Beliefnet
The Deacon's Bench

That’s the gist behind this essay, written by a male school teacher in Maryland:

When I started substitute teaching at St. Mary’s, a Catholic school in Maryland, two years ago, I noticed something that has become so common that it goes unnoticed. The Catholic grammar schools – like public elementary schools – are mostly run by women. In some of them there is not a single male teacher. In the archdiocese as a whole, the ratio is about 10-1, and it is similar in the rest of the country. This imbalance is terrible for a Church that is still stumbling through a sex abuse crisis and fighting a secular culture that grows increasingly misogynistic. Kids need male role models, and it’s time for some affirmative action in Catholic schools.

This is not the usual conservative argument that too many women in positions of authority are bad for boys. I am the product of a family full of tough, smart, independent Catholic women, from my mother who was a nurse in Korea to my sister the single mother to my sister-in-law the pediatrician. I know better than to make the argument that women are lacking in any way intellectually or morally or physically (my sister’s Catholic Youth League basketball team could run circles around us boys when I was a kid). Women who run Catholic schools produce brilliant, achieving women. That is not the issue.

The damage done by the abusive priests and the bishops who moved them from parish to parish has given the impression that the men who are leaders in the Catholic Church are duplicitous at best and iniquitous at worst. In order to get over this, the Church not only needs penance – she needs men in the schools who show children a model of male moral strength. Catholic kids need to see men who would go to their own death rather than see harm come to a child.

A priest friend of mine agrees who runs a well-known parish in DC agrees. I went to see him a couple weeks ago, to ask him why I kept getting turned down for teaching jobs, and why they always seemed to go to women. He told me he himself was frustrated about it, and that I should write to the bishop. The priest and I had a man-to-man talk, as it were, which points to the other, perhaps more abstract, problem that the man shortage reveals: woman and men have a different rapport with children. Children instinctively talk and act differently around them, and it is important that they have access to both sexes throughout the course of the day. This has nothing to do with the so-called “feminization of Christianity,” an argument that holds that the “masculine traits” have been scrubbed from Christianity due to women controlling parish offices and schools. If the masculine traits are bravery, toughness, strength and discipline, then many of the female teachers at St. Mary’s have them more than I do. In fact, my first few times subbing there, it was the women who helped me out with effective techniques to discipline kids, how to run the audio-visual equipment, and how to control the chaos at recess.

Check out the rest and see what you think. It does put his finger on a curious phenomenon.