More than 20,000 young people from across the country are in Indianapolis this weekend for the National Catholic Youth Conference, a biannual conference for young Catholics.
Bishop Christopher Coyne is the Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, a kind of interim leadership position while the archbishop’s post is being filled. Coyne says the Church needs to adapt in the way it spreads its message to young people, or an entire generation will be left behind.
“The idea of just printing something in a church bulletin as something that’s going to bring people to a meeting or putting something in a newspaper as an announcement isn’t going to work anymore,” he says. “Even just putting something on a webpage doesn’t work; you really have to develop active social networks.”
Coyne says that includes Facebook, Twitter and even texting. But a significant challenge that remains is the Church’s image. From priest abuse scandals to closing churches and schools, Coyne says the Church has plenty of bad publicity from things it did or didn’t handle well. But when talking to young people about it, he says the key is to be open and honest about the mistakes that have been made.
“That’s made us a humble church, more humble church, that’s made us a church that’s willing to recognize our brokenness,” Coyne says.
And Indiana will get the chance to reach out to young people of faith in 2013 as well, when Indianapolis again hosts the National Catholic Youth Conference. It is the first time in the conference’s 28 year history the same city has hosted back-to-back events.