I read with some bemusement this morning an editorial by Ken Trainor at US Catholic about young Catholics and the “Spirit of Vatican II”:
World Youth Day, I suspect, attracts, inspires and/or meets the spiritual needs of those young people looking for a highly structured, hierarchical, institutionalized approach to spirituality, which is what the official version of the Catholic Church currently offers.
It does not reach the many young people, Catholic and non-Catholic, who define themselves as “spiritual,” but are suspicious of institutional religion, often with good reason. This generation has frequently been praised for their strong service values. Their hearts are in the right place.
The church of John Paul II and Benedict XVI will not reach these young people, no matter how many worldwide rallies they hold. The church of John XXIII and Vatican II, however, is tailor-made for them. It’s too bad the current Catholic Church has been trying its best to sweep that church under a rug.
I wonder if Mr. Trainor has actually talked to any young Catholics lately. From reading this piece I don’t get the sense that he has.
Young Catholics live in a Vatican II Church. It’s what we were raised and formed in; it is all we have known. (I include myself, having been born 13 years after the close of the council.) It would be impossible for us to live out the faith in any other context.
That some of us embrace more “traditional” devotional and liturgical practices is not an indication that we have been hoodwinked by some faceless institution or that we want to roll back the calendar to 1960. Rather, we approach these things with a sense of rediscovery and reappropriation in light of the council. In a very real sense today’s young Catholics are fulfilling Bl. John XIII’s call to the youth to re-imagine and re-articulate the great treasury of our faith in light of the modern world:
The Church looks to you with confidence and with love. Rich with a long past ever living in her, and marching on toward human perfection in time and the ultimate destinies of history and of life, the Church is the real youth of the world.
That Mr. Trainor wants to halt the march in 1962 says more about him, I think, than about young Catholics or the wider Church.