A US Catholic bishop has released a pioneering film to encourage men to abandon feckless lifestyles and to live as responsible adults.
The film denounces the “crisis of masculinity” in American society, noting that contemporary culture “seems designed to attack the family”.
The film says that wives, daughters, sons and grandchildren are all waiting for American males to become the real men they are called to be by God.
The film, called “A Call to Battle”, was commissioned by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, who in September urged the men of his diocese to reform their lives in a written “apostolic exhortation”.
The 10-minute film features a succession of narrators who outline the crisis in family life in the US that has seen births out of wedlock exceed 40 per cent in recent years and one in two marriages ending in divorce.
Almost with a Hollywood twist, the narrators urge men to find the courage “to step into the breach”.
“The average boy will spend more time watching television by the time he turns six years old then he will spend talking to his father over the course of his entire earthly life,” one speaker says at the start of the film, which has been posted on YouTube.
A second informs the viewer that “never in the history of humanity has there been so many wives without husbands, and children without dads, all because of broken masculinity”, and another laments the vicious cycle created by fatherless children who are then often unable to provide a model of fatherhood to their own families.
Two speakers attack the pornography that has become endemic in US society, saying its use radically undermines the ability of a father to protect his family.
“What makes a man a man and what separates him from all the other animals in the world is that he can order his passions,” a speaker says. “So, man is always called to have self-mastery.
“When a guy gets hooked [on pornography] and his passions take dominion over him, he ceases to be the spiritual head of his family, because if he can’t guard his own soul, and lead that soul to heaven, how is he going to guard the innocence of the family that’s been entrusted to him?”
“There is a tremendous need in the Church for men to know their role and to know their identity,” says another speaker. “We have got this crisis and we need men, strong Catholic men, to fill the breach.”
Bishop Olmsted also appears in the film, arguing that the individualism and isolation prevalent in US society are leaving many people with empty hearts.
The bishop and the other speakers offer the vision of a true man as a person willing to make sacrifices on a daily basis in the service of love, presenting Jesus as the “quintessential man” because he laid down his life for those he loved.
They argue that men will learn about true masculinity best from other men, noting that “iron sharpens iron”.
A speaker says: “We need men to call us to account, to hold us to the promises we have made and to lead lives of heroic virtue.”
The glitzy production will be seen as a classic example of the “New Evangelisation”, a project of the Church to use modern communication methods to preach the truths of the Gospel.