The Church, young people and the role of parents

| Bishop Andrew Cozzens | September 28, 2017 | 37 Comments

As Catholics, we have to be alarmed by statistics that show how many of our young people are leaving the Church. Researchers say that now fully half of our young people leave the Church after high school, and some say that only 7 percent of millennials raised Catholic still actively practice their faith today — meaning they’ll attend weekly Mass, pray a few times each week, and say their faith is “extremely” or “very” important. We are in danger of losing a generation of Catholics.

There are many reasons that people point to for explaining this sad truth, but there is also important research that points to the solution. Christian Smith of the University of Notre Dame has been studying this question for years, and his studies point to one clear factor that statistically determines whether or not young people will stay in the Church when they become adults: parents. The single greatest predictor of whether or not young people will practice the faith when they enter adulthood is the degree of religious commitment of their parents.

The results of his various studies are dramatic. His studies show that it was not enough for parents simply to practice their faith, and much less to practice it intermittently. Young people who stay in the Church say that their family regularly talked about religious topics in the home, that faith was “very important” to their family, and that they themselves were regularly involved in religious activities. These parents saw their own faith not as something they occasionally did, but who they were.

It used to be the case that it was enough to bring your children to the Catholic school or religious education program for them to begin to receive the Catholic faith. Today there are many more challenges to being a believer, since the culture young people encounter does not see the world from a Christian perspective. Studies show that unless parents have created a Catholic culture in the home, the children will succumb to our society’s non-Christian way of seeing the world when they become adults. The parish, the school and the youth program are all helpful, but parental religious influence is the condition of possibility for other influences.

This means that parents must be able themselves to witness to the importance of their personal relationship with Jesus and why they choose to follow Church teachings. It also means they must be intentional about handing on this faith, not just taking the children to Mass every Sunday, but speaking about the faith at home, praying together as a family and giving credible witness to a Catholic worldview. The good news is that if they do this, the chances of their children practicing the faith when they grow up are about 90 percent. The bad news is that if they don’t do this, the chances of their children practicing the faith when they grow up are about 20-30 percent.

Smith and his fellow scholar Justin Bartkus give examples of ways families are successful in handing on the faith. They locate four essential aspects:

  1. Successful parents are able to give their own narrative about why their faith is import to them — “the why.”
  2. They are intentional about establishing a religious culture in the household and eschew autopilot in order to achieve these aims — “the how.”
  3. They give good content, meaning that they expose their children to religiously significant practices, relationships and experiences — “the what.”
  4. They help their children to interpret the world through the eyes of our faith.

Thus, children are not simply exposed to religious content but begin to understand its central significance in their parents’ lives and in their lives. The Catholic faith becomes a profound reality that daily shapes a household and the lens through which we interpret the events of our lives.

Smith and Bartkus also point out ways parents fail in faith transmission. Gaps in the consistency of religious practice are deadly to handing on this worldview. They give today’s ubiquitous example: If you don’t go to Mass on the days you have a sporting event, you have taught your children that sports are more important than Mass. Thus, when society challenges the importance of religious belief at all as they grow, they will know it is a matter of convenience, not deep belief.

Smith and Bartkus are clear: “Even very slight inconsistencies or inauthenticities in a parent’s conviction that Catholicism is true and necessary and indispensable to family life can undercut children’s perception of the viability of Catholicism as a worthwhile commitment.” They point out that the essential work of the parents cannot be outsourced. If they send their children to a Catholic school, but don’t bring them to Mass on Sunday, chances are 70-80 percent that the children will end up not practicing their faith at all.

The challenge of passing on the faith to the next generation has gotten more difficult in our age. But this challenge actually brings us back to the heart of the Gospel. When reading the Gospel, we find many ways that Jesus calls us to place him first, loving him and serving him in our daily lives. He commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27). If we do these things intentionally with our children, they too will grow up desiring to love and serve him.

La Iglesia, los jóvenes y el papel de los padres

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Category: Only Jesus

  • Charles C.

    I commented after the Spanish version, didn’t see this one right away. Too bad I can’t copy from there.

    Thanks again, bishop.

