Reflecting on Last Week

I’ve been pondering last week and trying to understand the reactions to my remarks about Perry Lorenzo, as well as the curious disconnects between me and some readers (and several strangers) have sort of fractalled off into space. I am, for instance, rather astonished that I could begin the week registering my intense dislike of Dan Savage’s (typical) act of narcissistic gay bullying of a bunch of teenagers (which, of course, sits atop a pile of blog entries registering my rejection of gay “marriage” as an ontological impossibility, and my years long affirmation of Catholic teaching on human sexuality (hint: I agree with it)–only to find by week’s end that a single post expressing admiration for a chaste homosexual who, so far as I can see, totally agreed with and lived out the Church’s teaching, though perhaps with the stumbles to which weak flesh is heir–has somehow transformed me into an apostate who is now “out of the closet” on my “support for homosexuality”.

Part of the confusion, I will grant, turns on a linguistic choice I deliberately made: that is, I chose to describe Perry as “gay” and not “same sex attracted”. I did so for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the ordinary descriptor of all same sex attracted people, chaste or not, in English. Second, I was writing with a view to a larger audience than simply the small bubble of conservative Catholics who have never felt homosexual temptation (I am among those who have never experienced it) and trying to engage those for whom such temptation is a struggle, or who have people dear to them who struggle with it. In various ways, I hear from people a lot who, at the end of the day, get the impression that there simply is no place for SSA people at all in the Church. So I wrote to point to a man who, I think, lived out very beautifully one way (no doubt there are many other ways) that a person could be gay, fulfilled *and* enthusiastically faithful to the Church’s teaching on faith and morals, including her sexual morals.

This is, of course, where the shock sets in, since Perry had a “companion” as he was described in the obituary, and this companion describes their relationship as “monks in love” and their first “date” as (typically for Perry) going to Mass. That’s more than a lot of people can bear. And after it is pointed out that all the Church asks of homosexuals is that they refrain from homosex, a number of readers who felt themselves empowered to be more demanding of homosexuals than Holy Church insisted it was not enough that they lived chastely. One said he should not receive Christian burial. Others assumed he was sexually active. Some complained that it was sinful to charitably assume that somebody who always voiced his full love of the Catholic faith–and often to a deeply hostile gay culture here in Seattle who regard the Church as the enemy–was in fact chaste. The shock when I said I regarded it as none of my business what his private life was like was felt deeply here, and many people couldn’t figure out what I meant. So, to untangle a bit…

I’ve said many times that the private lives of other people are not my business. I don’t want to know if you made love to your spouse last night. Not my business. I also don’t want to have the private lives of homosexuals thrust in my face. This is, in fact, one of the things I object to most about gay culture is the insistence it has on rubbing the noses of total strangers in things that are properly private. It’s part of the disordered nature of disordered sexuality, both gay and contraceptive. So, for the same reason, I object to Sandra Fluke simultaneously demanding I “stay out of her bedroom” and then force-marching me into her bedroom and putting a gun in my ribs with a demand to pay for her contraceptives. I would, in fact, *love* to stay out of her bedroom (in more ways than one) just as I would *love* it if the gay community would just get on with their lives and stop laboring to make me celebrate their disordered appetites as great and good. Not. My. Business. So stop trying to make it mine. Homosex is not good. So stop trying to force a confession from me that it is. It’s a free country, do as you like in the privacy of your home. But don’t expect me to depart from the Church’s teaching and approve of it when you commit homogenital sex. I won’t, cuz it’s, you know, a grave sin.

That said, however, I have always thought that C.S. Lewis was right when he said that he refrained from discussing temptations to which he himself was never subject. So you won’t find Lewis talking about gambling or homosexuality among other things, because he never felt the temptation. Lewis has always resented pep talks to men in the trenches from ninnies who had never been on the front line, so he had a scruple against giving free advice about stuff he had never struggled with. I feel the same way. So you will note that while I have always reiterated my belief in the Church’s teaching on sexuality, and played defense against people who wish me to reject it, I have never played offense and tried to tell people struggling with homosexuality or porn addictions what they need to be doing. Why? I haven’t had those struggles, just as alcohol has never been a temptation for me, so I don’t feel I can in good conscience wade into the lives of tormented people and say, “Hey! Just don’t be tempted! Like me! It’s easy!” I routinely defer to actual spiritual directors and confessors and therapists who actually have real knowledge and experience dealing with such disorders. And one of the things I hear from them is that the black and white simplicities of scorched earthers in comboxes are not how the the tricky complexities of tangled human appetites, whether sexual or otherwise, are usually dealt with. Consider, for instance, this (emphatically heterosexual) tale of people who wisely listened to somebody with some knowledge of the human heart and some empathy for weak human flesh struggling to be free of the coils of sin in the midst of all life’s complexities). Note also, this other story in the combox on the same blog entry.

In addition to all this is that haunting passage from Screwtape: “If I, being what I am, can consider myself in some sense a Christian…” Some people hear that as carte blanche for excusing anybody who calls themselves Christian of any grave, persistent sin, but of course, that’s not what I mean. In the case of Perry, it meant that he was somebody who was obviously and even passionately living a Godward life. How can he have done that if he was in love with a man? Because he brought who he was, disordered appetites and all, to the altar and bore witness to the love of Jesus. He also, as far as I can tell, lived chastely, which is all the Church asks. That is, after all, all we can do is bring who we are to Jesus. What Jesus asks of gay people, as near as I can see, is summed up here:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

I do not see anything in this which declares that a chaste gay couple cannot love one another or spend time together, or have a fulfilling non-sexual relationship. Nor do I see anything in here that says that somebody like me, who has never borne this particular cross, has the job of telling somebody who clearly loves Jesus and his Holy Church and is dedicated to leading others to become His disciples that I must somehow assume a lack of chastity on his part when he himself give me no indication that he edits the faith in any way.

Finally, when I consider the place that he occupied in the Seattle community, I have to ask myself this: Since I am obviously *not* the person who can speak to a rampantly promiscuous and Church-hating gay culture and say “There’s a place in the Church for you where you can find fulfilment in Jesus Christ in chastity” (not having any inner experience with what that looks like or feels like since I have never grappled with the temptation) then who is?

