Acknowledging the Catholic ‘man-crisis’

| Matthew James Christoff | November 19, 2015 | 2 Comments

Editor’s note: In this issue we begin “Catholic Watchmen,” a new monthly column focusing on Catholic laymen.

There is a serious Catholic “man-crisis.”

The New Emangelization Project has documented the devastating loss of faith among Catholic men.

One in three baptized Catholic men in the U.S. have left the Church. The fastest growing religious segment of the U.S. population are called “Nones,” those who profess no religion. The single biggest contributor to the “Nones” are men who were formerly Catholic.

To have one-third of our fathers, brothers, uncles and sons leave the Catholic Church is a disaster. Imagine an army in a fierce battle that had one-third of its men go AWOL or fight for the enemy. The loss of so many Catholic men weakens the Church Militant in the battle against Satan’s ongoing assault on all people.

It gets worse. The majority (some 50-60 percent) who remain are “casual Catholic men” — men who don’t know or practice the faith.

According to our research, large numbers of Catholic men don’t have a basic understanding of the faith. Only about 1 in 3 Catholic men strongly agree the sacraments are essential to their faith. About half of Catholic men are “bored” in the Mass and don’t feel they “get anything out of the Mass.”

Men who understand the Mass could never be bored when encountering the King of Creation.

Most Catholic men believe that “how one lives is more important than being a Catholic.” Large numbers of Catholic men do not believe that Catholicism has a “greater share of truths than other religions.” Only about 1 in 4 Catholic men believe that being a Catholic “is among the most important things in life.” A startling 60 percent of Catholic men would consider leaving the Church.

“Casual Catholic men” do not practice the faith. Only about 1 in 4 Catholic men consider themselves to be “practicing Catholics.” Indeed, only one-third of Catholic men attend Mass weekly despite the fact that weekly Mass attendance is a precept, or obligation, of the Church.

The majority of men are not going to confession. Some 8 out of 10 Catholic men have not gone to confession in the last year; annual confession is a precept of the Church. Only 1 in 50 Catholic men (2 percent) have a monthly practice of confession. Meanwhile, studies show that 60-70 percent of Christian men are viewing pornography monthly, raising the concern of widespread serious sin.

Most Catholic men are disengaged from parish life. Research shows that 8 out of 10 Catholic men do not participate in Catholic activities outside of Mass. One third of men who call themselves “Catholic” are not members of a parish.

These men are not committed to passing the faith along to their children. Half of Catholic men do not know the faith well enough to explain it to their children, and they are not convinced it is important for their children to remain Catholic. The lack of commitment of fathers to pass the faith along to their sons will add to the Catholic “man-crisis.”

The Catholic “man-crisis” is wreaking havoc on men, women, children, the Church and society. What is needed now is for all Catholics of good will, especially priests, deacons and men themselves, to commit to call our wayward brothers back to the fullness of the faith.

Jesus Christ, the perfect man, expects no less from us.

Christoff is a parishioner of St. Anne in Hamel and founder of the New Emangelization Project.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen

  • Charles C.

    Dear Mr. Christoff,

    Thank you for being willing to face the problem of Catholic men, and kudos to the Catholic Spirit for giving you space in which to address it. I anxiously await future installments.

    But now that you have repeated the statistics showing that there is a problem, there are two more steps. Identifying the cause, then eliminating the cause. After that, we look at the situation again and repeat as necessary.

    What might some causes be?

    Men are disengaged from parish life, not participating in activities outside of Mass? There are priests who will not welcome, say, the Knights of Columbus into their parishes, and some who refuse to give them publicity and support. What parish activities are there for men? In order for to begin to be effective, it has to be an activity that men are at least mildly attracted to. Yes, a men’s retreat is valuable, but only for the men who would be willing to go on a retreat to begin with. A men’s book club is valuable, but only to the men who are inclined to read and talk about books. In the most extreme case, a men’s sewing group is not a men’s activity.

    Not engaged in the parish? Well, setting aside for a moment the priests and the maintenance staff, what percentage of all positions are held by men? 25%?

    And what about the liturgy? I hope this is under the seal of the confessional, but I confess that every time I hear “One Bread, One Body,” or, “On Eagle’s Wings” I have a hard time keeping a spiritual focus. In fact, I sometimes I have a hard time just staying in the pew. And if the song is not one of those two, it is always pitched so that it is impossible for any man, unless trained, to hit every note. After a while it becomes apparent that there is no sense even trying. When it’s time for Communion, who distributes the Host? If it’s not the priest, odds are very good that it’s a woman (wearing a dangly little necklace thingy or pin as a badge of their solemn position).

    They’re not living according to the Church’s teaching? Well, it may depend on the subject, but it may also depend on the presentation. What is the emphasis today? Is it Catholic Social Justice, which to the average person is the Democratic party platform with the exception of abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia? Is the emphasis on bridging the gap between religions? To most, that’s an administrative problem, nothing we need to care about.

    What I don’t see, and I suspect doesn’t exist, is an emphasis on the struggle, the fight, the war, that Catholics are called to. Men don’t abandon their unit in combat, they know they are in a life or death situation. They know there is a real enemy. they know that to lose is to die. The Church teaches that, of course, but it’s no longer taught in an effective way. (At least that I’ve seen.)

    Is Hell taught clearly? Has Dante ever been used as the basis for a sermon? Can people even begin to imagine the stakes involved with our decisions here? How many Catholics are really terrified at the idea of going to Hell? But that’s the destiny for the “losers” in this spiritual war.

    Are the enemies of Man clearly described, along with instructions on how to fight them? Catholics above all, with the role which exorcism has played in the Church, should realize that there actually are Demons. How can people believe in Angels without believing in Fallen Angels?

    Are the enemies of the soul which go hide in Society clearly identified? Do we teach the dangers of relativism, or any of the heresies? Do we point out ideas which are gaining currency to reward the good and attack the bad?

    Bring men together in groups of men. Teach them the importance of the battle, point out the enemies, encourage them to get in the fight, and reward them for victories at any level, then you might have something. Show them that they can get new marching orders at Mass, that they can “show the colors,” so to speak by being there. Show them that their presence helps encourage the other men.

    It’s not for nothing that the Church on Earth is called The Church Militant, and those members in Heaven make up the Church Triumphant.

    With respect, and my prayerful best wishes,

  • Eric Evander

    I agree with what Charles said and would add a little bit to it.
    Men need a cause, something to fight for, not a wimpy, feel-good cause. With that said, I would recommend speaking with Fr. Thomas Dufner about how to fire up men and get them involved. Secondly, I would consider programs specifically for men. In the diocese of Duluth they have “That man is you”, which is a structured weekly meeting for men. Finally, if you want to attract men to the Church you need manly men as priests. Our seminaries are producing such men and there is much hope.
    Thank you,
    Eric Evander