Priests and parents 'scared' to evangelise to teenagers13 June 2014 | by Christopher Lamb
Parents and priests are struggling to transmit faith to teenagers while others are fearful about evangelising due to the prejudices of others, a new report has revealed.
A document from the Diocese of Plymouth on the New Evangelisation explains that the home and the parish have become “two environments where people found evangelisation fraught and challenging”.
It says: “For many reasons faith has become a difficult topic at home. Few parents feel confident about navigating their way through the second decade of their children’s lives in matters of faith. Similarly few priests feel confident about their relationship with young people and with secondary schools.”
The report, “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord”, was compiled following a symposium on the New Evangelisation organised by the diocese last November.
It collated the responses of 325 clergy and lay people who took part in the symposium and has been produced for the Bishop of Plymouth, Mark O’Toole, parish priests and laity.
The report says there is a reluctance from some to evangelise because of perceptions that the believer is either “needy or stupid” or “judgemental and fundamentalist” while other Catholics are fearful of having to give account for the entire doctrine of the Church on sexual matters.
“We have become anxious to communicate all aspects of church teaching attributing equal importance to every detail,” it says. “We have to some extent lost our sense of the foundational and primary proclamations; namely that Jesus Christ is our Lord, he loves us, that he died to save us, and that he is with us every day.”
A majority said that parish communities are not evangelising with most people not making a conscious link between “their baptism and call to evangelise.”
The New Evangelisation, the report explains, is a disposition rather than a strategy and means seeking “opportunities for grace” such as offering to pray for friends, saying grace in a restaurant and car journey conversations.
It urges parishes to work with other Christians, develop new methods of evangelisation and to become more missionary-focused.
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