Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC, who worked in youth ministry for four years, emphasized that faith and science must be presented to young people in harmony with each other.
A challenge, he explained, is teaching how "faith and science relate" through philosophy and theology. While science deals only with "what is observable and measurable," he said, "the world needs something non-physical as its origin, and that's how to understand God along with science."
"It was the Christian faith that was the birthplace of science," he continued. "There's not a contradiction" between faith and science, "but it's understanding each one in their own realms."
How can parents raise their children to stay in the faith? Fr. Schneider cited research by Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame, who concluded that a combination of three factors produces an 80 percent retention rate among young Catholics.
If they have a "weekly activity" like catechesis, Bible study or youth group; if they have adults at the parish who are not their parents and who they can talk to about the faith; and if they have "deep spiritual experiences," they have a much higher likelihood of remaining Catholic, Fr. Schneider said.
More parents need to be aware of their children's' beliefs, Dr. Gray noted, as many parents don't even know that their children may not profess to be Catholic.
The Church is "very open" to science, he emphasized, noting the affiliation of non-Catholic scientists with the Pontifical Academy of Science, including physicist Stephen Hawking.
There is "no real conflict" between faith and science, Gray said.
"The Church has been steadily balancing matters of faith and reason since St. Augustine's work in the fifth century," he wrote.
"Yet, the Church has a chance to keep more of the young Catholics being baptized 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."
This article was originally published on CNA Sept. 5, 2016.
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