribute greatly to something fundamental: preventing these atrocities from being repeated.”

Aware that the abuse question is being given vast coverage in the media and elsewhere, Pope Francis counsels young people that the church’s “long history is not without its shadows. Our sins are before the eyes of everyone; they appear all too clearly in the lines on the age-old face of the Church, our Mother and Teacher. For two thousand years she has advanced on her pilgrim way, sharing ‘the joys and the hopes, the grief and anguish’ of all humanity.

“She has made this journey as she is, without cosmetic surgery of any kind. She is not afraid to reveal the sins of her members, which some try at times to hide, before the burning light of the word of the Gospel, which cleanses and purifies. Nor does she stop reciting each day, in shame: ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, in your kindness... my sin is always before me.’”

Pope Francis recalled the words of St. Óscar Romero: “Christianity is not a collection of truths to be believed, rules to be followed or prohibitions.... Christianity is a person who loved me immensely, who demands and asks for my love. Christianity is Christ.”

He encouraged young people to develop their friendship with Christ and “to go beyond small groups and build social friendship, where everyone works for the common good.” He called them to be “courageous missionaries.”

He urged them not to ignore or abandon their roots in their faith and families and not to allow themselves to be taken in by the manipulators of the cult of youth but to be open to the wisdom of previous generations.

The pope’s letter is long and will require time, study and discussion, but it provides solid guidance to young people for their future lives and to the church, its pastors and youth ministers by suggesting ways to involve and assist young people in the following of Christ.

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J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

Why be a Catholic? The pope gives a half hearted attempt at why one should be a Christian but not a Catholic. Just what are the youth supposed to believe in? Just pious words will not get it done.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

Imagine if every conversation you had was met with criticism for what you did not say at that particular time? The pope has been, and continues to advocate for all the teachings of the Catholic Church, all of them. Why the criticism all of the time? Just because you don't believe in some of the social teachings of the Catholic Church doesn't make him half hearted, it just means you dissent from the teachings, why is that on him?

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

Why should anyone be a Catholic? Shouldn't the answer to that question be part of why one should be a Catholic? What is special about the Catholic Church? I have never seen the answer to that in anything the Pope has said or in anything any of the Jesuits have said on this site.
Social teachings are not doctrine of the Church. In 16 years of Catholic education they were not part of the Catholicism I was taught. Do you have any evidence that Catholic Social Teaching has done any good?

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

J- If you attended Catholic schools for 16 years you surely recognize Catholic teaching is based on the teachings of Jesus. That is where all the social teachings come from, there are no surprises. If you think doctrine is strictly to do with moral teachings, which for some focus solely on sexual issues, there would be no need for Catholicism, just a 10 point booklet. The Church is part of this world, these times, yesteryear and tomorrow. Social teachings are intertwined with moral teachings, and together, if one believes, represents the teachings of Christ. You can't have one without the other.

I'm not sure what you mean by social teachings not doing any good. Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, taking care of the lonely, caring for the elderly, helping the pregnant girl, loving your neighbour, etc, etc. Which social teaching do you think is harmful?

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

Catholic Social Teaching is something new and not based on traditional Catholicism. It is political in nature. Helping and feeding the poor etc have been staples since day 1 of the Church. That is basic charity when it is funded by individuals within the Church. That is not what Catholic Social Teaching is about. It is political in nature, trying to change society. Anything political and societal has been harmful. Just look at Latin America for a failure of the Catholic Church and politics/societal policies.

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

By the way, my wife and I have given tens of thousands of dollars for various forms of Catholic charities over the years and still do every year. But that is based on basic Catholic Morality not its Social Teachings which have been harmful and deceptive. For example, poverty is disappearing from the earth due to free market capitalism and nothing to do with anything the Church has done. Yet the Pope continually rants against capitalism causing poverty and just did so last week. It is a complete non sequitur.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

J- I have no doubt you are a generous person. I have a brother in law who is very generous as well, and thinks very similar to you. We just parts ways on social teachings. I agree that charity was how things were provided for over many centuries. I just don't believe an unchecked capitalist system is in line with our faith. I believe in competition, and in fact, owned a small business for many years. I just believe food, shelter, healthcare, fresh water and clothing throughout the world is a right and a requirement, not a privilege. Our excesses are often from the backs of others. We need to accept it and try to fix it, not deny it.

