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Archbishop Nichols says fatherhood should be celebrated

By on Friday, 21 June 2013

Archbishop Nichols at the Citizens UK summit (Photo: Mazur/

Archbishop Nichols at the Citizens UK summit (Photo: Mazur/

The love a husband demonstrates for his wife serves as an example of respect to the couple’s children, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said.

Archbishop Nichols said in a speech on Wednesday: “Committed, faithful fathers are good for their children, for their educational achievement, psychological well-being and their social behaviour.”

He said one of the best examples a father could give to his sons and daughters was to love their mother.

“To a significant degree, a father influences his children through the quality of his relationship with the mother of his children,” he said in his speech at the Citizens UK Summit for Civil Society Leaders at Queen Mary, University of London.

“When he enjoys a healthy relationship with her, he’s probably going to spend greater time with his children,” he said.

“A mother who is genuinely loved and valued by her children’s father shares this affirmation with her children,” the archbishop continued. “Evidence indicates that fathers who treat the mother of their children with respect, and deal with conflict in an adult and appropriate manner, are more likely to have sons who understand how they are to treat women and who are less likely to act in an aggressive fashion towards them.

“Girls with respectful fathers involved in their upbringing learn how they should expect men to treat them,” he said.

“They are less likely to become ensnared in violent or unhealthy relationships,” he added. “Whilst, of course, many generous and committed fathers are found outside of marriage, it seems that they are more likely to be found within the bond of marriage itself.”

The archbishop’s comments came during a meeting of public figures to discuss future challenges to family life.

He was joined by the Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by Jewish, Muslim and trades union leaders.

In his address, Archbishop Nichols told the audience that the most “satisfying title” for any priest was “Father”.

The title, the archbishop said, implied a central role of helping to raise the next generation, of nurturing a sense of vocation in the young and of faithful service to others anchored in a developing relationship with God.

Archbishop Nichols admitted that, like priests, not all fathers were “brilliant”, and said he had no desire to “belittle mothers bringing up children on their own.”

“Yet this should not stop us celebrating fatherhood and highlighting the positive contribution fathers make to families and to society,” he said.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Nice to hear this from Archbishop Nichols. I think Catholicism has something serious to offer society in celebrating proper, involved fathers, including often their difficult but laudable decision to place the well-being of their children and their children’s mother above everything, including keeping up their bachelor lifestyle and going out in the evening with their friends, and sometimes even above their ambition for promotion at work. I’ve seen a number of men my age do this now, and we should recognise what it costs them and applaud what they are doing. Society tells them that is unmanly, but for Catholics there is nothing more manly than loving one’s family.

    There’s no reason why this should be in conflict with feminism or with properly valuing mothers, or even with supporting single mothers. It will only help single mothers if, say, trustworthy men in their family or among their friends could offer to take a turn with the kids now and then, take them out to the park or somewhere safe for the odd afternoon to give them a wider experience of care and a good experience of men.

  • Neihan

    Truly spoken! I can’t really add anything, but I’m going to try anyway. Christ is everyone’s model, but for us men our Lord serves as an absolute example of what true manhood consists of: service, humility, courage, faith and sacrifice.

    I’ve seen (and benefited from) a lot of good work from some Catholic apostolates which work to teach this especially to young men.

  • $27740841

    ‘There’s no reason why this should be in conflict with feminism ….’

    Really. But the aim of Feminism is the destruction of the family. Surely you are aware of this.

    ‘Robin Morgan, former editor for Ms. magazine, once declared that marriage is “a slavery-like practice” and “we can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.” Feminist author Shulamith Firestone claims, “the family is…directly connected to—is even the cause of—the ills of the larger society.” Feminist social critic Kate Millett has said, “The complete destruction of traditional marriage and the nuclear family is the revolutionary or utopian goal of feminism.” And feminist scholar and University of Southern California professor Judith Stacey believes, “Perhaps the postmodern family of women will take the lead in burying The Family at long last. The Family is a concept derived from faulty theoretical premises and an imperialistic logic, which even at its height never served the best interests of women, their children, or even many men.”’

  • Sara_TMS_again

    There is not one feminist creed to which all feminists subscribe. Feminism is a series of conversations and campaigns, not all of which are mutually compatible (Catholic feminists can’t support abortion as a ‘right’, to take the most obvious example).

