A new study finds that while young people are experiencing heightened levels of loneliness and isolation as a result of social distancing, they are not experiencing a decline in their faith.
Among those surveyed, 35 percent of respondents said that they are actually experiencing an increase of faith, and 46 percent attested to having developed new religious practices.
Yet while Church leaders may be relieved by that data, 50 percent of those who’ve attended an online service also reported they don’t have anyone to talk to about how they are feeling, and 44 percent report feeling isolated because no one has reached out to them.
Further, clergy or faith leaders account for less than one percent of those adults who’ve reached out to young people, who represent what the study labels one of the “most lonely and isolated generations that have ever existed.”
In addition, the survey found a severe lack of trust in institutions. On a scale from 1 to 10, over 60 percent of young people rank their trust level at 5 or lower for a range on institutions, including organized religion, with religious practice not offering a “protective effect” against the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation.”
The full study, “Belonging: Reconnecting America’s Loneliest Generation,” was released this month by the Springtide Research Institute, surveying one thousand young people between 13-25.
In response, Paul Jarzembowski, who oversees Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), told Crux the findings are a call for a greater pastoral response to isolation and loneliness among youth and young adults that was already an issue before the pandemic, which has only exacerbated the concerns.
“We need to reach out to them and support them during this time, and even beyond this time of social distancing, as its impact will certainly be felt for years to come,” he said. “This global health crisis will likely be the defining moment in the life of youth and young adults today. We cannot underestimate it as we consider how we best reach out and minister with young people.”
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