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

You just contradicted yourself. Free market capitalism is competitive. I did not say an unchecked capitalist system. There are many forms of capitalism. Free market capitalism has provided most of the wealth you see in the world today. Before it started to spread from England and Holland in the late 1700's nearly all the world including Europe was extremely poor. There would be no wealth to share with the poor without free market capitalism. See http://bit.ly/2JxIQdi Our wealth was not made on the backs of others. That is nonsense.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

J- I'm not sure where you find I contradicted myself, of course free market capitalism is competitive, but unchecked capitalism is not moral. You appear to support a system that winner takes all, and if you so choose to donate, that's how it should be. You want to be the decider of who gets what as far as charity. I don't share that view that those who are without must rely on the goodwill of another individual. Society as a whole is responsible to ensure that no one goes without the basics. That still allows rewards for creativity, hard work, etc that capitalism brings. How can you not look at your life, and look at others and recognize that but for the grace of God...........? We have a responsibility to care for those less fortunate, and the best way to do so is but having programs in place that provide for basic needs of all when they are unable to do so for themselves, for whatever reason.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

J- Social teachings always recognize individuality and some form of competitive capitalism within the context of providing for and protecting the vulnerable. Latin America's failures are based on greed and the pursuit of power, manmade failures, not Catholic social teachings."Traditional' Catholicism, what is that exactly? A Church that ignores 2000 years of development, inspiration, knowledge, discovery? That's not Catholicism. Catholicism is a living Church, that exists in all times. It doesn't bend to the trends of the day, but it recognizes the world we all live in and teaches truth from the perspective and the knowledge of the time.

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

Latin America is the most Catholic area of the world so whatever social and economic polices there were in accordance with the Catholic Church. What makes you think the Church is any more prescient today than it was before? I see no evidence of it. Traditional Catholic morality was based on the need for individuals to gain salvation. It has nothing to do with how society operates. But however, we have lessons from places other than Catholic dogma that show us how to live fruitfully. Following those lessons along with traditional Catholic morality will end up taking care of the poor. In fact the poor are disappearing from the world with no help from the Catholic Church.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

I completely agree J.

Until Catholics act like Christians and yes that means supporting feminism and the same treatment for men as women which means same opportunities to same sacraments and ordination and same opportunities to lead as men.

Currently, our church harms women and its sexism has already been proven to lead to pedophilia, teen sex abuse, the abuse and rape of women, the increase of abortion through the crusade to take safe and effective birth control from women, especially the women who need it most in the poorest countries of the world.

We do not give cause for the young to stay while we abuse women and gag them by leaving them no way to answer their vocations to priesthood and therefore give them no access to become bishops or cardinals or popes. Women are dogs in our church despite Christ's command that we treat all people the same. This command leaves no room for bias against women for any reason or purpose in our church.

We must change or our church will crumble because we deserve that it should crumble.

Demanding an immediate end to the permanent deaconate would be an excellent start to attack misogyny in our parishes. We can demand legally already that bishops train lay women and men instead of deacons to baptize babies, preach or reflect at mass or lead Eucharistic Celebrations with previously consecrated hosts, and officiate at weddings and funerals without a mass instead of deacons. This has been done in poorer countries with no deacons for the last 50 years and is completely allowable with no new laws need being made, The bishops merely needs to allow it in his diocese which he can do without needing to get any kind of permission from the pope or the Vatican. Laity need to start pushing hard if they want this church to last. The young, especially young women are already leaving us faster than some protestant churches. How can one hope to evangelize misogyny any longer. It was always evil to treat women less than men but now no one but the extreme elderly or extremely insecure are willing to put up with the hate.

