Newswise — The Catholic faith is at a historic crossroads.

Church attendance is at an all time low as younger generations look elsewhere for spiritual guidance.

Foreign correspondent Molly Dutmers, a rising senior at Wake Forest University, plans to find out why. Dutmers received a fellowship from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to investigate dropping church attendance in three of Europe’s most devoutly Catholic countries.

She will travel to France, Italy and Malta to report on the diaspora of young people from the church and what a new generation of Catholic leadership is doing about it.

“People, especially young people are growing more and more disinterested and apathetic towards Catholicism and religion in general,” she said. “I am really interested in exploring what steps Pope Francis is taking to reinvigorate the faith of young Catholics.”

Dutmers, the current editor and chief of the Old Gold & Black campus newspaper, is Wake Forest’s third recipient of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s student fellowship. Originally from Chicago, she will use the $2,000 in fellowship funding for travel and to purchase camera and video equipment for her final in-depth project.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work with the Pulitzer Center,” she said. “I’ve wanted to be a journalist since high school and this fellowship and the opportunity to work with the talented editors at the Pulitzer Center will really help me on my way towards realizing that goal.”

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is an innovative award-winning non-profit journalism organization dedicated to supporting the independent international journalism that U.S. media organizations are increasingly less able to undertake. The Center focuses on under-reported topics, promoting high-quality international reporting and creating platforms that reach broad and diverse audiences.

The journalism program at Wake Forest is a member of the Center’s Campus Consortium, which brings foreign correspondents to campus and provides funding for the fellowship.

Justin Catanoso, director of Wake Forest’s journalism program, said the Pulitzer Center’s fellowship is a once in a lifetime opportunity for young journalists to report on some of the world’s most pressing issues.

“Pope Francis has captured the world’s attention with his refreshing candor, humility and promise of reform,” he said. “Will it be enough to lure young Catholics back to church in Catholic dominated countries such as France and Italy? Molly will be in those countries for more than a month this summer, and she intends to find out.”