From Under the Rubble…Father Time


“The Holy Father lives in Rome,
Why won’t Daddy live at home?”

Welfare Lullaby

It’s been a great year for the Holy Father.

But a lot of fathers haven’t been so lucky.

Or so holy.

“In 1960, fewer than one in 10 children lived in a single-parent home,” writes Dr. Patrick Fagan, one of America’s foremost researchers on family issues.

Those days are over. Today, intact families are a minority.

And, urban legends aside, fatherless homes are a much more dependable indicator of the likelihood of a life of failure, poverty, and crime than either race or economic status.

In fact, Dr. Fagan’s in-depth studies reveal that, “when family intactness, other demographic controls, and education controls are tested side-by-side with race and ethnicity, race and ethnicity have a marginal adverse influence.”

Indeed, fatherlessness is so ubiquitous today that it is largely unnoticed.

Nonetheless, its impact is felt, from the inner-city to tony suburbia.

After the Sandy Hook shootings, the media conveniently ignored the fact that Peter Lanza, the wealthy GE Capital executive, had abandoned his wife and children years ago – when his son Adam was only nine.

Yes, the gun controllers won’t admit it, but the Sandy Hook killer was a classic product of a fatherless home.

Fatherlessness has a powerful impact on economic status as well – especially over the course of several generations.

A remarkably candid social scientist, Fagan freely acknowledges “the damage caused by the Great Society’s good intentions.”

However, that view is heresy among “Social Justice” types, whose good intentions alone prove their superiority.

For them, the welfare state programs are the goal, whatever havoc they spawn.

Their rhetoric is their reality.

The sad fact persists: as is typical of government programs, the welfare state has hurt most those it was supposed to help – especially blacks.

As economist Walter Williams observes, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do – and that is to destroy the black family.”

Militant feminism has also done its part to encourage the absentee father. Instead of liberating women, feminism liberated men from the father’s innate sense of responsibility and mired them in a state of permanent adolescence, in which they celebrated the new promiscuity that had arisen among what they had once admired as the fairer sex.

Loose Love’s Bitter Pill

Moreover, militant feminists urged wives to “escape” the oppressive institution of marriage and to be sexually liberated – from children as well as husbands.

By1975, country star Loretta Lynn could brag, “I`m tearing down your brooder house `cause now I`ve got the pill.”

Well, Loretta never got round to recording the flip side: liberated from husbands and fathers, divorced and unwed mothers and their children quickly became one of the most impoverished groups in America.

And don’t think the kids don’t notice. Fagan describes the damage wrought by fatherlessness on children:

“Life without a father also is a good way to miss out on the American Dream. The poverty rate for all children in married-couple families is roughly 7 percent, NIH data show. By contrast, the poverty rate for all children in single-parent families is 51 percent.

He follows up with some astounding findings:

“Marriage is also the safest place for women and children. Justice Department figures show that mothers who never marry are abused at three times the rate of married, separated and divorced couples combined. Children are six times more likely to be abused in a step-family, 13 times more likely in a family with a single mother living alone, 20 times more likely in a cohabiting natural family, and 33 times more likely if they live with their natural mother and a boyfriend who isn’t their father.”

Fatherlessness has wrought havoc on the economy as well. The impact of divorce on the family is bad enough – creating two new households, both vastly poorer than the former family home.

The taxpayer pays the price too.

Dr. Ben Scafidi has found that “even a small improvement in the health of marriage in America would result in enormous savings to taxpayers….For example, a 1 percent reduction in rates of family fragmentation would save taxpayers $1.1 billion.”

“These costs are due to increased taxpayer expenditures for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals whose adult productivity has been negatively affected by increased childhood poverty caused by family fragmentation,” he said.

Amidst the darkness of the sexual revolution, Fagan finds a bright side of traditional marriage for men, similar to marriage’s benefits for women and children: “Study after study shows that married men earn more money, live longer and are healthier than their bachelor friends. They are less likely to become alcoholics, criminals or drug addicts.”