Michael Barberi
4 months 2 weeks ago

It is interesting that the Pope is asking the young not to abandon the Church. I think his words of wisdom are good but they are poisoned by what many see as a Church who cannot or will not change. I often tell my adult children that they may disagree with how the Church is governed and its culture of clericalism. They may also disagree about many of its sexual ethical teachings. However, they should not abandon Christ. These words of mine seem to be what Pope Francis is saying as well. However, mere words are hollow without effective action.

The problem associated with the young is much larger than the wounds inflected by the sexual abuse scandal and the coverup by bishops. We also need to recognize that the majority of the young disagree with many of the Church's teachings on sexual ethics. Clearly, the Church needs to implement significant reforms and hold bishops accountable for the coverup of sexual abuse, but it also must adequately address many other issues such as the treatment of homosexuals and to solidify the acceptance and implementation of Amoris Laetitia for the divorced and remarried. No one wants to live in a divided Church. Yet this is our reality at the moment and the young are impacted.

To date, I see very little reform coming from the Synod on Sexual Abuse. I recognize that the Church needs time to reform itself. However, if we are still complaining about a lack of sufficient action by next year, then many of the young may be lost. Despite this, I remain hopeful in Christ.

Robert Lewis
4 months 2 weeks ago

I am an instructor of students in private/college preparatory high schools, sometimes in the United States and sometimes outside. Two of my previous high schools were Catholic institutions. Among almost all of the youth I have been involved with over the past twenty years, the greatest obstacle to accepting Church teachings has, indeed, been the doctrine of the "intrinsic disorder" of "same-sex-attraction." Many adolescents nowadays have strong and positive bonds of affection and respect with gay peers. I have passed through halls in my Catholic high schools and myself heard the moans of disapproval emanating from classrooms when theology instructors are attempting to present the Church's teachings regarding sexual ethics, specifically as they apply to gays and lesbians. The children do not express such a degree of contempt for any of the other teachings, so much as for this one. Even the more conservative students do not understand why the "same sex attracted" should have to live in a closet called "Courage" or live unaccompanied for all of their lives. The obstinance of hierarchs about whom many now know they are themselves gay seems to be the height not only of hypocrisy but of rank cruelty. Everybody, even kids, now know that the Church, using her prerogative to "bind and loose," has, in the past, changed major teachings in the area of moral theology--changes based, many of them, on previously undiscovered scientific findings--such as slavery, capital punishment, a heliocentric universe, "just war," usury, evolution of species, etc. The ones in solid theology classes in Catholic schools understand the difference in marriage theology between Protestant dissoluble marriages and Catholic indissoluble ones, and by and large accept that the sacramental aspect of the latter means it cannot be changed--but also that it is no more threatened by the civil institution of American "gay marriage" than it has been, for a long time here in America, threatened by the kind of marriage--the "companionate" kind--envisioned by Protestant theologians. That seems to these kids to be no barrier to the Church's acquiescence to the right of gay folk to live together in support of each other. The denial of that right, under American secular or civil law, seems to them preposterous, and I am quite certain now that their minds regarding the morality of "gay love" have been changed forever.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

I agree the young are far more accepting of homosexuality than the previous generation, but that does not mean they have it right either. Clearly the years of shame and abuse of those with same sex attraction has caused great pain to many, and this acceptance of all people, regardless of sexuality is welcome and long overdue. That does not mean that Church teaching is wrong however. We need only look at some of the results of our sexual freedoms to recognize that any sexual expression, homosexual or heterosexual based solely on gratification, and absent of genuine love and a full commitment is less than ideal, and often results in the suffering of others as our imperfect actions often have consequences beyond just us. I'm pretty sure most of us, including myself, can think of such circumstances due to our own behaviour. Unhappy marriages, divorce, unwed pregnancies, etc. Church teaching simply represents what is ultimately best for us, both individually and as a society.

John Barbieri
4 months 2 weeks ago

I agree with you. There is no reason to think that there will be serious reform. People will continue to seek G_D. People will continue to love Jesus. As for the church, young people will continue to walk away. For that matter, more older people will continue to walk away as well.

