|A Traditional Sung Mass in Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, celebrated|
by Prior Cassian Folsom of Norcia.
The article which occasioned my letter noted that the parents of 'poor white boys' did not tend to turn up to parents' meetings at schools. This is one sympton of a truly massive problem. Belinda Brown gives a talk about the effect on boys' interest in eduction of one-parent families here.
I read with interest Leon Spence's article on the education system's failure with regard to poor white boys ('Society has to address problem of poor white boys' education', 22nd July). While implicitly blaming parents, however, he fails to note the effect on boys in general of the feminisation of both the curriculum, and of the teaching profession itself. A recent report by the OECD notes that boys do better in anonymous tests: consciously or not, teachers discriminate against them.
The Church faces a similar problem. The recent British Social Attitudes survey's sample of 2,000 people did not contain a single young man (18-25) who attended Catholic worship at least once a week, and revealed that, overall, men make up only a third of Catholic congregations.
Much has been written of the 'feminisation' of Catholic liturgy; the disappearance of altar boys is one obvious example. Other aspects are more subtle, like the emphasis on spontaneity, over-emotional 'signs of peace', and a general lack of mystery and reverence. By contrast, the Traditional Latin Mass attracts both sexes in roughly equal proportions.
Sociologists such as Mary Douglas and Anthony Archer also noted how the reformed, English Mass appealed more to middle class Catholics, by moving away from ritual towards a verbal form of participation.
The working class fathers of families, who were once the backbone of Catholicism in the UK, have thus been hit with a double whammy. It is time the Church stopped being part of the problem of disaffected poor boys and men, and became part of the solution.
The Latin Mass Society
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