ast Saturday Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said some thing startling to members of Youth 2000 gathered in his diocese. “For never since the days of persecution,” he said, “have so many obstacles been put in front of a generation to prevent you finding your way to Him.” Consider that for a moment: a bishop is telling the younger generation of Catholics that it is harder for them to discover Jesus today than at any time since the Elizabethan era.
The bishop’s words imply that we have reached a crucial moment in this country’s Catholic history. They suggest that there is a greater risk now that one generation will fail to pass the faith on to the next than at any time since the 16th century, when priests were hunted down and lay people executed for failing to conform. If this is true, then the older generation of Catholics has a greater responsibility than any since “the days of persecution” to communicate the faith to the young. Is this older generation – which, for our purposes includes anyone over the age of 30 – well equipped to rise to this historic challenge? Sadly not. While many over 60s were taught the faith with great rigour, many under 60s were poorly catechised. As a result, many of us find it difficult to articulate the faith that we are called, at this pressing moment, to pass on to others.
Should we despair? Not at all. While we must recognise, as the bishop does, that we are living in perilous times for the Church we are fortunate that we can trust in God alone to pass on the faith. We cannot trust in ourselves, in the strength of Catholic culture or in the Church’s social might. We can depend only on Jesus, who is still guiding his Church today.