J. Calpezzo
4 months 2 weeks ago

If you want young people to stay, then do something about the priests that rape children and the bishops who looked the other way, like Mahony in Los Angeles. They are as guilty as the rapists, and are bankrupting the church.

arthur mccaffrey
4 months 2 weeks ago

“thank God, those who committed these horrible crimes are not the majority of priests, who carry out their ministry with fidelity and generosity.”----- sounds like the PR guy hired by the priests' union to help in their recruitment drive. In fact, this whole letter sounds like one big marketing pitch aimed at keeping customers loyal in the face of mass departures. Young people, like their elders, are voting with their feet--which Francis know only too well, and it will take more than a bunch of words to keep them or bring them back. The Church " is not afraid to reveal the sins of her members, which some try at times to hide........"--duh? Young folk can see right through this kind of spin.

Dr Robert Dyson
4 months 2 weeks ago

During the pontificate of Paul VI, the Church began tactfully to abandon the 'extra ecclesiam' doctrine (notwithstanding the fact that this doctrine was notably included (by Boniface VIII) in an authoritative Papal definition), and Pope Francis has said more or less in terms that salvation is available to all men of goodwill. Everyone has forgotten that this is a formal heresy, but it seems to be what the Church teaches now, or at least allows to be believed. Why be a Catholic, then? Why not simply strive to be a decent human being? I'd be interested to hear people's answers to this. Also, it never occurs to Pope Francis - I guess it would never occur to any pope - that some people believe that the Church has left them rather than the other way around. They do believe that, though. I certainly do.

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

I have asked this question several times on this site. No one answers. The concept of salvation is foreign here too. It’s more heaven on earth than an after life.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

Salvation is not based simply on our beliefs. It is also based on our actions. The Pope has been very very clear on this. That is what separates Catholicism from other religions, faith AND good works. Social teachings are a vital part of this. Merely having faith is not enough, at least as far as Catholic teaching goes.

James M.
4 months 2 weeks ago

“Salvation is not based simply on our beliefs. It is also based on our actions.“

True as that undoubtedly is, it does not explain how something until very recently treated - not without good reason - as an irreformable, unalterable, unfalsifiably true dogma, which Catholics were to believe as revealed by God, on pain of excommunication and ceasing to be Catholic - has now become waste paper.

The RCC seems to imagine that Catholics were either all born yesterday, or are mentally retarded, or that they have the memory-spans of fruitflies. The RCC is greatly mistaken if it thinks any of that. The fact is, that Rome has discarded what it used to insist upon as dogma. This makes an utter nonsense of its much-vaunted claims to teach infallibly - because if the truth claims of alleged dogmas can be junked in this cavalier manner, infallibility ceases to be a guarantee of the truthfulness of the alleged dogmas, and they becomes infallibly truthful only until a Pope takes it into his head to unsay them; at whjch point, they become never-infallibly-true-to-begin-with. The function of Catholic theology is to show that, no matter what the Pope teaches, the Popes are always right. Theologians, if they want to be in good standing with Rome’s “orthodoxy”, must in effect become Party ideologues, justifying the “Party Line” as delivered by the Chairman Pope no matter what its intellectual content. Truth is whatever the Chairman Pope needs it to be; it is an artefact, just like anything turned up by archaeologists.

That is grossly dishonest. And this dishonesty, bad as it is, is compounded by the further dishonesty of pretending that there has been no change. People who treat supposedly infallible and irreformable dogmas in this frivolous, irreligious way, show themselves to be Godless liars with not a trace of intellectual integrity. Such people are deceivers of those whom they teach, liars without shame, men utterly unfit to be Christian bishops. Such mendacity helps to a make a lot of sense of the blindness of bishops and Popes who tolerated the paedo scandals for so many years.

No way is any of that Christian behaviour, so it is impossible to take seriously Rome’s pretensions to be a Christian Church. Though no doubt there are many people who are Christian despite the Vatican and its false teaching.

