Women of little faith spell trouble: Pell
Sydney Cardinal George Pell will today warn educators at the National Catholic Education Conference that the lack of faith among young women could have serious implications for future generations.
Citing the findings of the recent Spirit of Generation Y survey produced by the Australian Catholic University, Monash University and the Christian Research Association, he says it has traditionally been mothers who have inspired children to the faith.
According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, Cardinal Pell will also tell conference participants that by the time young Catholics reach 29 about a quarter had left the Church, and there was little prospect of their return.
"They are also poorly equipped for any return to the fold when they have little instinct for or understanding that there are truths of faith and morals, which are sought after and judged according to rational criteria.
"More of them seem to believe that life offers a smorgasbord of options from which they choose items that best suit their passing fancies and their changing circumstances."
In his address to educators at Darling Harbour in Sydney, Cardinal Pell blames comparative religion courses and "contemporary propaganda" for taking young Catholics "beyond tolerance and ecumenism and towards muddle".
"Too many young Catholics have been led by the pressures of contemporary propaganda ... so their religious confusion is worse than that of all other young Australians," he says.
An Australian report adds that Cardinal Pell cautions that churches may be experiencing an acceleration in Christian "slippage, with Catholics slipping faster, although they have bigger numbers on the slope".
Catholic education is experiencing a "complex and turbulent process of change" with "only limited capacity to transmit our tradition and preserve our identity", he says, citing the Generation Y findings.
He was surprised to find a mere 10 per cent of Catholics between the ages of 13 and 29 believed "only one religion is true". This compared with a survey average of 11 per cent, and 34 per cent among "other Christians". For Anglicans, the figure was 14 per cent.
Worse than the low numbers identifying Catholicism as the one true faith, and "particularly disturbing" for Catholic educators, is that 75 per cent of young Catholics believe it is acceptable to "pick and choose beliefs".
Cardinal Pell says this indicates "a malaise and confusion in the general approach to life rather than just a few isolated points of heresy or unbelief".
The conference titled "Among the many voices: Catholic education speaks now" explores what it means to be a Catholic school in modern Australia which is increasingly multicultural and multi-faith.
Also speaking will be Dr Kamar Oniah Kamaruzaman from the Islamic University of Malaysia, who will reiterate the importance of understanding and practicing one's own religious tradition.
Professor Desmond Cahill of RMIT Melbourne will speak on "God, Globalisation and Catholic Education in Australia".
Motherhood message for Gen Y Catholics (Sydney Morning Herald, 28/9/06)
Catholic youth in danger, warns Pell (The Australian, 28/9/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
NCEC Conference 2006
28 Sep 2006