by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
“The Boy Crisis,” written by William Farrell, Ph.D., and John Gray, Ph.D., details the mental, physical, economic and educational health evidence for a “purpose void” for many boys and young men.
In addition to the “purpose void” for boys, the authors attribute the current crisis to what they term “dad-deprived” young men.
The following are a few of the facts that the authors give to substantiate this crisis, just in the educational arena: 1) in one generation, men have gone from being 61 percent to 39 percent of college graduates; 2) by eighth-grade, only 20 percent of boys are proficient in writing; 3) only 30 percent of valedictorians are male; 4) in communities where marriage has become rare, more than 50 percent of boys drop out before earning their high school diploma; and 5) the less education a young man has, the more likely he is to be unemployed or underemployed.
Farrell was elected to NOW’s (the National Organization of Women) board of directors, is a regular contributor to Ms. magazine and is an ardent admirer and friend of Gloria Steinem.
In contrasting what he considers a primitive understanding versus a more advanced understanding of marriage, the inferior model considers children obligatory and the more sophisticated perceives children as optional.
Clearly, Farrell is not basing his identification of “The Boy Crisis” on a Catholic understanding of love, sexuality and marriage.
As I am writing this column, the Kansas Legislature has failed so far to pass the Adoption Protection Act. This legislation was aimed at protecting religious-based agencies like Catholic Charities from being prevented from providing adoption and foster care services as has already happened in Massachusetts, Illinois and the District of Columbia.
So much for the claim by gay rights extremists that the redefinition of marriage would not impact those who continue to embrace the common understanding of marriage for millennia by diverse cultures as a covenant between one man and one woman for the benefit of the couple as well as any children born from their union.
Opponents of the Adoption Protection Act made the outlandish claims that it prohibited same-sex couples from adopting and reduced the adoption options for children.
The reality is just the opposite. The Adoption Protection Act does not prevent same-sex couples from adopting, but simply guarantees religious adoption agencies can continue to place children in a manner consistent with their beliefs.
The bill attempted to keep all options open for birth parents desiring to place a child for adoption and for children being adopted.
“The Boy Crisis” provides hard evidence from a nonreligious source why children do better when they are raised in a home where they experience the benefit of the love of a dad and a mom. To deny this truth for political correctness at the expense of the best outcomes for children is an injustice.
What is needed are more couples willing to adopt hard-to-place children and more couples willing to provide foster care. I ask all married couples in the archdiocese to consider prayerfully if God is calling them to be foster or adoptive parents.
Certainly, there are many factors to ponder. Not every family or even most families may be able to become foster or adoptive parents at this time, but some are being called to expand their circle of love and share the gift of their family with a child in need.
In 1980, Father George Clements, a Catholic priest of Chicago, began “One Church, One Child,” an ecumenical effort aimed at challenging Christian communities to encourage members of their congregation to consider adopting children who were languishing in the foster care system in the state of Illinois.
It was specifically aimed at promoting adoption of African- American children, who were disproportionately represented in foster care.
Father Clements promoted the idea that if, on average, one family from every church adopted a child, the adoption crisis in Illinois at the time would be solved.
Father Clements’ vision was not just for individual families to adopt, but also for entire congregations to lend support and encouragement to adoptive parents. “One Church, One Child” became a national organization where churches partnered with state agencies to provide more and better opportunities for children needing a forever home.
If at least one couple from each of our more than 100 parishes made the decision to expand the circle of love of their family by adopting a child in foster care, this would make a huge difference in the lives of many children.
I encourage pastors and lay leaders to consider how the entire congregation can help support both new and existing adoptive and foster care families within the parish.
Finally, I ask all fathers to consider the importance of their role in the lives of their daughters and sons. Every child, male or female, benefits from a father’s love.
Sons, especially, need to be mentored by their fathers to become authentic and virtuous men who will make great husbands and fathers.
The health of our society depends on all of us addressing “The Boy Crisis.”