Nicholas Kristof has an article in the New York Times (The Boys Have Fallen Behind) about the growing alienation of boys from education and about the consequent decline in their academic achievement. This decline is disguised by the fact that the people at the top of most professions are still male; but under them the great mass of males is sinking down the social scale.
Women outnumber men in college 3:2, sometimes 2:1 in liberal arts colleges. The recession has hit men particularly hard. Obama, in part because it produces immediate results and in part because he wants to reward his supporters, has funneled stimulus money into salaries of the helping professions, such as teaching, rather than into construction, which has an almost completely male work force.
Males are abandoning schools and are being driven out of the work force; but they had left the Church long ago.
The revelations of sexual abuse in Europe have led to attacks on the Church as an all-male institution. But it is only odd corners of the Church that are all or even predominantly male. In Europe as in the United States, 80% of the employees of the Church are female. The congregations in both continents are predominantly female.
In the hundreds of cases of sexual abuse I have read mothers sometimes courageously defend their children, but all too often mothers don’t want to hear the bad news: they ignored it, or punished their children for saying such things about a priest. I understand from psychiatrists who deal with father-daughter incest that the mother often knows or suspects what is going on, but does not want to confront for fear of destroying the family.
I would therefore not place too much hope that the incidence of sexual abuse could be lessened by having more women in positions of authority in the Church. That might be a good idea for other reasons; but it might make the Church even less male-friendly and our society is already alienating males from its other institutions. Alienated males are fertile ground for crack-pot and dangerous political opportunists, as the history of Europe in the twentieth century demonstrates.