A Gay Man I Consider a Saint

Some folk who have not read the blog for long or who are afflicted with short or selective memory might form the notion that, because I criticize Bullies for Homosex such as Dan “Hooray for Inciting Rape!” Savage, bullying is all I see in the gay community.

Not true. One of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint was a chaste gay guy who lived here in Seattle named Perry Lorenzo. You can get something of a sense of the man from his blog. I didn’t know he was gay (same-sex attracted) during his lifetime and only found out about it after his death. Dunno if he lived a life of perfect celibacy or not and, frankly, regard it as none of my business, though my assumption, given all I know about his profound love of Jesus and the faith is that he was faithful in that area of his life as in all the others I ever saw. I don’t see that it’s my job to be the Sex Police of other people lives, be it in Perry’s case or in anybody else’s. 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 chasing down 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. 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 (and, by the way, I don’t even know if they lived together) is not proof of anything anyway, either about his relationship with his partner, nor about his relationship with God. (Update: since writing this Perry’s friend has confirmed that they did, indeed, have a completely chaste relationship.)

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 succumbed to homosexual temptation at times (and I strongly believe he would have regarded it as “succumbing to temptation” not “embracing the gift of homosexuality” given his commitment to the Faith), 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.

There are other gay members of the Church for whom I have a similarly high regard. Some are celibate. Some, for all I know, may not be. Since I don’t see it as my mission to peer into other people’s private lives, I wouldn’t know. What I know is the fruit of the Spirit I see in their lives. Toward whatever weaknesses they may have, I think hell’s general attitude is summed up by Screwtape’s wise counsel: “Keep from the patient’s mind on the thought, ‘If I, being what I am, can consider myself a Christian, why should I assume that the faults of my neighbor render their faith merely hypocrisy and convention?’” I choose to dissent from Hell’s urging to judge, lest I be judged.

I take this attitude toward people who struggle with same sex attraction. I take it, likewise, with people who are same sex attracted and *don’t* struggle with it. Not my business what they do in their spare time. I take it with Christians and with non-Christians. Though I will happily tell you, should you ask, that I consider same sex attraction one of the myriad forms of concupiscence, I will also point out that concupiscence is not sin. 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. At the same time, as a person who has never even been tempted to this particular form of concupiscence, I don’t feel myself Chosen by God to tell homosexual persons what they are supposed be doing beyond, “Seek Jesus Christ because he is the true source of the happiness you seek.” I suspect Perry Lorenzo would have said the same. So if some gay person’s confessor or spiritual director takes a lenient approach to weakness I’m not going to offer my ignorant opinion to the contrary. God knoweth my confessor has often been lenient and merciful to me.

The only thing I will not do is pretend that concupiscence is a God-given gift or lie that indulgence of sin is really an expression of virtue. Nor will I sit by when a thug like Dan Savage tries to intimidate and bully some defenseless kids into that pretense, or some gay goons beat up people who disagree with them or smash their property. I object to them, not because they are gay, but because they are bullies–exactly as I object to people who bully gays.  But that’s it. My attitude to homosexuality, whether inclination or act, is therefore actually rather benign. If gays wish to live together, or have the benefit of law to protect their property, I don’t think it’s the job of the state to stop them. Not all sins should be illegal. I leave most matters between homosexuals and God and ask only that I not be subjected to demands to celebrate disordered appetite, acts contrary to nature or to pretend that an ontological impossibility is a marriage.

But mainly, I think of Perry Lorenzo, one of the finest Catholics and disciples of Jesus I have ever known and ask his prayers as I pray for him. He is one of my heros.

Update: Welcome newcomers! Please go here before commenting. If you feel compelled to peremptorily assume that I approve of gay sex, gay marriage, gay agitprop, or gay adoption and to denounce me or Mr. Lorenzo without a clue of what you are talking about, go here and save yourself at least some embarrassment.

  • JJG

    What about Scandal? It is well documented that the homosexual condititon is not something you are “born with” and that many homosexuals are often reformed and converted. Conversely, the scandal of public acceptance through peers and laws serves only to further induce those with same-sex tendencies to deem these as acceptable behaviours, perpetuating the sin. Note that before Roe v. Wade 90+% of Americans thought abortion was wrong. Once codified, however, the number plummeted to <50%. Same with Euthenasia and now homosexuality. Where does it stop?

  • JJG

    I believe the correct position on this can be summed up by saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”. In so saying, however, it does not mean as a society we codify this behaviour through our system of laws so that homosexuals can more easily “protect their property and live together” while waiting for their love to be “perfected”. (Mark Shea: “If gays wish to live together, or have the benefit of law to protect their property, I don’t think it’s the job of the state to stop them. Not all sins should be illegal.”) Should the other three sins “crying to Heaven for vengeance” (homicide, oppression of widows and orphans, and cheating laborers) also be made legal? I think not and nor should the sins of homosexual acts be legal.
    Bottom line, pray for conversion and mercy for ALL souls regardless of sins committed, but do not let this be an excuse to condone our sins in any way, be it through our relationships or through our societies laws.

