Sunday, August 16, 2015

Does the Catholic Church Stand a Chance with Millenials

Even as Pope Francis makes comments that hint at coming change in the Roman Catholic Church reactionary bishops around the world make statements and take actions that show that in truth, NOTHING has changed - e.g., the bishop of Richmond , Virginia, will not allow divorced and remarried Catholics to teach in Catholic schools, and a bishop in Europe just "apologized" for advocating the death penalty for gays after the sharp public outcry his statement ignited.  s a result, many Catholics find themselves questioning how much longer they can tolerate the hate and hypocrisy.  This is especially true of Millennials, 34% of whom have already walked away from institutional religion.  A piece in Religion Dispatches looks at the Church's growing problem with Millennials.  Here are excerpts:

[W]ill a hashtag or two be enough to engage my generation?   Like many Latinos in the U.S., I grew up Catholic. Unlike many Latinos, this was my choice rather than my parents’. They wanted me to decide how I expressed my spirituality, so after taking religious studies (I actually did!), I came to the conclusion that I would be Catholic because Jesus was a progressive political figure who helped others in need. . . . . So I have made a deliberate attempt to accept the Catholic Church for what it can be—a compassionate and welcoming sanctuary,  especially for the marginalized.

But as a Latina millennial who supports sexual and reproductive rights, I find that the Church’s restrictive attitudes make it very difficult for me to remain a committed Catholic.

My generation cherishes autonomy and individualism and rejects rigid identities and roles. Not surprisingly, a recent study from Pew Research confirmed that millennials are less likely to attend church than those in other generations.  More than a third of millennials  say they are unaffiliated with any church.  . . . . Only 16% of millennials consider themselves Catholic, compared to nearly a quarter of other generations.
A second study  . . . concluded that young women are the demographic segment driving this shift. The drop among 12th-grade girls who never attend church surged by 125% in the past thirty years, in contrast to the 83% increase among their male peers.

I believe that the Catholic hierarchy’s narrow view on gender and sexuality is a big factor in my generation’s difficulty with the Church. Whereas the Church has taken steps to address other important issues like economic justice and climate change, it still falls short of acknowledging that a broader, more inclusive view of gender roles, sexual and reproductive health, and sexual expression is crucial to the millennial generation.

What Pope Francis and his Church fail to understand is that reproductive health and rights are very much an issue of justice for the poor and women of color.  . . . access to reproductive care is as much of an issue of social justice as economic disparity or climate change.

Millennials are delaying marriage and finding alternative ways to form families. With a church that establishes rigid limits on how one should create a family, its impositions collide against a major cultural shift that has no signs of slowing down.

No comments: