Reaching Young Adults – Some Recent and Fascinating Findings

It is usually thought by most Catholics that the Evangelical “mega Churches” have lots of young adults and that many of our Catholic young adults have gone there. There is, no doubt, a great absence of young adults in most Catholic Parishes. There seems to be a quite literal and physical generation gap, the “gap” being the empty spaces in the Church that young adults would occupy. However, Eric Sammons at his blog The Divine Life  (excellent Blog – Check it out!) has called attention to a very interesting article that reveals that absent young adults is a very common problem in Evangelical Churches too. The article appears in the Broken Arrow Ledger entitled “Where have the Young People Gone?” The article also reveals some Churches where young adults are increasing in number and you may be surprised where. Here are some excerpts along with my comments in RED

 Two-thirds of young adults who have grown up in evangelical churches are leaving, according to Ham and Beemer. [Authors of a forthcoming book “Already Gone,” by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard]…Information in the book is based on data collected from 20,000 phone calls and detailed surveys of 1,000 20-to-29-year-olds who used to attend evangelical churches on a regular basis but have since left them behind…..This is no small survey. Most major surveys feature much smaller sampling groups

“They (young people) have written church off as a moralistic bad guy that wants to keep them from enjoying their life…. I had this attitude when I was young too. My “lack of belief” was not a “studied atheism” but rather a more angry agnosticism. I didn’t like being told what to do. And I allowed what I wanted to do to be the basis of what I would accept. I don’t suppose that every yound adult goes through this phase but many do. In the Archdiocese we have certain forums like Theology on Tap where we try to engage young adults on important moral issues and demonstrate the credibility and sensibility of Catholic teaching. But, it is a long discussion to be had over many years. But if only we can keep them in the discussion, we may win some of them back.

Young people no longer believe in Genesis, which is the basis for Christianity, Garland said. They question everything from creation to the divinity of Christ, and for that he credits laws that require the evolution theory be taught in public school classrooms and ban instruction on Biblical creation. As I pointed out yesterday in my Blog Post I don’t think it is necessarily that they don’t believe but rather that we have failedto set the Biblical narrative forth in a compelling way because, in many cases we have stripped the plot of it’s central conflict which is the terrible reality of sin and the consequent need to be saved. I don’t think it is difficult to demonstrate to young adults that sin is a very serious matter. They have seen friends die from drug overdoes and drunk driving accidents. They know of the reality of STDs and the shallowness of most modern “substitutes” for marriage. They have experienced hurts and betrayals.  They are aware of violence, poverty and injustice. I think we just have to get in the game and show them how the Scriptures and the doctrine of Original Sin go a long way toward explaining the broken down nature of the this fallen world. Our teaching is sensible if we focus in on the main problem of sin and disorder, the “problem of evil.”  Without this Genesis and the whole Biblical narrative seems but a quaint and fanciful story that does not connect. And with no concept of the problem of sin and the great drama of their lives, young adults see no relevance to salvation, the necessity of prayer and sacraments. They just disconnect.

There is an exception, however. Traditional churches that are liturgical churches and smaller evangelical churches seem to be retaining their twenty-something members in greater numbers than larger and mega-churches…..Now you’d think the Catholic Church would fall into this category. But to some extent we are not reaping this harvest because most of our liturgies lack the flavor of tradition. More on this in a moment. [Rev John] Wilke said the only church he knows of that is experiencing growth in the 20-to-29-year old age group is the Greek Orthodox Church.“The Greek Orthodox Church is a liturgical church. Kids want to return to something different from what they get from the world. If we want to reach these kids again, we are going to have to return to what the early church was doing. We need to raise the bar,” he said…..There is sort of a strange rebound in some of the ancient liturgies, such as Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Episcopalian. What we would call the emerging church is something that is very appealing to that age group. Places that have a sense of order, mystery and transcendence are very appealing….I have experienced a lot of this in my discussion with some young adults who do not find the current liturgical experience of most Catholic Parishes satisfying. Many of them are turning up at the Traditional Latin Mass at I St Mary’s and other locations. I say Mass the Traditional Latin Mass once a month at St. Mary’s and find a growing and  vigorous group of young adults there. For the last several years, more than half my weddings come from the Latin Mass group. Most of these young adults were dissatisfied with liturgies in their local parish which they found trendy and ephemeral. Remember, the 1960s folk music is a long time ago to them! Folk singing seems dated to many (not all) young adults. Many are discovering the riches of traditional worship that were dropped in the 1970s. Now I want to say that I do not think that the majority of young adults are asking for the Latin Mass. But what IS observable is that one area of the Church that is attracting and retaining young adults is the Traditional Latin Mass. Also, at a neighboring Parish, St. Peters on Capitol Hill,  there are many young adults that turn out for Eucharistic adoration. My data is anecdotal only, but there seems to be a consistent message that many young adults are looking for more traditional forms, they are increasingly attracted by a presentation of the faith that is substantial and serious. This is also evident in the recent trend in vocations to the priesthood and religious life wherein most of the young adults who answer the call are far more traditional than they were 20 to 30 years ago. They prefer traditional forms and insist on orthodoxy. [W]here entertainment is the approach to worship. It doesn’t really satisfy. I think there is a richness in the ancient traditions that speaks at levels where contemporary music fails….[Rev. Shelby Scott agrees]: traditional liturgies and such things as incense and mystery – has become something of a strength and intrigue for the younger generation,” he said.

