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Catholic Churches to Men: “You’re Not Welcome Here.”

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Intrigued by something called the “men’s rights movement” I ordered some books by the activists of the movement (all by women, interestingly).

prairiemom Wrote:Really? That's... odd.

Offering an alternative theory for why men are absent, aloof, and irresponsible, they claim men are not abandoning traditional responsibilities but are simply going “on strike”. The claim is that men are very logical, and if society says they are unnecessary or dangerous then they pull away from society into associations of gamers, perpetual bachelors, or simply unmotivated couch-potatoes (the last one is dealt with at length in Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men, by Dr. Leonard Sax).

In Men on Strike, for example, Dr. Helen Smith explains that men are constantly bombarded with claims that they are lazy, stupid, and unnecessary, and we want them that way because in the past men basically caused all of the problems – tyrants, war-mongers, inquisitors, etc. No longer are they potential conquerors or wannabe heroes, but tamed village idiots. From preschool when they begin their flattening out to college when “their kind” becomes the enemy of all underdogs throughout history, they are sold the story that traditional masculinity, that thing they feel drawn to as if they were made that way, is enemy number one.

prairiemom Wrote:Truth. I know I sometimes "buy in" to those stereotypes, even if I know they're not true.

I’m not sure I can get on board with the whole men’s’ rights movement, but they clearly have a point here. It is overwhelmingly clear that traditional characteristics of masculinity are simply not welcomed in society and are seen as actual dangers to social harmony. Boys typically become “trouble” the moment they get to school where their natural desire for competition, danger, and activity are suppressed. We just keep popping that little rambunctious mole on the head until it stays in its hole, and if he doesn’t, well, we have pills for that. But then in 15 years when he stays in the basement playing with “man-toys” we bemoan that he won’t come out and “man-up.” It is an atmosphere that strangles normal, healthy masculinity. That is, unless you see normal, healthy masculinity as a threat and danger – in that case it’s working just fine.

Worse than public schools for masculinity is average Catholic parish USA. Public schools are graduating about 70% of their boys, but if we consider the most basic practice of Catholics, going to Mass, we’re only “graduating” about 30% (see Catholic Man-Crisis Fact Sheet). I’m no statistician, but I’m pretty sure that is not the model of sustainability.

Like boys in school, the natural, good, masculine traits of men are not welcomed in average parish USA. I think it’s time we see this more clearly and not just blame men for not “manning up” in their faith. It’s not a “man” problem exactly, because the issues are not the same in other global religions or in the global East and South. It is a unique problem here. Religion is not losing men; Catholics in the West are losing men. So, as suggested by the men’s rights activists, maybe we should stop blaming men and start reflecting. In my experience I think there are four especially strong ways we’re making men unwelcome:

1. No Challenge

A priest friend I trust immensely was asked his opinion of the leaked “working document” from the synod on the family, and he noted a point that anyone involved with men’s apostolate will know is a glaring omission: it didn’t mention sin. I have a family, and I can tell you that the greatest challenge of modern families is not modern: it’s the ancient foe. The “challenge” that parishes need to offer men is not one of social action (though it must come later), but of conversion from sin, and a turning of their hearts to their vocation. This is a fight and a challenge, and the more it is understood that way the more men will stand and fight.

2. An Emasculated Organizational Culture

Parish offices and diocesan chancelleries are frequently very status-quo friendly, bureaucratic, and emasculated. The daring and bold action natural (though not unique) to masculinity is often buried under policies, committees, and an unwillingness to do what is “dangerous”. Not always, but often.

I have a friend who wanted to send out a gift of a Catholic Catechism to every Protestant pastor in an area. He wrote a very friendly letter with it explaining that it seems that many people are confused about what the Catholic Church actually teaches and this might help clear up misconceptions and open up dialogue. In short: it was an invitation to learn more about Catholicism. It was bold and daring, but with love and gentleness. The idea was shut down because it might be offensive to some. We’d often rather leave 99 lost sheep behind to recover the one offended sheep. Men experience these things and see it as hypocritical or pharisaical, because “challenging” people to the New Evangelization and then tying their hands is giving them a burden they cannot bare.

