But there's more to the crisis than that and an article at First Things by a good priest in our diocese, Fr. Jerry Pokorsky, targeted it. The crisis in the Church is one of the failure of fatherhood. Father writes:
Perhaps the most disturbing chapter of the post-Vatican II story of distress was not the Humanae Vitae crisis or the breakdown of the Mass or the nearly complete failure of ecclesiastical discipline. All of these, of course, were significant contributing elements. The most wrenching account – in my view – was a letter to the editor in Catholic World Report more than twenty years ago.
In the letter, a woman reported she was one of eight children. Four of the siblings were raised before the Council and four raised after. The first four were mature and well adjusted in adulthood; the latter four were painfully immature beyond adolescence. The explanation? The father of the family not only lost confidence in his Church after the Council, he lost confidence in his ability to be a good father.Think about that for a minute. Fatherhood is central to the health of the family, not only the nuclear family of husband, wife, and children; but to the spiritual family beginning with the "father" of the parish and extending to our diocesan bishop father and up to our "Holy Father." When men abdicate or betray their fatherhood, the family, the community, the world suffer! And research supports it. Dr. Paul Vitz, a psychologist, published a research study in 1999 on the relationship between a father's faith and the beliefs and faith of his children. He later wrote a book, Faith of the Fatherless: the Psychology of Atheism. In an interview about the book, he said this:
|Grandfathers are important too!|
The big message is that fathers are very important in the religious life of their children; in particular, good fathers are a major contributor to the probability that their children will be believers and that bad fathers, or dysfunctional fathers, have the opposite effect. Being a dysfunctional father, that is, not being present, not being supportive, being abusive or unworthy of respect, all of these things tend to make children back away from the notion of God as father on a psychological level and thus never get through to the religious belief in God....
I think our culture has a crazy idea about what manhood is about. Men have to understand that all men are called to be fathers — that doesn’t necessarily mean natural fathers. Obviously, the pope can be a father without any natural children. You’re called to a mentor, you’re called to help others, you’re called, normally, to marriage and to be a father to your children. But that’s the highest form of manhood. Manhood is not James Bond going around killing bad guys and having sex with Russian spy girls. That’s very immature; that’s really sort of pathetic, once you’re a grown man. You have to recognize, being a father involves sacrifice. It’s not easy, and yet men who sacrifice for others are usually our greatest heroes. In the military, they have long understood this — the medals for bravery and honor go to men, very often, who died; they sacrificed their lives for the lives of their fellow soldiers. So the idea that sacrifice is at the core of the highest form of manhood is not without a lot of historical precedent, but it’s faded as our culture has sort of trivialized what it is to be a man into sort of, I guess, power or money or sex or something of that kind.
If you’re going to be a good father, be prepared that you will have to sacrifice. And of course, recognize that being a mother has always involved sacrifice. One of the honorable things about motherhood is the sacrifice that it requires, probably starting with things like even morning sickness, sacrificing time, waking from sleep, all kinds of things. And people see that, and that’s why mothers are so honored in almost all cultures and at all times. And fathers have to have that same function. And at times that’s been very obvious to a society. But fathers are men who in a masculine way sacrifice their time, their leadership, their energy, their intelligence, their zeal, their knowledge, and things like that for their children. And in that, in a strange way come some of the greatest rewards a man can ever have, because selfish rewards, in a sense, though they are a short-term pleasure, don’t really strengthen you and last. So be prepared to accept the joys of self-giving or self-sacrifice.Fr. Pokorsky's article echoes that theme:
|Are the successors of St. Peter|
and the apostles willing to die
for Christ and his Church?
...when priests live their celibacy with confidence, they provide an example to young men who are required to be chaste in their own celibate state before they marry. Clerical violations of celibacy not only encourage secular commentators like Rush Limbaugh to question its value for priests, they undermine the resolve of men struggling to overcome addictions to pornography.
If priests cannot be chaste in celibacy, how can we expect our young men to grow in chastity as they prepare for marriage?A friend once told me about a sermon she heard from a Dominican. He said women have to come down from the cross and men have to get up on it. Amen to that! I love being a woman with my call to nurture and defend life. But the men need to be out front as warriors for the faith and family. One of the reasons for the crisis we're in is so many men who act like women, dress like women, change their bodies to pretend to be women, etc. But even more, it's the men who have, as Dr. Vitz, says, chosen the life of James Bond and abdicated their masculinity for an adolescent and artificial life of pleasure and predation where women are their lollipops. It's the men who abandon their families for serial relationships because, they "have a right to be happy." And sadly, many women enable the hook-up, playboy culture agreeing to be all-day, all-night suckers in their deluded idea of love.
It's time for everybody to grow up! And that includes our bishops who need to demand accountability and to own up to their own dereliction of duty. When our priests and bishops are real men willing to die for their bride, the Church, then will things change. Let's pray it starts at the bishops' Fall meeting in Baltimore!