Boston Mens' Conference -- Part 1

At left: A lousy Treo picture of some of the 5000 men attending yesterday's conference.

My youngest son and I attended the 2nd annual Boston Men's Conference yesterday. It was an "interesting" affair, with speakers from every part of the Catholic spectrum -- provided they are from center-right to far-right.

The conference was held in Boston's new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston. An estimated 5000 men -- mostly white, mostly above 50, mostly Catholic with a sprinkling of "our separated brothers" -- attended. It was a fairly well-organized conference. There were opportunities for confession and Eucharistic adoration. In a separate part of the center, long lines of tables held exhibits for vocations, various orders of Catholic religious orders, as well as inspirational books, art, CDs, videos and tapes -- a fair number by the speakers at the conference.

The general theme of the speakers was repentance, not surprising since we find ourselves in the Lenten season. To a man, the speakers were men who believed every last bit of Catholic magisterial teaching, or so they said. There was no dissent on homosexual behavior, contraception, abortion. To gauge the audience's reaction, you might also think there was no dissension among the attendees, though I'd love to run a "software scan" to see if that's really true. Speaker after speaker received standing ovations both before and after their talks, though if you looked closely, a very few men did not stand for every one.

Basically, the day was a big pep rally, where applause lines took the form of rather unexciting affirmations that Christ was a gift of the Father and that God loves us all. True enough, but not the kind of red meat that would get me in a froth.

The speakers were:
-- Father Raniero Cantalamessa -- the kind and gentle preacher to the Papal household for the last 25 years.
-- Father John Corapi (whom we named, rather uncharitably as "Father Crappy") -- a former Green Beret, drug addict and bum who became a priest and now has a show on Mother Angelica's EWTN.
-- Dr. Scott Hahn -- former Presbyterian minister, convert to Catholicism, author of "Home Sweet Rome," father of 6 -- a real "Super Orthodox Man."
-- Sean Forrest -- Catholic musician whose lyrics encourage women to stay home and get off the birth control pills, among other things.

As you can see, the center, center-left, left and far-left were not well represented among the speakers. Actually, the term "left" is an awful misnomer. By “left” I mean anyone who has any questions or issues with any teaching of the Magisterium. That’s an awful lot of folks –especially if you count those “cafeteria Catholics” -- well represented at the conference, I might add -- who have no problem with ignoring Church teaching on capitol punishment, pre-emptive war and environmental destruction.

But there I go, being divisive.

In future posts, I’ll delve into the message of the speakers. See you then.