Source: Religion News Service
By Thomas Reese
(RNS) — Around 300 young people from all over the world will descend on Rome next week to have a conversation with Pope Francis about the future of the church. This meeting is in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, which will be held in October.
In holding this pre-synod meeting starting on Monday (March 19), the pope shows he understands that a bunch of old, celibate bishops are not going to come up with solutions for the Catholic Church’s failure to attract or keep young people.
“(T)he church wants to listen to the voices, the sensibilities, the faith as well as the doubts and criticisms of young people,” explained the pope. “We must listen to young people.”
The church has a big problem with young people, which means that it has a big problem with its future. While nearly 1-in-3 Americans (31 percent) were raised in the Catholic faith, fewer than 1-in-4 (24 percent) now describe themselves as Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center.
Almost half of Catholics who identify as unaffiliated (48 percent) left Catholicism before reaching age 18. As a result, only 18 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 identify as Catholic. In the United States, twice as many young people are unaffiliated with any religion.