  • Paula Ruddy

    Bishop Cozzens, it sounds as if you are urging families to have a closed culture of Catholic doctrine and practice with the goal of keeping their children within the Church. That doesn’t sound to me the same as helping them to develop into free and responsible faith-filled adults in the world as it is. Is there an explanation why free and responsible faith-filled adults who are at home in the 21st century U.S.culture do not continue their childhood affiliation with the Catholic Church?

    “Even very slight inconsistencies or inauthenticities in a parent’s conviction that Catholicism is true and necessary and indispensable to family life can undercut children’s perception of the viability of Catholicism as a worthwhile commitment.”

    What sense does the above quotation make? Won’t most sane parents have many doubts that Catholicism is “true and necessary and indispensable to family life”? Especially when they see very successful faith-filled family life in other traditions? Since Confirmation is when most young people leave Catholicism, shouldn’t they be able to perceive by then “the viability of Catholicism as a worthwhile commitment” despite their parents’ inconsistencies and inauthenticities?

    Are you saying the defection of young adults from Catholicism is due to their parents’ weak conviction? What responsibility does Church leadership have for making the perception of Catholicism as a worthwhile commitment possible? As a bishop, shouldn’t you ask why parents demonstrate weak conviction in Catholic doctrine and practice if that is what they are doing?

    • Charles C.

      Interesting comments, Paula Ruddy, but then you always are interesting. I look at your main point in three different ways.

      1.) If the parents are Catholic and find value in it as they grow in faith, it would be the most natural thing in the world to share that with their children.

      2.) Somebody is going to teach them religious values whether it’s school, television and movies, other kids, or news programs. Seems to me that the parents are the best choice for teaching this.

      3.) Parents will try to shape kid’s values from the earliest age anyway. If a parent is going to say “Make sure you wash your body in the shower regularly,” what’s wrong with “Make sure you wash your soul in the confessional regularly?”

      If parents say “Socializing with and talking to other people is important,” why not add “socializing with other Catholics and talking to God is important?”

      After saying “Remember to do your homework,” it seems appropriate to say “And remember to say your Rosary.”

      But if parents take a “Do what you want” attitude, or teach the children things which the Church doesn’t, the kids will suffer. The bishop, I believe is saying that it is important to learn the faith as thoroughly as they can and teach it as clearly as they can, anything else leads to holes in their child’s faith which will be exploited later on in life.

      I AGREE WITH YOU in one area. That is, why don’t bishops explore why parents don’t know and practice the faith. To some extent, the parents have the responsibility to learn and teach the faith, there is an over-abundance of material available.

      But I agree with your unspoken charge that American (and other countries’ bishops) don’t insure that the authentic faith is known and taught in all of the parishes. Further, some bishops aren’t all that desirous of having the Church’s teachings spread to the people.

      • Paula Ruddy

        Charles, I think the mix-up we have here is about how we understand faith. Church doctrine and practices can be “known and taught in all the parishes” but knowing doctrine and doing practices are not the same as the experience of trusting and loving a Creator God as Jesus did. That deep trust in the goodness of the Creator God is what I am calling “faith.” I take the Catholic Church to be a community of people who have that trust and love and the Catholic tradition to be a brilliant testimony to human’s seeking God. At our best, we seek God with humility. A catechism of doctrine and practices can be a very useful means to help the community think together, but faith goes way beyond conceptual and verbal propositions. How that trust/faith takes root in us is an open question for me. Surely it has something to do with our parents and the Church community instilling trust in us. If we reduce faith to conformity with a catechism we have made a big mistake, imo. Do you think that is what is dividing us in this Archdiocese? Some are disappointed that traditional doctrine and practice were subordinated to a different concept of faith after Vatican II. Some dismiss doctrine and practice, forgetting that they are needed for faith development and support? Since we are always growing, I would like us to understand the traditional doctrine and practices and then adjust them to support expansive faith/trust in an evolving consciousness of God. You too?

        • Charles C.

          Thank you, thank you, thank you. One of your better posts (in my opinion, yours may differ). Thought provoking and good at developing the discussion. If I understand you correctly, I agree almost completely. But you never know with words, especially tricky words like “faith” in general, and the Catholic faith in particular.

          First let me indicate my agreement, which is vast.

          You are right in reminding everyone (or the half dozen people who read these things) that merely following the Catechism and precepts of the Church with a cold heart is missing the point.

