Dissent at Catholic Youth Ministries

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Not long after I published my recent column about Robert McCarty and the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministries (NFCYM), I started receiving emails from concerned and in some cases very well informed parents. One of the emails included screen shots from Facebook postings of one of McCarty’s senior employees.

On Facebook this fellow celebrates the recent Supreme Court rulings in favor of homosexual marriage as “historic” and an “affirmation of the love and dignity of all human beings.” In another post he congratulates Rhode Island for legalizing homosexual marriage. To his credit, on his Facebook page he also celebrates the recent pro-life victory in Texas.

There is a certain ho-hum quality to this news. Are we really surprised to find that an employee of a quasi-official Catholic organization is squishy on a key teaching of the Church? Sadly, no.  Dissenters from Church teachings have occupied senior positions in chanceries, rectories, seminaries and certainly in quasi-Church organizations for at least 50 years.

Yet in these days of increasing orthodoxy isn’t it at least a little bit surprising that a senior official of a Catholic organization would flaunt his dissent so publicly?  Some compare Facebook to a cocktail party, others to an office water cooler. But it is even more public than that.  And in this public forum, in front of his boss McCarty who is on Facebook with him, this youth ministry leader felt quite comfortable announcing his dissent from this Catholic teaching that so deeply affects children. Maybe these views are de rigueur at the NFCYM water cooler. Did they all celebrate homosexual marriage after the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions?  Do they know the teachings of the Church on homosexual marriage? More importantly, how do they instruct Catholic youth on the subject?

It makes sense that one of the last redoubts of the failed Church revolution would be youth ministries. As the revolutionaries are driven from the chanceries, rectories and bishops conferences, it makes sense they would remain imbedded in an area with so many impressionable minds and so little adult supervision.

Most of us would not come within a mile of Catholic youth ministries, for a whole host of reasons. It is not for adults, though adults run it. And much of it is simply strange to us. The floridly tattooed Bryan Kemper, who runs a thoroughly solid youth outreach for Priests for Life, says a certain level of excitement is necessary to keep the kids’ attention and I believe him. While many young people are attracted to the Traditional Latin Mass, many others need something quite different. But, do they need what McCarty’s annual conference offers them?

He regularly features a comedienne who makes fun of—or at least light of—Catholic practices. A campy Christmas skit from a recent NFCYM youth catechist conference featured adults dressed as Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men. While the choir sings Christmas hymns, the Mary character makes periodic comic grimaces, presumably from labor pains, to audience laughter.  Other adults sashay and shimmy on stage until the climax of the skit, when, as the choir crescendos to the words, “This, this is Christ the King,” a man in a bear costume stumbles onto the stage. Hilarity ensues.

The skit was proudly posted on YouTube by the head of an archdiocesan Catholic youth ministry who attended the conference, but after it appeared among the comments of my last column on this topic it has been taken off YouTube—not likely because it is blasphemous, but because shining a spotlight on it is a danger to McCarty’s project.

Most of us steer clear of youth ministry. Other than a sojourn in a Methodist youth singing group called New Faith, so did I. My time in New Faith was mostly about girls. The whole scene was just too touchy feely, and not in the way I sought in those days.

Maybe kids need pop music and silly skits to keep them interested in the Church, but you have to wonder if this is the only way to pass along the faith to kids. And you have to ask if it is working. Look around your Church on Sunday and count the number of teenagers. You will be shocked at the how small the number is. So, you have to wonder if McCarty’s way is really working. After all, he and his have been at this for decades. Yes, he turns out 20,000 for his annual conference, but where are these kids on Sunday? Not in Church.

Not all diocesan Youth Ministry offices are content with the hippy-dippy way. Informed sources tell me the Diocese of Arlington has pulled out of the NFCYM, or at least its annual conference.  There are probably many others.

Other groups offer a different and a better way. Curtis Martin and his Fellowship of Catholic University Students put on an annual conference for several thousand students that is respectful and thoroughly orthodox. His group is growing exponentially. The Steubenville youth conferences draw many thousands of young Catholics, too, where they hear about the love of Christ and the call to purity, chastity, and self-sacrifice.

A charismatic once told me the charismatic movement was one lane coming into the church and six going out. What is the calculus for Catholic youth ministries? How many lanes in? How many lanes out?

The next national conference of McCarty’s group is in November in Indianapolis. Let us hope some fearless and faithful videographers attend.

Austin Ruse

By

Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of C-FAM.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    How puerile that we think what young people need is self-indulgent entertainment. The essential problem is that far too many “Catholic” youth leaders, as are the ‘touchy-feely 60′s types’ in our Church, are just basically IMMATURE. This applies also to those priests who molested pubescent boys for the past 50 years – they were psychologically and emotionally immature. It is their immaturity (combined with poor self control and warped consciences) that prompted them to be attracted to similarly immature youth.

    No, what Church leaders – both male and female – need to be are models of Christian maturity which means that they have out-grown their childish narcissism and, instead, know that service to ‘the other’ is what Christian maturity is all about. Instead of the ‘Church of perpetual entertainment,’ we should have a Church that encourages our youth in service projects for the elderly and infirm IN THE PARISH and like-minded projects. After confirmation, our youth should have been sufficiently catechized so that they can be prepared to go on mission. We need a Church renewed by a ‘dying to oneself’ so all can rise again in Christ Jesus. This seems to me to be the message of Pope Francis.

    • JenB

      I agree with your second paragraph, totally. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I don’t see the entertainment, as you call it, self-indulgent. I think it is a way to speak to them and draw them into the deeper mysteries. If we don’t do that then Yes. Their faith stays immature.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Entertainment as an instrument for growth in the faith is appropriate up to about age 9. Beyond that, pedagogy in the faith should center on age-appropriate catechesis and evangelization.

        When my sons were young, I realized that efforts to promote healthy self-esteem depended greatly on their being given many opportunities to contribute to the welfare of our family. Same goes for the family which is the Church – young people will flourish (and likely maintain their connection to the Church family into adulthood) when they are making a contribution to the welfare of the Church. By so-doing, they become stakeholders. In the end, entertainment has a short shelf life.

        • Nik R

          “Entertainment as an instrument for growth in the faith is appropriate up to about age 9.”

          Not sure I agree with that. Look at St. John Bosco, for example, and what the Salesians do even now. Visit a Salesian seminary, and you are likely to see the men playing with kids, or playing a game of soccer or basketball amongst themselves before heading to the chapel for vespers.

          Yes, pedagogy in the faith does need to be centered on, well, the faith. That means sacraments, prayer, spirituality, evangelization, and the moral teachings of the Church. Absolutely. But let’s also realize that many of our youths are not ready for that, because many of them have not met the Risen Lord, which ultimately only comes as a result of grace (that’s why our communion of saints includes Dominic Savio, Ignatius of Loyola, and St. Helen – who received the grace to come to know the Lord at very different stages in life).

          So what does this all mean? I remember, from being involved in campus ministry, that we would hold some events that were specifically designed to educate people in the faith, and some that were simply to build community. We couldn’t get every baptized Catholic to come to a discussion of the Eucharist, but we could get them to come to a free meatless meal on Friday nights, which, for some of them, saved them from getting drunk or from sexual immorality that night.

