What the Church Can Expect From the Next Generation

Survey: US Catholic Youth Are Relativists, But Eager to Learn

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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, FEB. 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church in the United States has a lot to look forward to, as 18 to 29-year-olds come of age. But, it also has plenty of work to do in proclaiming Christ's message to the next generation.



A new Knights of Columbus/Marist poll released today gives a profile of outlooks held by "Millennials," those in the age group of 18 to 29.

Many of the survey results are promising: 85% of Catholic Millennials believe in God, for example, and their top priorities are getting married and having a family, and being spiritual or closer to God.

More than 80% of Catholic Millennials also believe commitment to marriage is under-valued.

Two-thirds of Catholic Millennials recognize abortion is wrong, and nearly that same percentage (63%) recognize euthanasia is too.

Acceptable?

However, the influence of culture is also marked in young adult Catholics. For example, 82% of Catholic Millennials see morals as "relative," and only a slight majority of practicing Catholics (54%) disagree.

And defining what's morally acceptable reflects an unclear hierarchy of values: 37% of Millennials consider it "morally acceptable" to do medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos, whereas only 3% give their moral approval to claiming someone else’s work as your own.

Perhaps most encouraging is that Catholic Millennials (65%) report they are very or somewhat interested in learning more about their faith
 
According to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Church leaders need to understand the outlook of the next generation of Catholic adults.

"Catholic Millennials support Church teaching in a wide variety of areas, including contentious issues like abortion and
euthanasia. In other areas, the cultural relativism that Pope Benedict XVI has spoken so much about is very evident, and it confirms the wisdom of his attention to this question as central to the New Evangelization," he observed.

Anderson contended that there "is much good news for the Church in this survey."

But, he added, "it must act and teach in a way that makes clear the reasons for Church teaching as part of what our Pope has called our 'yes' to Jesus Christ."

The report presents the findings from a survey of 2,243 Americans -- including an oversample of 1,006 Millennials. Reports for Americans have a margin of error of +/- 2% and for Millennials it is +/- 3%.

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On the Net:

Full survey results: www.kofc.org/un/cmf/resources/Communications/documents/poll_mil_religion.pdf