The New Emangelization Project has documented that a key driver of the collapse of Catholicism in the U. S. is a serious and growing Catholic “man-crisis”.[1] One third of baptized Catholic men have left the faith and the majority of those who remain “Catholic” neither know nor practice the faith and are not committed to pass the faith along to their children. Recent research shows that large numbers of young Catholic men are leaving the faith to become “Nones”, men who have no religious affiliation.[2]The growing losses of young Catholic men will have a devastating impact on the U.S. Catholic Church in the coming decades, as older Catholic men pass away and young men fail to remain and marry in the Church, accelerating the devastating losses that have already occurred.

While there are massive cultural forces outside of the Church (e.g. secularism, pluralism, anti-Christian bias, radical feminism, pornography, media saturation, etc.) and missteps within the Church (e.g. failure to make men a priority, sex abuse scandals, homosexuality in the priesthood, etc.) that have contributed to the Catholic “man-crisis”, the New Emangelization Project has conducted dozens of interviews with top Catholic men’s evangelists[3] that suggest that a core reason for the “man-crisis” is that bishops and priests have not yet made the evangelization and catechesis of men a clear priority. Men are being ignored by the Church.

To gain deeper insight into the critical role that priests play in the evangelization and catechesis of men, the New Emangelization Project fielded the Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men Survey in the Fall of 2014. Over 1400 practicing Catholic men from the United States from over 1000 parishes participated in the survey, including solid responses from age groups and zip codes.

A key theme that has emerged from the survey is the need for priests to teach men about Catholic Manhood.  In a world that is increasingly confused about what manhood means and what it means to be Catholic, it is not surprising that many Catholic men see the need to be challenged with the truth of Catholic manhood.

Unfortunately, men see few priests as decisively teaching men about Catholic manhood.

Men are not being challenged to virtuous Catholic Manhood

The survey reveals that few men think their priests are challenging and teaching men how to be Catholic men, fathers and Saints:

Only 14% of the men surveyed “strongly agreed” their current priest helped “men understand how to be better Catholic men, husbands and fathers.”

18% “strongly agreed” that their priests challenged men to aspire to Sainthood.

The respondents voiced a strong desire to better understand how and to be challenged to be faithful Catholic men in the face of a culture in which men are under severe temptation and attack:

I do not get the feeling they (priests) are on a specific mission to instill the men or boys with the tools they need to become Catholic men.

Help better describe how to become better men.

Our pastor has not shown any special interest in catechizing men or challenging fathers to step up.

Directly address issues dealing with the necessity of men to be holy in order to be good dads, successful business men, courteous, courageous, and caring male role models for ALL young men with whom they come into contact.

He could create programs for evangelization and catechesis for men to give information what a Catholic man really is and inspire a Catholic man that he can make a difference in this age.

When authentic masculinity is explained to men from the ambo it gets them thinking.

Capture the hearts of men. Show men that being a Catholic man is an adventure to live and isn’t about being a nice guy.

To help men grow in their fatherhood whether in their families, or preparing young men to be good and holy fathers of families or of parishes.

Challenge men. You win the men, you win the family. Challenge them to be strong men.

Address issues of masculinity and what it means to be a real man in a world that is not particularly interested in real men.

Preach on more difficult topics, so as to educate the faithful on Church teaching and lead the way: educate men on the principles of authentic manhood, such as self-sacrifice, loyalty, being a protector (a smart protector, not simply a brute force protector), being an educator and mentor, and hold up the examples of holy men from the Church’s past: the saints, strong popes, and of course: St Joseph, and WHY he is the model of a working man, and obviously the model man: JESUS.

I think a better emphasis could be placed on the difference between men and women. I think that the differences in our spirituality/vocation are not defined well enough.

With the rise of radical feminism, homosexualism and gender fluidity theories, the growing confusion about sex and the breakdown of families that have left many men without the guidance of fathers, men are seeking to better understand what Catholic manhood means. In the increasingly confused and perverted post-modern culture, men need to be challenged and called to be men; the Church has always been the source of heavenly leaven in the broken cultures across time and only Catholic men, inspired into the challenging call of Catholic manhood, can lead the post-modern culture to new life in Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.

Men are not being challenged with the Truth

To teach men about Catholic manhood,  it is essential to be clear about Truth as fully revealed by Christ in His Catholic Church, particularly in the face of a post-modern pluralistic and relativistic culture that rejects the idea of “truth.” Few respondents “strongly agreed” that their priest actively promoted truth on hard and controversial issues:

13% help men understand the Church’s teachings on tough issues like sexuality, marriage and contraception.

15% teach men to defend the Catholic faith with full loyalty to the Magisterium.

Men were particularly vocal about the need to be challenged with the Truth by their priests and disappointed that their priests were often seen as wishy-washy about professing the Truth of the Catholic faith:

He could drop the “God loves us and wants us to be happy” nonsense and teach the whole truth for a change.

Pastor is far too SAFE. He does not preach about doubt, temptation, and other real issues that men deal with enough. He seems to err on the safe (politically correct) side of things.

Speak up more about tough issues that men face and challenge the men more.

My parish is very focused on “being welcoming” which means we don’t teach hard teachings and don’t challenge people to grow just in case we might offend them with what the Church teaches.

Have the courage to preach on issues facing the Church (contraception, abortion, homosexual issues) and encourage the Faithful.

We need courageous priests, priests who will speak the Truth, and are not afraid of controversial issues. Priests with fire in their bellies, not priests who make the congregation go to sleep.

Hold men accountable (such as myself) who don’t show up to Mass and Reconciliation like we should.

They need to start drilling into men of the evils of lust and porn! Stop worrying about offending people! Start teaching men to start being men and the head of their family once again!

Actually talk about the evils of contraception, abortion, pre-marital sex, homosexual acts, etc, which at least 60% of parishioners will have been either involved in or tacitly support, but don’t know it is gravely sinful because they have never heard it preached in sermons.

Don’t minimize the diabolical as insignificant. People do go to Hell, contrary to what is preached.

Stop trying to be everyone’s friend. Stop trying to please people and start focusing on converting souls to God.

Men are hungry for the Truth and only the Catholic Church has the full and complete understanding of the Truth of God; men need to hear it! When men sense “fuzzy” thinking or distortion of something that they know to be true and important, they tune out; research shows that the single biggest reason people leave the Catholic Church is that they “simply drift away.”[1] Men are hungry to be challenged with the Truth, especially in regards to sexuality and the temporal and eternal consequences of Sin.

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In the post-modern culture, men are being emasculated, confused about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a Catholic; this is at the core of the Catholic “man-crisis.” Men want to know what a Catholic man is called to do and how to be better sons, husbands, fathers and friends. Men are hungry for priests to challenge them with the fullness of Catholic truth and to call them to the nobility and blessing of being committed Catholic men. Unfortunately, the survey suggests that many priests are more comfortable with softish urgings for mercy while neglecting to call and challenge men to the hard truths of the faith. Men are motivated by truth; when truth is not preached, men wander into sin and away from the Church. – See more at:

[1] Luis Lugo et al., “Faith in Flux,” The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (April 2009): 24.