I remember Perry describing the day he took non-Catholic gay friends to Mass with him and explained for them what was happening in the liturgy. I remember him talking about how these gay friends (who assumed the Church was their enemy) who were *astounded* when they found out that the point of incensing the congregation was to communicate that each person in the congregation was holy and precious to God and was, through the Eucharist, a participant in the divine life of the Blessed Trinity. They had no idea and were moved to tears. That was in hard-boiled, anti-Catholic, secular gay Seattle. The guy was an apostle to the gay community. And, as far as I can tell, he did it without editing the faith in any way, demonstrating that you could be gay, fulfilled, and an orthodox Catholic all at once. Did he ever fail in chastity? Don’t know. Don’t care. Not my business. King David certainly failed and in ways that were spectacularly worse. But he too lived a Godward life and overcame. My confidence in Christ was that a man as dedicated to the glory of Christ as Perry was also overcame whatever sins he committed (and I repeat that I have no reason to think he committed the sin of unchastity). So I honor his memory and pray for him.

One final point: one of the sillier complaints about last week was that my saying I consider him a saint was a shocking act of presumption since only the Church can canonize blah blah. Yes. I realize only the Church can canonize. And yet, there’s that crowd of rowdy Romans shouting “santo subito!” at JPII’s funeral. How dare they? There’s fifty million Catholics who talk about their “sainted aunt Margaret” or saying “My wife is a saint for putting up with me”. Come on. We talk this way all the time. We mean, “Here is somebody who, despite the tough hand life dealt them, offered themselves to God through Christ the best way they could and who inspires me to try to do the same”. Not a bad definition of a saint really. Will Perry ever be canonized? i couldn’t care less. I simply know that he was a man who offered himself to Jesus, just as he was, and appears to me to have done so without reservation. If I can do as much I’ll have lived well.

  • http://www.caelumetterra.wordpress.com Daniel Nichols

    Don’t let them get you down, Mark. You are not the first person to recognize that gay people can live together chastely, that the struggle to be pure is made more difficult by loneliness. I need only look back at my own (heterosexual) struggle with chastity to realize that. And yes, God is merciful when one stumbles, and sins of the flesh are sins of weakness, not of malice.
    Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.frdenis.blogspot.com Fr Denis Lemieux

    Thank you, Mark, and God bless you. You have been right on point and with the Church throughout this discussion, as far as I can tell (I haven’t read every last word of every com-box, of course, not being a man of leisure/clinically insane).
    A woman in Canada named Melinda Selmys has written a book recently called Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Look at Homosexuality and Catholicism, which is a profound and beautiful exploration of these issues – perhaps some of your readers might look in her direction for further (Catholic!) insight from one who has been there/done that.

  • Roberto

    Mark, Thank you for these detailed and well developed explanations of a Church teaching that many people do not bother to research and end up misunderstanding. That is why so many people follow your work. You do what is so sorely missing in the Church today: you explain her teachings clearly and practically.
    But of course there will always be people who come here to object, not to understand. We need to pray for them and for us, that we may all be better witnesses to the beauty of Truth.

  • http://ecben.wordpress.com Will

    On “all the Church asks of homosexuals is that they refrain from homosex”… er, what the church demands from EVERYBODY is that they refrain from sex outside of marriage. I am sure that you did not mean to say that it is just fine if the “gays” grit their teeth and fornicate with women….. but my impression is that the exclusive type is not nearly as common as ideologues on both sides would have us believe.

    Privately (as shown in the collected LETTERS), Lewis was a little more explicit. Besides noting that “making it a crime only creates a blackmailer’s paradise”, he wrote that “one is really fighting on two fronts, for the persecuted homo against spies and blackmailers, and for ordinary people against the highbrow homos who dominate so much of criticism and won’t be v. nice to you unless you are in their set.” One can only imagine what he would say about the “gay brownshirts” today.

    • Mark Shea

      True. I did not mean that. And I agree with Lewis.

  • Claire

    Thank you for writing about Mr. Lorenzo, so that we can pray for him by name.

  • David K. Monroe

    Mark, I’m a daily reader of your blog and I find frequent disagreement with you on a number of issues, but I find complete sympathy with you on this issue. My conclusion is, many people, FAR, FAR too many people, just do not wish to seek mutual understanding and establish agreement. They WANT to disagree forcefully and maintain division. They want to draw a line and put others on the other side of it. They don’t want their understanding challenged on certain issues and they sure as heck don’t want to leave it up to God to work out the brokenness of people’s lives to His glory. It’s a ridiculous state of affairs.

  • CJ

    Mark,
    Thanks for this follow-up. I never thought you had become a dissenter overnight given everything else you’ve written, but they way you expressed yourself left me unclear as to where you were coming from. This goes a long way to addressing the concerns I had with your original post.

    • Fran

      Ditto. This post is a lot clearer.

      • Thomas R

        Agreed. I think my only difficulty was things that I wondered might just be sloppy word choices. I liked much of his post on the man.

  • Sal

    I can imagine that you had great hopes for that post. It seemed to me to be a balancing of what you had to write earlier about Dan Savage, etc. I’m sorry things turned out differently.
    If you want to write provocative blog titles with loaded words, you can. But don’t be surprised when people read you provoked. That, I think, is what bothers me. You can go back and show how you made everything as precise as you could, and are in accord with Church teaching on several aspects of the subject, but if you start out by pushing buttons, then don’t object when people don’t read clearly.
    Basically, the post was a needed reminder to us all, to be benevolent. It just ran aground on a few reefs.
    (I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I spent much less time on who’s gay and how chaste than considering how the “mortal sin weed card” – which of course doesn’t exist- would have made my life so much easier 25 years ago and being cross that Erin’s imaginary contracepting penitent got absolution . But then, sometimes, I’m not very morally bright. Or a nice person.)

    The above on not advising those with temptations which you don’t share/ experience is excellent
    and will be taken to heart.

  • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com Peter Sean Bradley

    Mark,

    For what it’s worth, a few years ago I posted a reflection on the importance of persons with same sex attraction being able to demonstrate to heterosexuals what the virtue of chastity looks like.

    I wrote:

    “And that last observation leads to an insight which would blow the minds of the writers at the New Oxford Review. Morrison’s ministry is not limited only to those living with some degree of “same sex attraction.” The example and insights of Morrison, and those courageous others who find a way to live a life of chastity and dignity in the face of their “same s*x attraction,” provides a prophetic call to straights, normal folks, heteros who think that their own promiscuity is no big deal since, after all, they are normal, straight and hetero.”

