Feminism blamed for ‘erosion of manhood’
By Lito Zulueta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:58:00 01/24/2009
MANILA, Philippines—A high-ranking Vatican official currently in Manila has warned of the erosion of manhood and the “crisis in fatherhood” that have resulted in millions of children worldwide without a father or enjoying emotionally healthy relations with one.
German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” the Vatican dicastery (or administrative agency) on charity, aid and relief, blamed “gender mainstreaming” and “radical feminism” for attacking biological manhood and insisting that “sexual roles are learned.”
He said men are demeaned and what is held up as an ideal is a man who is feminized and emasculated, one who, in a European study, is held up to be “a sweeter man.”
Fatherhood in crisis
“Is male identity then nothing other than a product of a special culture and the consequences of social circumstances?” Cordes asked in his speech, “Fatherhood-An Auxiliary Role?”, which was his doctorate address Friday after receiving an honorary doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas.
The doctoral hat and cape were bestowed by UST Rector Magnificus and former Commission on Higher Education chairman Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P.
Witnessing it were German Ambassador Christian Ludwig Weber Lortsch, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, CHEd chair Emmanuel Angeles, and former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa, who is now consultor of the pontifical agency headed by Cordes.
‘The new man’
Cordes said statistics around the world “confirm that today the self-understanding of manhood and especially fatherhood is in crisis.”
He said a Catholic Charities survey in the United States showed that 24 million children are living in homes without a father. He said “fatherless boys are twice as likely to be in prison; they are more likely to drop out or be expelled from school; they account for 63 percent of suicides, and 90 percent of those who run away from home.”
He said in his own country, the German newspaper Frankfurther Allgemeinen, ran a story with the headline, “The Insecure Man.”
Cordes blamed the loss of manhood and fatherhood to liberal and secularistic legislations to invent “the new man.”
“We have grown accustomed to hearing about legislation undermining the role of the father, such as adoption by gay so-called ‘parents,’” Cordes said. “A bill passed recently in Britain (‘Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill of 2008’) allows two lesbians or single mothers to conceive a child without a father; all that is needed is ‘supportive parents.’
Some newspapers hailed this as ‘the end of fatherhood.’”
He said a survey of German universities recently showed that while there were 98 university chairs “for deepening questions on womanhood,” only one existed for men.
“In Europe, psychologists and anthropologists have labored to diminish masculinity,” Cordes said. “New investigations such as that published by the Council of Europe in 1998 claim that the ‘new man’ is ‘sweeter.’
Men and fathers should be led to become more like women and mothers in their behavior and reactions. They also advocated ‘flexibility of the sexes’ in the education of children.
Cordes said the erosion of manhood and fatherhood has a negative impact on “boys’ self-understanding,” adding that even girls form their self-understanding by their relationship with fathers and men.
Fathers as anchor
Fathers are “an anchor for us in cases of loss and danger,” said the German prelate. When children try to carve out their own autonomous existence from their parents, it is the father they look up to.
“From the presence of the male body, something is transmitted to the ‘I’ that makes the child blossom,” Cordes said. “Whoever as an individual has never been generated or raised in the way by his father or his fathers will have a limited self-esteem.”
Cordes said the loss of masculinity and the crisis in fatherhood have bearing on Christianity, which calls God as Father. “The lack of a human father makes it difficult to grasp Jesus’s teaching on the heavenly Father,” he said.