“Bringing spirituality across more convincingly”

Men in prayer © Elisabeth Rahe (KNA)

The image of men is changing and the role of the sole professional has long since become obsolete. The pastoral care for men in the Catholic Church wants to keep its finger on the pulse in this regard. What are the challenges today??

Interviewer: In Passau everything revolves around Catholic men's work at the moment. The federal conference of the diocesan men's advisors and the diocesan representatives for men's pastoral care ended there on Monday. On Tuesday, it continued with the main conference of the Community of Catholic Men. Some say that in the Catholic Church the actual decision-makers are all men anyway, that it is a "men's church" after all. Why do we need an extra men's ministry at all??

Dr. Andreas Heek (Director of the Church Office for Men's Pastoral Care and Men's Work in the German Dioceses e.V.): Because while the church is run by men, it's run by a special group of men – namely, celibate priests. But we as the Men's Pastoral Care Office feel responsible for the other men, so to speak.

Interviewer: We often hear that men today have difficulties with their role in society because many old images of masculinity are outdated. Is this also reflected in your work?

Heek: This is our daily bread, so to speak. The challenge for men is to transform both their acquired models of masculinity into a modern masculinity, but one in which they do not feel lost and disconnected with their socialization. Rather, they must lead these images of masculinity into a modern age, where different role models must and may then occur. After all, it's not only challenges that are difficult for men. There are also many things where there is great freedom for men to develop and discover themselves in a different way than is associated with traditional masculinity.

Interviewer: At the main conference on Wednesday, the focus will once again be on the results of the study on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. To what extent do Catholic men perhaps have a different perspective on this??

Heek: We plead very clearly to be addressed as men who also belong to the perpetrator group in society – not only in the church. We need a professional approach to this – also in the church. We plead very much that priests should also be seen as men who have a problem as such. We also want to counter the abuse scandal by saying: We are also bringing the priests down to this male level to a certain extent. Then it might be easier for the church to deal with this question – not in such a bashful, overprinted way, as it still happens in some cases.

Interviewer: What do you see as the greatest challenge in Catholic men's work today??

Heek: We see the challenges in the fact that we need a new approach to masculinities – plural – because there is no longer one masculinity. It is always difficult to accept in the church that there are several possible interpretations of a certain truth. We are trying to guide the men to discover their own masculinity and to make this available for the church work and not to withdraw further into the private sphere, but also to present their spirituality and their Christianity in a more convincing and convincing way. That is actually our main task.

The interview was conducted by Julia Reck.

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