The Rev. John Wilke, senior pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church,…cited one of Luther’s writings as something for church leaders to consider: “A faith that costs nothing and demands nothing is worth nothing.” “I think that is where the church is today. I get too many things in the mail from churches that say, ‘Come just the way you are, you don’t have to change,’” Wilke said. “While God loves you where you are, he expects you to change. We don’t put the fear of God in our churches, we don’t have that respect. We’ve made Jesus our homeboy. He’s not our homeboy, he’s our Saviour.”…Rev Scott agrees….that Christian worship is going through a significant change. He believes young people are looking for a doctrine that requires more of them than just showing up at church. Here too my own experience bears this out. While it is true that many young adults may still be in the “I don’t want to be told what to do” mode. I think it is also true that many young adults also move to a stage when that begins to abate and they are looking for meaning and answers. Further, I am convinced that most of the rebellious,  deep down inside,  are glad that some one is challenging them. Somewhere under all the layers they want to know the truth even if they are not ready to fully embrace it. When I was a teenager I was well aware when I was being patronized and I usually respected adults less who humored me and tried to “relate” to me. Frankly they looked silly try to be like a teenager. Young adults too, I suspect, know when we are watering things down in an attempt to be popular. A faith that is integral and properly demanding command more resepct in the end. We will not be taken seriously by young adults unless we ARE serious. Trendy and cheesy gimmicks will backfire in the end unless there is a serious and reasonably demanding faith that is expressed.


The following video was an PBS special I taped on the Latin Mass. Among the topics discussed is the appeal that many young adults find with it.


25 Replies to “Reaching Young Adults – Some Recent and Fascinating Findings”

  1. As a young adult, I do agree fully with what has been said. I am 21 going on 22. I prefer it when the preaching is more colorful, more direct, than when it is watered down. I also like when priests that I look up to take the time to talk with me, rather than just writing me off as “another young adult.”

    I really appreciate you writing this post, because I think that more Catholics need to reach out to us young adults. Now, I realize it goes the other way around too – I had to be the one to get to where I am today in my faith. I tend to be shy about speaking up in person, and I appreciate blogs, this one in particular, because I can voice my opinion, and get feedback that is constructive in a less confrontational way. I have a lot of experience in matters other than the ER, however, the ER is my way of living, so much of my experience and opinion as of now comes from there.

    I did go through a period where I almost left the church – but that was due to having the unfortunance of meeting certain people that did not accept me for who I was, and that did not want to see the realities of today’s world. In their eyes, I am tainted, not good enough to talk to, and my life experiences were “my own darned fault.” Heck, I find people without life experience to be quite boring. I think experience shapes us to be who we are today. If it were not for finding really friendly parishes, and meeting priests that were young adult friendly, and coming across blogs such as this one, I think I probably would have left the Church. Thank you for sharing your experience with us – it makes me feel not so alone.

    1. Thanks for your frequent contributions. I too an excited about the forum this blog provides to share ideas and celebrate the faith. I appreciate your faith and that you stuck it out through a difficult period. Praise the Lord!

  2. I think that part of keeping young people engaged is keeping their parents engaged.

    Some parents think that once their children are confirmed, they’ve finished with getting their children into the faith. They need to understand that confirmation really is the beginning of a faithful life, and that their children’s faith still needs nurturing. Those with children who move from a parish school to public school may actually need to do MORE to make faith part of everyday life.

