“We who have known God since we were young, must ask forgiveness,” said Pope Benedict to a gathering of his former students at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, on Aug. 28.The Holy Father's brief address may be found here in Italian.
The Pope said an apology is due because “we bring people so little of the light of His face, because from us comes so little certainty that He exists, that He is there, and that He is the Great One that everyone is waiting for.” (CNA)
I know of many parents (and grandparents) who grieve over the fact that their children and grandchildren are not practising catholics. Some would confess: "I failed!" Others agonize: "I did all the right things, I sent them to catholic school, they went to CCD..." I never encourage parents to beat themselves up (figuratively) over the lapse of their children for I know the pressures that young people face, and perhaps the parents just found themselves ill-equipped and poorly prepared for passing on the faith in a modern age.
Father Z mentions that amongst those who did not evangelize were some priests who failed to pass on the faith in its fullness. At the same time I am privileged to have known priests who were faithful and who profoundly influenced me as a young boy and young man. As Father Z also suggests, the liturgical chaos that reigned in many places served to destroy the faith of many and the restoration of Sacred Liturgy is key to effective re-evangelisation.
There are many fine catholic schools and fine catholic teachers who strive with a passion to pass on the catholic faith. But I personally know many parents who consider that the catholic schools to whom they entrusted their children failed them. I have expressed elsewhere my concerns about catholic education.
I went to one of the best catholic schools in London - Cardinal Vaughan but it is primarily thanks to my parents who schooled us in right conduct and family prayer and protected us from some of the strange teachings that were doing the rounds in the 60's and 70's that I am a catholic. Of their six children, two are priests, three are practising catholics, one has departed from the fold of the Church. Why did he depart? He received the same upbringing as the rest of us. He even frequented the Opus Dei centres that my brothers attended. The mystery of human freedom! My parents grieved over this, as any good catholic parent would/should. Hopefully their prayers from heaven will assist their son's return to the Church.
Secondarily I thank the fine formation I received through Opus Dei at the local Kelston Boys Club in Wandsworth Common, London, as a youth and at other OD locations and through the Faith movement later in my life. Only later did I go to the Seminary for final preparation for the priesthood.
There are great signs today (e.g. World Youth Day) that the young are responding to an integral presentation of the faith that will enable them, as Pope Benedict puts it, to bring people the light of Christ's face, to communicate to them with certainty that God exists, that He is there, and that He is the Great One that everyone is waiting for.