    In any event, shortly after I posted these reflections, a women I was casually dating wanted to know if I was g*y.

    Apparently, that post plus the fact that I hadn’t made a “move” on her was enough to convince her that I was homos*xual because, after all, what other reason could there be???

    I thought the interaction was revealing, educational and amusing in a Seinfeld-episode way. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”)

    We live in a very confused world.

  • http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/ terry nelson

    Thanks Mark. God bless you.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    So if I understand correctly, there is nothing at all wrong with same sex attraction. Physically acted upon it is wrong and disordered, but the attraction itself is not, since relationships can exist between two people based on that and not just be acceptable, but praiseworthy. It’s no different than heterosexual attraction. I just want to get it straight and make sure I understand the Church’s take on it. Over the last year, it has been a big issue in the schools and my boys have had many questions about it. So from the top, it can not only be OK, but can be praiseworthy if lived out chastely. It is only wrong when it is acted upon sexually. Is that right?

    • Mark Shea

      I think it might be more accurate to say there is nothing *sinful* about SSA. It’s a form of concupiscence and there is something “wrong” with concupiscence in the sense that it is the weakened will, disordered appetite, and darkened intellect that result from original sin. But the Church very carefully teaches that concupiscence is not itself sinful but is merely the “tinder for sin”. Resisting concupiscence is actually virtuous and is the field of battle on which the virtues are won. So a saint is, in fact, not somebody without concupiscence, but somebody who successfully resists it.

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

        Yes, precisely.

        Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  • Marcus

    Mark, I’m a regular reader, and I have to say that your post about Perry is one of your most profound posts yet, and not just because it’s about a gay man. I find it profound because it’s a reminder of how we, as Christians, should be treating ALL sinners (i.e. all people). The priest that guided me through RCIA used to respond to all questions about how to deal with a gay relative, or a brother that’s living with his girlfriend, or that scandalous aunt who’s getting remarried outside the church by just saying that our response, first and foremost, should always be love. That should be the default.

  • thomas tucker

    PSB: great comment, and very funny. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    Mark- great post, and full of both wisdom and common sense. I love it when those two things coexist in one post, and they frequently do in your writing. btw, bonus points for using the correct phrase “I couldn’t care less.” :)

  • melissa

    Beautifully put – particularly the part about “they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” It seems to me that all too often we believe that we ourselves are only gradually on the path to approach Christian perfection, but that everyone else should be required to attain that perfection instantaneously. While I do not stuggle with same sex attraction, there are certainly sins that I do struggle with on a continuing basis, and thus I recognize that for those who are gay, there is also a need to get up every morning and start the struggle afresh, relying totally on the grace of God to make it through, just as it is for me in my struggles.

  • LeeAnn

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing publicly so eloquently what I also feel but cannot express so well. An orthodox Catholic life has more than one appearance.

  • http://ephremhiphop.tumblr.com Brother Mark

    I rarely comment on comboxes anymore. I think John Allen coined the term “Jihad-Catholicism”. However contentious it may be to many people, at least people know what he is referring to.
    You know, in Augustine’s Confessions, he makes the bold and daring claim that somehow God was with him in the midst of all his ugly unchaste miserable disgusting filth. Augustine, in faith, insists that God was there. Perhaps it was God giving him the deep dissatisfaction with all the petty pleasures. And although Augustine was canonized, he recited the penitential psalms on his death bed, having never felt like a saint. Augustine’s Confessions are a remarkable piece of Christian literature, because they exemplify the Christian pilgrimage. In our pilgrimage, we even have God as our companion before we have willingly accepted him. We do nothing to earn it. At some point, God illumines and breaks our blindness, shouts and banishes our deafness. The Ever Beautiful One, the Ever Ancient One takes us no matter how much we have progressed on this pilgrimage.
    And I think Mark, I think you recognize that pilgrimage for Perry Lorenzo, and for many other Catholics, who are committed to continuing this pilgrimage with Christ and to Christ, but have not attained a complete triumph over all their temptations. Because people are on a pilgrimage, like SAINT AUGUSTINE, it is very difficult for us to call them out in all their private and interior temptations simply by association, when indeed it is equally difficult for us to pinpoint the action of the Holy Spirit in their private and interior pilgrimage.

  • kath

    Beautiful post, Mark.

  • Telemachus

    “I remember Perry describing the day he took non-Catholic gay friends to Mass with him and explained for them what was happening in the liturgy. I remember him talking about how these gay friends (who assumed the Church was their enemy) who were *astounded* when they found out that the point of incensing the congregation was to communicate that each person in the congregation was holy and precious to God and was, through the Eucharist, a participant in the divine life of the Blessed Trinity. They had no idea and were moved to tears.”

    We do need more people like Perry Lorenzo.

    God bless,
    Tele

  • Andrew

    I hate to be described as “gay”. I completely reject that social identity, which was developed in the secular culture, and I do not wish to be labelled with the same word used for Dan Savage or others who adopt that identity and live unrepentant homosexual lives.

    Mark, I think one problem with your explanation is that the Catechism talks about “disinterested friendship”. I don’t think using romantic terms (“date”, “partner”, “in love”, etc.) for the acting out of an intrinsically disordered attraction is healthy, even if genital activity doesn’t take place. This “disinterested friendship” should not take on aspects of a romantic relationship. The Church’s teaching on chastity for people with SSA is not just about avoiding sexual acts but also relating to other persons of the same sex in a healthy way.

    Lorenzo’s partner used words to describe their relationship that IMO go beyond the Catechism’s prescription of disinterested friendship.

    • Ted Seeber

      My priest- really talking about marriage, and heterosex friendships that were chaste- compared it to the very science fiction idea of playing football on top of a mountain in a gymnasium. Sure, the floor and walls keep you from seeing the great view- but they also keep you from going after the ball and plunging over a cliff.

    • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

      Chiming in to support Andrew here. Mark, I’ve been thinking and thinking about what you wrote, and the reaction it got, and what I came up with is similar to what Andrew is saying–though he says it better than I can.