  • Joe

    Just because the man loved art, music, and the Liturgy does not mean that he knew Christ the person. You’ve gone too far in declaring him a saint. Homosexuality is a much graver sin then many. A close relationship with Christ the person seems to exclude homosexuality. And, a person with as much knowledge as this man about the Liturgy, should they not understand right relationship? Is that not what the Liturgy is but right relationship? We should not be after the Liturgy in presentation, but the Liturgy in right relationship.

    • Mark Shea

      Why do you assume he was an active homosexual?

    • Thomas R

      The title says he considers him a saint. I don’t think he’s making a solid judgment that his immediate salvation is a certainty or that he will one day be canonized. It is just his consideration on knowing his life and works.

  • JJG

    Can we say that, being openly a homosexual, he had sexual desires towards other men? And that if he was living with his “partner”, would he not be exposing himself intentionally to the “near occassion of sin”? Even if he WAS celibate why would he continue to test his willpower against a sinful tendency?

    • Mark Shea

      Dunno. Not my business. Or yours. All I know is that he was a holy man. Proof’s in the pudding. Why are you so eager to find a way to condemn him?

  • JJG

    I think consideration should also be given to Lorenzo’s “partner”. Even if Lorenzo was not active, he is still putting his “partner” in a position of temptation.
    That being said, we cannot judge him on his worthiness for salvation and should pray for his soul.

    • Mark Shea

      What do you know about either of them?

  • http://catholicboyrichard.wordpress.com Richard G Evans

    IN INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE–I recently posted a slightly modified version of this comment on another site, but since the Dan Savage issue has arisen since that time I think it might be appropriate for your site as well. I would just say your attitude is one of the kindest and most “right on” balances of love and truth which I, as an SSA individual who now lives a Catholic celibate life but has not always done so, have seen out there. All I can say is thank you Mark. Here is the comment:

    My first reaction was “oh no here it comes…” being the same-gender attracted kind of guy I am, even in the Church and on the Net I find myself afraid at some of the stuff I hear about those actively LGBT (which, as a Catholic Christian, I am not). I am very sensitive to concerns of discrimination within even our Church, because it does still happen sadly. And never should.

    Having said that I am always, always pleasantly surprised at your insightfulness. The Church teaches authentic love towards us from my background. She however does not support our doing whatever we want. Love does not mean accepting all behavior of all people. If I want to go and bang every boy (metaphorically, not “boys” as in under-age!) then there are plenty of “faith communities” I can join and they will give me “more bang for the buck” than Rome does or ever will. I have been there, and have done that. A few times.

    If your audience wants to know more go visit my site at http://catholicboyrichard.wordpress.com. I have lots on this topic and some others as well. So come over and say hi.

    But I digress– I have been privileged–yes privileged–to be called back to Rome after years of being a gay activist and a few other things to boot. So much so that I find it WORTH my while to give my sexuality over to God. And I must do it daily. Then again that is something we all are called to do, SSA, straight, married or single. We each are called to holiness and chastity.

    For those who think “it gets better” go live in that world for awhile BTW. For some it does. For so, so many it just does not. We do no favors in lying to people, especially young teens, and telling them to “come out, come out, wherever you are” and go play in the busy street. And busy it is. Some, even many, of them are literally destroyed in the process of being used as political pawns in the “marriage equality” movement. I find that repugnant in what it does to the innocence of so many. I lived the lie too, so I do actually know.

    I am a long ways from repressed either. I know of my preferences and inclinations and accept them. Accept, yes, act upon them, by His grace, no. No more. But I also know God calls me to something higher.

    And to your original point, the knowledge of our innate dignity comes from God Himself, as well as our ability to see that dignity in others as a result. Atheism or some outwardly imposed artificial self-love simply does not put it there. Neither did evolution.

    As usual you have it right.

  • http://fidesquaerenssanitatem.blogspot.com Thomas Sundaram

    Hey, Mr. Shea,
    Thank you for this. I am straight, but I have a lot of gay friends, and I study Aristotelian-Thomistic theology and philosophy. One looks for the opportunity to approve strongly of a loving treatment of the matter and you have given me the chance to do so.
    Thank you for reminding everyone that we Catholics obey the better angels of our nature in Christ.
    Tom

  • JJG

    Mark, I am NOT “eager to condemn”. Why are YOU so eager to accuse me of wanting to condemn?

  • JJG

    As to “what do I know about them”? Personally, nothing. I am going by what you claim to know in your colnumn:

  • JJG

    1. He was a homosexual.
    2. Homosexuals, by definition, are attracted to the same sex.

  • JJG

    3. He was acknowledged to be living with another man you refer to as being his “partner”. In common parlaince, a homosexual’s “partner” is the person with which he is (or perhaps in this case was, past tense?) sexually acvive. If the only purpose of your article is to say that a gay man can be a saint then I would have to say, duh.

    • Mark Shea

      I make it clear that I have no idea if he was sexually active. My assumption is he was not, because he was a dedicated Catholic. i use “partner” because it’s a commonly used term for gays who love each other, whether sexually active or not.

