The Church Can’t Flourish without Men
Tim Stanley at the Catholic Herald in the UK has written a thoughtful article in response to the Cardinal Burke interview with the New Emangelization Project in which he argues that the Church can’t flourish without men. Here it is:
Cardinal Burke was ridiculed for saying men are repelled by a ‘feminised’ Church. But he grasps that fathers have a huge influence over whether children grow up to be Mass-goers
Relations between clergy and media now conform to a silly pattern: clergyman says something perfectly reasonable; media reports that he wants to bring back the Inquisition. So Cardinal Burke was taking a big risk when he gave an interview to the New Emangelisation Project (sic) on the subject of gender and the Catholic Church. With striking candour, he bemoaned the influence of feminism on Catholicism – and with grating predictability, the media called him a Neanderthal.
Newspapers like the Independent jumped on his suggestion that feminism took some responsibility for the child abuse scandals because it encouraged a crisis in sexual identity. The Washington Post’s Kaya Oakes wrote that the cardinal had an old-fashioned view of gender and was oddly blind to the continued institutional domination of men. And David Gibson, of the Religion News Service, pushed things further with an observation that was cattier than Joan Collins playing Puss-in-Boots: “Burke, a liturgical traditionalist as well as a doctrinal conservative who is renowned for wearing elaborate silk and lace vestments while celebrating Mass, also said that ‘men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children’.” Miaow!
But what did the cardinal really say, and how accurate was it? He argued three things. First, that there’s a crisis of Catholic spirituality among men that results in low Mass attendance. Second, that this is partly down to a feminisation of the liturgy. Third, that feminism has also undermined traditional male roles in the family and caused a wider societal crisis. Let’s test each hypothesis in turn.