Helping young people understand the current crisis

Have you been struggling with how to talk to your kids, students, or young parishioners about the current crisis in the Catholic Church? With the overwhelming news and devastating division, how can we help our kids to understand? Starting with understanding how young people process this kind of news is a good place to start, says Fr. Nathan Cromly, President of the St. John Institute.

“This is a moment where we get to exert real leadership over our families and over the lives of the people who are entrusted to us by remembering, first of all, for a young person, the time of grieving—of lost innocence about this or a change of paradigm—is very short. For most of us, we’re shocked and dismayed and it takes us months, even years to process this. For a young person, they’re just listening to another blip on the screen, in their mind,” says Fr. Cromly.

Knowing how young people process this news can help us understand how to speak to them about it. “And if we know that, we need to right away … speak about it in terms of the good opportunities that this represents for us moving forward to greater holiness, greater initiatives, and greater care for the people who are in charge of the Church. So, we need to right away realize that for their minds, they don’t need to go through the whole grieving process that we do, most of the time. We need to talk to them about how things are going to be better and how this represents actually an opportunity for the Church to improve herself as she evangelizes better.”

The children and young people in your life will pick up on how you react to the crisis. “They live in a media generation where facts and information are something that they’re used to processing without a lot of internal attachment to it. So, they hear that there’s a scandal coming up and if all of their parents and all of their priests and everybody is giving them the messaging that this is going to bring the Church down, well that’s what they’re going to hear.”

“If instead we spin it with the message that this is an incredibly terrible thing that summons us now to really engaging in our faith and really moving the ball down the field and every single one of us now gets a chance to witness to Jesus Christ more vibrantly and with greater authenticity, well then they’re going to get that message. And that’s the message that we really should be giving because we are called to be people of hope,” says Fr. Cromly. “The greatest thing we can do, with all of this that’s happening, is put our hands to the plow and start to move across the field planting the seeds that Christ has sent us to plant—the seeds of hope.”

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.