If you haven’t read many of Pope Francis’ recent speeches and homilies, you have been missing out. I went searching through them for excerpts suitable for meditating on the Joyful and Glorious mysteries of the Rosary, and found some gold. You can find those edited excerpts on the Resources – Prayer 2 page, about half-way down.
Then there was the discovery of ‘The Letter’ produced as the fruit of the 2016 Synod from the archdiocese of Detroit. Please read it: https://www.unleashthegospel.org/the-letter/
Truly it is everything I ever hoped our Plenary Council would produce. Do you want a road map for the new evangelization? Well, this is about as close and as clear as you are going to get.
Related to that is a small article by Fr Stephen Pullis of the same archdiocese on practical and doable pathways of evangelization for people in the pews. https://www.unleashthegospel.org/2020/08/three-key-ways-to-be-missionary-at-your-parish/
After that, recommended to me was Bishop Barron’s presentation to the 2019 USCCB’s Conference on Reaching Out to the Religiously Unaffiliated, available on YouTube. It is 1 hour 24 mins in length, but the beginning is a video presentation, then Bishop Barron speaks and following that the Q and A session is sufficiently interesting. https://youtu.be/bUmg-DLBa1E
The bit that interests me the most starts about 12.5 mins in,
and here is a basic transcription of it:
‘Young people, the people that we are interested in reaching, they have so many questions that have remained answered for them, I hear from many of them every single day in my internet work: What’s religion? It’s stupid, it’s irrational, it’s pre-scientific nonsense, it’s bronze age mythology, they use all the phrases of the new atheists. Of course, it breaks your heart. Yes, we have a beautiful tradition, but we have a very smart tradition, but we have not it seems to me communicated that effectively to our young people. And it leaves a lot of their questions unanswered, which is causing them enormous difficulty. You know, I use the language of (Pope) Francis again here, to my mind this is simply one of the key ways that we accompany young people. Anyone who accompanies young people know that they are filled with questions. I hear them every day in my work. I’ll give you a recent example, I think last June I mentioned this to you, Reddit is a very popular website, one of the most popular in the world. And it is a forum for the exchange of ideas. So think of like Hyde Park corner, or the Areopagus, now updated to the internet. So you can exchange views. It is a very popular website. There’s something on it called the Reddit A.M.A., which means Ask Me Anything, so it is like a quodlibetal question from the middle ages. It’s just, here I am, ask me anything. So I did one about a year ago, and I just did a second one a few months ago. My first one was the third most popular Reddit AMA of the previous year, this last one was number two. I was just after Beto O’Rourke and ahead of Bernie Sanders. Now I say that not to say, O aren’t I famous, because I’m sure 98% of the people on it had no idea of who I was, but you announce yourself, I did it this way, I am a Catholic bishop who loves dialoguing with atheists, agnostics and non-believers, well 15,000 questions later, that’s in about 2 hours, 15,000 questions came through. And it’s very interesting, to go on Reddit you need galoshes and rubber gloves, I mean it’s a pretty messy space, you have to get through a lot of silliness and obscenity and all that, but once you’re past that, some very clear patterns emerge, and I’ve seen it in my own work, but, Who is God? How do you know there’s a God? Can you possibly prove there’s a God? Doesn’t science disprove God? I mean, just thousands of questions along those lines. Secondly, to no one’s surprise, the problem of evil, how can there be a God is there’s suffering in the world? Third, typolitic of our time, How do you know your religion is right? Aren’t there a thousand different religions, how could you get up and say yours is right? Fourth issue, sexuality, especially homosexuality and trans-genderism. So I mean, 15,000 questions, and you can discern very clear patterns. Well, we’ve got a smart tradition, and I think providing good answers to honest questions is a major part of accompaniment. Something we brought up a lot at the Youth Synod last year was the Emmaus image. So here’s Jesus walking with the disciples, and doing all these wonderful things like walking with them, even as they walk in the wrong direction, listening to them, yes indeed, what are you talking about as you go on the way?, non-judgmental accompaniment, all those wonderful things and then at a key moment Jesus teaches and then their hearts caught on fire. Were not our hearts burning within us as He explained the scriptures to us on the way? So to my mind, that’s all just part of a process of accompaniment and presenting a smart version of Catholicism is key to it.’
I highly recommend that you watch the whole presentation.
Which leads to https://www.reddit.com/. If there are young people out there asking honest questions, the least we can do is go and have a look see. So I spent about a week lurking, and then bit the bullet and joined. After about a week in the trenches I can confirm that there are indeed many young people asking good questions, and not enough well-educated-in-the-Catholic-faith people around answering them. The sub-reddits r/Catholicism and r/Christianity are good places to start.
Consider yourself challenged to do likewise.
If you are intrigued enough to investigate Reddit, here is a guide for beginners.