    The family seems to me to be an irreducible anthropological given. But where I would agree with some of these feminists is that people often talk about the family in a way that is based on an idealised and ahistorical view of what it has actually been like throughout history. We need an account of the family that acknowledges the importance of the extended family in rearing children, and of ‘alloparents’.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Nice to hear that there are groups like this.

    St Joseph is also a great model for the next age group up.

  • $27740841

    You say, “There is not one feminist creed to which all feminists subscribe.” This is like saying there is not one Communist creed to which all Communists subscribe when, in fact, there definitely is.

    You also say, “Feminism is a series of conversations and campaigns, not all of which are mutually compatible (Catholic feminists can’t support abortion as a ‘right’, to take the most obvious example).”

    This whitewash serves only to obscure the real aims of the Feminists and draw the unwary into the fold. A Catholic cannot be a Feminist because to be Feminist means to support abortion as a right among other things, including the destruction of the family.

    I used to be a Feminist – a real one. I also used to be a Communist, having been brought up in that ideology. I know for a fact that the real ideologues behind both movements laugh at those they can entice to support them while having no real notion of what the ideologies actually mean in practice.
    Lenin coined the term ‘useful idiots’ to describe the deluded Westerners who were sympathetic to the Bolshevik revolution. The same term could just as easily be applied to ‘Catholic Feminists’, who clearly are neither Catholic nor Feminist.

  • Benedict Carter

    Spot on, Awkward.

  • $27740841

    The Archbishop probably thinks that the “progressives” are such nice people, unlike the mean and dogmatic traditional Catholics with their rosaries and Latin.
    Of course, “progressives” (who are really Marxists aiming to pull everything down and create a new order of things) appear to be nice, partly because they camouflage their real intentions with soothing language, and partly because they’re always smiling.
    Part of the reason they’re always smiling is because they think they’ve won. And with the support of so many Conciliarists, who can blame them for thinking that.

  • Benedict Carter

    Yes, but remember that saying of some General. “The worse things are, the more I like it”.

    Right now the Church needs more than anything doctrine cleaned of the theological filth of the last decades and REAL MEN, not feminized men (nor masculinized women), but REAL MEN.

    There’s a war going on. Men like Nichols don’t cut it.

  • Kevin

    “Evidence indicates that fathers who treat the mother of their children with respect…are more likely to have sons who understand how they are to treat women”

    Who set up the control group for that experiment?

    Don’t imitate the language of a detached social scientist. Think like the fellow man that you are.

    Our Lord’s injunction is, “As you would have men treat you, you are to treat them”. It’s not:
    “As studies indicate is conducive to the common good, so you are to treat men”.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Communism was adopted as the ideology of a number of states; therefore legal bodies defined it and it is possible to posit agreed definitions of it.

    There has never been any body with the authority to define feminism, and we have had four waves of it now (which one did you belong to?).

    No doubt many feminists would disagree with me on abortion, but tough. But I think you will find feminists who want the end of the family are now a minority.

    And no feminist would ever think of me, or any Catholic feminist, as a ‘useful idiot’! She would either think I was right or wrong to call myself a feminist, and that would be that. If she thought I was wrong, she would want to me to leave, not stay.

    Finally, feminist or not, I’m a Catholic, I always will be, and nothing you say can prevent that.

  • Benedict Carter

    Spot on.

  • Hermit Crab

    And the statement: “Whilst, of course, many generous and committed fathers are found outside of marriage, it seems that they are more likely to be found
    within the bond of marriage itself.” is incredible as the utterance of a bishop.

  • $27740841

    Communism was an ideology before it was adopted by any state.

    Feminists define Feminism, just as Communists define Communism. As for the ‘four waves’ theory of Feminism, well there’s Stalinism, Maoism, Trotskyism to name but a few varieties. Then there’s Revolutionary Marxism and Cultural Marxism. The means and methods of achieving the ultimate goal may differ but the central ideology and aims remain the same.

    Real Feminists want the end of the family and insist that abortion on demand is the right of every woman because every woman has the right of control over her own body, they say.

    If today’s Feminists aren’t forever calling for the end of the family it’s because this central, ideological aim has already been accepted by governments across the Western world. There may still be traditional families about, here and there. But the ideological war against them has been won.

  • $27740841

    The Church also needs REAL WOMEN. Women like this.

