If the ladies will pardon me (for women have their own sort of strength), I want to issue a special summons to men, especially fathers, husbands, and priests. The summons is simple: be a man. We need men in these dark days, men who will heroically speak and act, men who will announce the truth and insist upon it wherever they have authority, men who will stop being passive fathers and husbands, priests who will stop “playing it safe” by remaining silent in the moral storm. Yes, be a man.While I'm uncertain as to why an elder in the church needs to secure a pardon from female parishioners to directly address men in the body, on the whole I find very little here with which to disagree. And I appreciate that Monsignor Pope calls men to metaphorical arms for the sake of their own and their families' salvation. Men do need to become the leaders they were meant to be, as husbands, fathers, or single men, and being unmarried, childless, or even MGTOW is no excuse to not take up the moral and social station that men are called to occupy.
It has often been observed that men are rather disengaged from the practice of the faith and attendance at the Sacred Liturgy. Frankly, there is a reason—not a politically correct one, but a reason nonetheless. Most of the men I talk to find the Church rather feminized. There is much talk in the Church about forgiveness and love, about receptivity and about being “nicer.” These are fine virtues, all of them necessary. But men also want to be engaged, to be sent into battle, to go forth and make a difference.
After years of radical feminism, men are shamed for seeking to take up leadership and authority in their families and in the Church. It starts early. Any normal boy is full of spit and vinegar, is aggressive, competitive, and anxious to test his wings. But many boys are scolded, punished, and even medicated for these normal tendencies. They are told to behave more like girls and to learn to be nicer and to get along, etc. It will be granted that limits are necessary, but the tendency for boys to roughhouse is normal. The scolding and “socializing” to more feminine traits continues apace into early adulthood. And then there are other cultural phenomena such as the slew of “Men are stupid” commercials, etc.
Though many in past decades have sought to describe the Church as “male-dominated,” nothing could be further from the truth. Most parish leadership structures are dominated by women. And women do fine work. But the Church has done a very poor job of engaging men as men and equipping them to be strong husbands, fathers, and priests. Virtues related to bold leadership and the effective use of authority are in short supply whereas other virtues such as collaboration, listening, empathy, and understanding are overemphasized.
This lack of balance, wherein traditionally manly virtues are downplayed—even shamed—has led many men to become disengaged from the Church. The disengagement of men from the Church has come to mean that many Christian men are passive fathers and husbands.
All this is true, but misses the elephant in the Church that Monsignor Pope writes about, the unspoken force that pushes men out of the Church. It is not enough for men to man up to manhood, but the church herself needs to man up and make room for these men being men. An unbalanced message that concentrates on forgiveness, love, receptivity, and niceness to the exclusion of other virtues and spiritual truths, does not make this room. Being shamed for their position of leadership in the home, in the culture, and in the Church, does not provide this space. Failing to equip men to assume their God-given role as husbands, fathers, pastors, priests, leaders, followers--ultimate responsibility for correcting this failure falls upon Church leadership, not on lay men.
Simply hectoring lay men to step up isn't enough. In fact, it's the opposite of enough, and it pushes men away when they see actions at cross purposes with words. Instead, when one looks at the faith traditions that are growing today--liberalism, Islam, evangelical Christianity, Orthodox Christianity--one notes a common thread connecting them all: An unapologetic assertion of truth and, for the latter three, clearly demarcated roles for the masculine and feminine.
If the desired end state is less passive men, then the necessary corrective is to encourage more assertiveness in men. Starting with, as Cybro correctly notes in his own critique of the original post, holding the Church's to its own teachings, particularly wrt marriage and re-marriage. Yes, many will leave if they are to be limited to being the husband and wife of only one in their lifetime. But if they do depart, were they really adherents to the faith anyway, or is the church better off without serial polygamists in its midst?