Put this story in the “yeah, the world’s about as messed up as I figured” file. Catholic teens feel no more guilt than other U.S. teenagers, according to the Free Republic.
If they cheated on an exam, lied to their parents or engaged in serious petting, it’s not bearing down on their conscience, according to a study by University of North Carolina researchers. At least it’s not making them feel more guilty than their non-Catholic peers.
The emotional fallout of transgressing the Catholic Church’s long list of sins — venial and mortal — may be a thing of the past. Blame the decline of ruler-wielding nuns at Catholic schools, or assimilation into the wider society.
Now, of course, I don’t trust studies at all, especially because they don’t separate out Catholics who actually take their faith seriously rather than just nominal Catholics. The study points out that while teens who went to confession were no more likely to feel guilty than non-Catholic teens, those who did reported higher levels of relief from guilt.
One researcher said Catholic teenagers may not know enough about church teachings — especially about premarital sex, birth control or abortion — to feel guilty about disobeying. “They haven’t internalized it, or they disregard it.”
Changing values probably also account for a drop in Catholic guilt, said the Rev. Joseph Vetter, Duke University Catholic chaplain. Catholics used to feel guilty for not attending mass or for living together before marriage. For many, those behaviors are now common.
To me, this is not a child problem. This, at its root, is a parenting problem. If children don’t know their faith then how can they grow it? If children don’t feel guilt how can they become better? If someone never recognizes themselves as a sinner how can they become a saint?
I think as a country we’re obsessed with “self realization” but what this ends up with is people saying “I’m perfect just the way I am” and “I’m OK, You’re OK.”
Look, it’s because of my faith that I know I’m not OK. And I certainly know I’m not perfect. I hear a line from young people quite often which essentially says, “You just have to accept me for who I am.” I thank God that He doesn’t accept me the way I am or just leave me the way I am because left to my own devices I’m pretty terrible.
In short, a lack of guilt is a lack of God. And that shouldn’t surprise anyone.