Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Fr. Larry on Manliness

Fr. Larry Richards

Crux just published a puff piece on Fr. Larry Richards ("Fr. Larry", as he is often known), the celebrity priest and author of Be a Man! who was just exposed as falsely claiming that Church Militant had made death threats against him:

Abuse survivor priest tackles ‘crisis of masculinity’ in the Church

The piece is notable for two things:

First, in a 1,500 word article, it doesn't mention that Richards was recently forced to issue a quasi-apology for his Jussie Smollett thing against Church Militant.

The post does mention that Richards "recently went under fire by the conservate [sic] group 'Church Militant' for saying that LGBT inclusion advocate and Jesuit Father James Martin “'is a good priest seeking God’s will'...”

It does cite Richards's admonishment of Church Militant and others for practicing demonization
We have to stop demonizing people who don’t agree with us,” he said, adding that division within the Catholic Church makes it harder to face the challenges that its [sic] faced with today.
It doesn't mention that even before the false death threat accusations, Richards frequently accused Church Militant and other Catholic organizations and sites as being "of the devil."

But what does one expect? It's Crux.

Second, the article cites Fr. Richards' views of what it is (or should) be to be a man and to be a male priest.
In Richards’s view, manhood today is less about self-aggrandizing concepts of power, dominance and machismo and more about being capable of laying down one’s life for others and offering an example “of the love of the Father.”
Richards believes men shouldn't be afraid to use the words, "I love you." Men should not be afraid to cry. Manliness means putting the needs of others before one's own.

For Richards, men should be holy and priests should be deep men of prayer. He adds, however:
"We need seminarians that are real. Not hiding behind any kind of piousness. Because when someone is too pious that scares me. I wanna run. It seems like they are hiding something,” Richards said. “Be real! Christ was real!”
Crux helpfully adds that this is "reminiscent of Francis’s often heard refrain of priests needing to have 'the smell of the sheep' on them."

According to Crux, Richards also believes that accountability and transparency are also manly virtues.

Of course, much of this is in and of itself unobjectionable. But it's hard to see which of the above virtues are specifically manly per se. Shouldn't women also love others and be holy, etc.? (Though one hopes they might avoid the smell of the sheep.)

Without being unfair, it almost sounds like for Richards, being a man, or perhaps, being a man today, for the most part means not doing the things that some believe are stereotypically male, like keeping one's feelings to one's self, getting into fist fights, cutting short the family prayer so one can put the storm windows up, etc.

Stereotypical manliness is not manly.

Again, fair enough. But what does this have to do with mountain climbing?

We should mention Fr. Richards's comments about his own abuse:
As a priest and having experienced clerical sexual abuse at the hands of the rector of his seminary nearly 40 years ago, Richards has a unique insight into the abuse scandals that have been hitting every level of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. 
Casting the darkness aside, he has come to realize that “the greatest thing that’s happened to us is the scandal.” 
“In my day, when I was molested, I couldn’t tell anybody anything. It wasn’t even an option,” Richards said, but today he believes that the exposure and awareness of the issue within the Church is forcing seminarians to go through a much harder vetting process leading him to say that “there isn’t a safer place in the world right now than the Catholic Church.”
...“I am not a victim. I am not a survivor. I am a warrior. Because I will not let what someone else did to me affect my life,” he said. 
“Today we gotta make sure to teach young men coming into the seminary that you have to be real. If someone above you or among you is doing anything wrong you must say something and you must bring the light of Christ to it,” he said.
When Fr. Richards, at the age of at least 19, was allegedly abused in seminary, he failed to tell anyone, even though his abuser (the rector) presumably was abusing and would continue to abuse other seminarians. I wouldn't fault him for this except for his claim that it's important for men to be real and say something. Presumably this aspect of manliness is independent of the current state of organizational "awareness," and one assumes that for a man, doing something (I prefer that more general formulation to saying something), especially if it concerns preventing serious harm to innocents, is always an option. But no matter, he's now a warrior.   

