Matthew James Christoff of the New Emangelization Project has just posted an outstanding interview with Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke that focuses on a number of interrelated issues: the state of men in the Church, the “man crisis”, evangelization, marriage, the Mass, and the sacrament of Confession. Here are a few excerpts:
On the role played by radical feminism in undermining a needed focus on men:
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke: I think there has been a great confusion with regard to the specific vocation of men in marriage and of men in general in the Church during the past 50 years or so. It’s due to a number of factors, but the radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized.
Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society. …
On sexual attraction and pornography:
In truth, the gift of sexual attraction is directed toward marriage, and any kind of sexual union belongs properly only within marriage. But the whole world of pornography corrupts young people into believing that their sexual capacity is for their own entertainment and pleasure, and becomes a consuming lust, which is one of the seven capital sins.
The gift of human sexuality is turned into a means of self‑gratification often at the expense of another person, whether in heterosexual relations or in homosexual relations. A man who has not been formed with a proper identity as a man and as a father figure will ultimately become very unhappy. These poorly formed men become addicted to pornography, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, drugs, and the whole gamut of addictions. …
On men reacting against liturgical abuse:
Men are often reluctant to become active in the Church. The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out. …
In many places the Mass became very priest‑centered, it was like the “priest show”. This type of abuse leads to a loss of the sense of the sacred, taking the essential mystery out of the Mass. The reality of Christ Himself coming down on the altar to make present His sacrifice on Cavalry gets lost. Men are drawn to the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice but tune out when the Mass becomes a “priest show” or trite.
The rampant liturgical experimentation after Vatican II, much of which was not sanctioned by Vatican II, stripped the Rite of the Mass of much of its careful articulation of the Sacred Mysteries that had been developed over centuries. The Mass seemed to become something very familiar, performed by men; the profound supernatural sense of the Sacred Mystery became obscured.
The loss of the sacred led to a loss of participation of women and men. But I think that men were really turned off by the loss of the sacred. It seems clear that many men are not being drawn into a deeper liturgical spirituality; today, many men are not being drawn to service at the altar. …
Yes. One way to re-engage men is to restore the dignity of the liturgy. Men will respond when they see a priest reverently acting in the name of Christ. Men will not respond when the priest is putting on a show about himself. Offering the Mass in a reverent way has always attracted men throughout the history of the Church. It does today. …
On the need for Confession and a real understanding of sin:
Until men understand that there is Sin, and what Sin is, and that Sin offends God gravely, they will not go to Confession. Men need to have an encounter with God, with our Lord in the Sacrament of Penance to confess their Sins, express their sorrow, and receive His forgiveness.
Men are not going to Confession today because there has been a denial of Sin. There was a period after Vatican II where many were promoting the idea that there weren’t any serious sins.
Of course, this is lethal for men, especially young men. Young men may begin to engage in the sexual sin of masturbation. Men have told me that when they were teenagers, they confessed the sin of masturbation in the confessional and priests would say, “Oh, that’s nothing you should be confessing. Everybody does that.” That’s wrong.
These are sinful acts. They need to be confessed along with other types of sins, whether the sins are foul language, lying, stealing, or whatever it might be. The denial of sin was a breakdown in the sense of what is demanded of men as men of Christ.
On the need for deep reflection and gratitude:
Men need to reflect on their own experience, even if it was negative. If a father was missing in their lives, men need to realize what they needed in a father and a mother. Fathers and mothers are wonderful gifts that are given to us by God.
So too is the beautiful gift of our human sexuality as God intended it, not as, sadly, the many sick abuses of the gift of sexuality that are occurring in the world today. The dark confusion of gender theory deceives people into thinking that they can create their own sexual identities based on urges and emotions. We are so blessed God gave us this gift of being a man or being a woman. It’s a matter of us to respond to God’s will to develop our gifts of being a man or woman.
Read the entire interview on the “New Emangelization” website, operated by Matthew Christoff. Also see Christoff’s recent CWR post, “The Bishops and the Catholic ‘man-crisis'” (Dec. 15, 2014).
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