The Need for Catholic Manhood in a World of Disruption and Disorder


John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man (1952)

After the first terrorist attack in Paris in January of 2014, I began working on this essay. Following the most recent attacks, I decided it was time to finish it and see it published. Two important articles have raised important questions about the state of the West in its unavoidable confrontation with the increasing expansiveness of Islam. After the attacks of felonious homicide in Paris, France on January 7th, two authors, Professor Roberto de Mattei[1] from Italy, and Emeritus Professor William Kilpatrick[2] from the United States, have both warned the West to understand the resolute will of Islam, despite their varied means, to attain one main objective: to take over Western culture and civilization, and not only in Europe. Both show that the West in its vacillating and relativist ideology of multi-culturalism and liberalism is not prepared to defend its own countries against a growing Muslim influence and implantation. In the face of the recent attacks again in Paris, it is worthwhile considering these two authors once more.

De Mattei wisely says that many methods of the modern Muslim combatants have been influenced by revolutionary methods of Terror that derive originally from the secular Enlightenment as well as from Communism-Leninism (and the subtler forms of Gramscianism) all of which have implemented their anti-Christian worldview in Europe with the indispensable help of terror, perhaps first practiced systematically in France itself in 1793. Thus, de Mattei shows how the Christian West is encircled or permeated by two antagonistic powers—Secular and Islamic—which are both anti-Christian and also disposed to employ inhuman methods to spread their worldview, especially those hypocritical Secularists who openly support the systemic large-scale terror of “abortion” (the deliberate killing of pre-born children). The answer of the Italian historian, de Mattei, to this grave, even mortal, challenge, is: Christ Crucified. Only by clinging to Him and to His truth in full will the West be able to recover its strength and find the will to defend itself, or the vulnerable women and little children. As he shows, a weakened and softened West without strong convictions and principles will lack the necessary strength to oppose such declared and resolute opponents.

The interrelated theses of these two authors have further inspired me as a German, moreover, to think, as a convert, even more practically about the Catholic Faith as the only adequate resistance and remedy for our situation.

The Catholic Church has long been largely under attack from Liberals, especially since the visceralities of the 1960s, when feminism gave rise to criticism of the “patriarchical structures” of the Church. The society, and especially the women, purportedly had to be disencumbered from such suppression and submission. In the wake of this ongoing cultural revolution, women strove more and more to be like men, to seek their types of institutional functions, to emulate the men and take their positions and jobs, and even to look more and more like them in dress and gesture. The women toughened up—and are now even entering Army Ranger School—and the men increasingly conceded and receded and were further weakened, in part, by the spreading suspicion that the men enduringly have had an underlying “will to subjugate the women.” And from early childhood on boys, often taught largely by women, were thwarted, if not nearly suffocated, in their natural desire to be protectors and providers and to be manifoldly strong.

My husband – who himself is a West Point graduate and Special Forces officer – memorably reported to me how a fine young Catholic Marine recruit from Baltimore was sent home from his basic training in the mid-1980s, because he would not surrender his rifle to a woman inspecting-officer. The male officers privately appreciated his choice, but dared not make their views public—and thus they asked him to relent, because he was even then considered to be such an excellent prospect as a full Marine and was already at the very top of his class at his well-known Parris Island, South Carolina basic training. When the young man then very soon came to visit my husband at his home in Front Royal, Virginia to tell him, with much embarrassment, the whole story, my husband warmly honored him and embraced him, especially after the young man said the following words: “Sir, there comes a time when a man should no longer have to take orders from a woman—and certainly not to have her inspect his rifle.” That was so in the 1980s, but we have gone much further now in what my husband calls “the forward march of regress.”

My husband and I have already observed in our own little boy of five years of age, how much he desires to be a protector and provider. He blossoms when he can “cut trees down,” “clear the yard,” “rescue people,” “shoot the invader,” or just show how strong he is, wrestling and boxing with his dad and asking to be thrown high aloft. All these ideas and desires of our little son derive nothing from television or video games, for he has none of these and has no access to them, but only to books and an occasional film. We have abstained from exposing him to examples that directly or indirectly present such sensation and violence and worse, to include the spreading scenes of unmistakable inhumanity. Our little son’s recurrent desire to protect, to do the difficult chores, to be strong is somehow implanted, and I believe it is God-given. That is what he is made for: to found a family, for example, and to protect and provide for that family: indeed a beautiful and challenging adventure itself. God made men strong so that they can do hard jobs and can make a living to feed a whole family. What an honor. What a grace. God made men also strong so that they can protect their families against intruders and aggressors, which is an enlivening form of just defense. Such was part of the chivalrous ethos which forthrightly said, or implied: “the more defenseless someone is, the more that person calls out for your defense.” It is according to this ethos that, in an emergency situation when a ship is sinking, women and children are always first put into the rescue boats. Men need to be honored for that. But, my husband sometimes asks with agony and from his heart: “Where are the men now when we are drowning in the blood of our children and are even sending women to do our fighting for us?”

