New pope puts new focus on Canadian Catholic youth
By Kristin Andrews
The new leader of the Roman Catholic Church has been decided so what do those who are the future of the church think of Pope Francis?
“I’m particularly fond of evangelization itself, which the church always has an interesting policy on, ” said Alex Casamassis, 29, a former youth leader at Immaculate Conception Perish in Woodbridge, Ont.
“With the pope being a Jesuit, its main drive is evangelization,” he said.
Casamassis said Francis’s experience dealing with political strife in his home country of Argentina could be what the Catholic Church needs in its struggle in dealing with sex scandals, its stance on gay marriage and abortions.
“A lot of things garner a lot of attention in the media and rightly so, however its never really a policy for bishops or priests to work on politics,” he said. “Pope Francis has a history of dealing with politics of the same fashion by helping the poor, preaching and holding ground.”
Under Francis’s predecessors, John Paul and Benedict, the church has been focused o theology but Casamassis said Catholic youth are looking for someone who will lead by example.
“I look forward to having a pope of great example and to move from a strong theological mind of the previous pope,” he said. “ It will be refreshing to have the media try to interpret this pope because apparently he’s a man of action.”
Mark McGowan, a professor of the Catholic Church and Catholic education in Canada said there are not many youth in North America clamoring to become Catholic or even stay within the Catholic church.
“There’s been a culture war going on for several decades and unfortunately the culture is winning if you’re on the Catholic side,” he said.
Living in the noisy culture of blogs and social media, McGowan said it’s not surprising that youth in North America find themselves distracted.
“When you’re confronted by all these voices, the voice of the Catholic Church on certain issues doesn’t seem to resonate with the secular culture,” he said. “There’s not much to attract young people.”
With the Roman Catholic Church facing a number of issues, McGowan said the church should live up to the standards they set for everybody else.
Sister Kelly, 23 from the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of Eucharist in Grand Bay, MI., said although there are challenges ahead, Francis might be the one who is able to respond to the church’s many needs.
“Obviously there are a lot of things that need to be addressed when you’re the shepherd of 2 billion people across the world of all different cultures,” said she said. “ But that’s the beauty of the universality of the church and I think he will lead well in responding to the many, many needs of the church.”
“We just very much trust the holy spirit has chosen Pope Francis for this specific moment in history for what the church needs at this time,” said Sister Kelly. “It’s exciting to be a part of it and see how God is going to use him to lead the church.”