  • JJG

    From the context of your article, however, I am gettin the impression that you are advocating for society to accept that, A. There really is no issue with struggling homosexuals to live together as long as they are chaste. and B. There should not be an issue with homosexuals wanting to live together under the approval of society in general, through laws protecting their property.
    I believe the Church would take exception to either.

  • Mary

    Mark, there is a lot to digest in what you wrote. The title is problematic for me, “A Gay Man I consider a Saint”. I think there’s a contradiction there. Why could you not have written about a man you admired without mentioning his sexual orientation at all? None of us would then be “judging” this person. It most certainly does matter how one lives their life. I understand not judging ones ultimate destination which is left to God and to His mercy. However, I don’t think it’s prudent to say it’s not my business if he was chaste or not. It’s not your business in the sense that he didn’t have to report to you but it matters in how well he was able to to exemplify in his actions in a public way all that Christ asks of us. We can’t say well he did his best but there is this one moral “glitch” he may not have overcome and attach sainthood to him or her. God is the final judge but I don’t think attaching sainthood to someone who appears to have been a work in progress, as we all are, a wise thing to do. If we say “it’s not my business” we are condoning the behavior to some degree. A saint is someone who in the end lived an exemplary life. He or she may have overcome great odds in the moral life and had a conversion but the conversion is apparent.

    • Ed

      If I were going to comment here, this said it all in a nutshell. Thanks Mary

  • DDPGH

    yes it is your business, as a brother in Jesus. You are obliged to pray and fast for him, if you love him, and pray for the opportunity to talk with him if God desires you to be the one to do so. Other than that, public silence about his sexuality and spiritual condition is necessary, because, as you say, you don’t know.

  • JJG

    According to St. Thomas (II-II, Q. liii, a.1) : Scandal is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another’s spiritual ruin. It is a word or action, that is either an external act—for an internal act can have no influence on the conduct of another—or the omission of an external act, because to omit what one should do is equivalent to doing what is forbidden; it must be evil in itself, OR IN APPEARANCE; this is the interpretation of the words of St. Thomas: minus rectum. It is not the physical cause of a neighbor’s sin, but only the moral cause, or OCCASION. Emphasis added. I therefore ask, was Lorenzo’s behaviour scandalous? Even if it WAS, we pray that Mark is right and that he is a saint. but let’s not condone the behaviour.

  • http://renegadetrad.blogspot.com A Sinner

    “merely living with his partner is not proof of anything anyway, either about his relationship with his partner, nor about his relationship with God.”

    Agreed. But then, “cohabiting” heterosexuals (who may not actually be in a concubinage, but merely living as brother and sister. After all, who knows!) are singled out and treated as scandalous etc etc. There is a certain double-standard here, wherein the official policy currently creates “two tiers” of sinners; the “public” and the private (even though the assumed sin of the “public” sinners likewise takes place in private…) This, pastorally, needs to be dealt with, as it is the source of a lot of misunderstanding and bitterness towards the Church.

    “I consider same sex attraction one of the myriad forms of concupiscence”

    Agreed again, but this is not currently the official Vatican position. The official Vatican position is that, unlike heterosexual disordered acts or desires which are indeed “merely” concupiscent (ie, seeking a good thing in a bad way)…homosexuality is called “objectively disordered” meaning that it is interpreted/constructed as not even seeking a good thing in a bad way, but rather seeking a wrong object period.

    This is, of course, theologically problematic to say the least…

  • antigon

    If Padre Neri is still about, I hope he’ll forgive me for finding one of
    his answers on the original thread on all this not a little troubling. I
    believe it was Mr. Manning who gave the hypothetical of a woman
    confessing to anger because her husband forgot to buy condoms (or
    Bloombergs, as we call them here in New York). The priest explains use of
    Bloombergs in intimacy are a sin too, but since the woman says she just
    rejects that teaching, I understood Padre to say that she would still be
    given absolution for the sin she did confess. Did he mean a full
    absolution?

    Manning’s example seems a little different than that of an addict,
    whether to sex or heroin or the Republican party, where some delicacy &
    priestly training, et. al. might well obtain if there is some indication
    the penitent yearns to be free of the addiction.

    But absolution when there is no, not to say no firm, intention of any
    kind? Or, to use an extreme example, absolution because penitent
    confesses to being brusque with his wife when she complained of his
    affair with their daughter, tho he recognizes nothing wrong with said
    affair &, despite priestly admonitions, refuses any intention to end it
    (because it’s an expression of love, which is the heart of the the Gospel
    message or some such)?

    Unless there is such a thing as a partial absolution, Father Neri seemed
    to say that he’d absolve the Bloomberged wife with reasoning that would
    also apply for the incestuous dad. Does Mr. Manning or Mr. Shea or some
    other reader also understand this to be Father’s response, or have I
    misunderstood?

    If I haven’t, is it not then the case, by Father’s reasoning, that one
    can have unrepented & unconfessed sins, discussed in the Confessional,
    nonetheless loosed for the sake of those one does confess & repent?