3. Horrible Mass Experiences

Wonky and silly liturgy practically begs men to leave. If you’re not with me on this, do two things. First, go to any article about the need to reach more men because they’re leaving the Church, read the comments, and see how quickly men are bringing up the problem with how the liturgy is celebrated at most parishes. You can’t keep ignoring this. Second, go to a traditional, reverent, and beautiful Mass and count the men. There’s your proof. This is a much broader topic, but my guess is that you’re either aware and embracing of this point or rejecting of it and there’s little I can say to change that. We’ll move on.

The second source of the horrible experience is the sermon. Pope Francis, in The Joy of the Gospel, acknowledges the problem: “The homily is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people. We know that the faithful attach great importance to it, and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them!” The Sunday sermon is the chance: it’s the chance to teach, instruct, and inspire the faithful!

As a convert from Protestantism, where preaching is basically the pinnacle of the week, I am constantly amazed that it is an accepted and sometimes expected practice that priests do not prepare a sermon with the utmost intensity and thought. Yes, of course, we’re all very busy, but like a man that overworks to have a big house can lose the love of his family, so a priest that busies himself to the neglect of the sermon will lose his family.

prairiemom Wrote:Amen!

For more on the topic read Pope Francis’ reflection (beginning at paragraph 135 in Joy of the Gospel), I have nothing better to say. But for even more read the great pastoral letter from Bishop Vigneron of Detroit who wrote a great reflection on this topic beginning with Francis words.

4. Parishes Have No Brotherhood

Men are very lonely. Brotherhood is the description most proper to us Christian men, as sons in the Son. This cannot happen solely in one organization or group, but must be the identity that men see in themselves and in each other. “This aim of making the parish community a true brotherhood ought to be taken very seriously,” said Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), “This brotherhood has its source and center in the celebration of the Eucharistic mysteries” (Ratzinger, The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, 68, 69). Yet, we often don’t even know each other’s names. Many men’s groups have had strange and sudden success, sometimes surprising the organizers. I can assure you it’s not the cleverness of the programs, but that these things are tapping into a deep need.

If you think I am proposing a macho Christianity, I’m not. What I am saying is the world is getting boys and men wrong when they suppress and disdain natural, good, and healthy masculinity, or when they simply make it unwelcome. Society is unwelcoming to men. The average parish is too, but it doesn’t have to be that way. (To see how willing and eager men are to be taught and led, click here). There is a masculine genius, and it is a gift to be embraced. Simple and even subtle acknowledgement of the needs of men, as well as a humble acceptance of their gifts needs to be a priority, because men are tremendous leaders in families and communities. If they leave the Church, they’re not going alone.

We Christian men are longing to be challenged to love, to conquer not the world or each other, but the evil one. Our minds were made for truth and in a world of relativism and banal platitudes we’re starving for it. If men are barbarian conquerors, then I can assure you there is only One who can conquer us in love and raise up a new type of army. We need Christ.

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The Catholic “Man-Crisis” Factsheet

There is a serious “man-crisis” in the Catholic Church.  It is widespread and serious. Unless the Church, including its bishops, priests and lay men begin to take notice and make the evangelization of Catholic men a priority, the Catholic Church in the west will decay, as more and more men abandon the Church. There can be no New Evangelization unless there is a New Emangelization, creating generations of Catholic men who are on fire for Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. Here are some of the statistics that are part of a growing New Emangelization data base that documents the extent of the Catholic “man-crisis”:

Unchecked, the exodus of Catholic men from the faith is likely to continue as men become increasingly casual about Catholicism.

    About 11 million adult men in the U.S. were raised Catholic but left the faith[1] and men are under-represented in the Church versus their share of the total population (46% of parishioners are male versus 49% of the population).[2]

Casual Catholic men lack passion for the faith.