“This dark moment, he writes, with the help of young people “can truly be an opportunity for a reform of epoch-making significance, opening us to a new Pentecost and inaugurating a new stage of purification and change capable of renewing the Church’s youth.””

John XXIII also talked of a “New Pentecost” for the Church. Results: absolutely outstanding - if one seeks the obliteration of everything Catholic. The CC in the West is well on the way to dying out; which, given its fruits, may be no bad thing. Why should PF’s “new Pentecost” be any less ruinous and lethal ? Why ?

Dr Robert Dyson
4 months 2 weeks ago

James M. - you have put your finger exactly on the chief reason why I am no longer a Catholic. I was brought up to believe in the Rock of Peter that would never change and never compromise with the world. The idea that the Church's teaching might change to adapt itself to a changing world - the very 'modernism' that the Church so long opposed - fatally damages the idea of an infallible teaching magisterium. Once upon a time we were taught that the world must adapt itself to the Church, not the other way around, or so much the worse for the world; yet in the decades since Vatican II the Church has discreetly airbrushed away, or equivocated about, things that were once regarded as unalterable dogma, and she has done so with the specific purpose of truckling to the world. To suggest that, because the pope is infallible, he can infallibly repudiate the infallible pronouncements of a predecessor, is pitiable nonsense. The 'we're not changing anything; we're just stating old truths in new ways' trope is an insult to the intelligence of those to whom it is fed. If the truths of religion are not eternal truths, they aren't truths of religion; and, no, we weren't born yesterday, nor is the Church any longer populated by credulous peasants - as the current state of Catholicism in Ireland bears witness. Give me the honest doubt of protestantism every day, in place of the equivocation and intellectual dishonesty of post-Vatican II Catholicism.

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

I never said salvation was based simply on our beliefs. I have no idea where you got that. I said that the concept of salvation is not something taught on this site. I also said this site and the Pope have not given any reason for why one should be a Catholic. I can do it very easily since I was taught this in my Catholic education starting in first grade. But why don't the Pope and the Jesuits also do it. Why this hand wringing on the youth leaving the Church? They have no idea why anyone should be a Catholic let alone themselves.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

J and J- What specifically has Pope Francis said or done that is against dogma, or does not bring one closer to God? Everything he says is an encouragement for us to practice our faith more, understand it better, and serve others as Jesus has asked of us? What is wrong with that? Where has he said one word that is against the teachings of the Church? Where? He is completely true to the teachings of our Church, and has been attacked for it because some people don't like the message. That doesn't make the messenger wrong, it make the dissenters the ones in error. Like Saint JPll, this pope speaks to the youth, and they are listening, as they so need and want clarity. Pope Benedict Xvl blessed us with beautiful writings offering depth and appreciation of Church teachings. Pope Francis is doing the same, focussing on the entire teachings, as one. He is truly a blessing to all of us, and a hope for the youth to bring kindness back to the world.

James M.
4 months 2 weeks ago

@J Cosgrove:

Well said. The trouble goes back to V2, which wrote in such glowing terms about the wonderfulness of other religions that it is only logical to conclude that there is really precious little to be gained by being RC. And people put 2 and 2 together, and drew the logical conclusions.

The teaching of the CC since then, and its undignified scramble to prove how totally unspecial and ununique it is, and the practice of its Popes, and its abysmal failure to be even minimally Christian towards the minors in its care, have obliterated its credibility: it has left no reasons for anyone who is not Catholic, to want to be Catholic..

Neither its teaching nor its practice nor its theology nor its philosophy, nor its Biblical learning nor its treatment of others nor its history nor its Saints nor its art nor anything else that apologists imagine shows it is special, do any such thing. It is special, if at all, only in its smugness, self-delusion, vanity, pride, exploitativeness, moral cowardice, cruelty, worldliness, clericalism, legalism and Pharisaism. There is no reason to join it, and many reasons to leave it.