      My comparison would be this: if instead of being SSA Mr. Lorenzo had been a heterosexual Catholic married in the Church and then separated from his wife, both aware that no new marriage could ever validly take place, would the situation regarding a hypothetical girlfriend (e.g., our first date was to Mass, we called ourselves a monk and a nun in love, the girlfriend being described in the obit. as either a longtime partner or longtime companion, etc.) be any different? That is, would you still strongly insist that anyone who assumed unchastity was themselves sinning in doing so?

      This is not a “gotcha” question at all. Perhaps we all sin when we assume that a man and a woman who live together are thereby sinning. But it does seem as though this is a bit different from the Church’s historical understanding of the problem of giving scandal–that is, that even if a man and a woman were completely chaste toward each other they ought not live together without marriage, because their living together gives scandal.

      I could see that it might be morally possible for two men or two women to live together when their SSA is unknown and they are not, in fact, in love with each other, or even attracted to each other. But that raises the additional question of whether two men or two women who love each other may “date” chastely (if they are committed to chastity, that is) or whether their romantic attraction makes them an occasion of sin for each other. The old books of moral theology called this “keeping company” and were adamant that people who could not marry could not licitly “keep company”: people who were not free to marry, people of too close a degree of kinship, anyone in orders or a religious vocation, etc. I think the question of with whom and whether/how people suffering from same-sex attraction may or may not “keep company” is still being hashed out to a certain degree.

      The bottom line, for me, is that those with SSA have the same moral obligations as the rest of us, and it’s just a matter of “translating” those moral obligations properly when two men or two women, instead of a man and a woman, are involved. None of that means that Mr. Lorenzo was not, indeed, a wonderful person of heroic virtue–as I did not know him, I don’t have any grounds on which to say otherwise. But I think that the questions of disinterested friendship versus the language of dating and companionship are not trivial ones in general for those who do struggle, often with great heroism themselves, with same-sex attraction.

      • Mark Shea

        Erin: Read the links to Barefoot and Pregnant. I’m not saying every person should put themselves in a situation where heroic virtue is necessary. I am saying that sometimes people wind up in such situations for a variety of reasons and we should not declare them to be dallying with sin lightly. There are times when what would be temptation for one person is the right thing for another person to do.

        • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

          Mark, I have read these links, and I respect the Church’s wisdom as voiced by her priests who counsel couples in these difficult situations, especially when children are present (which seems to me to add a whole level of difficulty and need for pastoral wisdom to the situations). My only point is that we must take care not to demoralize those who are living heroic chastity by acting as though it’s fine for *some* people (but not them) to “keep company” when they can’t marry, or by scolding as grave sinners those who are scandalized by…well, by scandalous things.

          Again: this is not about Mr. Lorenzo’s particular situation about which I know less than nothing and desire to know less again. I wish only to strike a cautionary note to the effect that caring about the moral law is not always and everywhere the same thing as unjustly judging the situations of individuals.

          • Mark Shea

            Well, yes and no. The thing is, it really is the case that some people *can* ‘keep company” and not endanger their chastity while others cannot. It depends on the people involved. I agree that caring about the moral law is not wrong. But how we live the moral law can by highly flexible. So while the moral law forbids drunkenness, it does not have any hard and fast rules about going into bars. For some, that would be a grave sin because they have a weakness to alcohol and are placing themselves in harm’s way, while for me I could go into a bar every day for the rest of my life with no sin at all–because I don’t much care for alcohol. Some people likewise find sexual temperance much easier than others.

            • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

              I see what you’re saying. I think that the books I referred to used “keep company” as a euphemism for dating someone, just as you would if you were going to marry–except that they were referring as well to those who could not. So, it’s fine for a young couple who have no impediments to marriage to “keep company” so long as marriage is the goal, but not fine for a married man to “keep company” with his secretary. The notion would be that by taking the secretary out for romantic dinners, seeing movies and plays with her, and otherwise being in her exclusive company the man is already doing wrong. I suppose he could simply be a chivalrous-minded and wholly chaste person who selflessly wishes to augment his secretary’s social life and has his wife’s approval and blessing in doing so, but alas, he’s not really doing her any favors regardless of his altruistic motives.

              How this plays out for others who can’t marry, including those with SSA, those in valid marriages who for whatever reason no longer live with their spouses, etc. is tricky, I suppose. I think that at the least we might agree that regardless of someone’s own committment to chastity it’s rather imprudent for someone to date a person he or she can’t marry, whether that person is of the same gender, or an “off-limits” opposite-gendered person (a sibling, one’s pastor, the husband or wife of one’s friend, etc.), and so on.

  • Beccolina

    Thank you so much for the link to Barefoot and Pregnant. My 19-yr old stepdaughter is pregnant out of wedlock, a situation which has sent me to my knees more than anything in my life. The post you linked to brought me to tears because it was one of the most hopeful I have run across. For the first time in a long time, some of that horrid fear for my daughter’s soul, for her child, for whether or not she could be in any way a responsible parent, eased. It really was an answer to prayers. Thank you, thank you.

  • http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/ Nick

    The system keeps accusing my post of being spam, so I sent an email.

  • kenneth

    I’m not the least bit surprised you were lambasted the way you were. I could have forecast that backlash to a fair degree of mathematical precision had I been an editor of some sort prior to the post going live. As you well know, much of what used to be conservatism, including culture war Catholicism, is not about defending points of doctrine from higher authorities people happen to respect. It’s a reactionary movement in which some people appoint themselves the Last True Guardians of a cause and undertake to enforce their own ever-tightening sense of orthodoxy.

    It happens in every single political and cultural and religious movement in history whenever a group of people has the wrong mix of legitimate grievance, power and utter lack of outside accountability. It happens at all ends of the political spectrum. One of the unmistakable hallmarks of it is that the orthodoxy of thought and word becomes so stringent that the movement turns on its own and the drop of a pin. You’ve seen it with that Voris character and some of those cult-figure priests and for that matter, the French Revolution. At some point, the drive for absolute ideological purity turns most harshly on those who share the core beliefs, in this case about homosexuality. Any mere whiff of deviation from the party line, any attempt at nuance or independent thinking becomes a mortal threat to the cause. It becomes evidence that you are a traitor and a sleeper agent for THEM (whoever them happens to be to that movement).