          The Church is a place of profound JOY, and that JOY should be evident in all of her ministries. Certainly, the joy of the Eucharist never fades, but that doesn’t mean that playing games and laughing, even with high school kids, is bad. Some of the current Youth Ministry ideas are good for this reason: they help keep kids out of trouble. Youth who don’t have a mature spiritual identity need something else to draw them into the Church, where they will learn more about their faith, and where their spiritual identity will mature.

          Also, even when there are no lessons on theological virtues, building community DOES draw us closer to Christ, because it shows us the very identity of Christ himself. After all, the sole purpose for our creation is to be in communion, together, with Christ. That’s not possible without community in our parishes, houses of studies, seminaries, apostolates, etc.

          • Deacon Ed Peitler

            We do not disagree. I should have been more specific in my objection. First, when I speak about catechesis for youth I am not talking about sitting kids down in a stuffy classroom and drilling dogma into their heads. Like you, I believe that shared meals are probably a great time to share Church teachings in a relaxed “feeding” atmosphere. Secondly, I am NOT saying that play or entertainment is bad. What is am saying is that play and entertainment as the sole vehicle for engaging youth in the faith is not effective. What IS enduring is youth actively involved in doing for others. It will enhance their connection to their faith because they will experience it as something meaningful. Man derives meaning from being in communion with God and neighbor.

          • crusader1234

            The “profound JOY” in our churches you speak about is not going around with a stupid grin on our face. Being a Christian is PAINFUL. The Joy is a quiet belief that there is hope of permanent joy in Heaven, but our faces can grimace with the temporary pain of the moment.

    • John O’Neill

      “When I was a child I spake as a child”. Right you are Deacon we have too many supposed adults who have never grown up. Maturity has been the victim of the modernist movement of the sixties; we still see old men walking around with long grey pony tails and jeans pretending that their bodies have not aged nor their minds matured. I have seen signs outside protestant churches advertising “extreme worship” which I think refers to youth oriented jamming in a church. Children should be taught that the church is a sacred place where God has chosen to come to his people; not a rock concert venue. Serva fidem.

  • Rock St. Elvis

    As a youth, I always felt efforts to make things “youth friendly” to be nothing more than condescension by supercilious adults, as if those purveying such nonsense thought I was neither intelligent nor mature enough for actual reverence. It turned me off to religion for well over a decade. (The one thing I wasn’t mature enough to do as a youth was to put up with such bilge for the sake of Christ.) Kids more than anything want the unvarnished truth. They know they are in their formative years and they crave solid guidance to allow them grow up finally. If all they are going to get is “entertainment,” eventually they’ll go elsewhere, either because others are invariably much better at entertaining or because entertainment requires novelty and nothing gets old faster than such inferior garbage as the “youth program” directors are serving up.

    • BM

      I strongly agree. The last thing we should do is try to dupe kids into liking the faith; they can see such shenanigans coming from a mile away.

      When I was a youth back in the mid 90s, my parish was looking to do something with the youth. They previewed a video for us (at that time it was just me and one other guy) of what was perhaps a charismatic event in Texas. They asked, “Don’t you want THIS?!” In stunned disbelief at what I had just seen, I shook my head, groaned a little, and mumbled, “No, I don’t want this.” After hearing my response, and what bothered me the most about their preview was that, the woman pushing it tried to make it more enticing to me by saying that, when everyone goes up to the altar for the big group hug, I could stand next to the girls and hold them…. Even as a kid I wondered: is this a bribe? what, exactly, does any of this have to do with God??? It was unbearably patronizing; I never went back (nor did the other guy).

      Whenever I see similar stuff today, I cringe, wondering how many kids are still being put off from the faith because of this childish, vapid approach that insults them as being too stupid to take the faith seriously and deal with it like a reasonable person.

      • musicacre

        Wow that is so sad to hear those mindless kind of people were in charge of impressionable youth. For years we had to be the only family that didn’t send the kids downstairs during a big chunk of the liturgy. I know who those families were and I happen to know that not a single one of those kids bothers to go to Mass, many years later; they are all in their 20′as now. I’m thankful no one trivialized the Mass for our children or tried to make it “relevant ” using the techniques that were popular then. I remember wandering down for coffee one day after Mass and one of the mothers enthusiastically telling me why “they ” decided they would remove the crucifix and certain parts of the Creed because it was just too violent for the kidees. I started to feel “violent” because each of my children had a very cherished (and blessed) crucifix in their bedrooms….

        • Bono95

          That mom and her ilk will also have to be careful what saint stories they share with their kids because most martyrs died pretty gory deaths. St. Elmo/Erasmus was rolled in boiling pitch, seated in a red-hot iron chair, and set fire to, St. Margaret Clitherow was crushed over a spike with a huge stone slab, St. Peter and Andrew were both crucified (St. Peter upside down and St. Andrew in an X formation), another apostle was flayed alive (I’m sorry I can’t remember which), St. Lawrence was roasted, St. Joan of Arc was burned, St. Sebastian was used for target practice, St. Thomas Beckett was beaten to death on the altar, St.s John the Baptist, Agnes, Dymphna, Alban, John Fisher, and Thomas More were beheaded, Dozens of English priests and underground Catholics were hung, drawn, and quartered, St. Peter Martyr got his head split by an ax-wielding heretic (who shortly afterwards converted), and several Japanese converts were thrown into a volcano or suspended upside down over a pit filled human excrement. And this is just scratching the surface, but just 1 or 2 of these stories might freak out these moms, or maybe inspire them to be braver witnesses. Let us pray that the latter is the case.

    • Lin Chan

      Why have such time-enduring books like Captains Courageous and Kidnapped survived generations? Because in these adventures — written for youth — are life lessons and truths about human nature, good and evil, making choices, etc. Youth today are not different. Silliness can be found anywhere, but real discussion is hard to find.

    • Barbaracvm

      I have a friend who taught religion class. She would use the required book as a subject guide. BUT she would teach the religion with substance and at the level appropriate for the age of the class.

      She taught them their prayers. She had to teach 4 graders their prayers because the parents and previous teachers had not.

      Her kids wanted to attend her class. The students would throw a fit if the parents tried to make them miss class.
      In the other classes the kids did not care to attend. This from a parent who had children in several different classes due to age.

  • Me

    McCarty’s senior employee is following his conscience, celebrating religious freedom, and affirming the “love and dignity of all human beings.” Disagree if you will, but these are the values I want my own children to absorb from their youth leaders. For my children, I want Catholicism to teach them to lead lives of integrity, service, and leadership by example. I don’t want them descending into obsessing over or trying to control other people’s sex lives or happiness.

    • Austin Ruse

      We are obliged to follow our conscience, certainly, but our informed conscience. it is clear this man does not have an informed conscience otherwise he would know that marriage can only ever be between a man and a woman in a lifelong commitment for the primary purpose of begetting and raising children to be good Christians. He would also understand and proclaim Church teaching rather than publicly dissenting. He is leading children astray.

      • lifeknight

        He is leading them to perversion.