    Some parents are left in a kind of limbo when their children move on to high school. There may be activities/events for families with kids in the parish school, there may be activities/events for teens, but there isn’t always enough focus on parents of teens. If anything teens’ parents need MORE support than those with younger kids.

    1. Cynthia BC,

      It took me a bit to find it again, but a great book to read is, “A Tribe Apart: Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence.” The author followed several teens (in our area) for years and recorded observations about their lives. She interviewed them and followed them to all kinds of social events. She realized that, by and large, our teens do live in a “tribe apart.” They book was written in the 90’s, but I think her observations are dead on for today’s teen:

      “The most stunning change for adolescents today is their aloneness. The adolescents of the nineties are more isolated and more unsupervised than other generations… Their dramatic separation from the adult world is rarely considered as a phenomenon in its own right, yet it may be the key to that life in the shadows. It creates a milieu for growing up that adults categorically cannot understand because their absence causes it… It is a problem not just for families but for communities when the generations get so separated. The effects go beyond issues of rules and discipline to the idea exchanges between generations that do not occur, the conversations not held, the guidance and role modeling not taking place, the wisdom and traditions no longer filtering down inevitably. How can kids imitate and learn from adults if they never talk to them? How can they form the connections to trust adult wisdom if there is inadequate contact? How can they decide what to accept and reject from the previous generation when exposure is limited? The generational threads that used to weave their way into the fabric of growing up are missing.”

      I deal with the pressure to let my soon-to-be high-schooler go with her friends to do things absent of adult supervision. My daughter has friends who seem to think that girls in a pack is an adequate substitute for adult supervision and invite several girls over (like on snow days) and then go to work. Honestly, I rarely “do battle” with my teen, but I often do it with other parents over my restrictions and insistence on proper supervision.

    2. Yes your insight is very clear. We are into several generations now of disconnected Catholics. When the kids are in for Sunday School, I am teaching their parents the same material.

  3. Regarding “not be told what to do,” I wonder if being self-important, self-absorbed and self-directed isn’t maybe a developmental stage. In my own life, my biggest mistakes helped me differentiate between right and wrong, and I think it all was necessary for me. Life experience is a pretty powerful teacher, and some times it takes a few good shakes to wake up a sleeping saint.

    My children are ages 4, 6, 9, 11, 14 and 23, so I get to parent a full gamut of stages and behaviors. My young ones want to be active in their faith- love CCD, Bible stories, getting dressed-up for Mass, singing along, etc. I have a pre-teen who is okay with but not enthusiastic about following along, a teen who is starting to try to pull away and test boundaries, and a young adult who is a beautiful person but isn’t sure is “organized religion” is his thing. The foundation I have given each of them is far from perfect but I think solid. Everyone’s faith journey is unique, and sometimes you can do all you know to do and still raise a child who says, “I’m not sure if this is my thing.”

    In talking to friends who have experienced the like with grown children, I have hope. In their setting examples in the raising of their families, when their grown children moved away from their faith, they almost always came back when they were interested in a family of their own. The model they knew and loved regained importance.

    1. Yes, I think you are laregely right. It is a troubling trend however that many never return even after marriage. truth be told, many don’t marry at all and many more marry after age 30. By that time habits away from the Church are string and hard to break. But in mny cases you are right. They do return.

  4. Msgr. Pope,

    Thank you for your kind comments on the Traditional Latin Mass.

    As an individual I can only speak for myself, not young people in general.

    I was in my late twenties when I attended my first TLM, it was a Low Mass, the following week I attended a Sung Mass. Those two experiences changed my life. What I felt when I first attended the TLM was: Wow this is serious…. and beautiful. It caused a spark in my life to find out more and to dig deeper into the faith.

  5. As a young adult myself, 23 years old, I think that what we are seeing in the Catholic Church is an attempt at finding middle ground to meet young adults. However, instead of achieving its intended purpose of bringing more fallen away Catholics back it has instead alienated those that never left the Church. At the same time, those that the Catholic Church is attempting to reach out to won’t even go for a watered down form of Catholicism. So, the next effect is a decrease in the number of young adults in the pews.

    I think if we stick to our guns, and preach about the horrors of abortion and the immorality of gay marriage we will be able to keep those that haven’t fallen away from the Church while reaching out to those young adults that are looking for a faith that is strong and doesn’t changed based on the whims of the day.