Pope Paul VI: A Prophet

Even though Catholics benefit from the sacramental graces of Matrimony, many nonetheless suffer marriage breakdown like other Americans.

Pastors report a steep decline in the number of church marriages, while cohabitation rates have risen sharply.

In the meantime, defenders of Catholic marriage complain that annulments are often both harmful and too easy to obtain.

Bai MacFarlane, director of Mary’s Advocates, charges that Church annulment policies often encourage husbands to abandon their wives when the Church ought to be defending the marriage bond.

“With the onslaught of no-fault divorce in the United States, no decent spouse can stop a marital abandoner from obtaining a civil divorce,” MacFarlane writes. “Most divorces are sought when there is no morally legitimate reason for separation.”

Yet, she continues, instead of telling spouses who initiate divorce to consider their abiding moral obligations, the Church tells them not to worry: “Being civilly divorced has absolutely no bearing on your standing in the Church and you are free to receive Holy Communion,” says one Catholic authority.

MacFarlane’s efforts also shed an unhappy light on the Church’s support of welfare state programs. Research by Fagan, Williams, and a host of others indicate that these programs don’t improve welfare, but they do destroy families.

Meanwhile, our bishops spend precious little time examining whether the programs they support actually work. And they tend to ignore altogether the damage done to the family by the welfare state.

This summer, Bishops from around the world will meet in Rome for a worldwide Synod on the Family.

Leading American bishops admit that they have had “laryngitis” on the Church’s teaching on the family for half a century.

Will that change?

To face honestly the problems confronting the family in America, our bishops will have to undergo a wrenching revision of their priorities.

The first order of business is to abandon the Church’s century-long support of the welfare state. It has failed the family.

Next, they must revive and preach the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family that they have ignored for so long.

Most importantly, this requires the resurrection of Humanae Vitae, the prophetic encyclical which Pope Paul VI gave to the world in 1968.

It was unpopular with many priests and bishops then – and, unfortunately, it still is.

Yet, it was prophetic. Pope Paul predicted that contraception would grievously harm the woman, and “reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [the man’s] own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”

Sound familiar?

Moreover, Pope Paul warned us that politicians would abuse the issue as well:

Careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power [regarding contraception] passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law….

Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.” [Humanae Vitae, No. 17]

God bless Pope Paul. He saw this train wreck coming.

Pray for our bishops. Ask them to preach Humanae Vitae – and thank them when they do.


This article, From Under the Rubble…Father Time is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

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Christopher Manion

  • Janet Baker says:

    “To face honestly the problems confronting the family in America, our bishops will have to undergo a wrenching revision of their priorities….The first order of business is to abandon the Church’s century-long support of the welfare state. It has failed the family.”

    Well, then, for whom should the bishops vote? We cannot turn to the Tea Party. They fail the family, too. Their entirely false notion of unlimited economic liberty, their idea that their fictitious Free Market is the key to recovery and growth, is ludicrous. It was ludicrous from its inception, which was day two after the first day that protestantism brought us capitalism in place of the highly regulated Catholic state. The first act of those rebels was to hedge their bets, to pass laws that regulated for them, but not for the ordinary citizen, laws that prevented their free markets from following an inevitable course toward monopolization. I am paraphrasing from the introduction to Amintore Fanfani’s eye-opening ‘Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism,’ which is still in print.

    Under capitalism’s present dismal capacity to support the nation, we can’t abandon families to the Tea Party. We can’t eliminate welfare. We can’t eliminate food stamps, or unemployment insurance, or medicare, or medicade. They stink, they truly do, but we as representatives on earth of the Christ who loved us so much He fed us on that mountain lest we go home hungry have to present an alternative.

