Why Do Men Not Like Catholicism?

The Irish Catholic faith is, I’m sorry to say, full of women. And if it’s not full of women, it’s bursting at the seams with androgynous lay men and priests. The music is corny. The mood and personalities are corny. The clothes they wear are corny. Even the youth festivals that are full of American imported Christian culture are embarrassing. There’s lots of compromise with the secular culture around them and it’s basically on its knees at the moment.

The father of the house is an important figure in any household. By nature he is the man the children will look up to and follow provided he’s a worthwhile figure to emulate. I’m of the belief that if you can reach the father, you can save the household. That’s not to deny women their ability to raise children on their own and raise their kids in the faith. There are many saintly women in the past who had no choice but to do so. It was better than nothing.

However, the ultimate ideal is to get the father involved. I can tell you straight up that secular men for the most part do not like Catholic culture. It’s not cool and it’s wimpy in appearance. Men tend to shy away from anything that makes them look like a drag queen and I’m sorry to say, the Catholic faith (at least in their heads) ticks all those boxes on their list of religions to avoid.

Men want the love and the religious experience, but packaged and presented in such a way that looks masculine. This is why some gravitate towards eastern religions like Buddhism. The Shaolin monks and Tibetan hermits look cool. They’ve got the love but also austere practices of fasting and depriving oneself of certain pleasures we all take for granted. The idea of meditation, peace and quiet is attractive and it beamed me in many years ago when I went spiritually shopping.

Catholicism has this too, but it’s smothered and never explored by the Church here who are incapable of reaching out to men. Yes, everything men and women want is in Catholicism but they don’t see it. There are so many numerous reasons as to why but certainly one of them is that they’ve been brought up to look at the Church that way. It’s an own goal on behalf of the Church too who tend to live up to that popular stereotype.

Men view the priesthood as a mans club reserved only for the sons of middle to upper class people who have a great track record in their communities as being outstanding citizens. To speak plainly the Church on an administrative, priestly or intellectually interactive level is seen as being populated by yuppies. They’re not wrong for this is a trait that goes back to the time of John the Baptist. The Pharisees admired John and were hopeful he was the Messiah because he came from a well bred lineage that would make him a good priest. See? Things rarely ever change.

Ultimately what it boils down to is what my Bishop said last week, “familiarity breeds contempt”.

But the problem is, they’re not familiar with the faith at all. The contempt they have is for a faith in which familiarity is simply being given a very basic catechesis in their primary years and little to none at all in their secondary formation. The contempt they have is not for the Catholic faith, but the Catholic faith they’ve been brainwashed to show contempt for by a very aggressive arts and media culture. This is a culture that prides itself on packaging its message in a cool, accessible and masculine way. And guess what? It’s working.

At the moment the Church in Ireland is so uncool it makes Cliff Richard look like Michael Jackson (sorry Cliff, I love you really). There is a need for the Irish Catholic Church to move away from the corny liturgical absurdities and the banality of its 1980s charismatic guitar hymns and come up with a modern solution. That modern solution is to do what Vatican II asked of them.

Very few priests are doing it but there are those who really try I have to hand it to them. But the ones who try, I watch with interest. They’re like the guy who goes on Pop Idol and really thinks he’s got the X-Factor. He really has all the determination to be a Pop Star but he can’t sing. It’s the same with some of these priests. All the determination is there driving them to tick every masculine box I’ve mentioned above but it’s a failure.

Why? Because when it comes to media and the arts, conservatives absolutely are without a doubt 100% rubbish at it. And believe me that conservatives are pulling the strings in the Church and always have been. Rich conservatives use their money for creative religious projects that die an absolute death because while the determination is there, the talent is not. But it’s “their money” and “their project” so they’re absolutely certain that they will steer that ship into the corny iceberg of no return.

What all this mess accumulates is utter contempt for the faith by men. “Nope, too gay for my liking. I think I’ll stick with the happy go lucky Dalia Lama instead.” Men like stuff that looks exotic and cool in imagery but also love a good intellectual challenge of the mind, body and soul. We like to be talked to plainly and see it as a sign of weakness when a priest in his homily avoids the hard talk. When we see a priest live on national television compromise with the secular culture through fear of what the world will think of him, we men lose interest almost immediately.

There is certainly a way to repackage the faith in a modern cool way that makes it accessible to men. But that kind of approach requires the Church to hire a liberal mind for the job. It has to be someone who once was a liberal and who knows the enemy so to speak. This kind of person like Mel Gibson for example has the talent to turn things around and create that blockbuster approach the Church so desperately needs. He must be very in tune with young people and can develop strategies to meet the rebellious teenager half way without looking like a total dork.

If they can’t do that, then they need to at least try their best to move away from the current trajectory they’ve taken when it comes to reaching out to men. To help men understand that to kneel and pray the rosary is not a sign of weakness but of strength is no easy task. The reason for this is because they’ve been spoon fed the image of Catholicism that the media and culture would have them look at. It needs to change.

The Church needs more men who can bring back some sort of balance to the corny androgyny it’s currently undergoing. In order to do this, it needs to know the mind of the person they’re reaching out to. If they don’t have that, then they’ll always just be some country club for middle class Christians who convert a local friend every now and again of similar class and stature. They will never make the big impact so desperately needed to reach a much wider audience.

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

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