    A critical element to this is the liturgy. Young adults aren’t stupid. As a whole, my generation is the most educated generation the world has ever seen. They know that when they walk into most OF parishes that what they are seeing isn’t truly a worshiping of God but when they walk into a beautiful EF Mass they realize that the congregation believes in the true presence and is worshiping God. As an example, just look at your typical OF parish where it is impossible to find enough male servers that are in their teens or 20’s while in the typical EF parish there are plenty of young male servers. They want to be a part of this worshiping of God.

    Merry Christmas Monsignor!

    1. I agree that we have to stick to our guns as you put it. The epsicopal Church is an example of a Church that has caved to every modern notion. They are now in major meltdown and their numbers are pathetically small. In the end, orthodoxy (out of season now in the world) is the way to go. Integrity and orthodoxy.

      1. I agree with this post. I’m married mother of 2 and 29 years old. The Mass we attend is very traditional and becoming Latinized, and our priests are very blunt and direct in their homilies. It’s very popular and the church is full every Sunday, sometimes standing room only. Lots of young people and young families, too.

        We’re sick of the dumbed-down, pop, PC stuff. Tell it like it is. There’s so much crazy stuff going on out there, we’re looking for some real direction and leadership. I’ve been glad to find it in the Catholic Church. More please. 🙂

  6. They know that when they walk into most OF parishes that what they are seeing isn’t truly a worshiping of God but when they walk into a beautiful EF Mass they realize that the congregation believes in the true presence and is worshiping God.

    John — you know better than that. Or at least, you should.

    The Ordinary Form “isn’t truly a worshiping of God”?? At the “Ordinary Form,” the TRUE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST IS PRESENT. In the Ordinary Form, the ENTIRE CHURCH IS PRESENT to celebrate the Mass — Church Triumphant, Church Suffering, and Church Militant — all the angels, saints, faithful, and Christ Himself is present. In the Ordinary Form of the ONE MASS, one prays with all the Church throughout history. Such a Mass is truly a worshiping of God, and anyone suggesting that it is not truly worshiping God, that the One, Holy, and Apostolic Church is engaging in some sort of sham in the “Ordinary Form,” such a person suggesting that is not only gravely mistaken, but he sets himself against and apart from the Holy Church.

    I would ask that you give further thought to your views on the Holy Mass, which are not only “alienating” but divisive of the One Church. (I’ll give you credit for this, at least you didn’t call it the “NO” Mass.)

    1. I think your caution and distinction is well taken Bender. That there are different forms of the liturgy and there may be preference and a discernable shift in the young back to more traditional forms but we must also remain open to the legitimacy of all allowable diversity and presume that worship is expressed in different ways.

    2. Bender,

      I have given much thought to this topic. That is why I was careful to say in MOST OF parishes. I have attended some OF Masses where there is true worship going on. However, I have also attended parishes where the last thing on people’s mind was worshiping God. For example, I’ve attended Masses where the decibel level inside the church before and after Mass, while the Body and Blood of Christ was sitting before them, was higher than at a Redskins game. The noise wasn’t prayer but people talking about the previous night’s party. Then when the consecration occurred I was the only one kneeling. Everyone took communion in the hand in a casual manner, not reverently. For the sign of peace you would think that it was a receiving line at the White House it took so long.

      Now, I ask you how is THAT worship? It isn’t. Sure, there might be one or two people in the congregation worshiping the Lord but most are not. Just because Jesus Christ is present doesn’t mean that worship is occurring. What I described above is just a social gathering for most of those involved. Now, this is not confined to the OF nor does it occur in all OF parishes but the generalization is correct. The reason is that the OF leads itself to more of that socializing if not controlled by the priests leading the flock.

      1. Alright John, I hear you. And while I understand Bender’s concern your response as a 23 year old is important data. I hear more that a few younger adults speak in this way. The relaxed “family” atmosphere of most parishes is unappealing and even offensive. And isn’t this what the article referenced above is getting at? So thanks John for your voice. Some of us “older” folks are listening. In terms of Benders concern though I am glad for your distinctions.

  7. I’m 21 and was raised evangelical, I’m a convert to Catholicism and I love the Latin Mass, I think Truth in Tradition is what my generation is searching for.

  8. Msgr. Pope,

    Allow me to offer a few thoughts on this subject, albeit from someone who has never left/rebelled against the faith but gone through some “doubting Thomas” periods.