      • Me

        We can’t say his doesn’t have an informed conscience. He may have studied the issue and thought about it in great depth, and yet still disagree. In this case, he MUST follow his conscience. We cannot play God here. This issue has many levels. One can believe homosexual (and all other non-procreative sexual) acts to be immoral, but still believe in granting religious freedom to same sex couples that choose to marry and still believe in treating them with love and respect, which may be what this person is doing. Holding a particular point of view and accepting that others can disagree in good faith, respecting the freedom of others to make their own choices, loving those who disagree — all these are what I want my own children to learn. The least charitable thing I could teach them would be to ostracize anyone.

        • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

          But he’s not disagreeing in good faith. If he had good faith, he would resign his position as an employee of the Church which teaches the objective truth: same-sex marriages are lies with a legal rubberstamp. And no one with a properly formed conscience (“informed” conscience is a red herring.) can support them.

          • Me

            That’s not what the Church teaches about conscience.

            • David H

              You might want to read the Catechism, starting at paragraph 1776, to see what the Chuch teaches about the formation and following of one’s conscience. Of particular note is paragraph 1786, which says that following one’s conscience could lead to an erroneous judgment, if the conscience isn’t properly formed. So, yes, following one’s conscience is of primary importance, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll make the right choice.

            • JenB

              Read CCC #1776-1802. “…the education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgement and reject authoritative teachings” #1783….”We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it (the Word of God) into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teachings of the Church” (#1785)

              No where in that section does it say “and if you disagree with the Church, that’s fine. Just follow your own way anyway”.

              • Me

                All true, but if you’ve done all that and you still disagree, you MUST obey your conscience, however hard that might be and however much it might be easier to go with the flow.

                • lifeknight

                  Some would say that if there is that much conflict of conscience one should consult a spiritual director. Hoping to get a well formed priest is a challenge sometimes, but if you are truly conflcited it is your duty to stand by Church teaching and to promote that teaching to your children.

                  • Me

                    Not if the teaching is in opposition to your sincere and informed conscience. Most of us don’t agree with every single Church teaching. The Church is very clear about issues of social justice, just war, and the morality of addressing climate change, yet many Catholics emphatically disagree. Not all teachings are taught infallibly. The doctrine of infallibility is not accepted by all Catholics. Lumen Gentium states it perfectly: “The church .. clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” This is why the Church has been able to change her position about slavery, religious liberty, usury, and the dissolubility of marriage. However, this is not really what is at issue here. What is at issue is that one treat homosexuals with love, tolerance, and acceptance, and that one can believe that they should be the ones to make the choice about whom to marriage (as opposed to the state making that choice for them.) Neither of these decisions contradicts Church teachings in any way. Even if one considers homosexuality the worst type of sin, once can still hold these views.

                    • David H

                      By logical extension, then, I presume you would support 3 men entering into marriage together. Or 2 men and a woman. Or, 2 brothers. Or a mother and her son. I mean, who are we to restrict who can get married, as long as the individuals love one another?

                    • Austin Ruse

                      There is not a single teaching of the Church that I am obliged to believe that I do not believe. BTW, climate change is not a “teaching” of the Church….you are very confused. You, sir, are part of the problem. The good news is that you and yours are passing from the scene…

                    • Me

                      What you believe does not have to be what anyone else believes. Catholicism is not a cult. We are not required to check our brains at the door of the church at Mass. If you’re not familiar with the Church’s teachings on climate change, you might want to read this: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Climate-Change-and-Catholic-Social-Teaching.pdf
                      And, no, religious liberals are growing at a far greater rate than religious conservatives, who are dying off and being replaced. http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/07/19/2324411/the-rise-of-the-religious-left-religious-progressives-will-soon-outnumber-conservatives/

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Do you really think that Church teaching is decided by a coalition of NGOs, even one that includes the office of migration of the USCCB? This is really how the universal teaching of the Church comes about? Really?

                      I hate to tell you there is nothing in this document that says we are bound in any way to believe the hokum that is “climate change.”

                      On the other hand the teaching on marriage is found in both the old and new testements and in the consistent teaching of the Church over time. But that teaching is up for grabs, right?

                      Right.

                    • Me

                      NGOs did not create doctrine regarding conscience. The Church did. I suggest you study the doctrine of probabilism. Both JPII and BXVI have spoken out about the problem of climate change and the moral responsibility to help those affected by it. You are in good conscience free to disagree with them, but attention to such issues of social justice, as unambiguously taught by the Church, will have far greater impact on society than obsessing over the genital behavior of the two or three percent of the population who are homosexual.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Slippery, Me, very slippery. You suggested that climate change was an official Church teaching and for proof showed a document produced by NGOs and two offices of the USCCB. I easily dispatched that claim and now, you suggest I was denying Church teaching on conscience. Nice and slippery.

                    • Me

                      Go and read what Popes JPII and Benedict XVI had to say about climate change. Here are some direct quotes from BXVI: http://www.catholicsocialjustice.org/sites/default/files/documents/EJ09climate-06-Pope-Benedict-Climate-Change-Quotes.pdf

                      You are blatantly thumbing your nose at teachings straight out of the mouth of a modern-day pope while sounding off about someone from an NGO doing something similar. If you’ve honestly informed your conscience about climate change and our responsibility to the environment and still disagree with what the Church is teaching, I respect that. However, please give others the same courtesy.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      These few quotes do not rise to the level of a binding teaching. He thinks “climate change” may be real. I do not. If there was a teaching that it is real and something was required of us, I’d be first in line. These few quotes don’t come close.

                    • Me

                      No teaching is truly “binding.” Every teaching should be studied and evaluated in good conscience. We need to prioritize sometimes apparently contradictory teachings and beliefs, which is why one can belief homosexuality is wrong and refrain from indulging in it while still treating homosexuals with love and respect and avoiding all forms of discrimination against them. For many of us, avoiding discrimination means that we shouldn’t ostracize them (from the boy scouts, for example) or deny them civil rights. You are aggressively dismissive of recent popes’ unequivocal teachings on religious environmentalism and the morality of addressing climate change as an issue of social justice that disproportionately hurts the poor. At the same time, you appear to insist that everyone who disagrees with your particular take on gays in the boy scouts and marriage equality is a bad Catholic. This is both “slippery” and obdurate. You can’t have it both ways.

                    • Bono95

                      The climate change issue does indeed hurt the poor, but not in the ways you might think. Some eco-freaks won’t let poor people in South America, Africa, and Asia because Oh horror! They MIGHT KILL or ENDANGER a precious bug or weed or other specimen of oh-so-awesome biodiversity. And because we can’t use pesticides (many of whose “harmful” effects are nonexistent, negligible, or simply unproven), malaria and other insect-spread diseases are thriving in 3rd-world countries while crops are dying or forcibly reduced.

                      Obama and his henchmen won’t let us mine more coal or drill for oil on federal lands (even though the US harbors enough of these reserves to last millennia without foreign import), thereby destroying the job market, making us more dependent on foreign oil or bogus “green” energy schemes that waste as much or more energy than they ever save, are insanely expensive, highly unreliable, and the companies that make them nearly all go bust within 5 years despite massive government funding, and raising the already too high cost of gas and oil (if the world was fair and our bonehead president would let us drill, gasoline would be 10 cents a gallon and oil would be $10 a barrel, that’s how plentiful the stuff is).

