Commentary on young, Roman Catholic priests by John L Allen Jr. over at the National Catholic Reporter – “The next generation of Catholic leaders.” He says the empirical data shows that younger priests are more “conservative,” but not quite in the way that older folks like to define that term. I absolutely agree with him. I wonder, too, if his observations ring true for young, Episcopal priests? My impression is that the observation can cross the dividing lines, but that could just be me selectively listening or reading those I agree with. Yet, I will say from my own research that for young Christians in general, particularly among the Mainline, they are reclaiming the Tradition, which means to some that they are “conservative.”
“This new generation seems ideally positioned to address the lamentable tendency in American Catholic life to drive a wedge between the church’s pro-life message and its peace-and-justice commitments. More generally, they can help us find the sane middle between two extremes: What George Weigel correctly calls “Catholicism lite,” meaning a form of the faith sold out to secularism; and what I’ve termed “Taliban Catholicism,” meaning an angry expression of Catholicism that knows only how to excoriate and condemn. Both are real dangers, and the next generation seems well-equipped to steer a middle course, embracing a robust sense of Catholic identity without carrying a chip on their shoulder.
“That’s assuming, however, that the best and brightest of today’s young Catholics aren’t prematurely sucked into the older generation’s debates — either by liberals who fear and resent them, or by conservatives eager to enroll them as foot soldiers in their private crusades.” [Emphasis mine]
This is the problem in the Episcopal Church, I do believe. The liberals do fear and resent the younger folks because the demographic does not agree with the liberals’ ideas of what the Church should be all about or how it should look. I’m sure they will try to co-op the cohort, as will the conservatives who see the new generation’s preference for Tradition as a validation of their cause, and it is not.
The younger generations are their own group, and they will remake this Church (or what’s left of it after the partisan war between the conservatives and liberals leave it in ruins).