As for JP2 and Paul VI, two less Saintly Popes can hardly be imagined. Alexander VI, for all his failings as a human being, was a far better Pope than either of them. The stupidity of the Church in rushing to canonise them is almost unbelievable. The older practice, of leaving a 50-year period between the death of an allegedly holy person, and the opening of the canonical investigation into the alleged holiness of the candidate, was much wiser.

Robert Lewis
4 months 2 weeks ago

I don't want to get into an argument with you and Cosgrove, because it is obvious that you are both literalists, who think only in black and white formation. However, I WOULD like to point out to you that the Roman Catholic Church, in her more "developed" theology (John Henry Newman's word) never has claimed to be POSSESSION of the "Truth", but only to be gradually LED to it by a "Holy Spirit," in the time-space continuum that we are compelled to live in, as ensouled material bodies. This is a "dialectic," if you will, that "rides time like riding a river" (in the language of Gerard Manley Hopkins). I really do think that both you and Cosgrove need to take a long hard look at Newman's great tome, "The Development of Doctrine." To sum up my point, do you think that, if everything had been clear-cut from the beginning, the Founder would have said, in the course of commissioning Peter, "What you shall bind on earth, I shall bind in heaven, and what you shall LOOSE on earth, I shall loose in heaven"? Or are the two of you like the Protestant cherry-pickers, and do you dismiss that scripture in favour of others that better suit your legalistic prescription of what "Truth" is?

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

Mr. Lewis, You and Lisa M manufacturer things I say or think. I only have asked why anyone should be a Catholic. The article is about young people leaving the church. You would think my question would be front and center. But it isn’t. The Pope gives no reason, no editor or author here gives a reason. Why don’t you take a crack at it? Is the truth Church teaching these days doesn’t have a reason. Have at it. Or do you think there is no real reason to be a Catholic?

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

J- Why should anyone be Catholic? Jesus built the Church. He sent forth His Apostles with full powers to preach His Gospel. He said. "As the Father has sent me, I also send you" (John 20:21). "I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever. . . . But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you"
Being Catholic requires, at times, submission, certainly a foreign concept for most of us in our daily lives, but a requirement if we are to genuinely seek and understand Church teaching, at some points in our life, when it does not come naturally to us. The problem for some is that if the teaching is not to their liking, they reject it (or the pope who preaches it) in favour of their own understanding. That is not how Catholicism works. We are all obliged to seek and understand the teachings, and not to do so ultimately means we accept ourselves as the holder of the truth, not the Church. Obviously the number of other religions shows how others chose their thinking over that of the Church. No, we are not to accept things blindly, rather we accept the teachings as truth as inspired through the Holy Spirit, pronounced by our pope, and we submit and seek to understand this truth. Pride is all that prevents us from reaching this understanding.

"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and teach all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Matt. 28:20). If Christ is with the Church all days, it cannot err in teaching; it cannot, therefore, lead us away from God.

J Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

You have made a case to be a Christian not a Catholic. Which is all the Pope did. What if the youth believe that Christ was just a good person but no one special. Or possibly that His teachings were bad for people. Then what?

Also why is something truth one day but not the next? Did the Advocate or Holy Spirit not get it right?

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

J- The pope, and the teaching on faith and morals is the Catholic part of this. The keys to the kingdom were given to Simon with the promise of staying with us till the end of time.
What is true one day and not the next? As time develops, so does doctrine. There is no conflict between past and present in teachings on faith and morals, just our understanding of them, or our need for a particular thing may change, such as capital punishment. Why should that not evolve in 2000 years, when our ability to protect ourselves has changed, and our understanding and treatment of our fellow man continues to develop? Should we go back to hanging?
I understand if you are not Catholic, but if you are, how can you dismiss most of her teachings?

Dr Robert Dyson
4 months 2 weeks ago

"If Christ is with the Church all days, it cannot err in teaching; it cannot, therefore, lead us away from God"

.... even when its institutions swindle people, collude in oppression, practise the most manifest intellectual dishonesty, and wink at the abuse of women and children.

Oh, come off it, do!

