June 15, 2023 — There are so many theories about why young adults are leaving the Catholic Church today. Maybe our parishes aren’t welcoming enough, or maybe they’re watering down the faith. Maybe young people are being asked to do too much to be part of the community. Or maybe they’re not being asked to do enough. Maybe they’re angry at the church’s positions on social issues. Or maybe they just drift away because they don’t find anything relevant at church.
It can be challenging to offer grand, sweeping theories about young adults and the church because we’re talking about millions of people. Young adults aren’t monolithic. But there is some good quantitative and qualitative data we can work with, and today’s guest is uniquely equipped to offer some compelling arguments.
Ellen Koneck is the executive director of Commonweal Magazine, the venerable Catholic journal of opinion that celebrates its 100th birthday next year.
She’s an incredibly insightful writer with experience in pastoral ministry, making her an astute observer of the reasons her fellow young adults slip out the church door. She also took over her role at Commonweal after working as head writer at the Springtide Research Institute, which does some of the best statistical work on young people and the church you can find anywhere. Ellen combined her wealth of experiences and observations into a talk she gave this past April for the Catholic Common Ground Initiative in Chicago.
Ellen and host Mike Jordan Laskey recently had a wide-ranging conversation on why church membership is a bad metric for measuring youth involvement in faith, why the problem of polarization might not be as crucial to address as alienation, and how Commonweal is trying to reach a new generation of readers.
AMDG is a production of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.