    First, the extraordinary form. I attended a Latin mass for a number of years. While I certainly love more traditional liturgy and am open to being part of such a community in the future, I can tell you that it is not a panacea. Debates about the liturgy and 1969 reform (on a muted level) are worthwhile. With that said, if we speak in sociological terms, some degree of flexibility within orthodoxy is important.

    I also think that a robust and orthodox faith is important. With that said, let’s engage in a bit of introspection while we have a live discussion. I know far to many young orthodox Catholics who both isolate themselves in terms of the broader culture and also tend to focus exclusively on one or two particular aspects of their faith. The latter may be liturgy, apologetics, politics etc…, but in some cases it turns into a “glorious cause,” making one tree of the faith at the expense of the forest. I can attest that during the latter two years in which I was involved in the Latin mass community, I felt this to a great degree. Highly abstract and extremely focused homilies were the rule, and more often than not they had nothing to do with what was going on in my life. I went to a public law school during the week, trying to discretely and appropriately get my point across, but on Sundays it was one bombastic and boorish homily after another, to the point where I could not feel comfortable inviting a classmate (even a Catholic) to mass out of fear of them being supremely offended. Please take note that I am not griping here, nor do I wish this to be taken as a fault peculiar to Latin mass folks (or even a majority of them). It most certainly is not. I see the same kinds of behavior from time to time in other segments of the church.

    Cardinal George gave an interview to John Allen recently. He stated that where liberals in the church tend to be accommodating to the culture, conservatives (or orthodox) risk isolating themselves or erecting external symbols as cultural markers over a substantive faith.

    When discussing topics such as this introspection is a very good thing, and I am glad you and some of the posters here are engaging in it.

  9. I should give St. Mary’s another try sometime, Father. I will admit that I attended a number of years ago and was less than impressed. The Mass was a good half-hour shorter than in my parish and I didn’t find the beauty of the Latin language and ritual gestures I expected. The priest was inaudible and he followed the “no hands pass the shoulder blades” rule, so he appeared silent and motionless. But for those who find spiritual value in it, that is great. Many do, mostly those who have a very developed intellectual understanding of the meaning of various parts of this form of the Mass.

    However, I don’t know where this myth comes from that young people don’t like to explore the richness of the Roman Church’s liturgical heritage, at least when it is participatory worship. Certainly when I was young that was not the case. To this day, one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life was attending the Easter Vigil for the first time my freshman year. Many of my classmates hold the same view. While we had grown up long after the restoration of the Holy Week rites, none of us had attended the Vigil. With all due respect for “family values”, worshiping without young children, we were spared the cutesy additions to involve them or moving the Easter Vigil to the late afternoon and keeping it short. Starting at 10:30 pm Holy Saturday and not moving downstairs for champagne until at least 1:00 am is that way Easter should be!!!

    But I think it is right the issue for young people is loneliness and alienation. Participatory communities of their own peers seem successful. This might be the Latin Mass community of those with a deep intellectual understanding of the former ritual. This is quite different that the situation prior to the Liturgical Movement where people kept their nose in a prayer book, saying prayers often unrelated to the Mass and with little understanding of the Mass.

    This is also what I see going on in the huge young adult communities at St. Mathew’s, St. Thomas and Sacred Heart. Hundreds of hundreds of active, engaged young Catholics. They are quite able (and not the types to wait forever for clerical direction) to organize social, spiritual, charitable, social justice and educational events. Most of them, I find, don’t fit their parent’s categories of “Liberal” or “conservative” Catholics and in fact seem tired and disinterested in the “culture wars.” But they have a terrific sense of community and care for one another.

    Lastly, while I see great reasons for optimism from the young people in the groups named above, I think the Church in America is heading to a colossal failure with the 75% of young people who are not college students or college graduates. They are largely invisible. Some years ago an author wrote a book on what she thought was a “new orthodoxy” and conservativism among young Catholics. While her theory is debatable, what shocked me is that she wrote an entire book claiming to be about young Catholics and I could not find a SINGLE example of a non-college young person cited. 75% of the young people written off.

    I really see no pastoral plan or action for non-college youth. This is quickly becoming a great shame of the Church.