    My soul doth magnify the Lord.
    And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
    Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
    Because he that is mighty,hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
    And his mercy is from generation unto generations,to them that fear him.
    He hath shewed might in his arm:he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
    He hath put down the mighty from their seat,and hath exalted the humble.
    He hath filled the hungry with good things;and the rich he hath sent empty away.
    He hath received Israel his servant,being mindful of his mercy:
    As he spoke to our fathers,to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

  • Benedict Carter


  • Baghban

    Oh dear. Catholic Bishop stands up for marriage and the traditional family (including, horrors!, fathers) when addressing a mixed audience of Catholics, other Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, etc. and is attacked by…. yes, Catholics.
    What you don’t seem to grasp about the Natural Law is that it always will be borne out by studies, even those conducted by Godless sociologists, precisely because it is true. You really ought to read some St Thomas Aquinas, who at least grasped this truth of apologetics with some clarity.

  • Julian Lord

    If today’s Feminists aren’t forever calling for the end of the family it’s because this central, ideological aim has already been accepted by governments across the Western world

    Exactly. Free abortifacients and massive government support for “consequence-free” sex have completely destroyed it in the mainstream of our societies.

  • Hermit Crab

    I agree with you about the Natural Law, which is of God.

    But we are having our noses rubbed in unnatural laws, artificially dreamt up by “scientists”, who probably mock God. These chaps manage very well, without our bishops quoting their findings with humble respect.

    (By the way, good to hear that St Thomas Aquinas managed “to grasp the truth with some clarity”.)

  • Hermit Crab

    Very amusing!

  • 1Maccabeus

    Would to God it were.

  • Hermit Crab

    It led me to read your previous posts. They are very well written. Much above most of the other postings on this site.

  • Banmeagain

    “Finally, feminist or not, I’m a Catholic, I always will be, and nothing you say can prevent that.”

    Being baptised a Catholic means you have been given the keys to the Kingdom of God. However that is just the beginning of the journey and not a destination. To get to that Kingdom you must follow a narrow path (an impossible path had it not been blazed by Our Lords supreme sacrifice). The closer you get to your destination, the narrower that path will become. You will have to jettison all things that might hinder or conflict with your journey. At first this might be physical things (materialism) that are weighing you down, but eventually even attitudes and patterns of thinking will have to change in order to stay on track. It is a form of purification, in preparation for the kingdom and an act of total trust in Our Lord worthy of that reward. You have not arrived at that point yet but i suspect it is just around the corner for you. I pray you will stay on track and make the necessary sacrifice, be it just semantics that need to be dropped or more fundamental ideology. Godspeed

  • Sara_TMS_again

    I’m grateful for all prayers, and I pray myself that anything that holds me back from Christ will be taken away.
    Nonetheless, I think serious thought by women about the role of women in the Church is important. This has already happened to some extent with men- the new decotion to St Jospeh is an example of it. But we Catholic women need to find an authentic way of being women in our culture and our day. That takes a lot of thought, intersecting with thinking about what it is to be a modern woman in general, and discussion, which we really need to do among ourselves. Hence being a Catholic and a feminist.

  • Julian Lord

    EXACTLY, bmg — have you been through an orthodox-minded Catechumenate ?

    If you haven’t, and these are your own conclusions, then I can only suggest that you get involved in your local RCIA programme, because THIS is EXACTLY what any normal Catechumen is thirsting for, instead of (for example) the bland emasculated pierres vivantes CRAP of 1968 …

  • An onlooker

    Why do you feel the need to demonise people who disagree with you? It really is the most ineffective of propagandist techniques, seriously undermines any validity in your arguments and convinces no one of your point of view who isn’t already convinced.

  • An onlooker

    Here we go again – malignant scientists, fascist feminists, militant atheists, manipulative progressives, tree hugging priests and nuns!! Where are you hiding all these people, because I have yet to meet any. It really is time to let go of these ridiculous stereotypes and to concentrate on the issues like proper grown up people.

  • Hermit Crab

    What are “the issues”. Please name a few.

  • An onlooker

    Whether the Catholic Church can ever again be regarded as a force for good in the world and regain the right to be listened to on moral issues.
    How we as a church stop blaming any number of other groups and start taking a good hard look at ourselves.
    How we proclaim and celebrate our Faith without despising, denigrating and even damning other people.
    How we embrace the complexity and uncertainty of the human condition while holding on to our Faith.
    And here is the big one……how we make the love of Christ present in the world by how we live our lives.