    They don’t believe that Catholicism is unique and essential for a happy life.

o  8 out of 10 men agree that “how one lives is more important than being a Catholic.”[3]

o  4 in 10 men believing that Catholicism does not have a “greater share of truths than other religions.”[4]

o  Only 38% of Catholic men strongly agree that they are “proud to be Catholic.”[5]

o  Only 26% of Catholic men consider themselves to be “practicing Catholics.” [6]

o  Only 34% of Catholic men strongly agree that Catholicism is “among the most important part of life.” [7]

    They don’t believe that the Sacraments and Devotions of Catholicism are important.

o  Only 51% of Catholic men strongly agree that the “Sacraments are essential to their relationship with God.”[8]

o  Only 32% of Catholic men strongly agree that the “Sacraments are essential to their faith.”[9]

o  Many men are not moved by the Mass and are less moved than women across the various aspects of the Mass: the readings and the Gospel, homily, music, the Eucharist, prayer, worshiping with other people, the presence of God. [10]

o  48% of men agree that “Mass is boring”[11] and 55% agree that they “don’t get anything out of the Mass.”[12]

o  Only 29% of men believe that weekly mass attendance is “very important.”[13]

o  Only 28% of Catholic men believe that Confession is “very important”.[14]

o  Only 31% of men strongly agree that it is very important to attend Mass on Holy Days. [15]

o  Only 39% of men strongly agree that the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is very important.[16]

o  Only 43% of Catholic men believe that it is “very important to help those in need.” [17]

o  Only 30% of Catholic men believe it is “very important to have a Devotion to Mary” and only 23% believe it is “very important to have a devotion to the Saints.” [18]

o  Only 37% of Catholic men strongly agree that “daily prayer is important”[19] and only 33% of Catholic men pray on a daily basis.[20]

o  49% of Catholic men feel that they “cannot explain their faith to others.”[21]

    During the last 20 years, men have become less certain about being Catholic: in 1987, 50.1% men said they would “never leave the Church”[22]; in 2005 the number had fallen to 42.3%.[23] This means that almost 60% of Catholic men would consider leaving the Church; these men have become “Casual Catholics”, Catholics who are casual about the faith.

Catholic men’s ambivalence about Catholicism results in low involvement.

    Only about 1/3 of Catholic men (33%) say they attend Mass on a weekly basis.[24]

    One third of Catholic men (34%) are not formally members of a parish.[25]

    A large portion (42%) of Catholic men attend Mass “a few times per year” or “seldom or never.”[26]

    75% of Catholics go to Confession “less than once a year” (30%) or “never” (45%).[27]

While data is not available for men’s participation, is likely worse given that men are significantly less likely to believe that Confession is very important.[28]

    Almost half of Catholic men do not engage in a routine of prayer; praying only “occasionally or sometimes” or “seldom or never.”[29]
    83% of Catholic men rarely or never participate in a parish activity outside of the Mass.[30]

For comparison, Catholic men are less passionate about faith than other Christian men.

    Less than half of Catholic men (48%) feel that “religion is very important in their lives; this compares to 74% for Evangelical men.”[31]

    Only about 4 in 10 Catholic men (43%) have an absolutely certain belief in a personal God; this compares to 69% of evangelical men.[32]

    Less than half of Catholic men (48%) pray outside of worship services, which compares to 71% of Evangelical men.[33] Clearly, there is a “passion problem” among Catholic men.

The prevalence of so many Casual Catholic men matters, for it will further weaken the Church in future years.

    Catholic parents are doing a poor job at passing along the faith to their children,[34] especially fathers.[35]

    Indeed, less than 50% of men (47.5%) strongly agree that it is important for their children to be Catholic.[36]

    This is troubling since younger people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to leaving the Catholic Church, particularly young men. In 1987, 41.6% of 18-29 year olds agreed with the statement “I would never leave the Church”;[37] by 2005, only 17.8% of those 18-30 years said they’d “never leave the Church.”[38] This means that an astounding 82.2% of young people would consider leaving the Church.