    Your own nuanced thinking on the issue was seen as an intolerable act of subversion. You will see that noose continue to tighten. Soon, you’ll see conservative Christian writers lambasted not only for not parroting the entire party line, but for not jumping fast enough into the fray or not kicking hard enough for the leader’s satisfaction. Ironically, in the last stage of this disease, the very act of agreeing with the party line will itself make you suspect. As with Stalin’s inner circle, the appearance of TOO much loyalty or support could only mean that you were actually just a very clever sleeper agent for them….

    • Mark Shea

      And yet you utterly fail to account for all the positive feedback from the orthodox catholics in this very thread, several of them SSA themselves. You simply ignore it. And, most of all, you ignore Perry’s witness. Doesn’t fit your playbook.

      • kenneth

        I never said all orthodox Catholics are like this. Actually some number of them are probably not Catholics at all. In any case, there are clearly enough of them that you were a bit shocked to see yourself cast as a virtual traitor to orthodoxy. It’s really not a good sign for the health or sanity of a movement when any significant portion of it can read your work and then accuse you of being a gay activist! I also should reinforce that this unhealthy phenomenon is in no way unique to Catholicism. We see this ugliness as well on pagan forums, where people who don’t conform to some party line being accused of being “closet evangelicals”.

        • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com/ Peter Sean Bradley

          Kenneth,

          Nice theory; just make sure that you filter all of your observations and conclusions through it.

          My anecdote above illustrates something quite the contrary. The woman I was interacting with was nothing more than a typical, secularist, kinda-sorta agnostic cum lacksadaisical cultural Christian. She didn’t have any particular axe to grind. But her world – the world of most people in some areas – is very much an either/or proposition. One is either homos*xual or one is heteros*xual. The idea of a chaste heteros*xual, or of a chaste homos*xual, is an oxymoron.

          Likewise, for a lot of Mark’s critics, one either buys into the homos*xual project tout court – same sex marriage, tolerance of homosexual activity – or one opposes homos*xuality tout court – even where the homos*xual is chaste. People – including real people, not just the internet variety – are pretty bad at thinking generally, and, therefore, very bad at this thing called “nuance.”

          This may be a matter of democracy and the need to motivate enough people to support or oppose a position. Things that are political can’t be good or bad prudentially; they must be good or bad existentially. How else are we going to get enough people to the polls to support our side’s positions?

          Voting is either a cultivated habit of reason, or its the cathartic release of emotion. Habit is hard to cultivate, and it seems that we stopped trying decades ago.

          And, thus, we get into the phenomenon of demonization of our opponents and petty tribalism.

  • Sean O

    Good post Mark.

    Your position on homosexuality is an honorable and fair one. You support the Catholic Church’s position and encourage homosexuals & heterosexuals to live their lives in accordance with the Church’s moral principles without making it your job to condemn, harass or judge them. This seems to be the loving attitude Christ espoused toward all people without condoning sinful behavior. Witch hunting can never be a Christian duty.

    The vitriol on both sides of the issue is alarming, both the gay-activist, “you will celebrate my lifestyle”, brownshirts and the angry, aggressive, “you are a terrible sinner bound for hell”, morality police are so haughty and smug in their righteousness. This has to be the hard heartedness the bible speaks of.

    This hardness of heart, this self assured arrogance and resistance to listening and learning are at the root of so much gridlock we experiences on all manner of issues from sexual morality to engaging in wars to fairness in our economic system.

    Keep up the lonely job of being a voice of reason, common sense and moderation.

    PS. Love C.S. Lewis advising to refrain from offering cheap advice or platitudes on things you don’t deal with or have any true knowledge of. We are truly AWASH these days in Cheap Advice. It is the fount of talk radio and political speeches.

    • Therese Z

      I’m not sure you are describing my vitriol fairly.

      You say “The vitriol on both sides of the issue is alarming, both the gay-activist, “you will celebrate my lifestyle”, brownshirts and the angry, aggressive, “you are a terrible sinner bound for hell”, morality police are so haughty and smug in their righteousness.” I can’t think of a single fellow Catholic who would ever say “You are a terrible sinner bound for hell” to someone with SSA. But respond vigorously and write letters and contact congresspeople and argue in comboxes, yes – but the words are “Get this stuff away from my children! Don’t teach it in schools, don’t play it in commercials, don’t parade by on the street. Please, take it out their reach, do not mention it to them. I will be the one who explains sexuality to them.”

      That’s a fair description of the vitriol I tend to feel.

      • bob

        You do good vitriol. I shouldn’t have to worry about the traffic in Seattle on certain weekends (typically a Sunday too, no accident) when a parade including mostly nude people is being celebrated. There is “that” one of course, then also the all too frequent parades of people naked for the heck of it on bicycles for no apparent reason.

  • Joseph

    Hey Mark,

    Been I while since I’ve posted a comment on your blog (too busy these days), but felt compelled to do so here. You echo my sentiments exactly, and I’m not saying that just to get a free membership to the Apple Store cult or to become a member of the Starbucks Elite club… I’m saying it because what you’ve written here is true.

  • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com/ Peter Sean Bradley

    For what it’s worth, I’m getting the “spammy message” also, which is why I’m “bowderizing” words with s*x in them.

  • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com/ Peter Sean Bradley

    “bowdlerizing,” not “bowderizing.”

    *Sheesh*

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    I’ve also gotten the spam message.

  • Student of G.K. Chesterton

    When say they don’t want you to know their business, and at-the-same-time with them telling you exactly what is their business, falls into the pool of non-sense. Most strangely of all, the ally to every person’s dignity to which no person along with their affairs ought to be a spectacle for any purpose of law or to anyone’s satisfaction, is the Church. And more so being the most sorrowful and saddening showdown of all, is the opposition, who do the soopy-shuffle of MYOB followed by the exclamation “here is my own business”, have really given leverage to the exact extreme. In other words, they’re really supporting the most harshest and cruelest form of condemnation (the exact opposite occurs. You will have rise of cruelst moralists – a secular puritan movement.)

  • http://confederatepapist.blogspot.com/ Confederate Papist

    Mark. This has been a learning experience for all.

    I have known men who were SSA and chaste. Any time a man or a woman, regardless of orientation, chooses a chaste life, they should be commended and supported and prayed for.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    FWIW, I’m still thinking on this.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    FWIW, I’m still thinking on this issue.

    • ds

      How about now? Still thinking?

  • Barbara B.

