Although it is tempting to point to economic and social disadvantages as the root cause of the recent unrest in the United Kingdom, it is refreshing to find that part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s assessment is moral turpitude. In addressing the nation, he said that the “slow-motion moral collapse” of the youth is due to the unwillingness “for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong. We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said, about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy.”
In contrast to British society’s failure to speak the truth on the things that matter, Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, is not afraid to challenge the young to moral excellence. Recently there was another gathering of youth in another capital city in Europe, although this gathering did not lead to anything remotely resembling the scenes of destruction broadcast from London. Over a million young people from the 193 countries of the world gathered peacefully in Madrid, Spain to celebrate World Youth Day. These triennial events began in 1985 to offer the youth of the world an opportunity to encounter each other and deepen their own personal sense of faith. The theme for this year’s event was “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7).