Along with a conservative theological emphasis, there is a new stress on masculine spirituality among seminarians and other educators in American Catholic churches, according to the cover story in the conservative Crisismagazine (July/August). Todd Aglialoro writes that a new generation of Catholic men are rebelling against what they see as pastoral or “feminine” -based catechesis and seminary formation that are soft on the masculine virtues that have flourished in American Catholicism since Vatican II. One of the major influences in the masculine spirituality phenomenon in the church was the late Pope John Paul II and his “theology of the body,” which stressed gender differences. The new emphasis can be seen in popularity of Lionheart Apparel, a men’s clothing line featuring Christian symbols and slogans, such as papal crucifixes, and Miraculous Medal tattoos.
Meanwhile, the Houston-based family ministry Paradisus Dei has established a rigorous 68-week program mining the “social and biological sciences in search of a comprehensive vision of gender differences and roles–of what makes a man a man…”
In seminaries (often criticized by conservatives for serving as enclaves for homosexually inclined men), rectors and other officials are noting the beginnings of a “renewal” of masculinity both in appearance and a masculine spirituality that stresses male leadership and waging a “battle to fight on the [church’s] behalf,” rather than seeking to change the church. Such attributes are already finding their way into parish religious education programs that teach “hard or `crunchy’ doctrine, [such as] a return to transcendence [over imminence],” and viewing Jesus more as Lord than as a friend, according to Aglialoro A common thread running through most of the sources Aglialoro interviewed is the use of martial language and imagery. They spoke of “battle against the temptations and obstacles the modern world puts before men…” Even some seminary rectors “stressed the need to adapt the military virtues of discipline, valor, and self-sacrifice to the work of spiritual combat.”
(Crisis, 1814 ½ N St., NW, Washington, DC 20036)