The Fatherhood Crisis

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, June 25—Christine de Vollmer, the mother of seven, “arguably stole the show” at a Vatican conference in June on “The paternity of God and Paternity in the Family” according to an op-ed piece by William R. Mattox Jr.

In what Mattox called a “remarkable speech” on the mutual dependency of motherhood and fatherhood, Vollmer told the group of more than 200 church leaders, scholars and family advocates that the crisis of fatherhood in the modern world is ultimately a crisis of masculinity that stems from “an all-pervading confusion about the differences of men and women and their tasks in life.” She summed up the problem in one word: “unisex.”

Vollmer, a United Nations adviser on family policy, “believes androgyny is both a cause and an effect of father absence,” said Mattox. “She says that many people today perceive that a uniquely paternal contribution to childrea-ring is ‘unnecessary’ and, at times, ‘even harmful.’”

The problem is taking a toll, said Mattox, because too many people do not have “the full experience of mother and father in harmonious contrast.” Vollmer “considers it a ‘great detriment’ to children that ‘fathers today are being asked to be as much like mothers as possible’ — especially since a growing body of research shows that fathers make a unique contribution in their children's lives.”

Some of the manifestations of adolescent problems due to the absence of a father can be seen in boys who “engage in violent crime and other hyper-masculine aggressive behavior (in an attempt to prove their manhood), while adolescent girls are particularly apt to engage in premarital sexual activity (in an attempt to compensate for the absence of masculine affirmation at home),” said Mattox.

Papal Products

NEWSWEEK, July 5—In response to international demand, the Vatican has entered into licensing agreements for the sale of merchandise with papal insignia and other items with connections to the Church, including art replicas, reported the national news magazine.

“Prepping for Holy Jubilee Year 2000,” the Vatican will soon open a … store in New York that will sell a wide variety of items, including sheets and china as well as religious items and depictions of Italian art treasures, said Newsweek. “Eventually, the Church hopes to have 400 outlets worldwide,” said the magazine's fashion section. “There's no better brand in the world,” said a Vatican licensing official