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

Dr Dyson- institutions don't swindle, collude and abuse, people do. Our Church leaders are as corrupt as the rest of us, and as good as the rest of us as well. If every single priest and bishop, and for that matter every pope was bad and corrupt, Christ promised no errors in faith and morals. That is the beauty of the Catholic Church. While these scandals continue to expose shocking behaviour, the Church remains, and will continue to remain, as it has for more than 2000 years. Those in it who have misled and harmed their flock may cause confusion, hurt and anger, but one thing will always remain, because Christ has promised us this, and history has shown this to be the case, regardless of the behaviour of her shepherds.

Dr Robert Dyson
4 months 2 weeks ago

"[I]nstitutions don't swindle, collude and abuse, people do."

But by the same token, institutions don't lead us to or away from God, people do; and, yes, it DOES matter that "[o]ur Church leaders are as corrupt as the rest of us"; and, yes, it would matter "if every single priest and bishop, and ... every pope was bad and corrupt." Here's why (Matthew 7:15-20):

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

To suggest that the Church's moral failings - or, if you insist, the moral failings of the individuals in whom the Church Militant is embodied - would somehow be immaterial as long as doctrine were not compromised, is simply unscriptural. I would contend in any case that doctrine HAS been compromised in the post-Vatican II Church.

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

Dr Dyson- Yes, that is a very good point. If we are to look at who the false prophets are by the fruit they bear however, Church teachings survived even with bad popes, so a false prophet will never be a legitimate pope. A person's decision to interpret the meaning of tradition and scripture over and above the Magisterium is contrary to Catholic teaching. If you suggest doctrine has been compromised, then you do not believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is fine, but it certainly means you place a great deal of importance on your own interpretations of scripture, doctrine, etc, and that most certainly is not within pre Vatican ll teachings either.
Interesting that you speak of false prophets, as I would say that today, Lifesite News is a great example of a false prophet in sheep's clothing. Look at the fruit that it bears. Non stop attacks on the pope, the Vicar of Christ, questioning and putting forth theories about everything he does in a negative light, casting doubt on his authority, causing confusion but blaming him for the confusion, etc. You need look no further. Check out the comments section, and if that doesn't show you the result of a false prophet, nothing else will. There certainly is no good will, like assuming the best of people, etc, no, just an onslaught of attacks and negativity; and they claim to be the faithful Catholics. Just a really sad but clear example of what pride can do to one's faith. They are the very heretics for whom they show such distain.

Dr Robert Dyson
4 months 2 weeks ago

"A person's decision to interpret the meaning of tradition and scripture over and above the Magisterium is contrary to Catholic teaching. If you suggest doctrine has been compromised, then you do not believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church".

But I haven't made the decision to do anything of the kind. That the post Vatican II Church has abandoned the 'extra ecclesiam' doctrine is a matter of fact, not interpetation; that the 'extra ecclesiam' doctrine was formally defined by Pope Boniface VIII and repeated by an ecumenical council is also a matter of fact. Universalism and Pelagianism - the belief that all men, or all men of goodwill, can or will be saved - are formal heresies. Many people think that the Missa Pauli Sexti is heretical in (for example) the words 'ex quo nobis fiet panis vitae' ...

So, no, I haven't set myself up against the Magisterium as a sort of freelance pope or interpreter of scripture or doctrine; I've only pointed out inconsistencies in the Magisterium itself.

"Interesting that you speak of false prophets, as I would say that today, Lifesite News is a great example of a false prophet in sheep's clothing. "

That's 'whataboutery' though, isn't it?

Floyd Grabiel
4 months 2 weeks ago

"She is not afraid to reveal the sins of her members, which some try at times to hide, before the burning light of the word of the Gospel, which cleanses and purifies."
Revealing sins implies doing something about them. If Francis wants to keep young people, he should follow Jesus' example. As Jesus threw the moneylenders out of the Temple, Francis should throw the abusers and the enablers and the Princes out of the Church. Only then will anyone have any trust in any reform.
The Church can be a living institution or a museum. Right now it's on the museum road.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]

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