Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Getting men to Mass: for Catholic Answers

Men outnumber women at the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage: sign up here!

My latest pieces for Catholic Answers is about the alarming typical imbalance between men and women at Mass in the West. I devote a chapter to the 'feminisation of Christianity' in my book, The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity, and there is also quite a lot on the subject on this blog.

There is a certainly a marked contrast between the imbalance of the sexes at typical Novus Ordo celebrations and the more balanced situation in the Traditional Mass, with some activities associated with it, which are particularly appealing to men, such as walking pilgrimages, often showing a clear majority of men. This is beginning to enter the discourse as a fact accepted by all sides: after all, anyone can see it for themselves by visiting a few Masses on Sunday. But as I note in this article, the tendency among liturgical progressives is not to acknowledge that they might have something to learn from others, but rather that it must be the case that anything in the Church able to attract men must be misogynistic.

That would be a pretty grim conclusion: that men will only attend Mass if it is in some sense anti-woman. It conforms, however, to an unspoken idea that seems behind a lot of modern discourse, that men are intrinsically bad, and not worth trying to save: worthy only, in fact, of condemnation, for characteristics that they cannot help having, as if God were not pleased with His creation after all.

My article for Catholic Answers begins:

In the United States, in England, and across the developed world, women outnumber men in Catholic churches on Sundays. (Figures over time in the USA can be seen here; a worldwide study can be seen here.) The phenomenon got a mention in Pope St John Paul II’s 1988 post-synodal exhortation Christifideles laici 52: “various sectors in the Church must lament the absence or the scarcity of the presence of men.” Despite this, there seems to be much more discussion of the lapsation of women in the Church, and far more concern is expressed about teachings and liturgical practices that might put women off.

Male Catholics might be forgiven for forming the impression that the Church’s hierarchy and commentariat do not, in general, view their disappearance from Mass as very important. Certainly, there are some voices that seem more eager to use the absence of men as an argument for the ordination of women than to do anything to redress the imbalance.

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