    Males are particularly vulnerable to leaving the Church; 15% of the U.S. population have left religion and are now “unaffiliated”; the largest portion of this growing group are males who were formerly Catholic.[39]

The loss of Catholic men and the growing numbers of Casual Catholic men have other negative effects on parishes and the Church.

    Fewer men reduce the pool for priestly and religious male vocations.

    Lower levels of active adult men also influences young men to become disengaged from the Church. The “face” of the Church is feminine; men are underrepresented in the pews (only 37% of regular mass attendees are men).[40]

    Further, a Notre Dame study shows that 70-90% of catechesis, service, bible study activities are led by women, causing the authors to suggest that “young males…assume that serious religious studies are a women’s business,” resulting in greater numbers of younger men being disengaged.[41]

    Men are needed for healthy and growing parishes; research shows that congregations with greater portions of men are more likely to be growing.[42]

    Men are much more influential in the conversion of their families than women. Research shows that when a woman converts to Christianity, 17% of the time the whole family converts. When a man converts, 93% of the time the whole family converts.[43]

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These are very important articles! Thanks for posting them, Prairie Mom!

This all bodes ill not just for the souls of men, but for the souls of their family members. See this also-very-important article on the FE site, called "The Truth About Men and Church" for some stats that will blow your socks off. I hate to think of how things are in the Novus Ordo world as being a problem solely of feminization. I mean, I can't imagine too many women liking those "wonky and silly" liturgies either. But feminization in other ways is definitely a problem. There's a crisis of fatherhood not just in our society, in terms of families, but in terms of spiritual fatherhood in our parishes, which is just one reason why, as much as I have great love for, and am very protective of, our brothers who suffer from SSA, I am very much against the ordination of homosexuals. The poster Divine Silence has talked a lot on this forum about how the feminine genius gets a lot of attention while nothing is said of the masculine genius, and he's a hundred percent right about that. This just has to change. And my guess -- my educated guess -- is that trad parishes and chapels are where you'll here about fatherhood, masculinity, the masculine genius, etc. The traditional liturgy itself is much more prone to attract masculine people, even aside from what sermons are taught in trad parishes.

Men have been given the short end of the stick in Western societies for a long, long time now, and it's way past time for things to normalize -- without any woman-hating backlash nonsense, something I very much fear and already see all over the internet, esp. on Men's Rights websites (which I support in principle). We have to take back the word "patriarchy" and stand up for it (see "The Garbage Generation" on site!). 

I hope all the women reading this stand up for men, talk about what radical feminism and the laws it's backed has done to men and the family, not allow the word "patriarchy" to be used as if it's a dirty word, point out the anti-male nastiness too many people overlook, be gracious to and grateful for all the decent men who are respectful of women and our relative physical weakness in terms of brute strength (generally speaking, of course), and just generally have men's backs.

Like he said this is not a problem of the East and the South, but of Western Catholicism, I also wonder if this is not a NO problem.

At the end of the day there simply is no secret. Men also want God, and we also want family, orders and whatnot. If for some reason or another we cannot find those things we will, to paraphrase St. Augustine, deformed, plunge into the fair forms God created.
The general reasons why men leave the Church are roughly those pointed out. Society is a much bigger problem, though. But once inside the Church men can become real gentlemen, even if we're called only to live a Quixotesque life. And to bring back apostates to the Church, well, each case is different.
My suggestion is: don't lose men in the first place and fix the things that drive us away.

The funny thing is that the first commentary of the article is a priest asking what is bad Liturgy. If he is reading this (or any priest is reading this) I tell you: if you don't have an Organ just have an A Capella Mass. Don't use guitars. Also, be serious and reverent, use Latin (use the Canon!). Men don't want to be in a Liturgy that looks like a bad little show that we would feel embarrassed were we to invite our non-Catholic friends.
Also, men get together to do stuff, even if the pretext is to eat, hear a lecture, etc. The socializing happens in between stuff, and must not be the end itself. Also, don't be all church lady type, afraid of some heated discussion.
As I said, there's no secret. It's the same thing we have always been doing.
Have you seen this, from Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix? I'm not terribly well acquainted with Bishop Olmsted, but found the idea, at least, of an apostolic exhortation to men interesting. In general, I'd like to see that sort of step from my archdiocese, even if it is NO.
(10-06-2015, 12:25 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: [ -> ]My suggestion is: don't lose men in the first place and fix the things that drive us away.

