Young Sri Lankan Catholics 'use religion as an instrument of peace'
New generations have come under the influence of technology and are exposed to different cultures and traditions. In the country the confessional element is very strong because children live at home until 25, and learn their culture and traditions. Atheism and extremism are the challenges of today's youth.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Atheism and extremism are the main challenges of Sri Lanka’s young people, who live in a society increasingly dominated by modern technology and influenced by Western trends, this according to Chrishmali Peter, a Catholic university student, who spoke to AsiaNews about peers.
First of all, she wants to stress one aspect. "The life of Catholics is different. Even children are very devoted to God and the Church. Obviously, it depends on the education they receive in the family. Young people have faith, and this faith leads them to have a life of love, respect, peace."
Chrishmali, 22, is studying the humanities and social sciences at Sri Jayawardhanapura University, south of the capital, Colombo.
She is an active member of the Catholic student union at the university. She has also served in the youth group in her diocese of Badulla. Her family lives in Bandarawela, where she also contributes to the parish life.
In her view, the biggest motivation of her peers is "to succeed in the study, or similar things. Sometimes they take care of the younger siblings." At the same time, she is convinced that what distinguishes the new generations of Sri Lanka, compared to other countries, is the confessional element.
"Most kids live at home at least until they are 25. They are followed by parents or older relatives, who pass on culture and habits. This is why religious values are so present in the population."
However, youth "are influenced by technology and are exposed to different cultures and traditions. The conflict between local culture and Western fashions and social media causes problems. The way in which these problems are solved is the subject of discussion. Some fail to accept failure and are so devastated that they find the only solution in death."
Conversely, others who "spent their childhood immersed in a religious context, be it Sunday catechism or other, are more accepting. They consider happiness or sadness as a reality of life."
Atheism is the result of all these trends. "Modern generations refuse to accept God’s existence. This causes a gap between religions and young people. Society becomes inhumane and cruel, without any sense of gratitude towards the spirituality of nature. Morality is destroyed every day."
Another consequence is extremism. "People use religion as a weapon to generate conflicts in communities and obtain political, economic, social and ideological advantages."
This leads to a fundamental difference between young Catholics and those of other religions. The latter "tend to regard their religion as a right acquired from birth and insult the faith of others by neglecting the true essence of religions, which is love, equality, freedom and respect." By contrast, Catholics "use their religion as an instrument to build peace in Sri Lanka."