Seismic shifts reshape Catholicism

Denis Jackson

The author offers a personal observation on the handing on of faith to younger generations, and finds grounds for optimism. Denis Jackson is a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital in Yorkshire.

When I observe the kind of faith my adult daughters now have I have to rethink my own faith. I have moved from the disappointment I once felt to a new kind of hope.

I read recently in the American National Catholic Reporter journal that Archbishop Charles Chaput has announced from his Philadelphia archdiocese that a record number of schools will be closed in 2012. According to the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate of Georgetown University in Washington, the Church in the United States has lost 1,359 parishes during the past ten years.

Even the mighty Archbishop of New York, Archbishop Timothy Dolan is saying: ?It would seem that we have to develop a theory that one of our major challenges today is that Catholic leadership is being strangled by trying to maintain the behemoth of the institutional Catholicism that we inherited from the 1940s and 50s.?

The upheaval and displacement is profound and goes beyond the dismantling of the ?builder generation? of Catholics produced. The changes obviously go deeper than the bricks and mortar of Catholic identity to the psychology and practice of what it means to be Catholic today.

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