          The Church teaches that salvation is possible for those who have not heard of Jesus provided that they live in accord with the true law imprinted on everyone’s heart. Following the law with bitterness and hatred is not welcomed. (Although, can a person follow the teachings of the Church for long with bitterness in their heart, or do the actions of kindliness, service, and gratitude eventually change the heart?)

          Faith goes beyond propositions, true, but it relies on those propositions as a framework which supports it. From the U of Minnesota Agricultural Extension Department:

          “Trellises and cages are common plant supports used in vegetable gardens. Many varieties of peas and beans need something to climb, and vine crops such as squash, melons, and cucumbers can produce straighter, cleaner fruit if grown on a trellis.”

          The “propositions” of the Church are the trellis on which a holy life can grow, at least for most people not facing extremely unusual situations. That trellis must be firm and solid. It can be added to as the plant grows, but it is an essential part of growth even though it doesn’t get praise or recognition.

          What I have found, and what I respond to most frequently here, are flaws in the trellis or the propositions which some people hold. For one, it’s much easier and I confess to a certain laziness. But I also find that the propositions are sometimes so flawed that they cannot hold the weight of the fruit, and so the fruit is spoiled or rotten almost from the start.

          With the proper foundation of propositions laid, many valuable types of holy lives may be built. Hermits in solitude, missionaries in big cities, scholars, doctors, mystics, and on into a nearly endless variety of lives pleasing to God. I applaud and admire them all.

          The first and most important job of a bishop is to insure that the truths of the Church are made available and understandable to all people living in his diocese. No bishop should want to face God at the Judgment, standing next to a person who says “You never told me what I needed to know.” Or, worse, “You told me things that weren’t true.”

          If there is one place in your response that gives me a little pause it is:

          “Since we are always growing, I would like us to understand the
          traditional doctrine and practices and then adjust them to support
          expansive faith/trust in an evolving consciousness of God.”

          Of course, I have no trouble supporting your desire that all should know and understand traditional doctrine and practices. (Might I be so bold as to believe that you also mean that we should accept them?)

          But the word “adjust” worries me a little. That could mean so many things. Is changing the Church teaching to state that Jesus was married an “adjustment?” How about that sex before marriage is acceptable if you really care for the person and intend to get married? Perhaps announcing that people have to follow the teachings of the Church only if they appear reasonable and are accepted by the majority of Catholics?

          Finally, to be completely honest, I don’t know what you mean by “an evolving consciousness of God. ” I suppose you mean that our understanding of God changes over time? That’s going to require more discussion touching on subjects such as Revelation, the Holy Spirit, God’s unchanging nature, etc.

          Anyway, thanks again, very much.

          • Dominic Deus

            Charles, this is a terrific post. I want to read it again. Hope you get this post.

      • Dominic Deus

        Charles–My posts have been deleted. From your perspective, have I become more objectionable than I used to be? This would be worrisome even to me. I’m trying to be Minnesota nice.

        • Charles C.

          Dear Dominic,

          I have only the posts from this article to judge by, but I see nothing objectionable at all. You are an asset to conversations, in my opinion.

          Allow me to tell you of my experience.

          Consider the word “but.” it would sound the same if you used a second “T.” I used the two “T” form of the word in an introductory sentence something like “I don’t mean to but in, but . . .”

          It turns out that The Catholic Spirit has an automatic censor and my post was removed for using the two “T” form of the word. The issue was resolved when I sent an E-mail to the webmaster here. We discussed the situation briefly and my post was restored.

          The address for the webmaster is found as the first address after clicking on the “Contact” tab at the top of the page.

          I don’t usually agree with you, but I’d hate to lose you.

          • Dominic Deus

            Hey, we agree on a lot! we just disagree on a lot. That’s what makes it fun. Thanks for the advice. When spellcheck meets spam check weird things happen.

    • KimC

      Why would I not want to pass on the truth to my children? After wandering outside the Church for many years, I now know the Catholic faith is the greatest gift I have to pass on my to my children. I do create a strong Catholic culture in my home, but it’s not a “closed” culture. Parents pass on their worldview to their children whether they know it or not.

