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Young Catholics are left to sink or swim

SIR – Your cover cartoon of March 23 spoke volumes. It showed a cleric at a meeting designed for seven young people, where five of the seats were empty. In a linked article, Professor Stephen Bullivant surveyed the sharp decline in church-going by those in their teens and twenties, across a range of European countries. He used figures collected in 2014-16.

I am aged 85, but my wife and I now have 15 grandchildren. I can only speak for England, and my impression is that the Catholic Church puts a big effort into the spiritual development of children up to the moment of their Confirmation. After that it leaves them, perhaps to swim on, but in many cases to sink under the pressures of a very secular society. The official Church mostly fails to see that teenagers and young adults have their own specific spiritual needs. Can your readers suggest how to meet these?

The worldwide scandal caused by the sexual abuse of children and young people by clergy and its attempted cover-up is the background to a decline in religious practice by the young. I suggest that the Church as a whole should show its repentance for the harm done. It should do so positively, by making reparation for the failures of those who should have known better.

By a happy coincidence, in the same edition of the Herald Pastor Iuventus wrote about Grief to Grace (grieftograceuk.org). This charity provides healing programmes for the victims of sexual abuse. The programmes bring together the insights of both psychology and spiritual healing. The whole Catholic community, with its reserve funds, grant-making trusts and even jumble sales, should support this much-needed work of healing.

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