Given his arguably gender-neutral views on manliness, it's perhaps not surprising that he holds to the Francis party line on the priestly abuse crisis:
Unlike some who point to homosexuality as the root of the problem in the priesthood, Richards doesn’t buy that explanation and has identified a “lack of holiness” as the primary cause.
In a previous post I said that in his ubiquitous recorded homilies and video presentations, Richards comes off as having a distinctively unmanly manner - sort of a cross between Jim Bakker and a parody of Mr. Rogers. Listen for yourself if you don't believe me. Again, I'm not saying that's his fault. Indeed, if that were my lot, I'd probably be a sort of revisionist on manliness, myself.

But let me serious for a moment. The problem with Fr. Richards types is that in their opposition to stereotypical manliness they have erected, as it were, a straw man. It's similar to modern churchmen implying that the historical Catholic Church (before they came along) was not merciful.

But we've always known that the stereotype of manliness has always been just that, a stereotype.

Instead of or as a supplement to Be a Man! watch a good western.

Manliness means doing what's right, whether it's popular or not, and being willing to lay down one's life for others.

Manliness means meekness (in the original and positive sense), taking wrongs and insults in stride and fighting only when necessary or as a last resort.

Real men aren't afraid to say they're scared.

And, of course, real men pray. 

We Were Soldiers (In many ways, it's a modern western. Admittedly, the end of this prayer is a bit unconventional.)


  1. 20 year old man???? So how old was the rector?

  2. No 20 year old man is molested for long unless he wants to allow it for various reasons. It is absurd to state that anyone over the age of 13 could really be molested against their will. This is speaking generally.
    Look, I have a very close male relative who was molested by a male babysitter who was a teenager while the boy was a child of 7. This terrible act confuses a boy and causes severe damage. It is an amalgam of feelings and thoughts that throw a boy off from his own understanding of himself and sexuality. It introduces much pain and confusion, guilt and fear. But this is not the same thing as being groped at 20 years old.
    Our church cannot afford more homosexuals, hidden or otherwise.
    As for masculinity, I'm so grateful to have lived my life during a time when men knew what they were without fussing over it, and I'll tell you, it's not these effeminate types who cry a lot or emote or wear metrosexual pants.
    Bergolio said about a year and a half ago that piety "scared him", so Fr. Richards is perhaps ambitious. What we desperately need is more true piety, not the phony, hands clasped in prayer when they aren't groping a boy piety that McCarrick displayed, but honest to goodness piety that inspires a real young man to consider giving up family in order to serve the God that inspires that kind of piety. This is where vocations come from, but as long as we suffer silly, goofy, riding on roller coaster priests we are not going to attract those young men.
    I fear those days are over, and all we are going to get are these other types.
    "The Catholic Church is the safest place to be right now". Not yet, and never, unless homosexuals are rooted out of this church explicitly, which we can all see now will never happen.
    We need men in this culture, especially since there are so many boys without positive role models and hyper-masculine Islam is ascending once again, but how can men learn to be men in this effeminate culture.

  3. I listened to him while on a road trip a few years ago. I had never heard of him before. He was loud and scolding and bossy, and his voice was of a stereotypical homosexual affectation.

    He may be celibate, etc., but he has picked up behavioral cues that are unmistakable. Let's not beat around the bush.

  4. I listened for a few minutes to one of his You Tube mission sermons or sharing or whatever. He sounds effeminate and probably considered a homosexual by some.

  5. "But what does one expect? It's Crux."
    Worth repeating with every Crux article.

  6. When I saw his pictute a few days ago, I immediately thought, he looks gay. After reading this article and the comments, I think my impression was right on!

  7. I invite anyone here who has an opinion against Fr. Larry Richards to take a road trip to Erie PA sometime and attend his mass. You will be changed. Yes he has faults but he has brought new life to a dying intercity church. He will lead you to Salvation.