    Thank you for introducing me to Perry Lorenzo through your column. He sounds like someone I would have enjoyed knowing. I appreciate what you wrote, Mark.

  • Joe

    The people who oppose you on this issue are puritans. And remember what Chesterton said about puritanism: “Puritanism is heaping moral indignation on the wrong things” (or something to that effect).

  • Andrew

    Mark,

    “So while the moral law forbids drunkenness, it does not have any hard and fast rules about going into bars.”

    Is the very desire to drink intrinsically disordered? Your analogy doesn’t work here, Mark.

    I will assume you agree with this statement from the CDF:

    “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

    Do you see, considering the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual desire, why the Catechism emphasizes the importance of “disinterested” friendship, and can you understand my and Erin’s point that entering into a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex (even without genital activity) would be indulging this disordered attraction in a relationship which is aping the divinely ordained male-female relationship but denying the complementarity of the sexes intrinsic to it? I don’t think it is healthy, and it presents a danger for the vast majority of those attempting it. I’m not saying that a spiritual director can’t work on slowly transitioning such relationships into something more akin to brotherhood, but I don’t think it’s helpful to view such relationships in romantic terms. Not with a desire which (according to the Church) is full-stop intrinsically disordered.

    And the use of the word “gay” is most unhelpful, I think. Secular society has coined and defined and owned that term, and IMO it is a disservice to use it on people like Lorenzo—and me. (For the record, I’ve been in one of these “chaste romances”. But I didn’t learn to grow to relate to other men, especially men I happen to be attracted to, in a healthier way until I started actually taking seriously the Church’s understanding of these feelings and stopped trying to indulge them without “going all the way”—or stopping at second base, or first base: where do you draw the chastity line in a relationship based on a “tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil?).

    This “gay” language is out of control, and it is why so many are anachronistically saying that people like Bl. John Henry Newnan and Ambrose St. John were “gay”. They had a companionship of great intimacy, but they would be perplexed at the idea that they had their first “date” at Mass and at the use of other language to describe their relationship as something akin to a boyfriend and girlfriend.

    Minimize the Eros (even if it isn’t taken to its consummation) and maximize the Philia.

    Sorry for the length of this. And thanks, Erin, for your spiritual support. And Mark, thank you for your good faith here.

  • Gordon Zaft

    Thanks Mark. Beautifully written and I couldn’t agree more!

  • Robert

    As a g*y and faithful Catholic, I tip my proverbial hat to you, Mr. Shea.

    • ds

      So you’re ok with just being celibate for the duration?

      • Thomas R

        In my case, although I’m not fully “gay”, I’m okay with celibacy for life. Full “chastity” might be a tad more difficulty for me, in that I don’t think I’ve managed it yet, but I intend to be celibate for life.

  • A Friend

    If one finds that one cannot avoid mortal sin in a given situation, one must change that situation. It is never acceptable to simply persist in mortal sin, giving onesself a “grace period” in which mortal sin is deemed acceptable as some sort of “gentle” transition. No.

    But I imagine the “living together as brother and sister” (or, er, brother and brother) thing works far more often than most people realize. The notion that one must be a heroic saint of heroic virtue to even approach avoiding sexual sin is a false conceit of the post-sexual-revolution generation.

  • Raphael Walker

    One problem with the ‘santo subito, because I know he was chaste, even though I insist that even if he wasn’t it doesn’t matter’ is that a chaste, and, as you effuse, gay man, who is ‘survived’ by his longtime uhroommate with whom he went on uhdates and what played uhdressup games as monks and whatever else is intended to be conveyed by the surviving boyfriend, is that a saintly gay guy would have realized that his boyfriend’s appetites and understanding were sufficiently disordered that both scandal and the occasion of sin were intrinsic to his live-in wannabechaste dealio, and that the tough but firm and loving thing to do would have been to live alone, or with a non-gay friend from the opera community. In any event, stripping out the implicit ribaldry of the obituary’s language and sticking simply to presumed facts, it seems likely that the original post and its subsequent apologiae are just smidgily less on the side of provocation for the sake of education than on the side of provocation for the sake of being provoking. Perhaps life as a pro blogger does not offer the occasion for reflection upon one’s own true open and hidden motivations; nor when one feels himself attacked on all sides can it be easy to pause from defending oneself long enough to ponder the wisdom, the consequences, and the justice of one’s posts. This is probably one of those times when one should make the time.

    • Mark Shea

      Since I don’t know if they lived together, how do you know? What your remarks boil down to is that you object to extending a charitable benefit of the doubt, because he was gay. Never mind that there is zero evidence that he rejected chastity and plentiful evidence that he accepted the Church’s teaching in full. Thanks for being so much more holy than the Church.

      • Meerkat

        Even if they didn’t live together but hung out a lot, the point remains. You are way over-reliant on this “how do you know they lived together? Cuz I don’t!” meme. It’s weak.

        • Mark Shea

          In other words, despite his clear and full-throated acceptance of the Church’s teaching without dissent, you insist on assuming he was somehow in grave sin, despite the lack of evidence. No wonder some gay people assume there is no place even for chaste gays in the Church.

  • Observer

    The truth is – in a secular puritan perspective – temptation is to be banned. You cannot think, nor consider, nor have the desire to do something disordered. What is most interesting is now behavioral psychology is the new morality. Because, psychology is the study of what a man thinks or says (or even considers.) Thus, the direction of the whole dilemma pursuits eradicating a man’s thoughts (and his will to think all for the sake of morality.)

    Can you imagine how Chesterton would be a subject of trib’unalist judges? Someone could take a mystery of Fr. Brown and pursuit to accuse Chesterton speaking in the second person describing his own thoughts. You could call it Chesterton and Sir Conan Doyle on on Trial. A man is not allowed to inquiry and to think (even how disordered or morbid his thoughts might go or be on a given subject.) People, for most part do this – often confronting temptation. People will often consider all kinds of ramifications and satisfactions to their desires. People are people (and have the will to think – and often do.)

    Shall a man literally be called into trial for the mere slip of a tongue (and even thinking) saying he’d like to hit someone over the head? Should every moment and act of behavior have justice weigh in on every manner and every account someone says or does something? How barbaric.

