John Allen on Lay Ecclesial Ministry and the Feminization of the Church. “Lay Ecclesial Ministry” is a neologism being used in the Catholic Church these days for what others call simply, “lay ministry” (other churches simply assume that any “ministry” is “ecclesial,” that is, churchly). It’s a catch-all term that can apply to any volunteer or professional ministry position. Allen’s point, though, is that 80% of those doing it are women; their numbers are growing as the number of priests continues to shrink. Allen links this with other studies about the marginalization of men in Christianity in general (e.g., Leon Podles and David Murrow). Women have a different approach to religion than men, and when they take the lead, making church soft, comforting, and nurturing–men run for the closest football game. Given the shortage of priests, Allen doesn’t think bishops and priests are going to be keen on recruiting men to lay ministry. So what will become of the men in the pews …?