Skip to content

Young Catholics and Moral Relativism

By Carl Anderson
3/29/2010 (7 years ago)
Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

Overcoming the allure of relativism with a message of truth has been a consistent project of Pope Benedict.

On Palm Sunday, the Pope also reiterated 'to all the young men and women […] that being Christian is a journey, or better: It is a pilgrimage, it is a going with Jesus Christ, a going in that direction that he has pointed out to us and is pointing out to us.'

On Palm Sunday, the Pope also reiterated "to all the young men and women […] that being Christian is a journey, or better: It is a pilgrimage, it is a going with Jesus Christ, a going in that direction that he has pointed out to us and is pointing out to us."

Highlights

By Carl Anderson
Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)
3/29/2010 (7 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter


NEW HAVEN, CT.  (Zenit.org) - Twenty-five years ago, Pope John Paul II inaugurated the celebration of World Youth Day -- to be celebrated on Palm Sunday each year. He understood -- as does Benedict XVI -- that the future of the Church depends on the youth, on the next generation of Catholic parents, priests and religious. But reaching the next generation is not always easy -- especially when young people today are inundated with messages that push them toward a "relativistic" view of morality, toward a value system in which relevant values are chosen on an individual basis -- and are not thought to be universally applicable. It was this relativistic interpretation of living that Pope Benedict spoke out against in the days just before his election as Pope -- when he warned of a "dictatorship of relativism." There is certainly a problem with relativism among young people today. A recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that 82% of 18-29 year old Catholics see morals as "relative." That's a shocking number, but fortunately there is more to that statistic than meets the eye. First, the majority of "practicing Catholics" disagreed, and second, the 82% who see themselves as relativists nevertheless don´t consistently apply relativism to moral issues.
 
When confronted with a series of moral issues, those same Catholic young people who saw themselves as relativistic chose overwhelmingly to categorize issues such as abortion or euthanasia as "morally wrong" -- despite being given the option of classifying each as "not a moral issue" -- which one would assume would be the logical choice of a true relativist. Inconsistencies Relativism, unlike truth, leads to exactly such inconsistent thinking, and so ultimately is not a fulfilling philosophy of life. Overcoming the allure of relativism with a message of truth has been a consistent project of Pope Benedict. Again this weekend, on the 25th celebration of World Youth Day, the Pope took the opportunity to address the young people in St. Peter's Square for his Palm Sunday Mass on the subject of leading a life based on truth. At the Angelus following the Mass, he appealed "to the new generations to bear witness, with the mild but luminous power of truth, that the men and women of the third millennium may not lack their most authentic model: Jesus Christ." Truth -- in the person of Jesus Christ -- must be the basis for witness to the faith. It´s a simple, yet profound statement. But to witness to the truth that is Christ requires a relationship with him. As then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger pointed out ten years ago in an address to catechists and teachers that the art of living "can only be communicated by [one] who has life -- he who is the Gospel personified." We cannot expect to change culture or influence people if we ourselves do not present an authentic witness to Christ, whom we know personally. And we cannot expect young people to witness effectively to their peers unless they have first developed a relationship with Christ that they are able to present in a very real way. On Palm Sunday, the Pope also reiterated "to all the young men and women [...] that being Christian is a journey, or better: It is a pilgrimage, it is a going with Jesus Christ, a going in that direction that he has pointed out to us and is pointing out to us." This is not to say that being a faithful young Christian in the face of peer pressure is easy. Be not afraid The Pope recognized this in his remarks when he said: "Do not be afraid when following Christ leads to misunderstandings and affronts. Serve him in the weakest and most disadvantaged people, especially your own peers in difficulties." There are many reasons such a message can resonate with young people. Who -- even among relativists -- could oppose or not be moved by the witness of one of their peers helping those in need? It is the preaching by deed more than by word that can often have the greatest effect. In contrast, the Christian message of love of God and neighbor is both consistent and fulfilling. What it requires to be accepted by those searching for answers in their lives is the effective witness of their peers and of the previous generations. Only in light of the truth does the passion of Christ, which we celebrate this week, make any sense. Under a relativistic interpretation, Christ´s death for others is senseless -- unless he died only for himself -- since the rest of humanity would have no need of him, or of salvation. Our job is to bring the truth to those young Catholics searching it, to the two in three in the recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll who expressed openness to learning more about their faith. In witnessing to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, let us bring into our hearts that love of God and neighbor so that we can effectively share it with our peers, and with future generations. Let us take as our own the words of St. Francis: "Preach -- and if necessary, use words."

-----

Carl Anderson is the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author.


Comments



More Lent & Easter


'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event

Importance

Ash Wednesday

March 1, 2017

Image of Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting... continue reading

Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Image of Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels... continue reading

Holy Week

April 9 - 15, 2017

Image of Holy Week On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by... continue reading

Holy Thursday

April 13, 2017

Image of Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover... continue reading

Good Friday

April 14, 2017

Image of Good Friday On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week... continue reading

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Image of Easter Sunday Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter... continue reading

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion... continue reading

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the... continue reading

Image of What did you give up for Lent? From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year... continue reading

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday May 25, 2017

Image of Ascension of Our Lord The Ascension of Our Lord, a Holy Day of Obligation, celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, a Thursday... continue reading

Pentecost

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Image of Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and Corinthians (16:8)... continue reading

Image of Lent FAQ's Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple... continue reading

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Image of Mardi Gras In France, the people feasted on foods that would be given up during the forty days of Lent. Meats, eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving the holiday its French title of 'Mardi Gras' which means Fat Tuesday... continue reading

Image of Transformed by Easter The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community... continue reading

Image of Appearances He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. - Matthew 28:6. Learn more about the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ... continue reading

Image of Easter Gifts CatholicShopping.com offers a variety of Easter gifts & Easter treats for all ages! Choose a gift for someone special and celebrate the joy of Easter... continue reading

Easter / Lent News

Inspire: Easter Beyond the Octave. Why Do We Celebrate for Fifty Days?

Image of Christ my hope is risen, and he goes before you into Galilee.

While Easter is a Solemnity and an octave feast, it is also a 50 day season until Pentecost.The Season of Easter is not just about His ... continue reading


Reflecting on the Resurrection: Why did Jesus Rise with Wounds?

Image of The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths point to us that Jesus is physically alive.  His crucified body has been transformed.  What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?

What lesson is the Lord teaching us by keeping his wounds intact? Perhaps we can better answer this question by turning to our own wounds. ... continue reading


I Am Dismas and This Is My Story

Image of

As a teenager I ran into someone who introduced me to the finer points of the occupation. We fell into the tried and proven method of ... continue reading


HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence ... continue reading


On the Friday We Call Good, the Whole World Stands Still Watch

Image of

Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born ... continue reading


The Lent and Easter Season... by CatholicOnline.shopping

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.