    You won’t like mine. I say we return to the Catholic state, with its particular economics. I say we form a third party like Hungary has done, and go for it. My new year’s resolution is to find out all I can about those economics. I know (I think I know it) they held two features we seem to place in opposition: support for the ancient right to one’s private property, and an equal support for a healthy ‘commons.’ I’ll call it that, but it meant–some things were kept ‘free’ for the use of all. I have also read that the only things that were permitted to be treated as commodities were–only commodities, not land, human beings, or money. Money could not be lent at interest, for example. Human beings had a value beyond the cost of their production. Land belonged to families and it was a very big legal deal to alienate it from that family, to speculate with it. These were the features that protestants longed to overthrow under the pretext of religious freedom, and they did. I obtained Belloc’s The Servile State to start with. I also want to revisit our current distributists. I rejected their solutions previously because they pursue them as if they could work in a secular, not a Catholic, state–and they can’t, they only serve to feed the beast and make it stronger, when they work. (Think cooperatives and variations on that theme, some of them really creative.) But they could work in a Catholic state, because, among other important natural and supernatural differences, that state would respect life, and that means respects fertility, and there’s a key to growth I hope secularism does not discover any too soon, or women will get a new layer of chains on top of those we’re already dragging around and which this post notes. The Handmaiden’s Tale only so much worse.

    In any case, John Manion, please do not think that the Republican party will shelter us. They are more liberal than the Democrats. The classical definition of liberalism is freedom from restraint, and that is what they want, their protestant paradise where God Himself has determined who will be rich, and who poor. The Democrats in their attempts to ameliorate the harshness of the resulting society (and pick up a few votes, hmmm?) are the more conservative, also in the classical definition. Not that it matters, just sayin. What we need is completely different from either. I hope other Catholics reading this will take up the challenge to find true alternatives. Otherwise, like Muslims, we will only (in Naipal’s brilliant analysis) preach rage and revolution, coming up empty handed when events (like Egypt) call for genuine initiatives.

    Thanks btw for mentioning Bai McFarland. Everyone should research her whole story.

    • Janet says:

      I meant Christopher Manion–sorry, John Manion was on my mind.

    • Christopher Manion says:

      Thank you, Janet Baker, for the question, “Well, then, for whom should the bishops vote?”

      As citizens, bishops and priests can vote for whomever they prefer. But since the days of Cardinal Gibbons, bishops have done a lot more than that: they have embraced the welfare state, and have then trumpeted that particular partisan political agenda as the official – indeed, the only permissible — Catholic approach to social and political questions.

      That sustained endeavor is in direct contradiction to Lumen Gentium. Moreover, it represents the age old vice of clericalism at its worst. Political particulars are the task of the laity, period.
      That is not to say that Catholics cannot in good faith embrace principles of the welfare state. That agenda is one view among many permissible approaches to political and social issues consistent with the broad realm of freedom afforded to us by Church teaching regarding particular prudential issues.

      The bishops would be just as blameworthy for overstepping the bounds of their authority if they suddenly endorsed Paul Ryan’s budget, Ron Paul’s foreign policy, tax cuts for the rich, or other specific approaches to addressing fiscal issues.

      Their task is to advocate principles, not particular agendas.

      As an aside, I do find it strange, frankly, that our bishops do not advocate in principle more family-friendly approaches to tax policy, such as increased deductions per child, the amount of which might increase, rather than decrease, with each additional child. That approach would make it easier for all families, of whatever political persuasion, to have more children (and taxpayers for the future), and to live the family life more in harmony with Humanae Vitae. That is the kind of particular affirmation which I believe cuts across all partisan lines, and which would be in the bishops’ legitimate realm of concern.

      Instead, they always seem to advocate higher taxes, and higher spending, without taking into account the possible impact of the policies they advocate on the family, the poor, and society as a whole.

      In a word, I would be just as opposed to the bishops’ embrace of the Tea Party’s platform, the Republican establishment’s platform, or the Green party’s platform, as I am to their embrace of the particular political agenda that they have chosen to advocate.

      Thank you for your note.