                      Last but not least, the population propaganda eugenists sing the praises of China’s brutal, inhumane, and extremely mysoginisitic one-child policy, and exploit poor people everywhere (whom they have no love for) by forcing them to accept bad medicine (abortion, contraception, and sterilization) that they don’t need or want before they’re allowed to have any of the good medicine they so desperately need and want, in the name of “keeping the population stable and sustainable”. At the recent women’s conference in Malaysia, population control fanatics of all stripes got royal treatment (some of them were royalty), while people who came to draw attention to the need for clean water, better health care for mothers and “wanted” children, and aid in menstrual hygiene for 3rd world women and girls were grudgingly given the poorest spaces and worst time slots possible. The earth-worshippers don’t give a shiitake mushroom about the genuine plight of anything or anyone who clashes with their fallacious “disaster scenarios”.

                      And there is a difference between truly loving those with SSA and condoning same-sex marriage and homosexual scouts and troop leaders. It is not an act of love to approve or encourage actions which gravely endanger a person’s soul, increase his risk of developing AIDS or any of a myriad of addictions or other tragic STDs, or to place him in a situation of great temptation to molest others or in danger of being molested himself. People with homosexual inclinations should never be called names or treated like freaks, but neither should the truth be hidden from them or distorted in order to have an “affirming attitude” or to be “politically correct”. Pray for them, inform them that while SSA itself is not sinful, indulging in its attendant temptations is gravely so, and refer them to a good spiritual director and Catholic outreach program.

                      As several other people here have told you already, all official Church teachings are binding on all Catholics, and a properly formed conscience will never lead a Catholic to contradict any of those teachings.

                    • Me

                      It is very hard to come to the conclusions you hold in the face of the ever-increasing mountain of evidence and the teachings of all recent popes and the USCCB and the conclusions of the Pontifical Academy of Science (which have been endorsed by the Vatican.) You are obviously free to dissent from what the Church teaches on this issue, just as others are free to frame same-sex marriage in a way they feel is ethical, but we all need to inform our consciences and minds about global warming, rising greenhouse gases, and the resulting environmental changes. Most especially, we need to think about our responsibility to mitigate the effects of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable. The Church is responding to these concerns in keeping with its social justice platform. I would guard against the temptation to be led by knee-jerk ideology and extremist elements in the media rather than by a sincere search for truth and by the voices of Church leaders. These articles might be helpful to you:

                      http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/global-climate-change-a-plea-for-dialogue-prudence-and-the-common-good.cfm

                      JP2′s World Day of Peace message of 1990: http://conservation.catholic.org/ecologicalcrisis.htm

                      Benedict XVI’s World Day of Peace message of 2010:
                      http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20091208_xliii-world-day-peace_en.html
                      (Note that he refers to climate change as “a reality”, as in: “Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”)

                      Here are some links to other references by BXVI to climate change, all made during his papacy:
                      http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/catholic-teachings/benedict-xvi/

                      This reports covers some of the science and is consonant with the conclusions of the IPCC: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Pontifical-Academy-of-Sciences_Glacier_Report_050511_final.pdf

                    • Bono95

                      When it comes to the environment, I understand and believe in not littering, in not wasting water and electricity, and in recycling, but I draw the line at installing ugly solar panels that only work when the sun is out or for however long they can hold a charge and are made of non-biodegradable and environmentally dangerous materials, squeezing into a tiny electric car that can’t drive very far, uses up as much or more in coal/electricity as what it saves in gas, and would offer no protection in a minor crash, and forking over money to save “potentially” endangered bugs and lizards while ignoring or deliberately harming people in need.

                      And as others have already brought up, there is not and has never been any official Church teaching or papal encyclical on environmental issues; no popes have written on the environment while exercising their full infallible authority, therefore I may respectfully disagree without being heretical.

                    • Me

                      “And as others have already brought up, there is not and has never been any official Church teaching or papal encyclical on environmental issues; no popes have written on the environment while exercising their full infallible authority, therefore I may respectfully disagree without being heretical.”

                      Of course you may respectfully disagree without being heretical, but there has in fact been a papal encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, that repeatedly reflects on environmental issues. Chapter Four of this encyclical is titled “The Development of People, Rights and Duties to the Environment.” I suggest you read that chapter particularly closely in order to more fully inform your conscience, and I trust that you will be able to do so in a spirit of humility rather than with a pre-determined mindset. Of course, you have the right to disagree with the encyclical, but here are a few excerpts I think might interest you:

                      “Today the subject of development is also closely related to the duties arising from our relationship to the natural environment. The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”

                      “On this front too, there is a pressing moral need for renewed solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and those that are highly industrialized. The technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption, either through an evolution in manufacturing methods or through greater ecological sensitivity among their citizens. It should be added that at present it is possible to achieve improved energy efficiency while at the same time encouraging research into alternative forms of energy.”
                      (Note: Our “green Pope” had 2,700 of those solar panels you so despise installed on the roof of the Paul VI auditorium.)

                      “This responsibility is a global one, for it is concerned not just with energy but with the whole of creation, which must not be bequeathed to future generations depleted of its resources. Human beings legitimately exercise a responsible stewardship over nature, in order to protect it, to enjoy its fruits and to cultivate it in new ways, with the assistance of advanced technologies, so that it can worthily accommodate and feed the world’s population.”

                      “Let us hope that the international community and individual governments will succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment. It is likewise incumbent upon the competent authorities to make every effort to ensure that the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations: the protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate obliges all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet.”

                      “The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa.”

                      “The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere.”

                      One cannot deny, though one may dissent, the Church’s teachings on environmental issues.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      And where does it say we must believe in global warming?

                    • Austin Ruse

                      The church simply does not teach that global warming is scientific truth.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Dismissive only of your insistence that churchbteachingvrequirescwe believe in global warming. Care for creation? Certainly! Global warming? Bosh.

                    • crusader1234

                      Me,

                      Why wouldn’t the loving thing to do for homosexuals is telling them that they CAN live chaste, moral, celibate lives, and that the cross of same sex attraction they bear was given to them by God as something to RESIST and achieve heroic holiness by not falling prey to it?

                    • Austin Ruse

                      And I will just point out that none of the quotes you produced expalined that we as Catholics are bound by Church teaching to believe the hokum of global warming. I am tempted to say nice try, but it didn’t even rise to that level.

                    • Bono95

                      Amen, Mr. Ruse. And for anyone who doesn’t thing that “global warming”, “global cooling”, “climate change”, etc. ad nauseam are bogus alarm scams should visit http://www.thegreenagenda.com. Actually, it’s a good site to visit even if you already believe that climate change is bogus.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Religious liberals are just a collection of statists, libertines and collectivists. They are neither religious or liberal.

                    • me

                      It’s against the spirit of Catholic charity to judge and stereotype.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      So is lying, either by omission or commission, so stop both.

                    • Adam Baum

                      For crying out loud, get a better pseudonym. “Me” is trite and unimaginative, probably a product the limitations that develop with giving feelings primacy.

