The problem is that there are lots of other areas about which Catholics employed to teach the faith feel they cannot speak to young people. One area obvious to most priests, is marriage. I can understand a certain reticence when pupils come from what in the past might have been called "broken families", but it strikes me as a real failure in Catholic education that after eleven or thirteen years young people appear to have very little understanding of both why and what the New Testament and the Church teaches about marriage. I am not just thinking about the Theology of the Body which seems a closed book to young people, but basic things such as what constitutes a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church, and its relationship to Holy Communion.
I cannot help but think our failure to to teach, to speak ultimately results in people's unhappiness and has a knock on effect in society as a whole. I was horrified, but not entirely surprised by the following article in today's Telegraph:
This is a 24 per cent fall on the figure for 2000, when there were 13,029 Catholic marriages across England and Wales.
The rate of decline is twice as fast as the national rate, mainly because the Catholic church does not allow divorcees to re-marry in church.
In total there were 236,980 marriages in 2006 – the fewest since 1895 – but this has only fallen by about 12 per cent since 2000. Only one in three is now a religious ceremony.
The number of Catholic marriages is falling fastest in the diocese of Westminster, covering north London and Hertfordshire, which has seen figures drop by half in recent years, from 1,482 in 2001 to 795 in 2007.
The new Catholic Directory of England and Wales also shows there were 58,991 baptisms of children under seven in 2007, and that 915,556 worshippers attended Mass each week.