      • Paula Ruddy

        Hi, Kim. I don’t mean to put you down for passing on the Catholic faith to your children. I honor that. I used the word “closed” but maybe it isn’t the best word for what I am worried about. In recent years in our Archdiocese I sense an official narrowing down of Catholicism from the expansive and open-to-the-world Christian vision I valued in the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago to a more tribal, us-against-the-world, consciousness. We all have such different experiences and needs for faith support that many different ways to be Catholic could be officially appreciated. The Church could be a support for all of us with different worldviews, each with value, and all growing.

  • Steve O`gara

    Paula is right on! Here is a celibate Bishop telling parents how they have failed in passing the faith on to their children. As a celibate myself, I have always tried to defer to parents as knowing how best to live their faith and the faith of their family. The bishop says that the challenge brings us back to the heart of the Gospel. Indeed, to the Gospel of love….to love God with all our heart … and your neighbor as yourself…
    It’s not about dragging our children to mass…its about inviting gay and straight, divorced and married, single and remarried, young and old, to the altar as equals. It’s about a church not judging our brothers and sisters because of their life styles or the color of their skin. It’s about appreciating the gifts and life experiences of everyone and welcoming anyone who approaches the altar to receive the sacraments. The sacraments don’t belong to the bishops or priests but to Jesus who freely offers them to all! Not to the few, not even to the many but to ALL! Maybe when we truly welcome all then they those young people among us will choose to participate in the church!

    • Marilyn Wegscheider

      I so very much agree with both Paula Ruddy and Fr. Steve O’Gara! I worked actively in Catholic Church Ministry for 45 + years and know I cannot give up on being guided by the values of social justice and equality which I do not often see in our Church leaders. Yes, parents have an awesome role as parents! I pray for them with all the challenges they experience each and every day. I myself am a product of the public school system. I am a former nun and still live many of the Benedictine values in whatever I do and how I relate to others. Please Bishop Cozzens, don’t scold parents! Please be more caring, understanding and compassionate of their vocation. They have a huge calling and are so in need of our call to listen to them. I miss the fact that I never had children of my own other than my former students and my beautiful nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews and my godchildren. Lets support our families and all parents! Sometimes the hierarchy fails to do this and I feel so very sad about this.
      Thank you!
      Marilyn Wegscheider

    • Charles C.

      “[B]ut to Jesus who freely offers them to all”

      Do you get your understanding from the Bible? From the Catechism? Please tell me where, because you’ve made a very unusual statement.

      • Kris

        Father O’Gara is a typical byproduct of those ordained in the years immediately after Vatican II. Did the usual pouting about celibacy and then scolding a Bishop for being ‘judgmental’ then in the next breath turning around and engaging in the same behavior he was just condemning. Also brings up sexual orientation and skin color neither topic which is Relevant here and by the way being a practicing homosexual is immoral whether you like it or not. Gotta love the liberals. They always use the word ‘compassion’ ironically enough when putting down those with whom they disagree.

        • Kris

          The above was Father O’Gara’s personal opinion none of which has any basis in fact especially from a theological standpoint.

          • Dominic Deus

            Kris–Theology (the study of God (or gods) is not what you would look to. I don’t think we any reason to believe the God of Abraham has a gender identification at all. The male nominatives and pronouns we read in our language are literacy devices we are stuck with using. The Hebrew name for God is Yah-weh.

            Of course it was O’Gara’s opinion. That’s all any of us have got really. To find out how close to the”truth” it is, we have to “test it in the fire of life.” Does that concept sound familiar?

        • Dominic Deus

          Kris–Maybe he and others are *products* of Vatican II who felt their call because of it 😉 I have found it wise to never question the call of a religious, unless, off course, they wear a lot of hair pomade, dress in thousand dollar suits and make a six figure income or more. Oh, also if you have to buy a ticket to get into their worship service.

          I don’t recall much of anything in religious studies or scholarship being broken down into liberals or conservatives. That’s more of a Breitbart thing. I think it’s best we stay in the realm of believers, nonbelievers, questioners, searchers–all that human kind of stuff.

          I think you raise an important point–being a “byproduct” doesn’t sound that inspiring. Would you care to share what has produced you?

      • Dominic Deus

        Charles–Sermon on the Mount. Always a good starting place. The there is “Because I thought about it, prayed, mediated, and God told me so.” Or Mary, or a departed relative. Import it is to remember that Catholicism is a mystical faith.

