MANILA, Nov. 12, 2013—What would the future of the Catholic Church be like without the youth to champion its cause?
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Saturday lamented over the weakening ties of the Catholic Church with today’s youth, noting the important role played by the latter in sustaining the ideals of Catholicism and making the Church alive in the generations to come.
“It is very saddening to celebrate mass in churches, especially in Europe, that are not anymore filled to capacity or when those who are hearing masses are (only) the pious and elderly people,” Tagle said in his talk during the First Saturday Marian Conference held at the San Carlos Seminary.
While expressing joy over the unwavering piety and popular religiosity of the elderly, the cardinal expressed concern over the decreasing number of young people—mostly in other countries—who actively participate in the activities of the church.
“It is good that even until the end, the elderly attend masses religiously. But a part of me also gets concerned—to whom will this beautiful faith of the elders and ancestors be passed on?” Tagle said.
“What happens when all of these pious senior citizens are gone? Maybe the parish will have to close if there is no transmission of faith,” he added.
Tagle said that this realization broadened his perspective on the characteristics manifested by today’s youth, as well as the manner on how they relate and establish connections with other people.
“Before, I was easily distracted by children who cry or run around during masses, but when I was able to visit such parishes, my perspective changed. (Even if the children’s noise can cause distraction), at least there is an assurance that they are present in the church,” he said.
“The child may not yet understand the reason why people celebrate masses, but I know they would still be able to pick up something no matter how small it may be. At least we have someone to pass our faith to,” he added.
“I am not saying that aging is bad. But when you do not see any sign of the next generation…the transmission of faith becomes a real concern,” Tagle noted.
In becoming effective transmitters of faith, he said that the faithful must accept evangelization as the “proclamation of the good news who is Jesus Christ.”
“When we are proclaiming Jesus, we are really passing on our faith in Jesus Christ to another person, to another community, or to another generation,” he said.
“Evangelization is really sharing who Jesus is and providing a space for relationship with Him…We who have encountered him, we ask all things by proclaiming who Jesus is and proving the space for people to encounter Him and accept Him in their lives,” he added. (Jennifer Orillaza)