The authoritarian attitude of some clergymen is alienating young Indian Catholics, they say.
“When a priest is not flexible, no ’sheep’ can approach him with confidence,” said Savio Daniyal, one of 89 contestants, who took part in an essay contest organized by Bhopal archdiocese.
The competition was part of a four-day summer vacation training camp for young Catholics which ended on June 7.
“As a youth, an ideal priest for me is someone who thinks like youths and is young, dynamic and flexible,” wrote Daniyal.
The engineering graduate said a “generation gap” between priests and youths is keeping young people away from the Church.
The Church would reach new heights if its leadership, especially priests, can tap the energy of youth. Young people are “filled with dynamism,” Daniyal said.
Several other contestants echoed Daniyal’s concerns in their essays.
Priests should cultivate the habit of “listening to people seriously rather than keep passing orders,” said Ancy Jasmine Ekka.
“The priest should be humble enough to understand and accept persons with different traits,” said Deep Saroj, another participant.
However, she acknowledged in her essay that youths cannot become good Catholics without the support of their priests. Catholics learn the basics of their religion from priests, she said.
Father Saiju Kolarikkal, a camp organizer, said the essays were a real “eye opener” for him as they revealed “how much expectations the youths have from us.”
The Bhopal archdiocesan priest also agreed with the participants that priests should serve people without discrimination.