        • Kris

          Well it wasn’t being a byproduct at least not directly. I am not in terms of my actual faith better than anyone here. I was raised in a non religious home, my Mom being a non practicing Protestant and my Dad a non practicing Catholic. I was not Baptized in any faith until I went through RCIA in my mid 20’s. I am now in my early 30’s. Relatively new still. I get reactive because I didn’t always have what so many others appear to have always had in terms of faith.

          • Dominic Deus

            Thank you Kris. It is very good of you to share all that. I know that I personally cannot begin to understand my fellow human beings unless I can see them as fellow travelers on the journey. I especially appreciate your comments on what it means to go through RCIA and then see other Catholics seem to appreciate the gift of faith less than you do. I had never thought of that. It will be an extremely important piece of information for me as I continue my studies

        • Charles C.

          The sacraments, such as the Eucharist, belong to all? I sense a misunderstanding.

          • Dominic Deus

            Yes. I must not have written well. I think of the sacraments as either graces from God or sacred ritual bringing us, one way or another, into closer communion with….each other, God, divine truth, all creation and the unknown. I confess that I do not see them as substitutes for developing an informed Catholic conscience or sufficient in themselves to constitute an exploration of faith.

  • Dominic Deus

    Dominic Deus here. Heavens, I go on sabbatical for a few months and everything turns to snot. Several distinguished scholars of religious studies have been trying to guide me into gentlemanly discourse sufficient to allow me to teach new students in 2018.

    First, I want to recognize Bishop Cozzens as the moderate churchman that he is, trying to lead within the often conflicted structure and behavior of the Church by applying a very structured view of Church teaching. That is exactly what I expect from him. He is, after all, charged with being an apostolic leader of the Church.

    Then, I want to recognize Paula as the type of woman the Church can and often does, strong in her faith and still present and active int Church long after many others have left. She embraces the teaching of the Church and lives it out, including speaking in a prophetic voice when she sees suffering of the children of God caused by the very teaching of the Church that should be their spiritual safe harbor and constant advocate in political, social and economic affairs. That is exactly what I expect from her but, more important, it is what Jesus expects from all of us., at least according to the Sermon on the Mount.

    Setting apostolic voices against prophetic ones in the Church is historically fraught, a flawed exercise of Catholic conscience, and a discourse unlikely to move the people of the Church forward in time, culture, spirituality and purpose.

    Then, I wish to recognize Charles and many others like him who are present, listening, speaking and offering a view of discipleship which has endured and, apparently produced Bishop Cozzens, Paula, Charles and many others, even ones like me who can all answer “here” when the Church asks “Who is still Catholic?”

    Why such a long introduction? Because Bishop Cozzens is both right and wrong in his assessment, as are we all. It depends a great deal upon where one stands, sits or kneels in the house of God.

    Saying we are all both right and wrong is disturbing to those who wish to point to the teaching of the Church as right or even perfect truth. It is not, never has been and, in my estimation, never will be. Neither God nor Jesus ever intended that it should. The story Jesus of Nazareth is humanity being charged with the responsibility of creating a just and loving world. Jesus was incarnated for precisely that reason–to remove gods or God from the list of things human beings could name to justify their failure to create or, in some cases, even endorse the aforementioned just and loving world.

    There is no one to blame now but ourselves. For that reason, Bishop Cozzens is doing precisely what he should in trying to determine the reasons why young people are shunning the Church. He just has it wrong, in the view of some and those persons must speak. Paula did. So did Charles.

    Steve O’gara went further by pointing to some possible reasons that the good bishop did not include. Those reasons are not to be dismissed any more than ones suggesting that parental example is the primary cause.

    I commend Bishop Cozzens for writing. I suspect that what he intended was to open a discussion.

    I suggest that The Catholic Spirit invite another author to publish a different view. It’s out their, believe me. I have heard it and seen it.