                    • lifeknight

                      Again. No way. This is baloney or bologna. I am going with the spiritual works of mercy. “Admonish the sinner.” A perversion as deep as sodomy deserves nothing less.

                    • Rock St. Elvis

                      “slavery, religious liberty, usury, and the dissolubility of marriage”

                      The Church has not changed its teaching on any of these things.

                • David H

                  I really don’t think you could describe following the teachings of the Catholic Church as “going with the flow.” Quite the contrary, in fact.

                • Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum!

                  One is not born with a “conscience”…… One “forms” a conscience… So, that means there is “formation of conscience”…. How was your conscience formed?

                • Steven Jonathan

                  Dear Me,
                  It seems as if you are coming at the whole conscience thing from the wrong angle, that of the skeptic who says “I need to see it to believe it.” I am reminded by Saint Augustine and many other great saints who echo “I believe it that I may understand.”
                  Chesterton said “there was a time when men believed the Truth and doubted themselves, now men believe in themselves and doubt the truth.” We live in a time that is upside down. To form our consciences, we would be wise to believe the wisdom of revelation and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit and cooperate with grace as we strive for the formed conscience.

                • KS Catholic

                  And you can still be wrong.

                • James1

                  Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)

                  And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Lk 9:24)

                  I don’t quite see – within Christ’s own words – where one would have much room to do other than what Christ asks us to do. Pretty straightforward that I must put aside “Me” and do as Christ does/says. And Christ was pretty clear about marriage, too.

        • Austin Ruse

          An informed conscience can never place you in opposition to the Church on an article of faith. So, I think we can say he does not have an informed conscience.

          • Me

            a) We don’t know that he’s in opposition to the Church. One can feel that all forms of non-procreative sex (contracepted sex, homosexual acts, etc.) are wrong without wishing to take those options away from people. I don’t want to ban contraception or make homosexual marriage illegal, but I don’t wish to indulge in either.
            b) Yes, if you honestly disagree with Church teachings, after making every effort to inform yourself, you can and must obey your conscience. To violate your conscience is a far greater sin than supporting SSM.

            • Austin Ruse

              We certainly do know he is in opposition to the Church. The Church teaches that marriage can only ever be between a man and a woman. This fellow celebrates a redefinition of marriage. He is an unfaithful Catholic.

              • Amadeus

                Does he say that the Church should conduct marriages for same-sex individuals. If so, that would be going against Church teaching. However, if it is simply that civil law should recognize marriages for same-sex individuals, than it has nothing to do with the Church.

                The Church is most certainly permitted to dictate the beliefs for her members, but has no right to enter into politics or set the norms for all of society.

                • Austin Ruse

                  The church absolutely has a right to intervene in politics. And the church teaches that marriage of any kind can only be between a man and woman. Anything else places you in dissent b

                  • Amadeus

                    It is simply your opinion that the Church has the right to be involved in matters of civil law and politics. However, the fact of the matter is that the separation of Church and State exists in this country for a reason. The Church has every right to set policy and dictate what is to be believed by her members. The Church does not have the right to dictate that for all of society though.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Well, it’s the law. You cannot censor people from speaking and acting in politics and government even if they are priests and nuns and bishops. As speak and act as a Catholic constantly….you cannot stop it, much as you’d like to apparently…

                • crusader1234

                  Amadeus,

                  What are you talking about?

                  The Church was put on Earth to teach to ALL society what God’s laws are. The Church can use politics, radio, TV, the internet, or any other means she wants to do it.

            • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

              But you are missing the larger point: One can’t expect to keep drawing a check from the Church when they disagree with its teachings. Conscience and personal integrity should direct one to resign. And it’s no violation of his conscience to fire him.

            • JenB

              You say “taking the options away from people”. I say “instructing the ignorant” which is a work of mercy. We have to bring the truth of Christ into their lives.

            • Adam Baum

              Ahh, there it is “feel”. Feelings are always the moral compass for the libertine left. I feel like eating a whole key lime pie tonight, but I’m a grown up, so I won’t do that.

            • Rock St. Elvis

              Funny how “we cannot play God,” yet there you go classifying levels of sin.

            • crusader1234

              Wrong!!

      • musicacre

        Yes, what kind of unity is being promoted. I have seen some pretty disturbing videos of rock group mania complete with the screaming and hands in the air that you would see at any hard rock concert, from a diocesan event. I remember reading Dietrich Von Hildebrand stating that only unity in truth is true unity.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        But that is not Catholic teaching.

        The Fourth Lateran Council teaches that “”He who acts against his conscience loses his soul.” This dictum is brought out with singular fulness and force in the moral treatises of theologians. The celebrated school, known as the Salmanticenses, or Carmelites of Salamanca, lays down the broad proposition, that conscience is ever to be obeyed whether it tells truly or erroneously, and that, whether the error is the fault of the person thus erring or not. They say that this opinion is certain, and refer, as agreeing with them, to St. Thomas, St. Bonaventura, Caietan, Vasquez, Durandus, Navarrus, Corduba, Layman, Escobar, and fourteen others. Two of them even say this opinion is de fide. Of course, if a man is culpable in being in error, which he might have escaped, had he been more in earnest, for that error he is answerable to God, but still he must act according to that error, while he is in it, because he, in full sincerity, thinks the error to be truth.

        • crusader1234

          Michael,

          Catholic teaching is what the only GOD-AUTHORIZED TEACHERS of the Catholic faith say it is: that is the bishops who are in UNION with the pope, and not any theologians in this or any other century or place, including Salamanca.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            No

            Magisterial documents do not interpret themselves.

            As Bl John Henrry Newman also says, ” None but the Schola Theologorum [The School of Tehologians] is competent to determine the force of Papal and Synodal utterances, and the exact interpretation of them is a work of time” – In the example I gave, the meaning of the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council.

    • Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum!

      “Integrity, service, and leadership”? You don’t need Catholicism to learn these. Any good college degree program can do that. That’s not what Catholicism is all about. Catholicism is about living a “sin-free” life so that when we die, we will be united with our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. If we live a “sinful” life, we will then be united with Satan in hell for all eternity. As far as what is sinful? Know and live the ten commandments. We are ALL called to be “alter Christus, ipse Christus” — “another Christ, Christ himself” on this earth, so that we may gain eternal life with him when we die.

      • Adam__Baum

        OK, tell us where we can find one “good college degree program”.
        Harvard? Yale?
        Don’t say “Notre Dame”, “Georgetown” or any of the other festering secular cesspools that put a pretty Catholic bow on their recruiting literature, but invite Barack Obama to speak and and even cover up their Crucifixes at his request.

        • Bono95

          You can find a fantastic good college degree program at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (TMC).

        • TheodoreSeeber

          If all you are looking for is “Integrity, service, and leadership by example” then I’d have to admit that the Freedom From Religion Foundation does better at this than Catholicism does these days.

          If you are looking for CATHOLICISM though, that has to start in “the domestic church”- that is, with YOU.

        • Meg

          Thomas Aquinas College in CA, Franciscan University of Steubenville in OH, Christendom College in VA, University of Dallas in TX… to name a few.

