BY CHRISTIAN DE LISLE
YOUNG CATHOLICS of today are less observant but more orthodox, according to a survey of practising Catholics by the Von Hiigel Institute.
The survey of over 1,500 Catholics across the country found that while the young are less likely to pray regularly and are irregular in their attendance at Mass they considered these things more important than their middle-aged counterparts did.
A mere 62 per cent of the young attended Sunday Mass every week and 54 per cent said their prayers daily, while around 80 per cent of the old and middle aged fulfilled their Sunday obligation and around 70 per cent said their prayers daily. Despite this, over 60 per cent of those under 30 said that one could not be a good Catholic if one did not go to Mass every week.
The more observant middle-aged generation was surprisingly more flexible, with only just over half saying that Mass attendance was necessary to be a good Catholic.
Similarly young people's attitude to Confession mirrored that of the old, with a comfortable majority saying that one must attend Confession to be a good Catholic. A majority of the middle-aged, on the other hand, disagreed.
Another surprising result of the survey was the tiny proportion of the young who had any detailed knowledge of the recent history of the Church. A mere 10 per cent were fully aware of the Second Vatican Council while 93 per cent did not know that the ban on birth control was ever reviewed before the encyclical Humanae Vitae.
Fr Tim Calvert OP, prior of Blackfriars, Edinburgh, and chaplain to the universities there. said: "I am not surprised to hear that young Catholics are more conservative than their elders, but I am surprised that this did not seem to follow through into greater church attendance."
He suggested this might not be the result of a lack of commitment but more because of the hectic and unstable lives that young people generally live.
The survey was published in the Tablet magazine, which said the research showed that Catholics no longer felt obliged to go to confession.