    • Paula Ruddy

      Thanks for your endorsement of all of us, DD. I have a different point of view on making peace by asserting that everyone is “doing precisely what he should.” I think we all have the baptismal responsibility to hold each other accountable for our roles in the Church–bishop, clergy, lay. We are not all doing precisely what we should. Holding each other accountable requires general agreement on goals, making prudential judgments, discerning the circumstances compassionately, and humbly giving people a merciful break most of the time. No problem with Bishop Cozzens’ holding lay people accountable for the faith growth of their children. That is his job. The problem is, as Nancy, Steve, and I pointed out, he didn’t factor in his own and the bishops’ poor record in the leadership role of supporting parents. That is not poor communication strategy, it also diminishes the value of his judgment. Makes it look like he doesn’t recognize his own responsibility in the problem he is talking about. You can’t credibly hold someone else accountable for a problem you have had a role in creating. That is what is tone deaf about it.

      Can’t we all be grown up enough to reason together, learn from each other, accept criticism, and get at the Church’s mission? If I am not reasoning clearly in making my observations, I want you to hold me accountable by telling me where I have missed the boat (after you fully understand what boat I was aiming for). Counting on you for that.

      • Dominic Deus

        Dominic Deus here. Paula, I think we are both trying to get on the same boat. I don’t think you and I are at cross purposed either–we just critiqued the Spirit story using different methods.

        Your analysis was that Bishop Cozzens spotlighted several important issues for which parents are rightly accountable but utterly neglected the matter of clerical accountability for those same or similar issues.

        Essentially, you were saying the story was glaringly incomplete. I agree. Bishop Cozzens should respond now, not because he needs to defend himself but because a challenges were raised by the faithful–ones who took the time to read, think and inquire further about some problematic assertions and issue avoidance.

        My comment did not use the analytic approach. Instead it refused to engage with substance of the story, but reframe it as an invitation to continue the conversation in the Spirit or elsewhere. It even offered a framework–apostolic voices , prophetic ones, and then 500 year old avatars like me in a third very loosely defined framework,more cloud-like 😉 . More of a literary-historical approach, emphasizing that all the engaged parties are all well intended, committed and astute observers. In other words, a great team.

        So you and I wound up in the same place, which is to say, “Can’t we..reason, together, learn from each other, accept criticism…” Well, yes we can and we should and it starts with understanding the situated-ness” of the other stakeholders. Which is why we need to meet face to face and talk about that. Soon.

        • Charles C.

          Now that I’m older, I’ve learned that my mind doesn’t cope as well with lengthy discussions. I used to be more flexible.

          To try to get my mental “feet” under me, I’ve reviewed the thread. I think I understand correctly the following, but I’d rather not name individual posters.

          The bishop wants Catholic parents to take a more active and thorough role in teaching the Faith to their children.

          The objection was raised that teaching children takes their freedom from them and they should become “faith-filled” adults on their own after seeing the world as it presently exists in this country. Further, Catholicism may not be the right choice for many parents and children. That was later clarified to mean that Catholic teaching may be all right to provide a sense of community, but what matters is a trusting and loving relationship with God. And later still, clarified to be that while the bishop was right that parents weren’t doing enough, he should have spent time in his article to criticize himself and fellow bishops who weren’t doing enough either.

          Another poster points out that the loving relationship extends to everyone and the Church should accept all regardless of their condition.

          That was expanded by another who is upset that the Church doesn’t emphasize social justice issues sufficiently.

          That idea seemed to be seconded by a poster who says that the reason Jesus came to earth was in order to inspire all of mankind to create a just and loving world.

          And finally, a poster questioned the validity of anything the Church had to teach children as it was all questionable and changing.

          Did I get all that right?

          If so, The Catholic Spirit has no need to publish an article from an opposing point of view. The opposition to the bishop has been thoroughly exposed to view.

          • Dominic Deus

            Charles–that was really good! So good that I might employ it as a teaching device, asking learners (myself included) to show their competence by constructing such an analysis.

            They would, of course, soon discover that, though I had offered the exact same record of comments to each of them, they all came up with distinctly different illuminations of how the discussion evolved! As would you and I despite our best efforts to be “objective.”

            For that reason, if no other, I would suggest that your method not include a forced attempt at closure. The discussion will stop on its own at some point and, in any event, people will stop reading if it becomes repetitive or seems to have devolved into irrelevance.

            At that point the worst thing a moderator could do would be to insist followers keep reading and posting.

            Our Church does this all the time, beating dead doctrinal horses with evangelistic fervor despite the fact that the discussants have learned what they can and tehn moved on.