  • AlanP

    So, what church do you belong to? Obviously not the Catholic Church, otherwise you would hardly be attacking its leaders in such an extreme way. Most of us, thank God, though we may occasionally grumble about them quietly, are happy with our hierarchy.

  • $27740841

    ‘demonise people’
    Please explain.

  • An onlooker

    Do you really not know that this is what you are doing? I assumed that a statement like ‘the aim of Feminism is the destruction of the family’ must be a rhetorical device rather than a statement of fact. Things are worse than I thought.

  • $27740841

    Are you prepared to address my arguments, or is personal attack all you have to offer?

  • An onlooker

    As you asked, I explained how I thought you had demonised another group of people, citing your own words as evidence. I’m not sure how that could be construed as a personal attack which was certainly not my intention.

  • $27740841

    You didn’t explain anything. All you did was repeat what I had said about Feminists and claim that things were worse than you thought because I meant what I said.

  • $27740841

    ‘And here is the big one……how we make the love of Christ present in the world by how we live our lives.’

    You could start by actually addressing the points people make rather than suggesting they are not ‘proper grown up people’ for making them, as you do to Hermit Crab.
    Sarah TMS does this admirably – see discussion above. Perhaps you could learn from her.

  • Hermit Crab

    The removal of 1Maccabeus’s offensive posting might be interpreted as a compliment. Would it not be wiser to “grumble quietly”?

  • Hermit Crab

    Taking your 5 “issues” in order:
    1 God (and His Catholic Church) is “the force for good in the world”.
    2 How we “start taking a good hard look at ourselves” is through Mass, the Sacraments, and prayer.
    3 OLJC stated that “he that believeth not shall be condemned.”
    4 “Sufficent for the day is the evil thereof”.
    5 “the love of Christ present in the world” comes from grace, not from our will.

  • An onlooker

    I couldn’t agree more, Sara TMS argues her case extremely well. and it is of course essential that we learn from other people.The second of these is really the point I was trying to make, but I have clearly done it very clumsily.

  • AlanP

    Yes. One thing that distinguishes the Catholic from Anglican Church is that the latter conducts its rows in public. And my only grumbles about our hierarchy are over small things like the meatless Friday ruling.

  • An onlooker

    End of discussion then. Thank you.

  • Hermione

    I used to think I was a Feminist but when I grew up I reaised what I am is a person who wants equality of the sexes, something completely different. Men and women will never be the same but they can be equal partners. I think that sometime in the future, ours and past generations will be judged badly on how we manoevered men out of the picture when it came to family matters. Many women want the financial support that men can bring to relationships but feel that they are not that vital when raising children. I personally would not have wanted to raise my children on my own because with the best will in the world I could not have provided our boys with the role model I felt they needed to grow into well rounded men.

    Each parent has something unique to offer children and to say otherwise is just wrong. But that is not to say that many herioc women and men have raised well balanced children in spite of being on their own for whatever reason. However, I stick by my opinion that in 99% of cases having a mum and a dad is the best of all possible worlds for children.

  • Julian Lord

    Good post. The word usually used to express what you’re saying here is equivalence (equal value), rather than equality (sameness).

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Very kind of you both to say so.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    I think you are absolutely right about the importance of not manoeuvring men out of the picture when it comes to family matters, and I think this is an area where the Church has a lot to offer.

    It takes a lot of courage to be a loving, involved father in the UK today. The culture offers so many arguments against it. ‘Oi, what kind of mate are you, you won’t come out with the lads any more?’; ‘What are you doing, looking after kids, that’s for the women?’, and suchlike. I’ve seen involved fathers be accused both of being boring and getting old for staying in with the kids instead of sticking to the laddish culture of eternal youth, and of being under the thumb of their wives for being caring enough to take a turn at babysitting or spending time with the kids so the mother could go out with her friends. But fortunately, both fathers I’m thinking of are secure enough in their own masculinity and also the love of their family just to shrug all that off.

  • An onlooker

    A pleasure!!

  • Benedict Carter

    Oh, Jabba? You have praised “Pierre Vivants” (which is explicitly heretical) before now.

  • Julian Lord

    You have praised “Pierre Vivants” (which is explicitly heretical) before now

    NO Benedict, I most certainly have NOT !!!

  • Angela

    Very good! However; how do I reconcile this with the archbishop’s allowing the so called Soho Masses for several years?