This morning Mark Shea tackled a tough subject with a kind of grace and compassion that couldn’t help but leave me impressed. There’s a benevolent wisdom here, and mercy, too:
One of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint was a gay guy who lived here in Seattle named Perry Lorenzo. You can get something of a sense of the man from his blog. Dunno if he was celibate or not and, frankly, regard it as none of my business. All I know is that the guy was clearly a man who loved Jesus, loved his Catholic faith, and taught a huge number of people about it, both gay and straight, in a way that was immensely attractive and uplifting for everybody who encountered him. He was also one of the most learned people I have ever met and a profoundly humble man. He was, for many years, the director of education for the Seattle Opera. Had a brilliant knack for speaking the Catholic tradition to the cultured despisers of tradition here in Seattle. His funeral, which he planned himself as he was dying, was one of the most beautiful and Christ-centered liturgies I’ve ever experienced. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if half the congregation was not Catholic: a testament to his greatness.
Some Catholics (and some of my gay readers) will probably be surprised to hear that I’m not interested in whether or not he was celibate. Not my business. That’s between him and God. (I had a reader write me in some degree of scandal after I posted on his death because he apparently had a partner he lived with. If memory serves, I expressed to my reader a deep lack of interest in that fact since a) Not. My. Business and b) merely living with his partner is not proof of anything anyway, either about his relationship with his partner, nor about his relationship with God.
So do I contradict myself, since it’s not a secret that I agree with the Church that homosexual acts are sinful. I don’t see how. If Perry was an active homosexual, it’s none of my business and certainly not mine to judge. After all, I also agree with the Church that my own acts of gluttony are sinful and even gravely so. But I don’t believe God has abandoned or rejected me and I trust his grace to help me slowly become conformed to Christ, so why should I believe for a second that somebody like Perry, who manifested such abundant and beautiful fruits of the Spirit was not pleasing to God and was not doing his best to strive for God? On the contrary, I regard him as a role model and greatly admire his deep, generous and true faith. I hope he prays for the Church in Seattle and I think he is (not was, God rest his soul) one of the great ornaments of the Church.
Read it all. And visit Mark’s blog to join in the conversation in the comments. It will challenge you and definitely make you think.
UPDATE: Mr. Shea has posted a follow-up, to revise and extend his remarks. Check it out.