re re: Catholic Institutions Need More Vince Lombardi’s

Kathryn, most socially-conscious conservatives and more than a few liberals would agree that a return to traditional gender roles would help the urban poor. In the case of the male urban poor, they would learn to act less Charlie Sheen or Arnold Schwarzenegger and more like Bob Hurley or Dr. King.

But I think your argument begs the question, who will teach the poor to act this way? Who is willing, in the words of the Washington archdiocese, to donate their time, talent, and treasure to serve the dispossessed? One hopes that the marginalized would read the work of the Manhattan Institute and change their ways, but this scenario strikes me as rather unlikely to occur.

There is widespread agreement that the best programs at helping the urban poor provide an alternative to the destructive ghetto or “the corner” culture, a solution which includes a return to traditional gender roles. If you’re a moderate, you volunteer for the Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you’re a conservative, you seek to build or help an inner-city crisis pregnancy center, donate money to prevent an inner-city Catholic school from going under, or adopt a foster-care child. (If you’re a liberal, you seek to tear down all high-rise housing projects and improve inner-city neighborhoods block by block by expanding social services, but none of these solutions imply a return to traditional gender roles).

Over the last decades, some progress at healing the ghettos has been made. Crime and murder rates in our big cities are down, and in many cases way down. In the future, the way forward for moderates and conservatives is a Tocquevillian one of building up the mediating institutions in the ghettos. But given the economic pressures facing families and the four-decade long decline in volunteerism, what reason is there to think that all of us socially-minded folk will step up to the plate? Certainly I don’t see in post-Vatican II Catholic America heirs to the likes of Hurley, my old teachers at De La Salle, Cardinal Cooke, Ray Flynn of Boston, and Father George Clements of Chicago. Maybe my position is less realistic and more pessimistic.



  • Joy Schoenberger

    If the Dr. King you’re referring to is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., then you’d better find some better role models for young men. He was an adulterer. That’s hardly what a good husband and father would do.

  • todd

    Follow up… “One hopes that the marginalized would read the work of the Manhattan Institute and change their ways, but this scenario strikes me as rather unlikely to occur.”

    I can assure you that America’s poor, not to mention 99.9999999999% of the American population has NO clue what the Manhattan Institute is. To expect anyone to read what they publish outside of blogs like this and and a couple of academics is silly.

  • Todd

    I am not sure why traditional gender roles is an issue here. I would think that the primary problem is that in the inner city a huge proportion of fathers are in prison. At that point gender roles is irrelevant and a non-sequitor to the issue at hand. Please let me know what I am missing.

  • Michael

    Excellent article, Mr. Stricherz!



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