    Should he see this post, could Fr. Neri clarify that that’s what he means?

    That is, have I misunderstood his answer? Or does unrepented sin get
    absolved for the sake of sins that are repented?

    Or does he wish to reconsider his answer to Mr Manning?

    • http://www.hancaquam.blogspot.com PNP, OP

      Antigon,

      I think you may have misread my answer. I wrote, “. . .you can only be absolved from the sins you confess.” In the scenario described, the penitent does not believe that she has sinned by using condoms; therefore, she does not confess this as a sin. No confession, no absolution.

      Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  • Joshua Gonnerman

    As a gay Catholic who is committed to Church teaching, I find that even remotely positive material about gay folk is far, far too rare in the Catholic blogosphere, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for providing a shining counterexample.

    • Bernie

      Amen Joshua, to be homosexual, that is to have SSA, is not a sin. For those of us who are faithful to Christ and his Church, it is a Cross we have to carry. So far, no one knows what causes SSA, the verdict is still out. I wonder how many people who post here are of the opinion that we choose to have SSA? It is certainly not my choice.

  • janalee

    Having a gay “partner” is, in itself, a homosexual act. And it is that particular kind of relationship which is sinful.

    • Mark Shea

      No. It’s not.

    • Bernie

      Really? My partner has SSA and he is my best friend. He is a former Baptist and one year ago at the Easter Vigil, he came into the Catholic Chruch. I just love all the self styled theologians here.

  • janalee

    And you know, by the way, to call out the sin where it is is not the same as to judge for that sin. Don’t be confused. Your writing allows that we are incapable of calling out a sin where we observe it because that is the same as to judge for the sin. It is not so.

    • Mark Shea

      I observed no sin. What I observed was the fruit of the Spirit. To observe sin, I would have to be present when they were committing gay intercourse. And I have no reason to think they ever did since Perry was a committed Catholic.

  • Jenny

    This is an amazing post. Thank you so much.

    The press that homosexuality receives in the Catholic news/blogosphere is often so negative that I really think it’s a rhetoric act of mercy to remind us that the acts which the Church condemns are one among many, and that the desires it does not consider sinful are just like our own.

    Your point about concupiscence might just be the most-needed distinction in this debate today, for both sides.

  • http://www.catholicdadsonline.org Rob Kaiser

    Mark. You are inconsistent in a way that is revealing.
    You would judge the state of someones soul by calling them a saint. Yet you will not give pause to such judgement because you don’t want to judge a scandalous situation that might indicate a reason someone might at least have to spend time in purgatory. Do you not see a consistency issue?

    I do not judge this man’s soul. I will pray for him. I will trust God. But I will not canonize him, or anyone else. You might consider the same. Admire, extol, speak fondly of, but perhaps don’t canonize.

    • Joe Usher

      That’s great advice, Rob. Thanks for posting it. I think I had heard something similar a long time ago but have forgotten it.

  • Mike Malone

    Mark,
    Maybe you should write a column on scandal…something a person in your position should be particularly sensitive to.

  • MARGIE

    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.

  • Gretchen

    That was a really great article. Thank you!

  • Nick P

    Mark, thanks! Both for a well-crafted piece and for the patience to endure the tortuous windings of the comments section. I have, at times, taken issue with what I perceive as your ill-framed attempts to place equal “badness” on the political right as on the left. But, so what?
    On this topic you’ve done a deft and kind job of making some very, very important points and distinctions:

    1) Your/my/our lack of information about specifics regarding others’ sins; combined with our willingness, nay, eagerness to fill in the missing details in the most salacious, judgmental way possible. Not charitable!

    2) My true awareness of only my own depravity and sinfulness; but not that of others. I cannot even judge myself morally in comparison to, say, Saddam Hussein’s sons. I had no access to their interior dialogs and choices, nor do I have any sense what they may have endured while being raised. In one of his apologetics, CS Lewis likened personal morality to a landing net on the side of a ship. Each of us is tossed (placed?) onto that net at a different point. Some higher, some lower. What’s most central to our moral progress toward “sainthood” is how far we’ve climbed upward from our starting point, not where we actually end up relative to others. Simplistic, but humbling. I believe that Lewis said something to the effect that one couldn’t be condemned to hell for having bad digestion leading to a sour personality.

    3) As a recovering alcoholic, I feel particularly unable to judge the temptations — urges, inclinations –another may face. I have seen people with fifteen years of sobriety slip and die of this disease. I have a good friend who struggled for sixteen years, attending AA meetings while continuing to drink. Then, something clicked. He’ll be 21 years sober in June. My experiences make me particularly receptive to your (and PNP’s) “baby steps” perspective.

    Finally, I again want to thank you. There are a few homosexual men and women in my life, and I have always been conflicted in how I should relate to them. The easy answer, which it took you to provide: With Charity & Love. I’ll leave my urge to judge at home.

