I’m not a huge fan of Mark Shea, the Patheos blogger. I don’t agree with his “seamless garment” theory of social justice, and I despise the vitriol with which he lashes out at those who disagree with him. So when I read this piece by him last night, I was shocked to find that underneath the political nastiness is a man who is both compassionate and, remarkably, unwilling to judge the state of another’s soul.
Whether it’s in the combox or general posting, the Catholic blogosphere is thick with accusations of sin. Commentors who have never met each other feel not only justified but morally bound to point out the obvious mortal sin that a fellow commentor or blogger is engaged in, which they can clearly identify in those telling two sentences. People feel that it is perfectly within their right to urge a blogger to get him or herself to a priest (and not, mind you, any priest…better make sure he’s an FSSP priest or an Opus Dei priest or, for the love of God, anything but a Jesuit) and confess their awful, dirty, mortal sin lest they infect the body of Christ with their wickedness. There’s lots of mudslinging and sanctimoniousness and even just outright Schadenfreude parading around the Catholic blogosphere under the mantle of “The Church Militant.” It makes me angry, it makes me sad, and sometimes I seriously wonder how our beautiful Church will ever survive what we do to her.
But then I stumble across a post like Mark’s, from a wholly unexpected source, and have a renewed faith in the ability of Christ to teach us how to love. You really ought to go read the whole post.
There was one part that deeply resonated with me. Mark is talking about his admiration for a gay Catholic named Perry Lorenzo, and he goes into a little bit of detail about his own perspective on gay relationships:
“And if somebody embraces this particular form of concupiscence and indulges it, I will say what I say about all such choices to sin: God forgives sin so who am I to judge? Indeed, I have talked to priests who tell me that there are people they counsel in gay relationships for whom it best to allow the relationship to continue for the time being since, for reasons specific to that relationship, it would result in something more destructive to end it. I can completely believe this (which will no doubt shock some of my more conservative Catholic readers for whom scorched earth is always better then accomodating human weakness). There is, after all, often real love present in homosexual relationships, however disordered, and love should be strengthened and perfected, not crushed with contempt.”
I actually shed a tear when I read that. It shows such a great compassion for humanity, a compassion that I have rarely seen in my life. This is the type of compassion and love which I believe Christ has for us, and which we almost never have for each other.
I made the always unfortunately decision to venture down to the combox after reading the post. The nastiest comments were the ones about the paragraph I quoted above. Here’s a gem for you:
“Co-habitating is scandalous whether or not one is actually acting against chastity. As Christians we are to avoid giving scandal. That is part of our teaching once again going back to the New Testament.
Your omission of these basic points is troublesome at the very least. It either shows a lack of knowledge about such basic teachings of the faith that you should have a pause in continuing your public apostolate as a “Catholic” writer until you complete a remedial course in moral theology, or you are fully aware of these categories and withheld them from your opinion piece thus confusing the faithful about such clear issues as the intrinsic gravity of homosexual acts as well as the avoidance of public scandal in which case you need to remove this piece from the public domain. If it was consciously and willfully done, then you need to remove this from the public domain and get to Confession.”
And another: You theology is a little flawed here although it would be perfectly acceptable to Martin Luther.
One from the Catechism:
Have we all disregarded Church teaching?
1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
– by protecting evil-doers.
One from an all-knowing seminarian:
…if any confessor encourages that a person keep the near occasion of sin at hand, then surely he has neither compassion nor understanding. Absolution is absolute, so too should be the desire to reform, if though we should fail.
And this one, my personal favorite: