THE NEED for pastoral counselling of the young in the Church in England and Wales was examined in detail when top moral theologians and counsellors met for a seminar at the Cherwell Centre, Oxford, at the weekend.
The seminar is part of a series organised by the Catholic Youth Service Council to investigate the pastoral needs of the young. It was chaired by Mgr Kevin Nichols, the National Adviser on Religious Education.
During discussion some points emerged on which there was common agreement:
The personal quality of the counsellor is all-important. Counsellors should be able to use both the theological and psychological approach as they work, arid should be able to discern when to apply each at the appropriate moment.
Our Lord's dealings with the Samaritan woman at the well is a perfect example of the human and religious elements combining in the act of giving counsel.
Gifts of personality and
temperament in individuals receiving guidance cause different manifestations of grace, and these have to be recognised and respected by both priest and therapist. In the opinion of many present, the norms of morality among young people are undergoing change. Dr Mary Coghlan, the well known Catholic consultant in child psychiatry, voiced this opinion. She said: "It seems to me that the youngsters today, though evidently different in moral and spiritual attitudes to their parents' generation, are in many areas better, and that this progress has been built upon the previous generation's input.
"For example, a parent who has struggled to teach his child truth must expect more open attitudes to moral problems both social and personal, and this will result in different language and even at times different actions.
"Moreover, this generation seems to be more occupied with justice, compassion and integrity as moral values than with strict attention to individual
sexual and possessive morality which was emphasised in the first half of the century."
Young people might appear to be dropping out of the Church, but their search for a more genuine standard of morality might'in fact, be bringing them very close to Christianity.
Sister Madeleine Cecile, SUSC, the Development Officer of the Catholic Youth Service Council is carrying out a nationwide investigation into what is at present being provided by the Church for the pastoral care of young people between the ages of 16 and 24, and for putting forward ways in which this service can be strengthened in any future pastoral strategy.
Liverpool Cathedral Cantata Choir will give its summer concert in the Crypt West Chapel tomorrow evening at 7.30. The programme will consist of Beethoven's Mass in C, Vaughan Williams' Five English Folk Songs and Bach's Concerto in D minor for Violin and Oboe.