  • http://catholibertariandotcom.wordpress.com Teresa

    We are called to love the sinner but hate the sin. We do not know what was in the guy’s heart or whether he followed the teachings of the Church on homosexuality or not. I do know that we all struggle with our various temptations and sins so that would seem to make us no different than Perry if he was struggling with temptations of a homosexual nature. But going by Mark’s words it seems that he was a faithful servant of God who spread the Gospel of Jesus. May God rest his soul. Spot on, Mark!

  • MichaelP

    I think the issue of scandal (Perry living with his ‘partner’) has been grossly overlooked by this article and has not been appropriately addressed in the comments. Mark, would you let your daughter, if you had one, live with a guy whom she “loves”, outside of marriage, and whom she is sexually attracted to, but claims is not sexually active with? Or would this be none of your business?

    Thanks,
    Michael

    • Mark Shea

      I don’t know that Perry lived with his companion. I have lived with guys. And I know women who have lived chastely with male housemates. Perry was not my son. The relationship is different, so my responsibilities to him are different.

  • http://stevenadunn.wordpress.com Steven A. Dunn

    I’ve read your blog for 5 years and this is undoubtedly the greatest thing you have written.

  • RickandSpot

    Wow! This column is so insightful! You have inspired me to write about a good friend I have who, although he does not have homosexual tendencies, nevertheless has a similar disorder that inclines him to commit gravely sinful actions. My dog Spot likes him too. We have decided to co-write the following story about our friend, Jim.

    One of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint was a guy with a tendency to commit thievery named Jim. Dunno if he was a criminal larcenist 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 thieves and not, in a way that was immensely attractive and uplifting for everybody who encountered him. [Spot wants me to mention that it's quite possible, even probably, that he committed unrepentant acts of criminal larceny and aided others in doing the same, but who is so old fashioned as to think that unrepented grave offenses that that should prevent someone from being called a saint?]

    Some Catholics (and some thief readers) will probably be surprised to hear that I’m not interested in whether or not he was a thief. Not my business. [Spot notes that this is true even though I do in fact call him a thief throughout and that assumption is the basis of this post. Nevertheless, it's just not my business. Spot and I feel free to invoke this "it's not my business" principle whenever we make sweeping moral appraisals of someone in a public forum. If we say someone is a saint, then dammit! it doesn't matter what the hell he was doing that we didn't know about. He's a saint.] Anyway, whether he was a thief or not that’s between him and God. [And, Spot notes, all the people Jim stole from, all the other thieves he aided, and also many Christians with klepto tendencies who were encouraged to find Christian larceny legit because Jim was such a fine upstanding citizen. Not that we're counting because it's none of our business. It's not like the Faith obliges to try to bring our neighbors to virtue, anyway. Admonish the sinner, shmadmonish the shminner. No one, not even active larcenist Catholics, should know better or should fear hell if they are nice enough.]
    (I had a friend write me in some degree of scandal after I posted on his death because he apparently had a lot of expensive things that he couldn’t afford. If memory serves, I expressed to my reader a deep lack of interest in that fact since a) Not. My. Business [Although Spot did point out that on the one hand we are claiming definitively that Jim is in heaven and on the other hand we are excluding from consideration Jim's worst vice. So it might seem a little unbalanced there. But whatevs! I mean this is Lockean-libertarian-hippie Christianity here! As long as Jim's doing his thing over there and I'm doing mine over here, we're all okay, man.] and b) merely having a lot of stuff you can’t afford if you are prone to larceny doesn’t prove anything anyway either about whether Jim actually committed thievery, [I mean sure, says Spot, it's a HUGE indicator, but it's not like a geometrical demonstration, which according to this new standard of public character assessment which we have just now devised, is the only argument we will accept against the proposition that X is a saint.] nor about his relationship with God. [You see, says Spot, God just doesn't care if you do bad things. He's sure that's in the Bible somewhere.]

    So do I contradict myself, since it’s not a secret that I agree with the Church that larcenous acts are sinful? If Jim was an active thief, it’s none of my business and certainly not mine to judge. [This should be the Christian's mantra: It's none of my business. My brother can keep himself, thank you very much.] 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 me or rejected me [Because it follows by logical necessity, says Spot, that if you think someone shouldn't be publicly praised who was a Catholic and a larcenist, then you *must* think that God has abandoned and rejected larcenists. You absolutely must.] and I trust his grace to help me slowly become conformed to Christ, so why should I believe for a second that somebody like Jim, 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? [And obviously, we always praise people according to the very low standard of what we don't know about the interior life of their souls. I don't know that Jim wasn't somehow invincibly ignorant of his highly controversial acts in spite of his having a Faith which explicitly condemns it. Therefore, Jim was somehow invincible ignorant of his highly controversial acts in spite of his having a Faith which explicitly condemns it. Flawless logic, says Spot.] On the contrary, I regard him as a role model and greatly admire his deep, generous, and true faith [--true in spite of the fact that he probably had heretical opinions about larceny. Details, details, says Spot.] I hope he prays for the Church and I think he is (not was, God rest his soul) one of the great ornaments of the Churhc. [And it folows that I know Jim must be a saint because it would be really nice if that were the case. And niceness is better than honesty.]