            So, I repeat–you did good work there! I just disagree on your last point. Don’t declare the discussion as finished. Just let it end.

            As to the Spirit offering an op-ed to another scholar, I have in mind a specific woman whom have heard speak.She has some very good information on the engagement or lack thereof of youth in the Church. I don’t feel it’s a helpful critique on my part to say Bishop Cozzens has missed some key points if I don’t offer an idea on how to engage with them and decide for himself.

  • Dominic Deus

    Dominic Deus here. Brother Cozzens, you wrote this:

    “Smith and Bartkus also point out ways parents fail in faith transmission…”

    Did they point out any ways in which the Magesterium fails in faith transmission? If so, what were they? If not, can you think of any? I’ll wager parents can.

  • Dominic Deus

    Well, at least you were not deleted by the moderator like I was! And for saying the Bishop was a moderat churchman performing his duties, as were you and Paula. I’m trying to figure out who had the thin skin? Mysteries of Faith indeed.

  • Nancy J.

    I’m a Catholic parent with three young children. The bishop comes across as incredibly tone deaf in this article.

    I would like to say that the Church is doing a lousy job of helping parents teach the faith. The religious ed. classes in my area are taught by kind-hearted volunteers who have zero background in theology. There is little of value being transmitted in these classes. Most lessons boil down to “be nice to everyone and color this picture of Mary.” Last year my son’s religious ed. class only ran from Sept. to Dec., when Sunday School abruptly ended after the DRE quit.

    I see how different things are at my neighborhood Protestant church. There are pastors for children, teens, and families. All are professionals with have graduate degrees in theology. They understand their faith well enough to teach it. Religious ed. classes are held a couple times a week to offer flexability to busy families juggling work schedules. They make it easy for families to learn and to engage in their faith. As a result, it is a lively community full of families and young children. By contrast, my parish is graying and probably won’t be around in ten years.

    I accept my responsibility to bring up my children in the faith, despite a judgmental bishop and a parish that does little to help.

    • Charles C.

      I agree with you insofar as the weakness the Church structure has in teaching the faith, that is demonstrated by the number who don’t understand it and give it up.

      I’m not sure that the Bishop is as insensitive as you seem to believe. I don’t know what he’s thinking and can’t speak for him, but is it possible that he’s thinking “I agree with Nancy J., currently the parishes aren’t doing the job. I want to reinforce the idea that parents have to get involved if they want children well educated?”

      If that’s what he’s thinking, then it sounds like he would applaud your great efforts, and say that’s what he was thinking of.

  • Dominic Deus

    Dominic Deus here. This is a repost pf my original post which was moderated out as spam. Apparently, someone thought I was trying sell something or advise readers they are winners of something nice if they just send me their credit card information. Here it is again:

    2 days ago

    “Detected as spam Thanks, we’ll work on getting this corrected.” OK, says DD.

    Dominic Deus here. Heavens, I go on sabbatical for a few months and everything turns to snot. Several distinguished scholars of religious studies have been trying to guide me into gentlemanly discourse sufficient to allow me to teach new students in 2018. Anything is possible, I suppose.

    First, I want to recognize Bishop Cozzens as the moderate churchman that he is, trying to lead within the often conflicted structure and behavior of the Church by applying a very structured view of Church teaching. That is exactly what I expect from him. He is, after all, charged with being an apostolic leader of the Church.

    Then, I want to recognize Paula as the type of woman the Church can and often does produce, strong in her faith and still present and active in the Church long after many others have left. She embraces the teaching of the Church and lives it out, including speaking in a prophetic voice when she sees the suffering of the children of God caused by the very teaching of the Church that should be their spiritual safe harbor and constant advocate in political, social and economic affairs. That is exactly what I expect from her but, more important, it is what Jesus expects from all of us, at least according to the Sermon on the Mount, which is authoritative enough for me.

    Setting apostolic voices against prophetic ones in the Church is historically fraught, a flawed exercise of Catholic conscience, and a discourse unlikely to move the people of the Church forward in time, culture, spirituality and purpose. Bishop Cozzens and Paula are not working at cross purposes and it is not helpful to claim they are.

