I am currently reading Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out of, and Gone from the Church, a new book out Oxford Press (Bibliographic information below). The book is based on the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), an effort to "better understand the religious and spiritual lives of Catholic “emerging adults.”" The study draws upon a sample of 3,290 young people beginning in 2002 when they were 13 to 17 years old and has been been followed up with a new survey of the same respondents every other year or so. These teenagers are now young adults between the ages of 23 and 27 years old.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to post a number of bog entries about this study and its implications for the work of the New Evangelization. For now, here is one initial quote/text I offer for consideration:
"Social and cultural changes in U.S. society, the American religious system, and the Catholic Church itself, they reported, profoundly affected American Catholics, such that younger American Catholics (“ post– Vatican II” and “Millennials”) are quite different in many ways from older generations (“ Vatican II”– and “pre– Vatican II”– era Catholics). As a result, young American Catholics were found by these studies to be:
• less well-educated and knowledgeable about their Catholic faith, reporting that they do not understand it well enough to explain it to any children they might have;
• more individualistic in their approach to religious authority and beliefs, viewing their own personal subjective experiences and sensibilities, rather than Church teachings, as the arbiters of truth and value;
• therefore very selective in what parts of their tradition they decide to believe and practice (e.g., adhering to core doctrinal truths about Jesus’ resurrection and the Eucharist, but discarding Church teachings on sex, birth control, abortion, etc.);
• more tentative and weak in their affiliation with the Church (“ loosely tethered”);
• less involved in the Church as an institution (by regularly attending Mass, making Confession, etc.);
• more liberal-minded about and tolerant of non-Catholic faiths and non-religion, viewing the Catholic Church as only one denomination among many in a larger religious system of voluntary participation;
• still largely adhering to a general Catholic identity, yet retaining the right to define that as they wish;
• less likely to place their Catholic identity at the center of their personal identity structures, but rather viewing it as one among many other competing identities;
• unable to articulate a coherent account of what it means to be Catholic."
[Smith, Christian; Longest, Kyle; Hill, Jonathan; Christoffersen, Kari (2014-01-17). Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out of, and Gone from the Church (Kindle Locations 92-106). Oxford University Press, USA. Kindle Edition.]