    • Mark Shea

      Devastating. Your ability to read both his soul and mine is a testimony to combox inquisitors everywhere. Can you tell me who will win the World Series? There’s big money in your powers of divination.

      May God have mercy on you and not reward you as your phariseeism deserves.

      • Ed

        I don’t know mark, I thought this was a pretty devastating parody on your post and the comments that followed. Combox inquisitor? Maybe that is judging him. Maybe he is like me and has one massive question mark over his head at this entire thing. I have been a Catholic for a long time, and I have never heard before anyone say that a gay man having a ‘partner’(in the gay sense of the word) was not a sin, or sinful, or at the very least being square with the concept of staying away from occasions of sin. This is all news to me. As is the whole SSA is concupiscence thing, I thought the church taught SSA was intrinsically disordered. Color me confused, maybe this guy is too.

        • Mark Shea

          The guy is not confused. The guy is cock sure. He knows who’s righteous and who is condemned.

          If you read my follow up blogs, you will know that there is no evidence that Perry and his companion were sexually active. So there is no scandal.

    • GregC

      Jim, you may find the life of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, an opium-addicted martyr of the Boxer Rebellion, at least interesting. During his life he “couldn’t receive communion because his addiction was regarded as gravely sinful and scandalous. He prayed for deliverance from his addiction, but deliverance never came. Nevertheless he remained a believing Catholic. At his trial he was given a chance to renounce his faith, but he refused. It is said that he sang the litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary as he was led to his execution.” (From an article at ignatianspirituality.com, the url of which I can’t quote, because it’ll trip the spam filter.)

      St. Mark’s canonization doesn’t mean that the Church doesn’t care whether or not you do drugs. His canonization does witness to the fact that someone, despite being unable to do the impossible – to turn away from a spiritually stunting relationship that has such a tremendous grip – can still exemplify heroic virtue and faith in God’s goodness. Faith enough to live and die for, and lead others to Christ in doing so.

  • http://www.barefootandpregnantblog.blogspot.com Calah

    Mark, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of yours, but this post is one of the finest things I’ve seen written by a Catholic anywhere. I’m sorry about the combox trashing that you’re getting. For what it’s worth, I don’t see any ambiguity on morality in this post, just a beautiful testament to the true spirit of the Catholic Church.

    • Mark Shea

      Thank you, Calah. God bless you.

  • Rainey

    Mark, I am really surprised by the profanity you are using in some of your responses. What’s going on? Would you please stop with the need to belittle some comments and let them have a say? God bless.

    • Ed

      New here? ;)

      This ain’t the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

    • Mark Shea

      “crap” is profanity?

      • Thomas R

        Possibly he meant vulgarity, which yeah I’m pretty sure it is.

  • Bill

    Mr. Shea is a conservative Catholic. I’m a traditionalist who agrees fully with the SSPX. But I’m happy to hear that Mr. Shea acknowledges moral virtue in a member of a group that rarely , if ever, seems well-known for it.

  • http://yorkshireshepherd.blogspot.com Fr. John Abberton

    I have been a priest for over 35 years. I am also a spiritual director for over 25 years. In Confession, it is the priest’s job to both console and challenge the penitent. With respect to a change in lifestyle, any judgement can only be made in the context of the confessional, but in order for absolution to be received (and given) there must be evidence of a desire to change and a firm purpose to work towards that. In SOME cases absolution may be given when there are difficulties in this area (depending on the circumstances etc). The priest is not without moral responsibility in the confessional since he has to make the decision to give or withhold absolution – a decision not to be taken lightly, especially with regard to refusing it. Padre Pio refused absolution to many who did not have sufficient sorrow or who had not confessed properly. Most priests do not have such gifts of reading souls, but an important principle is recognised in this – the penitent MUST be sorry and MUST have an intention of avoiding sin. Where the avoidance of the occasion of sin is hardly possible, the normal practice is to avoid Holy Communion, but this also includes not receiving absolution. This is not an unjust or cruel act on the part of the priest – on the contrary it is in keeping with good pastoral practice. By this, the penitent is challenged to seek real change in his/her life or – in line with the teaching of JP 11, can be encouraged to take as full a part in the liturgy and life of the Church as possible. We do not judge the state of the person’s soul – how could we? But, we are required, in some cases, to withhold sacramental absolution. Having said that, I agree that we must encourage people and help them to grow further into repentance. I am a little worried by the emphasis put on hard work here, since much of this depends on the Mercy of God and grace. Compassion for people in seriously sinful situations does not mean offering them a cheap forgiveness. That does no one any good in the end. However, the process of conversion is often hard and long, and here we need a deeper understanding of human weaknesses and a special application of pastoral care.

  • http://www.thismysymphony.blogspot.com Lindsay

    I spent a week in Seattle at a conference set around Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 2001. Perry Lorenzo gave an engaging introduction for each of the operas to our group, and of the many speakers and subjects I heard that week, his talks are amongst those I remember best. He was a delightful man, clearly passionate about things good, true, and beautiful, and I am so sorry to hear he died so young. May he rest in peace.