  • Lisa

    Mark, this short article by Thomas Howard that I will link below is a model for writing about sin, death and mercy in a Catholic context. Not declaring anyone – a friend, acquaintance, wife, child – a “saint” and then spending days going through their personal lives with a fine-tooth comb to either prove or disprove our point (all the while mewing, “It’s none of my business! Really! But read the next blog post I’ll publish on what’s-not-my-business!”) .

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/04/two-deaths

    It might give you chills. It did me.

  • Fiat Voluntas Tua

    Dear Mark,
    I came across your posts about Mr. Lorenzo yesterday. While I initially was a bit scandalized that a well-known Catholic apologist like you who I’ve even seen on EWTN would carelessly make the decision to post about Mr. Lorenzo in the manner you did, I was more disturbed by your refusal to admit this mistake and by your bullying and angry responses to those who questioned your prudence.

    I was not going to get into the muck and post something because most everything has been said (much better than I could too) plus, I did not care to be subjected to your bullying. But then I went to Mass today and it was the feast of the Apparition of St. Michael (on the old calendar). I thought of you when I read the Gospel and I prayed for you. These are not my words of course, they are from our Lord Jesus Christ from St. Matthew’s Gospel:

    “…but he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals: for it must needs be that scandals come; but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh. And if thy hand, or thy foot, scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out , and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”

    Mark, if you cannot admit that your posts about Mr. Lorenzo caused some scandal, then maybe it is time to step away from the Catholic blogging world and reevaluate why you are doing it and who you are serving. Are you sincerely promoting Holy Mother Church or have you gotten a little off-track?

    Sincere prayers to you and your readers,
    Erin

    • Observer

      I believe he would be making the same defense of Mary Magdalene who lived with the Apostles. You would have speculation from pharisee’s, no doubt, who would dive into her life and making the statement, “She is now living with men. Afterall, she led a life with men before….Wait..what’s this? There’s a disciple of The Way having pronounced defenses and explanationos chastity turning away from an unchaste life, now living with men? How absurd. He needs to be stoned or recant his statements.”

  • WesleyD

    Although it is true that Catholics should generally avoid giving scandal, it’s important to put this in perspective. If you are a Catholic who has a solid level of self-discipline — you know exactly what your limits are (with regard to sex, gossip, alcohol abuse, gluttony, grudges, and all the other occasions of sin) — and are therefore avoiding serious sin at all times, then on top of that, you definitely should try to avoid giving scandal.

    But many of us are spending a LOT of energy avoiding serious sin: whether that is gossip (every time one of my bosses comes up in conversation, I begin bad-mouthing him no matter how many times I have confessed this sin!), looking at pornography on the internet (how many times have I said “Celebrity X just did a new nude photo shoot — of course I will avoid lust, but I will look at it just out of CURIOSITY!”), or general despair (why should I bother to get out of bed in the morning). You folks who avoid all these sins don’t know how great you have it. Sadly, folks like me are struggling just to avoid the mortal sins, and I’m sorry, but if I succeed in going a week or a month without falling into a serious sin, then I simply cannot worry too much about whether some person I don’t even know might be scandalized because of how they misinterpreted something I did.

    Take a concrete example: Suppose you and your girlfriend want to be chaste but are struggling. One night you stay too late, and you’re too tired to drive. So you both agree you have to sleep on the couch. But things go too far, and you ALMOST cross that line — and then both of you turn to God and by His grace you avoid sin. The next day, relieved, you drive home. Would you welcome a fellow Christian telling you that rather than thanking God for having avoided sin, you should hang your head in shame because you spent the night at her apartment, and her next-door-neighbor might assume you had sex, and this is giving scandal?

    • Sal

      I think you may have missed the point.
      If,in your concrete example, you and your girlfriend struggle with chastity, then your problem is not avoiding giving scandal, it’s avoiding falling into serious sin.Which you accomplish by not putting yourself in the near occasion of sin. Like being alone in her apartment. At any time.Stringent? Yes.
      How serious are you about not sinning? See, it’s two-fer. Not only do you not almost sin, you also avoid giving scandal.

      • WesleyD

        You are correct that in my (hypothetical) example, staying overnight in my girlfriend’s apartment would be a near-occasion of sin, and therefore should have been avoided. And in fact that is made clear from my description of what followed in this hypothetical scenario.

        But when you say I am “missing the point”, I believe you are making the following argument: The man whom Mark Shea knew (but you and I never met) was in a near-occasion of sin by staying in the same apartment with another man he cared a lot about. This is quite plausible, but neither you nor I know whether this is true. If it was indeed true, then I agree that this man should have avoided such situations. If it was not true, then there is no near occasion of sin. (Many priests have female maids and housekeepers and yet do not fall into sin with them!) That’s why I focused on the issue of giving scandal, which seems to be the primary issue for many of the people who commented on Mark’s blog.

  • Andrew

    Since this question of whether they were live-in boyfriends keeps getting debated over and over, I decided to take less than 5 minutes to find out. For what it’s worth, they are listed at the same address.

    • Mark Shea

      It’s important to check up on these things.

      • Chad

        LOL. Funny that the new “Black Sheep Dog” (Mr. Shea) didn’t do this himself. You know…since it’s “important to check up on these things” and all. :) O wait…it’s “important to check”…but it’s none of his business at the same time. Got it.

        • Mark Shea

          I was speaking tongue in cheek. I don’t think it’s anybody’s business to check up on this.

          “new Black sheep dog”? Seriously?

  • Andrew

    I noticed that Paul Hearne, Lorenzo’s boyfriend, donated money to the great St. Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, England, in honor of Lorenzo.

    Good for him!

  • Chad

    Mark wrote: “The guy was an apostle to the gay community. And, as far as I can tell, he did it without editing the faith in any way, demonstrating that you could be gay, fulfilled, and an orthodox Catholic all at once.”

    This statement of Mark’s is beyond the pale. I think it is time to bring Mr. Shea before a canonical trial. After today, how is Mr. Shea any different than Nancy Pelosi? Mr. Shea has brazenly and unrepentantly proclaimed that a person can be both gay and orthodox. That Mr. Shea adds the word “fulfilled” is evidence that he is judging the sodomite in question’s interior disposition. We don’t know that he was fulfilled. So
    while Mr. Shea cannot dream to guess whether or not Perry was living celibate or not, he dives head-first into the waters of supposition when it comes to assuming that he was indeed “fulfilled.”

