BY ANNA ARCO
YOUNG CATHOLICS have expressed their dismay at a liturgy designed for National Youth Sunday which includes chocolates after Communion and comical Gospel sketches.
In an effort to attract young people, the Catholic Youth Services, funded by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, have arranged a National Youth Sunday Mass resources website called "Reclaim the Future!
National Youth Sunday will take place on November 23, the Feast of Christ the King.
The website's home page says: "This year's National Youth Sunday takes the theme Reclaim the future! It continues the Live Simply message of recent years by inviting us to think about how we can live sustainably in our communities." It continues: "Living simply and sustainably reminds us that these aren't just trendy, eco-friendly actions but God-given responsibilities."
The liturgy, which focuses on green issues, suggests a litany of penance which includes asking for forgiveness for "wasted energy", "throwing away unused food", "overfilling kettles", "wasting paper" among other petitions.
It also suggests handing out Fairtrade chocolate with environmental messages on it for the postCommunion reflection or "as part of the final blessing".
Young people are encouraged "to.look hard at their lifestyles and choose to live sustainably". It says: "While we all share responsibility for the damage society does, we also share in the possibility of change. Living sustainably as Christian Catholics, we're called to acknowledge our sense of community and interdependence: our relationship with other people and the world around us helps us to understand that we can become who God wants us to be."
Reclaim the Future! is done in conjunction with Live Simply', a website which allows people to make pledges about living "simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor". Live Simply was launched in 2006 for the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's Populorum Progressio encyclical on the development of countries.
But the Reclaim the Future! website's release has experienced a backlash young Catholic bloggers on the intemet posted links to the site only days after it was launched, criticising it for its lack of orthodoxy. James Preece, the young blogger who first drew attention to the website on his blog "Catholic and Loving it!", wrote: "Of course, it's one thing to take pot shots at liturgical shenanigans and make fun of priests in silly costumes. It's quite another to deal with the theology of the thing. Under 'Going Further' you will find a document entitled 'Theology of Sustainability'. This document contains the words 'Gandhi' and `Ghandi' but not the words 'Christ' or 'Jesus'. It also references a book, The Human Story of God, by a chap named Edward Schillebeeckx who has regularly been accused of denying the divinity of Christ."
Mr Preece has also objected to the fact that this is the third National Youth Sunday in a row to have a Live Simply theme when Populorum Progressio was published in 1967, instead of
focusing on other encyclicals such as Hurnanae Vitae, which had its anniversary this year.
In order to mark his protest, Mr Preece has called on young people to sign a pledge to "Live Chastely" on the Live Simply website. The pledge collected 61 signatures in five days.
Other bloggers followed suit in criticising Reclaim the Future! including parish priest Fr Tim Finigan. On Facebook, there were discussions about the liturgy proposed by the Catholic Youth Services.
Echoing the sentiments that were circulating on the intemet one 22-year-old student. who attends his university chaplaincy regularly, said: "I just can't believe how tasteless, insipid and vile that
Mass is. Saving the planet is important, the Pope talked about it at World Youth Day, but through Christ and the Church, not vice versa. I mean, we've been taught to recycle and care for the environment since our school days."
She and others said they would write to the Congregation for Divine Worship to register their disappointment at the liturgy, which was suggested by a branch of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
Adam Berry, the Catholic Youth Services director who commissioned Reclaim the Future! on behalf of the bishops' conference, was unavailable for comment as The Herald went to press.
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