    Then, I wish to recognize Charles and many others like him who are present, listening, speaking and offering a traditional view of discipleship which has endured and, apparently produced Bishop Cozzens, Paula, Charles and many others, even ones like me who can all answer “here” when the Church asks “Who is still Catholic?”

    Why such a long introduction? Because Bishop Cozzens is both right and wrong in his assessment, as are we all. It depends a great deal upon where one stands, sits or kneels in the house of God.

    Saying we are all both right and wrong is disturbing to those who wish to point to the teaching of the Church as right or even perfect truth. It is not, never has been and, in my estimation, never will be. Neither God nor Jesus ever intended that it should. The story of Jesus of Nazareth is humanity being charged with the responsibility for creating a just and loving world. Jesus was incarnated for precisely that reason–to remove gods or God from the list of things human beings could name to justify their failure to create or, in some cases, even destroy the aforementioned just and loving world.

    There is no one to blame now but ourselves. For that reason, Bishop Cozzens is doing precisely what he should in trying to determine the reasons why young people are shunning the Church. He just has it wrong, in the view of some and those persons must speak. Paula did. So did Charles. No one has the franchise for absolute truth; we’re all just trying to get as close to it as we can.

    That won’t happen unless we all acknowledge Steve O’gara and people like him as legitimate voices. His reasons are not to be dismissed any more than ones suggesting that parental example is the primary cause. He speaks some truths the Church would prefer not to hear. All the more important he proclaim them.

    I commend Bishop Cozzens for writing. I suspect that he intended was to open a discussion.

    I suggest The Catholic Spirit invite another author to publish a differing view. It’s out there, believe me. I have heard it and seen it. In fact, there is a woman available locally, with a doctorate in religious studies, who has made this issue a focus of her work. Paula can arrange for the editor to meet her, I am sure.

    As for me, I have homework and then need to write practice responses to hypothetical students so I will see you all later.

    Oh, one more thing. Who decides what is authentic? I respectfully point out that being authentic does not mean right, let alone true. There is plenty of Church teaching that was 100% authentic in it’s time but is now poppycock. These days, at least in terms of historical literary criticism, I find the term “authentic” used most frequently to divert attention from fakery.

  • Bruce Leier

    I’m not sure where I 1st came across the observation but I try to take it to heart:
    true Faith is a 3 legged stool for the Faithful to rely on Scripture, Tradition and lived experience. There is the corollary: Protestants rely too much on Scripture; Catholic too often rely on Tradition; without the 3rd leg both fall over alot!

    • Dominic Deus

      Well done!

  • Brandon

    Well, with any luck, enough of my generation will leave the Church that it will impact it enough for it to change for the better. A dozen of my cousins and friends and I have already left for the obvious reason – the lies, hypocrisy, protection, and cover ups in the on-going pedophile scandals. Isn’t it painfully obvious that if the Pope wanted to fix it, he would have truly fixed it? Isn’t it painfully obvious that priests aren’t Holy if they do this? Why would the older generation continue to believe them and believe in them after all of the lies and abuse of innocent little children? Many in my generation don’t believe that a pedophile can hear confessions and forgive sins, how could they. Bishop Cozzens, if you can help fire a dozen bishops involved in the cover-ups, I would consider going back. But, that would be the real miracle. Definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Good luck with your sinking ship!!

    • Dominic Deus

      Dominic Deus here. Brandon, your response is obviously heartfelt and, I must say, virtually identical to many declarations of conscience from young adults directly challenging the credibility of the Church and its magisterial leadership.

      I thank you for it and can only remark that I hope you continue to follow your Catholic conscience and speak the truth. I respectfully suggest that you consider that “the Church” as not defined by Holy Orders but by Baptism, and with that in mind, you should continue to practice your faith, truth and humility as you go through life. So should we all.

      I humbly ask that you not judge those of us who stay as complicit, but true to our faith in the teaching of our brother, Jesus and the desire to see it resurrected in the Church if that is possible.

      Finally, I ask all young, questioning, seeking souls to remember that virtually all ordained clergy never practiced, witnessed, or covered up the abominations practiced by a few. Based on my conversations with an admittedly modest number of priests, I found that they were as incredulous as I and didn’t want to believe such atrocities could have been perpetrated by priests. Sadly, we were all wrong.

      Thank you again for your words.