Motherhood message for Gen Y Catholics

Sydney, Australia - THE Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, is sounding a warning for the health of the Catholic Church, saying "religious confusion" among young Catholics is worse than for other Christian youth. Cardinal Pell's comments follow a report on a three-year study of the spirituality of Generation Y, a joint initiative by Monash University, the Australian Catholic University and the Christian Research Association.

And the lack of faith among young women could have serious implications for future generations given it has traditionally been mothers who have inspired children to faith.

In a speech he is due to give to Catholic educators today, Cardinal Pell partly blames comparative religion courses and "contemporary propaganda" for taking young Catholics "beyond tolerance and ecumenism and towards muddle".

The Catholic Church might have most to lose, he says, from the "slippage" in Christian adherence, if this year's Census results support previous findings.

It found that only 10 per cent of young Catholics believe in only one true religion. This compares with 34 per cent for other Christians, including Anglicans.

Many young Catholics were not committed to core Catholic doctrine, with 75 per cent believing it acceptable to pick and choose beliefs. More than half - 56 per cent - believed morals were relative, much higher than for Anglicans - 39 per cent.

By the time young Catholics reach 29 about a quarter had left the church, and there was little prospect of their return, Cardinal Pell said. "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."

The Generation Y survey was unable to detect any religious effect from attendance at Catholic schools which has been at the vanguard of the church's attempts to reconnect with the young. Indeed, Cardinal Pell says one third of more religiously committed students reported being made fun of at school.