By Father John Walsh on July 6, 2013

It is time to take off the gloves.  

I find you are amazing the world with your innovations, making incredible strides in so many fields of endeavour, and you are greatly respectful of all that is genuinely human.   You have created a new enthusiasm for the protection of our planet, you want creation to flourish, and you have a true desire for peace.   You are forging new roads where no one has travelled.  You want the planet to be sustainable.  You belong to this world.  You venture into the unexplored mystery of life on the planet earth and in the unfolding mysteries in the universes beyond our planet.   You are not shutting your eyes to the world around you.  You are secular, and that means, in its full sense, world-centered.   

Many of you are giving up on religion.  You are abandoning religion and it is because religion has abandoned you.   I hear you say, stop telling me … do this and don’t do that!  You speak one language and religion speaks another language, especially on the topic of sex.  You ask the leaders of religions to take risks and they live with what they consider is the tried and true, their truth.  You are unable to accept it as the only truth.  You refuse other-world rewards and continue the thankless task of finding solutions to the problems, here and now, in this world.  

You face the many contradictions found in religion.  You started a revolution when you told everyone that religion fails to be self-critical.  You are not satisfied to just accept what you are told; you challenge what religion teaches, and, then, you are judged as dissenters who refuse to obey authority.   You walked away from the past of previous generations but the world to which you belong, your real world, leaves behind a religion which condemns your world as fraught with evil and sin.  You have a fire in your minds and in your hearts and it cannot be extinguished, it is the eternal flame of freedom.  You have sought truth in an ever-changing world and you will not give in because then you would have to stop taking risks and the future would be a dream never realized.  Push all the leaders of religion to see your dreams as the agenda for what they need to do.   You have wrestled and struggled to learn about life and you will grow to even greater insights to realize greater changes.  

Trust is at the crossroads of faith and life.  The past cannot be retained for its own sake.  It will be accepted when it makes sense to you, the youth of our religions.  Religion distances itself from people when faith has no impact on our everyday, ordinary lives.  You reject religious institutions when they are not accountable to you.  Make them accountable!  You have the ability through social networking to make us all accountable.  

You see religious institutions as a thing of the past, and churches, synagogues, mosques and temples as historical relics of the past.  You question the shibboleths upon which the leaders of religion have built religious institutions to protect the past.  Your imaginations offer new possibilities and have created a world of possibility.   

There can be a religious spring.  Religion must allow you to re-imagine your religious community in a context of dialogue.  You are free to dissent.  One of the defining challenges of today’s religions is to initiate an inter-generational dialogue wherein we can together makes this world a better world in which to live.  Dialogue has a religious context that is ecumenical and interreligious; a dialogue with non- believers is essential.  Make your views known.   We are all at the crossroads of life and faith.  All of us need to offer the next generation its own challenges to accept or reject what we offer as our heritage.  Youth can and will exceed the limits of what may be acceptable by certain norms of society but each generation will do this to find what this particular generation wishes to accomplish.      

Do not hesitate even when you know you will be stone-walled.  Do not give up or give in. Stand for something great and you will leave an indelible mark on the world and religion will have to be in tune with what best serves all of humanity.  

There are many religious issues that are at odds with what young people are thinking and doing.  You know the issues.  Religion wants you to be morally perfect; you are happy to experiment and make mistakes.   There is sin as it was defined in the past; you do not accept many sins of the past as sinful.  You live in a world where each person is given equal status in virtue of their being a human being.  You do not judge the worth of people on the economic power, sexual orientation, marital status, or political stripe.   

May the G-d of all religions be the one who is compassionate and loving, slow to anger and quick to forgive, and be the God we experience in history, in what we say and do bring to life to all we meet and allow love to speak for itself. 


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