LAST summer Cardinal Flume wrote to about 9000 fifth and sixth formers in the archdiocese's Catholic schools, asking them five questions and inviting them to write to him directly giving their views.
More than 2,000 replied. Many of them expressed gratitude at being asked for their opinions but their frank ansvvers add up to a strong indictment of the Church's general attitude and policy towards its younger members.
Here we print extracts from their letters, together with some of the Cardinal's questions. Question: "What are you looking for in life?"
"This is quite difficult to say since ... I have never been given the chance to actually sit down and say what I want because for most of my life I have been told what to do by adults."
"The most important thing is to be as close to God as I can; this being achieved I believe I am capable of doing almost anything."
"Success, fun, money, freedom."
Question: "Do your Christian beliefs relate to this? If so, how?"
"Yes. Living a Christian life as Jesus taught us is the only way to find full happiness and contentment."
"Religious beliefs are not going to interfere with my career." "My Christian beliefs do not come in ... the material things come first when you're young and haven't got round to looking at your spiritual life till later on." "Slightly, as I am interested in helping people and trying to maintain society as a good place to live." Question: "Flow does your local parish fit into this?" "I go regularly but priests are totally out of touch with us. There is no friendly or homely atmosphere."
"Church is very boring and repetitive. I only go to Church because I am forced by my parents."
"1 think that in the next ten years the Church will discover how many young people have drifted away from the faith because there was nothing to hold them." "My parish is a particularly nice one but I do not feel involved .. we so rarely get a say in anything." Question: "So w hat are you going to tin nos?"
"Concentrate on passing my exams and not thinking too much about the future because adult life will come only ton quickly and I am enjoying my carefree life too much at the moment to think about it."
"l will plod on, hoping to find a deeper faith."
"When I've left school I'll probably forget about being a Catholic but not completely."
"Go to bed — I'm absolutely exhausted."