UST Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. puts the doctoral ring on Cardinal Paul Joseph Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, when the latter received an honorary doctorate in Sacred Theology from UST last Jan. 23. Photo by G.N.P. MelicorA RANKING Vatican official has warned about the “crisis in fatherhood” as a result of “radical feminism” and a liberal secular culture that ignores the biological basis of sex and sexuality.

“Today the self-understanding of manhood and especially fatherhood is in crisis,” said German Cardinal Paul Joseph Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the dicastery for charity of the Holy See, in his address of acceptance after being conferred a doctorate degree in Sacred Theology, honoris causa, last Jan. 23 at the UST Thomas Aquinas Research Complex.

Cordes said “gender mainstreaming” and “radical feminism” have attacked biological manhood and insisted that “sexual roles are learned.” He said men are demeaned and instead, what is held up as an ideal is a man who is feminized and emasculated, one who, in a European study, is held up to be “a sweeter man.”

“Is male identity then nothing other than a product of a special culture and the consequences of social circumstances?” Cordes asked.

As a result, many homes, particularly in the West, have no fathers.

Cordes said a Catholic Charities survey in the United States showed that 24 million children are living in homes without a father. He said “fatherless boys are twice as likely to be in prison; they are more likely to drop out or be expelled from school; they account for 63 percent of suicides, and 90 percent of those who run away from home.”

He said in his own country, the German newspaper Frankfurther Allgemeinen, ran a story with the headline, “The Insecure Man.”

Cordes blamed the loss of manhood and fatherhood to liberal and secularistic legislations to invent “the new man.”

“We have grown accustomed to hearing about legislation undermining the role of the father, such as adoption by gay so-called ‘parents,’” Cordes said. “A bill passed recently in Britain (‘Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill of 2008’) allows two lesbians or single mothers to conceive a child without a father; all that is needed is ‘supportive parents.’ Some newspapers hailed this as ‘the end of fatherhood.’”

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He said a survey of German universities recently showed that while there were 98 university chairs “for deepening questions on womanhood,” only one existed for men.

“In Europe, psychologists and anthropologists have labored to diminish masculinity,” Cordes said.

“New investigations such as that published by the Council of Europe in 1998 claim that the ‘new man’ is ‘sweeter.’ Men and fathers should be led to become more like women and mothers in their behavior and reactions. They also advocated ‘flexibility of the sexes’ in the education of children.

Population control condemned

Interviewed by the Varsitarian, Cordes said “every sex has its own importance” and it’s a “mistake” for “men [today] to want to become like women.”

“Feminism itself made a strong distinction between the sexes. I think that men should reflect and have more sureness of their roles as men,” Cordes told the Varsitarian.

Cordes also blamed the loss of manhood to contraception, population control, and state meddling with the institution of the family. The Cardinal said that overpopulation is a myth.

“This is a clear declaration that there is enough food resources for all the people and there are lot of spaces in several countries where no people live. [Overpopulation] is a propaganda by the government and ideologies. Look at China’s one-child policy—that is tyranny. It is tyranny for the government to interfere in such a delicate field as the family,” Cordes told the Varistarian.

He said the state should not dictate family size and how to run the family.

Erosion of manhood

In his address, Cordes said the erosion of manhood and fatherhood has a negative impact on “boys’ self-understanding,” adding that even girls form their self-understanding by their relationship with fathers and men.

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Fathers are “an anchor for us in cases of loss and danger,” said the German prelate. When children try to carve our their own autonomous existence from their parents, it is the father they look up to. “From the presence of the male body, something is transmitted to the ‘I’ that makes the child blossom,” Cordes said. “Whoever as an individual has never been generated or raised in the way by his father or his fathers will have a limited self-esteem.”

Impact on Christianity

Cordes said the loss of masculinity and the crisis in fatherhood have bearing on Christianity, which calls God as Father. “The lack of a human father makes it difficult to grasp Jesus’s teaching on the heavenly Father,” he said.

Cordes added that the Catholic conception of the Holy Trinity as containing the persons of God the Father and the Son aside from the Holy Spirit is what distinguishes Christianity from Islam.

“In the Koran, Allah has 90 diverse names that describe his greatness and essence, but he is never invoked as ‘father.’ . . . Allah is indeed exalted . . . but he is inaccessible and is enthroned at an impenetrable distance.”

Cordes called for a reinstatement of fatherhood in all its biological and “spiritual” richness, while indicating that even the notion of spiritual fatherhood may be impaired without a healthy notion of biological fatherhood.

“In Latin America, young adolescents suffered in their childhood and youth through the absence of their biological father,” he said. “Now they discover that this experience had negative repercussions on their relationship with God.”

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But Cordes said that God’s grace still allows everyone “later in life to heal the shortcomings due to a missing father.”

New UST alumnus

In the solemn conferment ceremonies, UST Rector Magnificus and former Commission on Higher Education chairman Fr. Rolando V. De la Rosa, O.P. bestowed the doctoral cap and mantle on Cordes.

UST Rector Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P. said Cordes has always shown the Holy See’s solicitude toward people in need, as when he visited Rwanda after the genocide and New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

“Your Eminence,” De la Rosa told the cardinal, “the University is privileged to adopt you as its honorary alumnus. And it does so with great pride because you share the values [UST] imparts to its students—commitment, competence and compassion.”

Witnessing the ceremonies were German Ambassador Christian Ludwig Weber Lortsch, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, CHEd chair Emmanuel Angeles, UST Ecclesiastical Faculties’ Sacred Theology Dean Fr. Rodel Aligan, O.P., UST Secretary General Fr. Isidro Abano, O.P., and former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa, who is now consultor of the pontifical agency headed by Cordes.

Alumni bishops of UST were also in the audience. Earlier, Cordes had addressed the annual January general assembly of the CBCP and the general alumni homecoming of the UST Central Seminary.

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