  • Michael Filo

    As a seminarian I see two things. Firstly, I see a scandalous article which refers several times to things that are “none of my business.” May I ask how this is any different than when old ladies praise their friends who are far away and one says “I heard Pattie used to work in a rather unwholesome establishment when she was young, but it’s none of my business.” The reality is, you have made it your business and the business of others. It is scandalous to do what you have done, to call out publicly the sin of a dead man because it profits him nothing or you.

    Secondly, 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.

    • Joe Usher

      You will make a fine priest, Michael.

  • Les

    Fr Longnecker had an appropriate quote today from the screwtape letters, the evil one teaching a minion what thought to discourage in believers….

    ‘If I, being what I am, can consider myself a Christian, why should I assume that the faults of my neighbor render their faith merely hypocrisy and convention?’

  • Les

    ok, Fr. Longenecker ( for the spelling police)

    • DDPGH

      “Go and sin no more.” John8:11 We may not normalize the ‘baby step method’ either as counsel or resolve. There is no wiggle room. The resolve to obey must be complete, put into practice immediately by whatever necessary and moral means. If we fail at times, we confess and resolve anew, all by the grace won and promised to enable us to ‘go and sin no more.

      • Mark Shea

        So, do you have any actual training or knowledge as a spiritual director and confessor, or do you just go around comboxes tying up burdens too heavy to bear and laying them on the backs of strangers for fun? I’ll take a real priest over a combox inquisitor any time.

        • DDPGH

          What is the teaching of the Church?

          • Mark Shea

            About what?

            • DDPGH

              About the proper disposition for confession and to receiving absolution. About not advising someone to continue to sin until some later date, but admonishing to quit the sin and to leave a situation of sin.

              • Mark Shea

                Take it up with the confessors I’ve talked to. I’m not a confessor or a spiritual director.

  • Catholic

    It looks like Dr. Sungenis has weighed in on this article: http://www.catholicintl.com/index.php/latest-news/871-mark-shea-coming-out-of-the-theological-closet

    Thoughts?

    • Mark Shea

      I think I’m not going to worry too much what an anti-semitic kook who credits every Jew-hating conspiracy theory–right down to the ravings of a nut blathering about Lizard Men–thinks. He’s just ticked cuz I pointed out that Voris is trying to mainstream his and Jones’ nuttery. He’s done this for years. Every time I write something critical, he threatens to “expose” me. I point out to him that if I’m really that much of a menace then he has a duty to expose me even when he’s not trying to threaten me.

  • Mary N.

    This is by far the best post you’ve ever written. Pay no attention to the attacks…some people have yet to learn the meaning of the word “mercy”. Your post had “mercy” and compassion written all over it.

  • http://classicalcatholic.blogspot.com CC Jen

    Thank you so much for this post. It literally brought tears to my eyes, and the compassion and mercy your words express are heartfelt and IMHO represent the true spirit of Catholicism.

  • http://thewayoutthere1.blogspot.com/ Fr Levi

    I have never heard of Perry Lorenzo prior to this. I can not comment as to whether he is a saint or not. But some observations on the post and the comments:
    1. It is not a sin to be homosexual;
    2. Mark Shea has stated that Mr Lorenzo taught a great number of people about his Catholic faith. Knowing Mr Shea’s views, it seems all but certain that Mr Lorenzo taught the Catholic faith in its fullness;
    3. Perhaps fewer harsh words against Mr Shea for his views and more prayers for those who walk the hard road that Mr Lorenzo faced every day are in order.

    • Chris C.

      Fr. Levi, as the your point #2 above, you seem disposed to assume that the author, Mr Shea, should be taken at face value for stating that the late Mr Lorenzo, may he rest in peace, taught a great number of people the Catholic faith “in its fullness.” Perhaps he did, but what the author cited in support was Mr Lorenzo’s blog which he was kind enough to link to. Please examine it carefully before forming an opinion. I invite you to read the comments to each of the articles posted. Or fair warning, Don’t. Not unless you are interested in viagra, cialis, or any number of adds for pornographic websites and browsing. There was absolutely NOTHING posted in any comment of any article that was in any way Catholic, or Holy, or worthy of anything of Christ. If the writing on this blog; the only thing the author referred us to, is any indication, Mr Lorenzo’s inspiring words were totally lost on his readership. So therefore on what basis are we to conclude that, as the author would have us believe he inspired many in The One, True Faith of Our Lord?

      • Mark Shea

        Perry has been dead since 2009 and the blog has just been sitting there, exposed to spambots because nobody is running it. Spambots dump advertising into comboxes and if you don’t have a filter there’s nothing to stop them. The garbage you see in the comboxes is due to spambots. Please learn something about how the internet works before making such an embarrassingly ignorant rash judgement again.

        Sheesh!

        • Joe Usher

          Good grief, are you STILL that arrogant and condescending?

