The other day my daughter brought me the mail, which included my diocesan newspaper. To be quite honest, I usually toss it immediately. In fact, due to the frequent heterodoxy and/or intentional ambiguity in the paper, I don’t know a single family who actually reads it. On this occasion, however, I could not miss the front-page article, which celebrated the fact that three girls at two different parishes were the first to become Eagle Scouts in our diocese. I found it deeply dismaying.
When will the Church start defending boys and men? We as a Church have embraced so much feminist ideology that we have lost sight of our own teaching on the inherent dignity of man and woman. For decades men have been sidelined as the Church has sought to “get with the times,” in conformity with the culture’s understanding of “equality” for women.
Equality does not mean same. There are differences between the sexes that are reflection of God’s goodness, beauty, and truth that should be celebrated. We must encourage men and women to live the dignity of their masculinity and femininity, in union with God’s designs. This is why radical feminist ideology is just as toxic and destructive as oppressive patriarchal ideologies.
In other words, equality does not mean that women must do everything men can do, stopping just short of the ministerial priesthood, which is only protected these days because it was instituted by Christ. Unfortunately, it can appear as if the all-male hierarchy is trying to make up for this by acquiescing to every feminist trend, including celebrating the destruction of male only institutions in the name of progress for women and freedom.
The ultimate good, according to our culture, is freedom—in this case, the freedom for a girl to join an institution traditionally reserved for boys. St. John Paul II famously said: “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” The question in this situation then becomes should girls impinge on the rights of boys to freely engage in fraternal community? The answer is no.
Boys need spaces in which to be boys and to not have to worry about acting the way they must when girls are present. This is not to allow for boys to engage in disrespectful or sinful discussion, rather, it is to allow them the freedom to come together side-by-side in a manner that is consistent with their God-given masculinity. Boys and men need one another in fraternal bonds of friendship, just as women and girls need one another.
When we allow girls to take over all-male institutions, we are encouraging a form of covetousness. A girl wants to join an all boy group and rather than teaching her charity and virtue, we teach her to embrace a will to power. We teach her that she can and should use her will to dominate boys and men. As the Church, we have unwittingly started celebrating nihilism.
The flip side of this argument for girls and women is coming to the fore through the transgender movement. Biological males who identify as female now want to compete in sports, where more often than not, as science tells us, these biological males will win. For all intents and purposes, this will be the end of female sports. The sexes are in the process of trying to cancel one another out.
How can the Church hope to respond to the current crisis within our culture when we ourselves are confused about how we should treat one another as men and women? There is very little in the average parish or diocese that targets men. Most men have never heard a homily on Catholic manhood or seen a series offered that is for them specifically. There are plenty of female activities, but there is an unspoken double-standard wherein parishes don’t want to seem “sexist” by offering purely male programs. This must stop because it is harming the communion we are meant to share in as the Mystical Body.
The family is under immense attack and our culture is imploding, and yet, we as the Church—who possesses the fullness of truth and the beauty about the nature of man and woman—are afraid to minister to the men in our pews. Instead, we celebrate their diminished status in our diocesan newspapers and at events where parents of daughters—I am the mother of a daughter—can boast of their “historic achievements”.
Have we stopped to consider whether or not being “historic” is in fact a good thing in these cases? Boys inherently do not want to be in organizations with girls. This is why there is a drastic decline in male altar servers. I have heard from numerous friends over the years about how their sons stopped altar serving because they don’t feel comfortable serving with girls. It’s as if the boys’ honest struggles at an already awkward age are unimportant in the face of “progress.”
Yet, the Church in the West cannot understand why it is suffering from a massive crisis of priestly vocations. A crisis that will have far reaching consequences in the near future as more and more priests retire and die. If we essentially cancel men out in the name of feminist progress, how can we be surprised when men disengage, leave, or do not come forward as priests?
Men are constantly told that their opinions make them sexist, so they disengage. Boys cannot even be boys by coming together in service and outdoor activities without girls. There’s not a huge rush on boys wanting to join the Girl Scouts, but for some reason it is absolutely imperative that girls crush every all boy institution in existence while the Church celebrates.
We are supposed to be teaching our children the inherent dignity of both sexes and that we must respect one another’s unique gifts. This means explaining to our daughters that it is okay for boys to want to belong to an institution that is only available to boys. This is the same for all girl institutions. We can start by fully embracing and celebrating the gift of the all-male priesthood, rather than apologizing to the world for it.
We have forgotten that, above all else, we are called to charity. This treatment of boys and men is deeply uncharitable. It denigrates and belittles that which is uniquely male in all of its God-given goodness, truth, and beauty. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, not enemies engaged in a never-ending power struggle. Christian charity is a self-emptying and a total gift of self to others. This means that for something to be truly good and free, it must be devoid of a desire for power over others. We are essentially teaching our daughters to lord over men and cast their needs and wants to the wayside in favor of our own.
In light of the covetousness and lack of charity that undergirds many of these situations in our culture, we must seriously ask ourselves whether we are willing the good of our brothers in Christ through such actions? When we as women seek to take over every aspect of parish life and/or encourage our daughters to do so in fraternal organizations simply because we want them, are we acting in accord with our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ? Freedom never supersedes charity. The entire litmus test for this life is love, not freedom.