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Thursday, December 04, 2008



The problem of father absence is well-documented. We might also look to assign blame to the switch from agrarian to industrial society: the removal of men from the homestead for labor for most of a child's waking hours.

We can't skirt society's problem with authority in general, either. It began with the American Revolution and has continued with inept and uninspiring leadership in monarchies, in militaries, in corporate industry, and even the Church.

If pastors are to be spiritual fathers for their flocks, what change will be needed in seminaries to prepare men for this role? And will this be a "dealbreaker" in the discernment for priesthood? In other words, if a young man lacks the qualities will he be sent home, sent to a monastery, told to grow up and come back in ten or twenty years?

One start for the Catholic Church, one that doesn't depend on finding these ideal "father" candidates, is to more aggressively promote adoption. If lacking a father is bad, we should gravely consider what it means to miss having a mother as well. Well over 100,000 American children are now in foster care with no legal obstacles to being adopted. When will the fathers and mothers needed for these kids step forward to answer the call?


It is very heartening to hear from two Catholics about the importance of fatherhood, and as they so aptly bring out, its fundamental relationship to family formation, and ultimately, how people view God himself. When properly modeled in the family and the world, as all men are called to do, fathers help families fulfill their roles as "modern Churches" and God is honored as He becomes mirrored in a self-sacrificing, loving father in the home. Without this critical bulwark of the family providing leadership and stability, a basic building block of a functioning society becomes cast aside, and the role of masculine leadership becomes enervated and discarded. This has deleterious impact in society at large, as well as the Church, as its messengers of peace, Her priests and religious, become viewed as agents of oppression and patriarchy, in lieu of their true roles.

We all can agree out the outcomes of family dissolution has far reaching implications, both in the secular realm and within the Church, as documented in their article. However, I must point out that causation regarding family dissolution and the changing role of families in modern society over the last 50 years is far from determined. The Vitzs promote a somewhat inaccurate and media-friendly version of the causes of family break-up, blaming men primarily for the main phenomena associated with the rise of single-families: out-of wedlock births, the increasing acceptance of such "alternative" family forms, as well as the increases in the divorce rate. They quote David Blankenship, a well-known social scientist who has made a career of ignoring other causative agents such as: the increasing role of women in the workplace, no-fault divorce laws, and the growing acceptance of gender feminism both as a cause and the resolution of the "problem" of male patriarchy.

Blaming men for circumstances out of their control is not only counter-factual, it charges men for responsibility for the problems of divorce and the rise of single-families. Ask any man who's gone through divorce court in America over the last 20 years: many "modern" women accept as natural their "right" to divorce related custody and subsidized single parenthood. Gay-rights groups are attempting to redefine family quite successfully, unfortunately. To the extent that any man - or woman- reneges on their God-given responsibilities to his family, we must educate and exhort them as to what a privilege it is to raise a family. But we must acknowledge that when rights are separated from associated responsibilities, problems arise. It must be pointed out that all problems related to family formation over the last few decades should not solely be laid at the feet of fathers, whose role as head of the family has come under fire from a variety of sources.

God bless you and all Christians in their search for Truth.

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