          • Hinterland Conservative

            Add Benedictine College in Atchison, KS, Ave Maria University near Naples, FL and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, WY to the list.

    • lifeknight

      Sympathizers to the homosexual movement are the most dangerous to our culture and to our youth. “Love” may have some meaning in the discussion, but there is no dignity involved in the sodomite practices of homosexual men (or lesbian women). Think of what messages your children are given…..Rather, read the encyclical “Humana Vitae,” and share THAT with your children.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        I have a hard time even describing homosexuality as love.

        • Me

          But two gay men can certainly love one another.

          • Austin Ruse

            If it is a romantic kind of love, then it is disordered.

            • Cori

              VERY disordered. There are plenty of disordered sexual acts that don’t even compare to this one, because this bring another person’s soul into play, as well…plus, the studies are out now that prove homosexuals are FAR more likely to sexually abuse youth than heterosexuals.

          • Adam_baum@live.com

            Exactly how is misusing another’s body for your pleasure “love”?

        • lifeknight

          True. The reality is that it is a lustful intent. Love of neighbor is what I was thinking.

      • Me

        Read it, studied it in depth, in good conscience don’t agree with every aspect of it. I teach my kids the fullness of Church teachings and try to give them the tools to make caring decisions.

        • Mark

          “I teach my kids the fullness of Church teachings..”

          If that’s true Rich, why don’t you use your real name anymore?

        • crusader1234

          Me,

          you say ” in good conscience don’t agree with every aspect of it.”. Then your conscience is wrongly formed and you need to fix it so it agrees with Humana Vitae. Your conscience can be tricked by your great capacity to rationalize any sin. Even the Nazis who gassed concentration camp victims rationalized their actions as being good and proper for the greater good of their nation and considered themselves to be good people.
          ONLY THE CHURCH has the real Truth. Do not dissent or disagree with it! Jesus told the apostles (the initial church) “he who hears you hears me”

    • Tony

      Replace “sex” with “business” in your sentence above, and you will immediately see the absurdity. The world after the sexual revolution is deeply antisocial and cruel — it has placed transience at the heart of the one relationship that should be all-encompassing and permanent; and it has placed personal gratification at the heart of the relationship that should be self-surrendering. You want a better world for the poor? That is fine. You will never have that world until the evils of the sexual revolution are repudiated.

    • lifeknight

      Dear ME: You keep speaking of children—just a tad too much. Also, attempting to defend the indefensible! Busted! I submit you are a new infiltrate of the homosexuals who have targeted this site!

      • Adam Baum

        Evil by it’s very nature is brazen and relentless in it’s futility.
        (something I learned being a sinner).

    • Adam Baum

      How do you disagree with disordered thought?

      • Howard

        With rightly ordered thought.

    • musicacre

      You can learn that from the Rotary club. The Catholic church is unique in that it will always stand for truth, in season and out of season.

    • TXCatholic

      Catholicism will never teach us to oppose the dignity of marriage. You would be very happy in the Episcopal Church.

    • http://carsonw.org/ Carson Weber

      The Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai celebrated religious freedom, affirmed the “love and dignity of all human beings”, and followed their consciences when they engaged in an orgy at the foot of the Golden Calf. So, your point is….?

    • Me

      I am feeling greatly vindicated after Pope Francis’s remarks yesterday. He says that, while he stands by the teachings of the Church on homosexuality, he does not judge gays. Most importantly, he said: “We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.” This is supposed to be a Catholic blog. I am incredibly gratified that my own application of Catholic teaching led me to the same conclusions that Francis reached, viz., that we should not be out to ostracize gays. Reading this divisive and punitive blog, I often ask myself, “Who is wrong? Is it me, or is it them?” The truth is that nobody is really “wrong” if they’re doing their best, but I am extraordinarily happy to have my own views confirmed by the Holy Father. The Catholicism expressed here is sometimes disturbing. Francis comes from a place of pure compassion.

  • Kathy

    I can’t help but wonder is this “senior official of a Catholic organization” flaunting his dissent so publicly or is he expressing his true beliefs which are in direct contradiction to the church? I am worried that we have a much more serious problem here with many Catholics believing many things like abortion is acceptable in certain situations and that gay marriage is acceptable which both are in direct contradiction with the church’s teachings. I think it’s more likely the heirachy of our church is wishywashy on these subjects and we have members who are quite firm in their beliefs that our contradictory to the Catholic Faith. When is the last time any of us heard a Bishop, Cardinal, etc. come out against someone like Joe Biden who claims to be a Catholic yet is most definitely pro-abortion?

    • Adam__Baum

      Oh Joe’s a good Catholic, as long as you buy into that squalid “seamless garment” nonsense.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Joe isn’t even a good Catholic *BY THE SEAMLESS GARMENT THEOLOGY*. He’s for the drone war and he’s for abortion and he’s for euthanasia and he’s for usury.

        Four out of the five big intrinsic evils in seamless garment theology, he’s for.

        And yes, I don’t know of any politician who is Orthodox on all 5, but please, no pro-choicer is within seamless garment theology, especially not one that supports abortion, euthanasia, war, and bank bailouts.

  • Tony

    Preach it, brother. I always despised attempts by adults to act like teenagers, and I can tell you that all the excitement among young Catholics runs in quite the opposite direction. It’s the oldsters who can’t cut free from One Bed, Two Bodies, and Gather Us In, the Nice and the Naughty — songs that were passé the day before they were written forty years ago. Meanwhile, the young people are rediscovering chant and polyphony and traditional hymnody.

    • Howard

      With me it goes back even further. My teacher for 3rd grade was going to be my Aunt Joy. I remember her telling me, “Howard, we’re going to play a game next year. You call me Mrs. Richards!” “Whatever you say, Aunt Joy,” was my reply. I remember being amazed that because I was 8 years old, she thought I was a complete idiot.

    • Barbaracvm

      Sadly it is not just with religion that parents want to be their children’s best friends. It is in every aspect of raising children the parents have abdicated their role as parents, teachers. Instead they are one of their friends.
      Children resent this. They will use the parents spineless, wimpy attitude to their advantage. Then the parents wonder why they are lazy and in trouble, often to the point of jail.
      Parent can not understand why their child does not respect them. After all they were the best of friends.

  • Steven Jonathan

    Mr. Ruse,

    Another good and informative article. This idea of the “rock n roll” mass is pathetic. Kids yearn for the truth just like the rest of us, it is an insult to appeal to the appetites of teenagers and try to give them the impression it is deep and to rob them of the opportunity to grapple with the real good news.

    I hope more organizations like Curtis Martin’s grow.

    • Howard

      “Kids yearn for the truth just like the rest of us….” Even more so, in many cases. Do they want to play with a regulation baseball, or a wiffle ball? Do they want to play with an NFL regulation football, or with a Nerf football? Would they rather shoot a rifle or a BB gun? At least when I was growing up, we despised the “kiddy” version of anything.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Nick Alexander. I’m really excited about the Catholic Weird Al. So excited that I’ve gotten youth ministers in my parish his CDs.

    The reason? His parody songs, while pop music, ARE ORTHODOX.

