Father-Son Bond is ‘Civilization’s Keystone,’ Expert Says

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 9, 2019   

Patrick F. Fagan talks about fatherhood and chastity at 2019 Family and Life Conference

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LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Having a strong relationship between a father and son is essential to Christian civilization, says one family researcher.

This was the thesis presented by Dr. Patrick F. Fagan on May 4 at the 2019 Family and Life Conference at St. George's Cathedral in London, put on by Family Life International. The title of Fagan's presentation was "Civilization's Keystone: The Father-Son Bond."

Fagan is director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Catholic University of America. He is also the publisher and editor of Marripedia.

Fagan noted that Marxists and radical feminists in the 1960s set their sights on dismantling family life and "the patriarchy" by normalizing various sexual sins. This was done with the intention of weakening men's moral fibers; but it has been devastating for women as well, Fagan argued.


An important part of combating the corruption of morals, he said, is for parents to teach their children chastity. Fagan proposed that mothers should talk about chastity to their daughters, and fathers to their sons.

It is important, Fagan pointed out, that fathers make the moral guidelines about sexuality clear to their sons before they become exposed to internet pornography — which children, on average, are viewing at increasingly young ages.

Fagan argued, "Without the father taking this initiative, the world is lost."

He described the father as the keystone of the family, the nation and the Church.

"Remove that keystone," Fagan said, "and the arch will fall."

Fagan pointed to a number of statistics showing that families with an intact marriage who attend religious services weekly are far better off, in dozens of ways, than broken families who practice little or no religion. To sum this up, he said that "more worship, more marriage and more children" are the "simple formula for a thriving nation and economy."

The corruption of morals in the culture, Fagan said, means fathers have to be even more involved in their children's moral upbringing than in generations past.

At one point during his talk, Fagan pointed to statistics from the U.S. government indicating that pre-marital sex greatly increases the risk of married couples getting a divorce.

If people do a good job of raising boys, he said, then the Church will be blessed with good fathers and good priests.

"The time is right, and the need is enormous," Fagan remarked.

Over the years, Fagan has been a grade school teacher, a clinical therapist, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a member of staff of Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.).

Under President George H.W. Bush, Fagan also served as deputy assistant secretary for family and social policy at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

The time is right, and the need is enormous.

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph in 2009, then-Pope Benedict XVI told fathers to look to St. Joseph as a role. Preaching during an apostolic visitation to Cameroon, Benedict said:

Once more, I wish to extend a particular word of encouragement to fathers so that they may take Saint Joseph as their model. He who kept watch over the Son of Man is able to teach them the deepest meaning of their own fatherhood. In the same way, each father receives his children from God, and they are created in God's own image and likeness. Saint Joseph was the spouse of Mary. In the same way, each father sees himself entrusted with the mystery of womanhood through his own wife. Dear fathers, like Saint Joseph, respect and love your spouse; and by your love and your wise presence, lead your children to God where they must be.

Many have said that the United States is undergoing a crisis of fatherlessness. Some have pointed to connections between a fatherless upbringing and committing violent actions like school shootings.

The findings of a survey done in Switzerland in 1994 seems to suggest that the father's religiosity is passed on to the children to a greater extent than the mother's. In families where both parents practice religion regularly, the survey found that 33% of their children would be regular churchgoers as adults.

But in cases where the father practices religion regularly and the mother practices irregularly, they found that the percentage of children who regularly practiced religion as adults actually increased to 38% — though the remaining children were more likely to be completely non-practicing as opposed to practicing irregularly.

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