Rule #1 of successful recruitment: keep the people you have. It's easier to keep them than to replace them.

Quote:ike he said this is not a problem of the East and the South, but of Western Catholicism, I also wonder if this is not a NO problem.

I suspect so. Among the Traddies in my parish, we seem to split 50/50 men and women, which is sort of what you expect. But most of my NO friends married non-Catholic men because there simply isn't enough of them to go around.

(10-06-2015, 12:20 AM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]I hate to think of how things are in the Novus Ordo world as being a problem solely of feminization. I mean, I can't imagine too many women liking those "wonky and silly" liturgies either.

You would be astounded at how many women *love* these liturgies. Back when I was in the music ministry, I actually had a woman of *ahem* a certain age bracket tell me how wonderful Carey Landry was and how talented of a songwriter he was.

It took all of my self-control to just blink in acknowledgment and not burst out laughing.

Most readers in my parish are women. Most ECM are women. Most altar servers these days are girls (my 7-yearold daughter who's preparing for First Communion remarked: "See mom! Girls can too be altar servers! Grrrrrr.....!) Men are usually taking collection, only because it's often the Knights who are doing it. Most of the choir is women, all of the musicians except one are women, and the majority of the congregation are either elderly couples or women with their kids, with no man in sight (although I know most of them are married). Religious education, with the exception of one solitary man, is run and taught by women volunteers.

When I first started hanging around FE, someone made a comment about middle-class women running the parishes. As a middle-class woman, I didn't understand what they meant.

I get it now.
Meanwhile, at the Synod: Canadian Archbishop defends women deacons and is searching for ways to include women more in the Church. I guess the Church is not feminine enough for some primates  LOL

He talks about violence against women, and how St. John Paul II got it all wrong saying women should be submissive to their husbands (yes, because repeating St. Paul is just too rad trad). Let me quote Pius XI on how to solve this problem (and I better quote it, because I doubt this great encyclical will even be mentioned in the Synod)

Quote:This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.
(10-06-2015, 12:46 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: [ -> ]Meanwhile, at the Synod: Canadian Archbishop defends women deacons and is searching for ways to include women more in the Church. I guess the Church is not feminine enough for some primates  LOL

Supposedly some other bishop at the synod proposed general absolution being used in ordinary circumstances during the Jubilee year.  Without even getting into the merits of these proposals, they're both completely off topic.  It's interesting how this synod is being viewed by some as the time and place to raise seemingly anything and everything.
(10-06-2015, 05:52 AM)dahveed Wrote: [ -> ]Have you seen this, from Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix? I'm not terribly well acquainted with Bishop Olmsted, but found the idea, at least, of an apostolic exhortation to men interesting. In general, I'd like to see that sort of step from my archdiocese, even if it is NO.

I am proud to say that Bishop Olmsted is my bishop.  He is a great friend of traditionalism, in particular of the FSSP.
Surprise surprise! Yes, this is a huge issue. I suspect this is by design. The upper hierarchy to some extent I think wants men to leave. Why? Well, who usually is the one to challenge them when they go off key? A man! If you want to take a fortress you need to take out the big guns first unless you want a slaughter. That is why men are often attracted to conservative Protestant denominations. There is no strongly centralized hierarchy wanting to "root out the competition" and they preach about the importance of the masculine. They also don't cry like bleeding hearts about emotional baggage. They have no problem offending if its in the name of God. Men want to stand for something. They don't need a Church to spill their guts to. They need a Church to empower them to use their God-given talents regardless the cost.
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