    Yes, at a certain age entertainment in teaching the faith is worthwhile, as long as that entertainment is Orthodox.

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  • margaret Allain

    As and older Catholic, any effort to make ‘popular’ the message of Christ is an embarrassment. Way back, 50 years, pre-vat ii, we learnt our catechism, joined the Guild of St Agnes, Guild of Our Lady, attended missions in our local parishes, listened to the preaching (sometimes simple, perhaps inadequate but always in accordance with the magesterium), and grew in faith and security. The idea that the love, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ should be put into modern ‘jargon’ is so removed from reality that it hurts. Please allow the beautiful young, to begin to experience what we were given.

  • J.

    I just chaperoned a Steubenville Youth Conference, and one of the speakers preached about how dangerous relativism is and the truth about homosexuality. The talk was full of the love of Christ, but not wishy washy or watered down. My teens were so excited and on fire for the truth afterwards!

    • TXCatholic

      Our Catholic youth is CRAVING authentic Catholicism — please give it to them!! My daughter attended a week of a Stuebenville leadership and general conference in June and since being home for the last 4 weeks she is addicted (in a good way) to the sacraments — attending daily mass EVERY day and weekly reconciliation.
      Bob McCarty has been smart enough to engage some good orthodox Catholic speakers at his upcoming conference, but his 2012 conference for youth catechists left much to be desired. McCarty was proud to feature Fr. Richard Rohr, a dissident priest who was put on warning by his Bishop for marrying 2 lesbians, and other anti-Catholic teachings. Jack Jezrell of the concerning “Catholic” group, Just Faith, was also featured along with many other dissident speakers that have been featured in the NFCYM conferences. Parents beware. There are many good options for our youth. Don’t settle for the NFCYM and don’t support them.

  • JenB

    I have been a youth minister for 15+ years so I want to defend it a bit. I am NOT in the Bob McCarthy/NCYC camp at all. I was always of the mindset that it was my job to 1. Love teens into a relationship with Jesus and 2. Teach them what the Church teaches and 3. provide formational programming to help them grow in love of Christ and his Church. There are many youth ministers who do that and, as you point out Steubenville-and LifeTeen for that matter-are doing just that.

    But there is a deep division between youth ministers that love and support the Faith and those of NFCYM ilk who prefer to reimagine the Church in their own liking.

    I would be very careful to say that we should do away with it or that all youth ministry is chancery driven. I would do my own Church-faithful stuff at parishes where I served as well as get on committees at diocesan events to help direct the philosophy. I would often get shot down, but I had to try, right?! I strongly believe that there is a need for teens to have a faith community, but in the context of their family life and larger parish community and world wide Church.

    FWIW my biggest problems were often parents who did not know their own faith (like the nearly anonymous “Me” below. We have so. much.work. to do!! No-we have to much to pray for and be obedient to the Holy Spirit working in the Church and in our hearts.

  • Matt Landry

    “Yet in these days of increasing orthodoxy isn’t it at least a little bit surprising that a senior official of a Catholic organization would flaunt his dissent so publicly?”

    No, it isn’t.

    When the absolute last of the dissenters among the ordinary laity have either come back to orthodoxy or else left the Church entirely, I fully expect that the Church’s own bureaucracy will remain populated largely by dissenters until they all die off.

  • Concerned

    I was raised Catholic by two faithful parents. When I went to college, I met many of these Catholic teenagers that had been raised in “youth ministry,” and I was jealous of them, as they all described these wonderful youth ministry experiences they had in high school, which my parish did not offer, at least not to the extent they described. However, I soon learned that most of them questioned the Church on major issues, and I was shocked, sickened, and saddened by it. :( The teens who were faithful Catholics were essentially shunned by these “youth ministry” Catholics. We have to do something about Catholic education and fast.

  • Brandon

    I just thought I would note that at the last NCYC, 2011 in Indianapolis, the lines of kids going to confessions were overwhelming. They were looking for more spaces for confessions and more priests to hear them – many hundreds, probably thousands of young people desperate to go to confession. Something’s going right!

  • RobW

    “Yet in these days of increasing orthodoxy…”…I dont see a whole lot of orthodoxy increasing…especially at my parish.

  • Mike Buckler

    Mr. Ruse, while there are many things that could be said about this article, I feel the need to address two: 1. Your ignorance of the ministry and profession of youth ministry, and 2. your biased lens and divisive approach.
    1. Your ignorance of the ministry and profession of youth ministry. It is quite apparent that you do not have any firsthand experience of youth ministry or NFCYM. Of course there are other ways to catechize adolescent youth. However, the NFCYM – the arm of the USCCB for youth ministry – teaches and forms youth ministry leaders in the vision for youth ministry of our bishops found in their 1997 document, Renewing the Vision. See the document here: http://www.usccb.org/about/laity-marriage-family-life-and-youth/young-adults/renewing-the-vision.cfm#one. Catholic youth ministry today is based on decades of experience, ecumenical dialogue and a multitude of current and scientific research on adolescents today and on what is commonly referred to as “youth culture.” NFCYM seeks to train and equip youth ministry leaders in parishes, empowering them to engage today’s teens through a comprehensive structure and to journey with them as they grow as disciples of the Lord, something that is very difficult in the face of parish budgets that largely ignore this vital ministry altogether. In sum, read Renewing the Vision, do some research, and do not speak on a topic of which you have almost no knowledge. Criticize the guy who spoke on Facebook if you must, but don’t speak ill of youth ministry just because you stereotype all youth ministry leaders into the category of hippy. You have spoken without any real knowledge of the ministry and profession of youth ministry.

    2. Your biased lens and divisive approach. NFCYM, as a good embodiment of the Church, includes collaborating member organizations that, while all promote the advancement of quality youth ministry that is in harmony with the bishops’ vision, nonetheless represent various Catholic groups and Catholic theologies. In simple (and non-helpful) terms, this means both conservative and liberal groups WITHIN the Church. For you to harshly judge Dr. Bob McCarty and the entire NFCYM organization, and by extension the USCCB, and even youth ministry in general, based on the comments of one individual is not only unfair but wholly un-Christ-like. Put plainly, you are being divisive rather than building the Body of Christ. Go interview the conservative youth ministry organization LifeTeen, an NFCYM collaborating member. Ask them about youth ministry and its importance in the life of the Church before talking negatively about youth ministry. And go to the source, to NFCYM, to Bob McCarty, to whomever has allegedly made these comments (your article was based on pretty poor reporting – not a lot of facts and quite a bit of “some parents told me…”) and give us the facts from the horse’s mouth. I agree that the person’s (again, I have no idea who) comments sound out of turn and certainly give reason to ask questions. But as Catholics, we are called to do so in both truth AND charity. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35). All you have done is make your regular readers skeptical of a great Catholic organization and, more importantly, skeptical of a ministry that is integral to the life of the Church – integral, that is, if you believe what our bishops have to say.

    • Austin Ruse

      Are you really so indifferent that a senior staff member of McCarty’s outfit is a public dissenter on Catholic teaching? You criticize him “if I must.” Why won’t you? My article was actually based on reading the gentleman’s facebook page myself. I chose not to name him but I could have. I could have named one of your peers who placed a video on Youtube of a blasphemous skit from one of your conferences. It was enough that a senior staff member felt so comfortable in his dissent that he put it on facebook. Don’t you care about this? If not, why not?

