How did this happen?
Authorities in Crisis
With the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century, the question increasingly arose, especially in Germany, of how the authorities that had led into those crises were legitimized. The abdication of William II, the last German emperor and king of Prussia, called for a new state order in 1918. The Führer cult of the so-called Third Reich that soon followed plunged the world into a disaster, killing more than 70 million people. The derivation of the authorities and father figures “by God’s grace” was thereby reduced ad absurdum.
Changes in the Social Situation
Especially during the Second World War and after its conclusion, it was also becoming apparent that women were often the ones who stabilized the different areas of life, not least because of the absence of men. It is true that men still officially presented themselves as the designers/shapers? of politics and society. In the first German Bundestag, only 6.9 percent of the seats were held by women. But since the 1960s, the social situation has changed fundamentally.
Change in the Image of the Father
The figure of the father in the family also changed inexorably. The father, due to his participation in God’s world government provides royal and priestly duties for his family, was sometimes turned into a caricature. An image of the Father emerged that was based solely on the authority of the respective personality and the appreciative devotion to his children or those entrusted to him. In ever-new search movements, the image of the father continued to develop into the present day, also as a counterpart to a new image of the woman and mother.
Changing Power Structures in the Family
The image of the father, the power structures in the family, and their justification have undergone rapid development over the past 100 years. As an example, a summary follows of how the Catholic magazine “The Christian Family” (Essen) justified the primacy of man in marriage and families from 1885 on, which is also the year of Father Kentenich’s birth, until the 1950s:
“The father as king stands at the head of the family as God’s representative by divine mission and divine appointment: ‘The king in this kingdom (of the family), the unrestricted, free ruler, is the father. Inalienable, natural rights and powers are an outflow of God’s power and assigned to him by the dear God. His house, his domestic hearth, but above all his wife and child constitute his kingdom: their soul, their life, their honor.’ The honorary title ‘Father’ indicates that in the person of the father lies ‘origin, power, care, and benefits’. The image of God and that of the father are in correlation: characteristics of one can also be expressed by the other. Just as the Father demands reverence for his person and has the right to give rules and commandments to his children and to monitor their observance, just as he has the duty to take charge of his house and his children, so God is entitled to power and leadership, which people are to respond to with reverence, obedience, and trust. Conversely, the image of God justifies the father’s rights and duties. The ‘royal glory of the Father’s mission’ means ‘participation in God’s creative power’ and ‘participation in God’s world government.’ As God’s creation continues, so the man has honor and continuance beyond death in the children.
The Father is the first authority in the family and thus ‘the object of unconditional respect and veneration.’ This authority is suited to him by divine direction and natural advantages before the woman. He is entitled to the general supervision of the family, since his mind, will and energy are more developed than those of the woman. The insistence on authority is the foundation of education and order. For the same reasons, he is also the first educator of his children. The supreme principle of education for him is setting a good example. The goals of his educational activity are piety, simplicity, self-control, obedience.”
(from: H. Brantzen, Family Spirituality. On the example of a Christian weekly newspaper, Mainz 1984, 92)