  10. While I am long past the young adult age I do have considerable experience working as a volunteer in parish life as a high school youth minister for some 20 years. I worked in a parish that had no Catholic High School and we had a Catholic grade school through 5th grade. The final four years I worked in a community that had K-8 education, 2 Catholic high schools and a Catholic College. I can say without a doubt that the young people in the community the last four years of my ministry had less Catholic about it than the community that would seem to be a Catholic ghetto. It is all about challenging our young people. It is all about answering their all important questions that they ask. Lastly it is also very important to speak to them about which vocation they are going to choose in life. I agree with the last post that as a Church we have missed an opportunity with those that choose not to go to college.
    I have worked with folks on the National level in youth ministry and that has been one of the toughest things to get addressed for years. The good news is the parishes that are truly pastoral are working to answer the question there. Also many of our diocesan youth ministry folks have added that to their plate.
    In addressing the orthodox or contemporary viewpoint of the faith through liturgy while I have a respect for the history that the Latin Mass brings to our faith it is not a direction that I would want to go back to entirely. I enjoy seeing the faces of the priest when they are speaking to me. I also enjoy hearing them preach in English. Even at 52 my Latin is not that good. I shared with a college age student this last month that goes to a 6 a.m. Latin Mass on a Saturday morning that while it is beautiful I remember some of the same challenges of getting the young people engaged when the Mass was in Latin. Sometimes even more. The bottom line for many young people is that the time invested must meet their needs. Whether that is music, types of Mass whatever as Church (all of us) we are going to have to learn to work together to make that happen. Here in the midwest our diocese is down to it’s last 70 priests and has already started training parishes for the day that we may have to operate without a parish priest on board. Pray for vocations. Encourage vocations.

  11. I disagree with a lot of what has been said. As a young adult (28), I couldn’t have less interest in the Latin mass or traditional pre-60’s music. The folksy music I grew up with is one of the great draws for me and the most moving part of the service. Of course I’m speaking only for myself in this respect, and I don’t see any harm in having more options available. If people find the Latin mass beautiful and inspiring, then wonderful! Just not my bag.

    As far as how to attract more young adults in general… that is where I think most people here are absolutely wrong. Sticking to your guns and becoming more dogmatic is NOT the way to go. I know a large number of non-religious people and more or less militant atheists. The more demanding their parents were in regards to religion the more they were pushed out of the church. Those with the strictest upbringing are the most likely to be atheist and reject the church altogether.

    I agree that church shouldn’t be watered down, but it should be explained and understood. Faith provides answers and meaning to our lives. Young people, like all people, seek this out, but they don’t accept having to switch their brains off. A message of “Jesus loves you, don’t ask questions” doesn’t work. Nor is “Jesus is our savior because that’s what it says in the Bible and the Pope said so”. Watering down the theology into nice sounding, vague pitches and force-feeding theology as a series of rules and dogma without understanding or rational inquiry are self-destructive approaches.

    Catholicism is built upon centuries of rational inquiry into our faith and making the pieces fit together in a reasonable way. The great strength of our church is that we aren’t out there saying the world is 5,000 years old because that’s what the Bible says. Our faith can co-exist with evolution, can co-exist with science, and can co-exist with civil rights. I think a lot more young adults would stick around if they felt the church was a part of the world around them and not a relic from the past.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on everything and abandoning church teachings for political expediency. But I think when a lot of people refer to orthodoxy they are speaking more about their own personal politics and biases that have nothing to do with the Church. We, as Catholics, hold that life is sacred. We oppose (or the Church opposes) abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. The Pope came out against the war in Iraq. All I hear Catholics ever talk about is abortion. I agree, abortion is a horrible crime and tragedy. But so is war. So is the death penalty. Have any politicians ever been refused communion because of their support for the death penalty? Not that I’ve heard.

    John Masslon said earlier that we need to stick to our guns about abortion and gay marriage. He, like many people I hear are using the Church as a weapon in their secular culture war that has nothing to do with Christianity. From my understanding of church doctrine, homosexual sex is wrong because it is not (by definition) procreative. I can accept that. But that doctrine applies equally to ALL heterosexual sex that is non-procreative. The culture warriors in the church de-emphasize that and pretend there is some big, horrible problem with gays, when most of us are in the same boat. Furthermore, gay men who are NOT having sex (i.e. priests) are in violation of no church teaching whatsoever and should not be banned from the priesthood.

    Young people sniff out hypocrisy very well. When Church leaders put their personal politics ahead of principle that alienates a lot of people.

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