      I will just repeat what Scot Hahn said about the charismatic movement. It is one lane into the Church and six lanes out. I do look around our parish and ask myself where are all the teens? This after decades of your “scientific” approach.

      I began my skepticism of this “great Catholic organization” as I came to understand that Bob McCarty has given a whitewash to the very clear and longstanding connection between Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts. There is trouble in this organization and someone in authority ought to do somehting about it.

      • JenB

        Austin, it is interesting to note that Mr. Buckler characterizes LifeTeen as “conservative”. The reason they are involved is to help steer the NFCYM back towards the fullness of the faith. I know from someone involved from another organization that it was like pulling teeth to get committee members to recognize that teens WANT adoration.

        As to the failure of youth minister, ie “where are the youth” that is an excellent question. Again, I have been a youth minister for 15 years and those of us who see this really struggle with it.

        I would give it a two part answer: 1. If kids aren’t getting it at home, it is very hard for them to stick with it after High School. Christian formation begins when they are born and must take place in the home. Youth minister is good in that is can help support what the parents do. If the parents do nothing, as is often the case, I still say that youth ministry is important because it can be an influence in the life of a kid who otherwise might never have been introduced to Jesus and the joy of his Church. and 2. Poor formational youth ministry programs are just as bad as the poor formation in the homes. If it isn’t centered on Christ and the teachings of his Church that we follow from the Magisterium, then you won’t have kids sticking around.

        But again, excellent youth ministry programs are worth it-the ones who bring the kids before Jesus in Adoration, who love the kids where they are at and invite them to know Jesus personally, who teach the kids all the fullness of truth, who challenges them to higher goals than they may have ever thought of by themselves. I have seen inner city kids with drug habits achieve standards I set for them.

        So it can be done, but we need 1. parents who are doing formation at home and 2. Excellent youth ministers in line with the teachings of the Church and who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

  • http://starkravingcatholic.blogspot.com/ Gerald McGrane

    I have attended NCYC with my students twice and will attend again with them in November. What I see is 20,000+ teens excited for their faith and their Church. I have seen 20,000 completely silent for Eucharistic Adoration. I have heard speakers such as Lifeteen’s Mark Hart remind and former Catholic Answers evangelists Jason and Chrystalina Evert encourage teens to follow Jesus, read their Bibles, and embrace lives of chastity. I have been there as renowned speaker and musician Steve Angrisano (who once shared the stage with Blessed JPII) lead teens in prayer and worship. I have seen a girl who had not been to confession in years return to that Sacrament.

    We as a Church have to be careful not to jump on the negative bandwagons so quickly. I agree that there is need for some correction at the NFCYM, but to categorically cut down the tree without taking a real look at the fruits does no one any good.

    • Austin Ruse

      So quickly? I note that people have been complaining about Catholic youth ministry for decades. Quickly?

  • Carole

    I also have reservations about the NFCYM, and agree with “almost” everything you say here. I was a little concerned about your last comment re. charismatics, however. Pope John XXIII prayed for a new pentecost when he convened the 2nd Vatican Council. Lumen Gentium 12 talks about the charismatic dimension…..Cardinal Ratzinger gave a “fundamentally positive” assessment of the charismatic movement in the Ratzinger Report. And Pope John Paul II said the charismatic dimension is “coessential with the institutional” dimension of our faith. (Pentecost address 1998). You may not be the expressive type, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is real power with the Holy Spirit, and the church needs the gifts he gives.

  • Ruth Rocker

    A lot of this nonsense stems from the fact that parents are no longer parents. They are buddies, or pals, or BFFs to their children. Gone are the days when parents were authority figures. Kids today know that the state has effectively emasculated the parental figure. They know that if they feel mistreated all they have to do is holler “abuse” and a flock of social workers and police will descend on the home to “rescue” the child. I’m not saying that there isn’t abuse, because there sadly is, but surely not every child out there is being abused. My son tried this once when we grounded him for something. He was looking up the phone number for social services and we told him before he made the call to have his bags packed. He looked at us oddly and asked why. We replied that if he made that call he would be leaving with them since it was so onerous to live with us. He never made the call

    Kids are always in need of guidelines and boundaries from adults, especially their parents. Granted they always also feel the need to push those boundaries, but that’s how they learn and grow. The fact that these people feel the need to pander to these young people is disgusting. Kids can see falsity from a mile away and don’t like it. They want the truth and they can generally handle it. Stop feeding them pablum and give them the full beauty and majesty of the faith. Help them feel pride and honor in following the teachings of our Lord. Stop treating them like they’re idiots!

  • Sam2001

    For a successful attendance you need, FOOD, FUN and yes people FAITH.

    Even in the 1990s, teens wanted the MEAT, they wanted “flesh and bone” of Catholicism. NOT the hollow platitudes and more KUMBYA that my generation (post Vatican II) were force to endure, or just “left” because we knew we needed more and were not getting it at CCD classes.

    Youth Ministry; you cannot say you have a successful program until the teens are grown and on their own, and come to church of their own accord, not because mom or dad telling them to go to church. It is successful, when they young adults take on the mantle of adulthood. When they start working in the parishes, in their communities, being “SALT” themselves, and bringing their fiances and fiancees to church, having their marriages blessed in Church and raising their children in the faith.

    THAT is a a successful Youth Ministry,

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      you nailed it!

  • tthruMary2Jesus

    I guess my question is …have you attended NCYC? In my experience at NCYC I did not experience “watered down , wishy washy faith” at all. The lessons and messages I experienced were challenging and true to the teachings of the faith. I witnessed a sharing of faith “teenage style”…silliness, noise, song and community…but a true sharing of faith that inspired hope for our future church like nothing I had ever experienced. There was a Eucharistic procession through downtown Indy that included thousands….what a witness. There was a gathering of youth where hugs and inclusion and acceptance and reaching out to others was the norm…..what a miracle. There was amazing huge over the top Mass attendance where everyone was engaged and the truest expression of the Body of Christ was witnessed. There was youth going to confession by the hundreds and sitting with our Lord in Adoration. If this is “watered down, wishy washy faith” I am a confused Catholic.
    I think Bob McCarty has a staff member who needs to be questioned and challenged….I do not think this staff member speaks for ALL youth ministers and their ministry work.

    Through Him, With Him, In Him

  • jacobhalo

    “Church dissenters have occupied senior positions… for at least 50 years.” Isn’t amazing?That is how long ago the Vatican II disaster occurred?

  • EdwardHu

    What would be elements to a constructive alternative?

    Is it too fantastic to imagine a simple program for youth focused on building an interior life with Christ? Can we suppose that we could use “skit time” instead to help youth lay in some simple elements to maintaining a presence of God during the day, a small prayer life, deepened appreciation for the Sacraments, especially how to get more out of Confession by “putting more love” into it?

    I remember getting some advice once about daily devotions and practices of the presence of God…and my director reminded me…”Ed, remember it’s a love affair!!”

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