Cardinal, former La Crosse bishop contends feminism marginalizes men, fosters abuse
Cardinal Raymond Burke blames radical feminism for many problems perceived in the Catholic Church, including clergy sexual abuse of boys and the decline in vocations to the priesthood.
Confusion about men’s identity and roles has festered for 50 years, the former bishop of the La Crosse Diocese is quoted as saying in an interview with Matthew James Christoff, founder of the New Emangelization Project, a men’s ministry initiative.
“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,” Burke said.
“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,” Burke told Christoff during the interview, conducted when Burke was in La Crosse last month to celebrate the feast day of the Shrine of Guadalupe he founded when he was bishop.
Burke declined an interview with the Tribune during that visit, saying he couldn’t fit it into his schedule.
“The goodness and importance of men became very obscured and, for all practical purposes, were not emphasized at all,” Burke told Christoff.
Christoff, who lives in the Minneapolis area, converted to Catholicism in 2006 and founded the project in 2013 “to help the church confront the Catholic ‘man-crisis,’” according to the project’s website. “There can be no New Evangelization without a New Emangelization, creating generations of Catholic men who are on fire for Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.”
Because of the “man-crisis,” Burke said, the church became “very feminized. Women are wonderful, of course. They respond very naturally to the invitation to be active in the church. Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women.
“The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved,” he said.
Men opt out early in life, the former archbishop of St. Louis said, adding, “The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service. Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural.”
The Vatican approved girl servers in 1983, a decision that was reaffirmed in 1994, with the notation that boy servers should be encouraged because that role was viewed as an apprenticeship of sorts for the priesthood.
In July 1994, La Crosse Bishop John Paul decreed that females could serve at the altar, at the discretion of the pastor.
When Burke was bishop of La Crosse, he advanced regulations during a diocesan synod in 2000 that only males could serve at pontifical Masses, which are those where a bishop presides, according to diocesan records. The reason cited was the vocational connection and the possibility of the bishop becoming acquainted with young men who might be interested in the priesthood.
The synod stipulated, “The practice of having only male servers for the pontifical ceremonies, as a means for the Diocesan Bishop to promote vocations to the priesthood, is to be continued.”
Burke contended in the interview that the advent of female servers reduced priestly vocations.
But recently, he said, “We can also see that our seminaries are beginning to attract many strong young men who desire to serve God as priests. The new crop of young men are manly and confident about their identity.
“This is a welcome development, for there was a period of time when men who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity had entered the priesthood,” Burke said. “Sadly, some of these disordered men sexually abused minors — a terrible tragedy for which the church mourns.”
Burke also acknowledges the abuse of women, saying, “Everyone understands that women have and can be abused by men. Men who abuse women are not true men, but false men who have violated their own manly character by being abusive to women.”
Many men don’t go to confession today because the concept of sin has disappeared, said Burke, who was demoted last fall from his position as head of the Vatican’s highest court after making remarks critical of Pope Francis.
“The denial of sin was a breakdown in the sense of what is demanded of men as men of Christ,” Burke told Christoff in the 3,670-word interview, the full transcript of which is available at www.newemangelization.com.
To repair that rift, priests must re-engage men in the importance of the Mass, the family, modesty and their roles as fathers, Burke said.