By Gudrun Schultz

SYDNEY, Australia, September 29, 2006 ( – Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, spoke out in concern over the growing religious confusion and lack of commitment in young Catholics in Australia, in an address to the National Catholic Education Commission’s annual conference yesterday.

“Too many young Catholics have been led by the pressures of contemporary propaganda, whatever might be said about the inadequacies of family life and Catholic religious education, so their religious confusion is worse than that of all other young Australian Christians,” Cardinal Pell said, reported the Universe Newsroom.

“They are also poorly equipped for any return to the fold when they have little instinct for or understanding that there are truths of faith and morals, which are to be sought after and judged according to rational criteria.”

He expressed alarm at a recent study that showed only 10 percent of young Catholics between the ages of 13 and 29 believed “only one religion is true,” compared to 34 percent among “other Christians,” according to the Spirit of Generation Y survey by the Australian Catholic University, Monash University and the Christian Research Association.

“The pressures on young Catholics beyond tolerance and ecumenism and towards muddle are evident here, channeled sometimes through the ill-effects of courses in comparative religion.”

He warned that young people appear to look at life as a “smorgasbord of options from which they choose items that best suit their passing fancies.”

Even more alarming, he said was the survey result showing 75 percent of young Catholics believe it is acceptable to “pick and choose beliefs,” which he said indicated a “malaise and confusion in the general approach to life rather than just a few isolated points of heresy or unbelief.”

Cardinal Pell called on the Catholic education system to better participate in teaching young people the inherent truths and values of Catholicism, in order to counteract the growing influence of secular ideology in society.

“Secularists strive to remove religion from the public domain and restrict it to private life, where individual religious choices reflect personal preferences unrelated to truth and general principles,” he said.

“They see religion as another area for consumer choice. Catholicism calls to faith and reason as well as love and hope.

“This is now profoundly countercultural,” he said.

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