      • Janet says:

        If you agreed with the voting recommendations of the bishops, you would not cite Vatican II at them. If your entire point is that they are not allowed to speak even if they were to lead us to a better solution–but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t say that. Not if you love some people who are suffering in this collapse of our society, as most of us do.But, Christopher, since you have very neatly sidestepped the issue, I should have asked: hang the bishops, for whom will YOU vote? Because my point is that we really may not enjoy the Islamic luxury of attractive but empty rage and rumors of revolution. We have to vote for somebody. We have to stand for something. What? If both the Tea Party and the Democratic Party are unacceptable, then–what? Who? Is there anyone, even one candidate, who has your confidence? We could then look at that platform and see if we couldn’t get it adopted at a grass roots level. It can be done. Hungary proves it can be done. But it is unacceptable to criticize and not counter propose..

        You might convince me that a limited platform favoring families (like the one presented in What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, by Jonathon Last) would work, put forward by either of our liberal parties. But Pius XI said that a state that denies God the respect due Him in justice cannot subsequently deliver any justice at all, to anyone, and that makes common sense to me (Quas Primas). The liberal secular state was wrong from the jump, and now has failed.

        What Hungary has done so far is first, reinstate Christianity into their foundational principles, that is, what they call their constitution, second insure the protection of life from conception to natural death, third, outlaw homosexual marriage and adoption of children, fourth, provided for the phasing out of liberal, communist-appointed judges, and last, appointed an independent bank examiner in place of the bank-chosen one in the past. They have passed some various laws, rather few actually, that are easy to criticize, like homeless sleeping outdoors in certain parts of the city which of course most cities do on the down low but no one admits. They also cut off some ‘religions’ from the public dole, which all ‘religions’ qualify for in Europe with no ‘means test,’ that is, they do not have to have actual congregations and there is abuse. And implicitly this suggests that Islam could also be curtailed, as most Europeans are hoping for. Naturally the EU is frothing–even using invasion language!

        Would you work for similar initiatives here? Which? I am confident that a “Christian”-Catholic coalition could be built, the Gallop poll found that a majority of Americans would like to see civic laws based on Biblical principles (about five years ago, Who Speaks for Islam? was the name of the poll, they also surveyed US ‘Christians.’) Now, of course, what does that mean, civic laws based on the Bible? But that’s the kind of coalition that enabled Hungary, so it must be possible to capture in words.

  • Karl says:

    One would have to be seriously deluded to hope that something good will come from this synod, when people like Bai Macfarlane have been almost completely ignored, as our marriages are savaged with the approval of the Catholic Church and its leadership.

    I have watched our marriage be left to die by the Catholic Church since my wife abandoned it in 1989 but am facing a second round of annulment hearings during that same period. It is a tremendous scandal.

    I would love to take part in that synod but the words these men would hear would curl their hair. I have little respect for this Pope or the bishops of the world and would seek the resignations of the entire body of them were I to speak. None of these men serve Christ. They serve themselves and do so gladly. They care nothing about our marriages, they care nothing about our children, they care nothing about our spouses and they care even less about our souls. Any bishop who says otherwise should be removed because he is out of touch with reality and psychologically unfit to occupy a functional See, even a dysfunctional See!

    Francis, I beg you, resign; your papacy is a scandalous disaster and blight on Catholicism. Move to a monestary somewhere and spend the rest of your life repenting for the damage you have done during your brief time as Pope.

    • Janet says:

      Dear Karl, I thank you so much for this comment, and I will pray for you at my next mass. I don’t think anyone who has not been through it can understand. I often pray for Bai, as her excruciating experience taught me, brought me into the right relationship with my experience: she waits for her husband, against all odds. I wasn’t sure what to do, I had gone back to my maiden name, I had gotten my own annulment, I was unsure, confused by the world, regarding what face I present to our children over time, but Bai helped me come to grips with it: you stay true. Against all odds, against the new wife, against the culture. What has happened regarding marriage and Catholicism completely exposes Vatican II, and when I seem to harp on it, when I feel so bad for harping on it, I will remember your bottom line: Francis, resign. I will remember how you threatened really bad language, if they were ever to ask you. Me, I would like to blow them up. Thank God my Lord Christ has me in hand.

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