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Survey finds growing spirituality in European youth

A study has concluded that spirituality has grown among young Christians in Europe over the last 20 years, even as church attendance is declining.

The survey of spirituality among young Roman Catholics and Protestants in Europe is part of ongoing research into changing European values on matters ranging from immigration to homosexuality, that began in 1981.

The latest religious survey, published this month, investigates the beliefs of 18-to-29-year-old Christians, living in Western and Eastern Europe.

It finds that more young people believe in God, in spirituality and in life after death than they did 20 years ago. But fewer believe in the church or attend service in religious establishments.

French sociologist Yves Lambert, who headed the research, agrees the findings are indeed paradoxical.

"Although church attendance is dropping in western Europe, those who describe themselves as Christians express stronger religious beliefs than in 1981," he said. "Even youth who say they are not religious believe more in God today, and in life after death."

But noted Belgian theologian, Pierre de Locht, argues the Roman Catholic church has failed to respond to youth needs. Fr de Locht, a priest and frequent church critic, says the church's moral stance is too rigid and does not answer problems facing youths today.


29 Jul 2002