    • Mark Shea

      You seem illiterate. By “gay” I mean, of course, same sex attracted and chaste. Good luck with the canonical trial, Grand Inquisitor.

  • Chad

    Mark wrote: “Did he ever fail in chastity? Don’t know. Don’t care. Not my business. King David certainly failed and in ways that were spectacularly worse.”

    First, claiming that David was a worse sinner than a sodomite is quite a statement. One which I would shudder to make.

    Second, this sick defense of not know or caring whether someone has fallen or not should be laid to rest once and for all. If two people of the opposite sex are cohabitating, we rightly assume that they are sleeping together. The only way a person can avoid the appearance of this sin is to move out. The same goes for homos…and even more so since their vice is against nature.

    God save us all from the likes of Mr. Shea and his peanut gallery apologetics. What he probably doesn’t realize is that he’s made himself the new “Black Sheep Dog.”

    • Mark Shea

      Good to hear that resounding defense of murder and adultery. And no, you do not rightly assume they are unchaste. You sinfully assume it. But, of course, your real point here is that you are angry because I was right about your folk hero Fr. Corapi and now you are willing to latch on to this contretemps as an exceeding lame form of vengeance.

  • Mary

    Why do you feel the need to revisit all of this? In any event, we all should care if someone is living chastely before we canonize them. Saying the man did wonderful things is commendable but becoming defensive when people question your judgment is not. No one here should be judging anyone’s eternal destination. What made me so uncomfortable personally was your comment that Mr. Lorenzo is a saint and that you don’t care if he lived chastely or not. You should care and so should all of us. That you have difficulty in accepting what I see as justifiable criticism without becoming hostile and sarcastic is problematic. Don’t you think someone in your position should respond with more Christian charity? I do.

  • Fr. David Abernethy, C.O.

    In some ways, I believe you never addressed my thoughts on your previous post about your approach to this subject. For that reason, I’m reposting my thoughts here. I’m not in the habit of commenting at all on blogs, but I have noticed a definite tone in this post and your response to peoples’ comments that you attribute to poor “linguistic choice.” It is for this reason that I had written and have now reposted my comments. The nature of public discourse has become more and more unapologetically provocative and that goes for Catholic bloggers as well. While not hesitating to address any of these important issues that you have raised, it seems that a higher standard should exist in HOW they are approached, how information is used and the response from others that we at times unknowingly seek.

    Here is the record of our previous “discussion”:

    Mark,

    If nothing was known about living arrangements, that the article said nothing of anything, then why personally canonize the man and use him as an example other than to be provocative (for the sake of being provocative) and emotionally and intellectually manipulate your readers. It seems you could have written something far more clear and helpful without using this man’s personal life to do so. Things such as scandal and avoiding near occasions of sin do make details about a living arrangements pretty important in my eyes – whether one is speaking about heterosexuals or homosexuals. You used the ambiguity of the situation and the lack of specific knowledge to your own advantage for the sake of making a moral argument.

    Reply
    Mark Shea says:
    May 9, 2012 at 9:30 am
    Because I knew the man and he was a very good man who proclaimed the Catholic faith without editing it and was obviously dedicated to being a disciple of Jesus. I had and have no reason to think him unchaste.

    Reply
    Fr. David Abernethy, C.O. says:
    May 9, 2012 at 10:15 am
    Mark,

    You are missing the point. I have no reason to think him unchaste either. I’m saying that what you wrote and how you wrote it was unnecessarily provocative (perhaps not intentionally so) precisely because the circumstances are so ambiguous and the specific details unknown. You are making a personal judgment (which of course is your right and may indeed be absolutely true) about someone and their sanctity that no one else knows certain specifics about that would have a bearing on the moral realities being discussed and their ability to make such a judgment or share your judgment. I find that, as I said, a bit emotionally and intellectually manipulative of your readers and puts you in the position of striking down their concerns or objections from a personal vantage point in which they cannot possibly share. I believe everything discussed in the posts is important and necessary. It is in this case your approach that I take umbrage with for the above reasons. As a priest I certainly talk to and counsel a lot of people where orientation and gender identity issues are central and being able to explore them openly and honestly in light of their spiritual life and pursuit of holiness is very important and as someone psychoanalytically trained I think I realize the complexity and delicacy necessary in doing so. Perhaps that made me sensitive to the apparent indelicacy of your public spiritual and moral “case” study.

  • Paul Long

    Dear Mr. Shea,
    Unfortunately i heard about this arguement on an unneccessary parody on Rorate Caeli.
    There, and in these posts, many people seem to suggest that we should assume he is guilty. A homily i recently heard (at FSSP chapel) was about how we should always strive to see the best and even make excuses for people(though, of course, not lie to ourselves or others). For example, it seems that it is best to assume that these “monks in love” are rather like Cardinal Newman, and his supposed lover, or countless other close friends. I think I can do this easily enough.
    As well, I can see him being an excellent example for the Gay community, we have unfortunatly few good role models for them, I cannot think of any saints known to have SSA, though some I think are falsly associated with it (St. Sebastian for example.)
    I see a problem though in your attitude ” I DONT CARE” “ITS. NONE. OF. MY. BUSINESS” etc.
    I will give you another example, entirely made up, it matches no priests I know in any way- but it is plausible.

    Imagine a priest, a good man who you’ve met many times. He loves children. He teaches at schools. He is involved with youth and altarservers. He established a play-ground on his front yard so neighbourhood kids have somewhere to play. Children often come and visit him.
    One day he is accused of pediphilia… or there is a general hint of accusation of pediphilia.
    In all charity to him we should assume he is innocent (until proven guilty). All of these other things can easily be explained as genuine love of children, and it is disgusting to assume otherwise – despite how too common it is.
    His character should be defended from baseless accusations. But to declare ” I dont know” or “I dont care” BUT HE IS STILL A GREAT MAN does NO service to anybody.
    I genuinly hope your friend is a good a man as you say he is, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. But if you hope to set someone up as a role model, then it should be ensured he is one.

    You mentioned that people often use the term “saint” in daily life, that is well, and is even biblical. But it should not be loosely thrown around to become meaningless as calling someone “Christian” is used to mean “nice”.
    I will say a prayer for your friend, for you, and your enemies, as well as for the gay community.
    I wish you greater prudence, and wisdom.
    Paul


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