The youth are the hope of the Church, with their young minds serving as a blank canvas for the promotion of the Christian faith.
A new study, however, revealed that some of those from the young generation are taking the wrong turn in terms of their spiritual life, giving Christian parents a greater role in keeping their kids' faith now more than ever.
Research conducted by Dr. Mark Gray, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, showed that Catholic children are leaving the faith at an early age – sometimes before the age of 10.
The study found out that the typical age for the decision to leave was made at 13. Nearly two-thirds of the survey participants, 63 percent, also said they stopped being Catholic between the ages of 10 and 17.
"It's almost a crisis in faith," Gray told The Catholic News Agency. "In the whole concept of faith, this is a generation that is struggling with faith in ways that we haven't seen in previous generations."
The researcher added that the younger generation are more than just bored with Church; rather, they are actually seeking more facts.
"Those that are leaving for no religion – and a pretty big component of them saying they are atheist or agnostic – it turns out that when you probe a bit more deeply and you allow them to talk in their own words, that they are bringing up things that are related to science and a need for evidence and a need for proof," Gray explained.
He added that some of today's youth perceive Church teachings as "incompatible with what they are learning in high school or at the university level."
What can be done to address this "crisis"?
Gray suggested that the Roman Catholic Church should try to harmonise biblical teachings and scientific facts as much as possible.
"I think the Church needs to come to terms with this as an issue of popular culture," the researcher said. "I think the Church perhaps needs to better address its history and its relationship to science."
"The Church has a chance to keep more of the young Catholics being baptised now if it can do more to correct the historical myths about the Church in regards to science," he added, "and continue to highlight its support for the sciences, which were, for the most part, an initial product of the work done in Catholic universities hundreds of years ago."
Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC, who worked in youth ministry for four years, meanwhile challenged the parents of today to help their children keep the faith.
Fr. Schneider suggested parents facilitate a "weekly activity" for the kids like catechesis, Bible study or youth group. He added that parents should become more aware of their children's faith.