  • lydia

    May Mr.Lorenzo rest in peace. Now for you Mr.Shea, are you a proponent of same sex marriage and gay adoption? How about sex ed classes teaching our children about homosexuality? Childrens books with titles like Heather Has Two Mommies? Gay Pride parades , really it’s all become too much in your face for a lot of us. I wish no harm to homosexuals but seriously your attempt to regularize their behavior and belittle those of us that object to your designating sainthood to a nice man whose total life you claim to know nothing about is a bit much.

    • Mark Shea

      Here’s a suggestion before you launch into accusatory questions to which you already think you know the answer, Lydia: try Google and you will discover that I oppose gay “marriage”, subjecting kids to gay agitprop, and gay adoption. You will discover, in fact, that I support the Church’s teaching on sexual morality completely.

      You will also discover, if you read the catechism, this:

      2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:

      - of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

      - of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279

      - of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

      2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

      Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.280
      2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

      You should go to confession. Also, an apology would be nice. Please be aware that I forgive you and pray for you to not leap to rash judgements in the future.

  • http://www.openingthefloodgatesofmercy.blogspot.com Mary N.

    Perhaps before people make further judgments against Mr. Shea and the post he has written you may want to take a look at this new blog – http://divinemercymessage.blogspot.com/. This site is written by a man with HIV/AIDS and it’s all about redemptive suffering and his attempts to form a group of HIV/AIDS victims and others who suffer chronic illnesses in order to unite these sufferings with Christ and thereby help others both spiritually and physically. Reading this man’s words may open the eyes of a few people here who have not understood Mr. Shea’s post and the spirit it was written in.

  • Lydia

    Mr.Shea, I made no accusation about you as a matter of fact I have read your blog off and on for about a year and wouldn’t assume you believed in these things. Your angry response to me is unwarranted. I was trying to make you understand where some of us are coming from we are tired of having the gay agenda shoved down our throats by government the entertainment industry and left wing churches. I am sorry for these people and their affliction but I won’t glorify them for being homosexuals. Why could you not have written of Lorenzo and all the great things he did without mentioning his sexual preferences? Was it done this way to gain antention rather than memorialize your friend?

    • Mark Shea

      Was it done this way to gain antention rather than memorialize your friend?

      Right. No accusations. Sure.

      • Lydia

        sorry I meant attention.

  • Patt

    Mark, you need to replace St. Peter at the pearly gates. Bet you would give a free pass to a lot of folks.

    • Mark Shea

      What sin am I giving a free pass to? Homosexual orientation is not a sin.

      • Patt

        No the orientation is not a sin, but assuming someone is sinless in spite of outward appearances, not knowing for certain if someone dies in the state of grace ( or caring), and canonizing someone before they are even considered “blessed’ is certainly jumping the gun. It might have been better had you not painted the man with such a broad brush and titled your article differently. As you have put it, your article is more like a challenge to anyone that dare question you… but I guess that was so you would have people read you.

  • Barry Schoedel

    I remember when I was in the process of becoming Catholic about the time Benedict XVI published Deus Caritas Est I went to some conferences at the Cathedral on the Encyclical that Perry taught. They were outstanding and helped me in my conversion. He knew the document very well and was alive with his love of the faith. I didn’t know that he had died because I haven’t lived there for a while. Anyway, I am grateful that I was able to study Deus Caritas Est there with Perry at the Cathedral because it was one of my first experiences of engaging serious Catholic thought in a social setting with other Catholics and inquirers.

  • Andrew

    Mark,

    Thank you for your wonderful post. Always glad to hear a refreshing voice of reason and inspiration. As for some of the comments, it would appear some of your readers are a little obsessed with gay sex and homophobes. My humble advice to the married ones out there, instead of spending all your time talking to people who probably could care less about your argument on a blog, go partake in the marraige act and get over yourselves.

  • Valmart

    Dear Sir: Why do people break things down to God abandoning us when we sin? It does not work that way. God does not abandon us. He longs for us to live His way, and He gave the Church the authority to teach us that. It is us who separate ourselves from God by our sin. As humans, we need to be very careful not to rationalize as Adam and Eve did about eating the apple trying to be God and make God what they wanted Him to be. Our fallen human nature is very tricky. Being a practicing gay, just like being a fornicating heterosexual, not matter how much kindness the person, is not the highest good.

  • Valmart

    Dear Sir: Some of your readers are very rude. There is no need for that. So, my question: Why do people break things down to God abandoning us when we sin? It does not work that way. God does not abandon us. He longs for us to live His way, and He gave the Church the authority to teach us that. It is us who separate ourselves from God by our sin. As humans, we need to be very careful not to rationalize as Adam and Eve did about eating the apple trying to be God and make God what they wanted Him to be. Our fallen human nature is very tricky. Being a practicing gay, just like being a fornicating heterosexual, not matter how much kindness the person, is not the highest good.

    • http://dtf-jayg.blogspot.com JayG

      It is us who abandon God through sin. I think the crux of this matter is that Mark held out a situation where there is the Near Occasion of sin, and Scandal, but ignored these factors, or completely downplayed them, and when called on this, he has not changed or moderated his position. It is foolish to ignore or plead ignorance of someone’s public living situation when extolling their Christian virtue. Intentional Ignorance is not Invincible.


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