The RCC has always been better at attracting and “keeping” women rather than men.
Catholicism in Ireland since the arrival of Cardinal Cullen and his devotional revolution concentrated on the emotional and the superstitious.
As a general but not exclusive rule, women are superior to men when it comes to owning and expressing emotions.
I think gay men, who are integrated are better at emotions than straight men – but I stand to be corrected.
So Ireland’s females were more drawn into Cullen’s devotional – Mary, the Rosary, the saints, novenas, indulgences etc.
I remember as a child attending Mass in Pollagh, Co. Offaly, that the women and children were inside the church for the whole Mass, while the men played cards outside the door and popped in, on one knee, to be present for the consecration of the Mass.
The men experienced a sense of belonging, integration and community after Mass and in the pub.
When I did my masters in QUB we studied the origin and function of the pub in Irish society. The pub was the one place where men were free from the WOMAN and the PRIEST, as at that time, women and priests did not frequent the pub.
As men and women we share many aspects of our spirituality together.
But as different genders, our total experience of spirituality is different.
Being a father is a different experience to being a mother.
Being a son is a different experience to being a daughter.
At the level of the integration of our spirituality and sexuality are different experiences for men and women.
Spiritually, men and women experience many things differently – success, failure, joy, sorrow, sickness etc.
When I used to host spirituality events at BELFAST PRIDE, I used to say to the gay Christians that instead of cursing the churches for rejecting them, they should develope their own gay or queer theology and pastoral care.
It’s the same for men. If we are to attract them to the faith, we are going to have to develope a theology and pastoral practice for men.
I know ROBERT NUGENT talks about this. But he seems to be focusing on getting “underground” groups of men praying the Rosary and straining to avoid masturbation!
I think a real, authentic and effective masculine should not be focused on the evil of masturbation.
Very many sexual acts including masturbation end with the person, even if they are an atheist, saying or shouting Oh God!
Can men, and women, find God in sexual pleasure?
Could it, properly looked at, present us with massive new insights.
I published a whole about this in 2005.
This book does not present ALL the answers.
But it does outline avenues of possible progress.