By Joanna Bogle, Editor, Faith magazine

The Catholic Church, like most things, doesn’t often correspond to its stereotype. For example, it appears as utterly monolithic and centralised but, in reality, is mostly run by individual parishes, dioceses and national Bishops’ Conferences. There are also many free groupings, movements and initiatives within the Church that arise to meet different needs at different times and which are not centrally controlled at all. One such group, formed in 1972, is the Faith Movement.

The primary aim of Faith, which is also a registered charity, is to promote a vision of religion that reconciles the discoveries of modern science with the doctrines of the Catholic faith. The movement finds particular inspiration from the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) which called on Catholics to renew the Church and re-evangelise the world through a deeper vision of Jesus Christ as the key to the meaning of the universe and of our own lives.

Faith does this mainly through publications (many are available free to download at, as well as public meetings, conferences and retreats largely run by and for young Catholics, while being very welcoming to all (within the target age groups) who are interested. The combination of intelligent discussion, spiritual encouragement and social support makes Faith events popular among Catholic students in many places. Events for younger teenagers are also run at various locations around the UK. All youth volunteers are, of course, fully trained and are Disclosure and Barring Service and Protecting Vulnerable Groups-checked.

Most members of Faith Movement are lay people but priests from many dioceses and religious sisters collaborate in its work. Faith is also supported by many bishops who speak at its events and meetings, all of which are run on an open and voluntary basis. The movement has also, since 1969, published a bi-monthly theological and pastoral review, also called Faith, that seeks to promote a synthesis of science and religion, faith and reason.

The Catholic Church has, like many organisations, been going through rough times recently, having to deal with damaging scandals. Internal tensions over certain moral and doctrinal issues have also become public. Certain commentators conflate these issues and try to co-opt the Pope as a supporter of their own perceptions of a global battle between liberalising goodies and oppressive baddies. They then attack anyone who affirms mainstream Catholic teaching, especially on moral issues such as abortion or sex before marriage, for example, as being on the side of all that is backward-looking and bad in their eyes – despite the fact that the Pope himself upholds all of these same teachings. Life is not as simplistic and binary as that.

The Faith Movement has lately been caught in this cross fire, finding itself accused of being an ultra-conservative clerical movement involved in a sinister power grab. Such allegations are as fanciful as they are untrue. The movement is small and has neither desire nor means to “grab power”. It is an intellectual and spiritual movement whose purpose is to encourage people to follow Christ the Lord of Creation. Faith Movement attracts people with a wide range of views and temperaments. It certainly encourages young people to accept and live the Catholic faith to the full but it does so with a forward-looking, contemporary vision, and also with open-hearted and joyful enthusiasm. It is undoubtedly one of the signs of hope in the Church in Scotland in these times.