That these same virtuous and chivalrous qualities are needed now again—and more and more so in our degenerating societies and the deeper culture—should be a conviction growing continually clearer to any reflective person—even to one who is but briefly and desultorily exposed to the happenings of war and diminishing peace in our world today. For instance, I remember seeing recently with my husband a short film about the citizenry in that contested strategic part of Ukraine (and historic Russia) called the Crimea and how the men in the towns of these contested areas on the verge of civil war took prompt precautions and concrete actions for the protection of their families—and they took them in their own hands without waiting for any government approval, much less supervision. They set up check points and made sure no one with weapons would enter their town. (I do not intend to enter into the discussion about the merits of the Russian-Ukrainian historical and cultural and strategical claims in this exacerbating conflict in the Ukraine; I only take this manly and vividly remembered sincere response of family fathers as a supporting example). When I saw the serene and unpretentious and abidingly responsible conduct of these men, I said to my husband: “Which men would act like this in the U.S., or even in Old Europe, any more? Sincerity, cheerfulness, no strutting or swaggering, and yet a just and persevering determination to do the right thing for the right reason—always to protect the little ones. ”

One cannot expect men to protect us women if we have feminized them for decades and have gotten them accustomed to being halted in their attempt to guide and to lead. If you take away their leadership—and their sense of responsibility and of accountability—in society and in families, they will not later be leaders in a larger conflict in society, or in a challenge coming from without.

That is where the full truth of the Catholic Church should be re-introduced into the discourse and manners and our practical and unblushingly virtuous conduct. While honoring and cherishing women throughout the centuries and giving them prominent as well as humble places where, in their different “states of life,” they became admired and cherished saints, spiritual doctors of the Church, prioresses, foundresses of religious orders, authors, solitary contemplatives and quietly suffering souls—but especially mothers and nourishers of family love—the Church herself as an intrinsically hierarchical communion is led by men. God has become man in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ founded His Church with twelve men, while holy women had their own important and indispensable part in the Passion and Salvation History. (We think now especially of St. Mary Magdalene!) While the Church was led by a Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, the families were analogously led by men as the heads of families. St. Paul even more explicitly presents the analogy between Church and Family in the following pericope, when he says in Ephesians 5:

“Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the savior of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it.” (Eph. 5: 22-25, Douay-Rheims translation).

In both cases, the men who lead are called to a special form of self-sacrifice. The men, traditionally, are the ones who volunteer first and die first in a war. Christ loved us first and died first for us. In this teaching and fostered expectation, the Church strengthens manhood and the leadership of man, and unto the greater good of the families and of the society and the authoritative State. Since God has created us, He knows best how we should live on earth unto the benefit of larger mankind and, most of all, unto eternal life and the salvation of souls: i.e., the supernatural Common Good, not just the natural-temporal Common Good.

Therefore—and here I hope with my husband and with our children to follow in the steep and good footsteps of Roberto de Mattei himself (indeed a “Bonum Arduum” in the words of Saint Thomas)—the world should (and must) rediscover the fuller truth of the Person of Christ and His more abundant life and teaching: Christ Crucified and Christ the King. We would, thereby, not only create happier families and a happier society, but ultimately we would also know, with the indispensable help and virtues of Catholic Manhood, how better then to defend ourselves against all enemies coming from without and from within the Church, knowing that we were made for Beatitude and may thus trust in the Divine Grace to assist our completion there—with the hope that not one of our little children would be finally lost.

[1]    Roberto de Mattei, “Christ Crucified: Scandal to the Muslims, Foolishness to the Secularists,” Corrispondenza Romana, January 14, 2015, as translated by Rorate Caeli:

[2]    William Kilpatrick, “Will a Future Pope Be Forced to Flee Rome?,” The Catholic World Report, 21 January 2015:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email