Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mark Shea, Deacon Greg Kandra and false compassion

Deacon Greg Kandra is impressed with Mark Shea's Blog post about Perry Lorenzo, a homosexual man who lived in the Seattle area.  According to Deacon Kandra, "Mark Shea tackled a tough subject with a kind of grace and compassion that couldn't help but leave me impressed."  Here's what Mark Shea wrote:

"One of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint was a gay guy who lived here in Seattle named Perry Lorenzo. You can get something of a sense of the man from his blog. Dunno if he was celibate or not and, frankly, regard it as none of my business. All I know is that the guy was clearly a man who loved Jesus, loved his Catholic faith, and taught a huge number of people about it, both gay and straight, in a way that was immensely attractive and uplifting for everybody who encountered him. He was also one of the most learned people I have ever met and a profoundly humble man. He was, for many years, the director of education for the Seattle Opera. Had a brilliant knack for speaking the Catholic tradition to the cultured despisers of tradition here in Seattle. His funeral, which he planned himself as he was dying, was one of the most beautiful and Christ-centered liturgies I’ve ever experienced. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if half the congregation was not Catholic: a testament to his greatness.

Some Catholics (and some of my gay readers) will probably be surprised to hear that I’m not interested in whether or not he was celibate. Not my business. That’s between him and God. (I had a reader write me in some degree of scandal after I posted on his death because he apparently had a partner he lived with. If memory serves, I expressed to my reader a deep lack of interest in that fact since a) Not. My. Business and b) merely living with his partner is not proof of anything anyway, either about his relationship with his partner, nor about his relationship with God.

So do I contradict myself, since it’s not a secret that I agree with the Church that homosexual acts are sinful. I don’t see how. If Perry was an active homosexual, it’s none of my business and certainly not mine to judge. After all, I also agree with the Church that my own acts of gluttony are sinful and even gravely so. But I don’t believe God has abandoned or rejected me and I trust his grace to help me slowly become conformed to Christ, so why should I believe for a second that somebody like Perry, who manifested such abundant and beautiful fruits of the Spirit was not pleasing to God and was not doing his best to strive for God? On the contrary, I regard him as a role model and greatly admire his deep, generous and true faith. I hope he prays for the Church in Seattle and I think he is (not was, God rest his soul) one of the great ornaments of the Church."

Mark Shea's argument that it is none of his [and by extension, none of our) business whether a man who professed to be Catholic was an active homosexual or not is specious.  On the surface it might seem charitable or compassionate to some.  But at its root, it is nonsense.  Although the privacy of a person's home is indeed sacred, it is not absolute.  Granted that the scandal of an evil act [such as a homosexual act] is greatly compounded when it is done in public.  But the same evil act does not become a good act simply because it is performed in private.  Its evil nature remains unchanged.  If a man is sexually abusing children within the privacy of his own home, does Mr. Shea take the attitude that it's none of his business?

Although homosexual acts are graver when they are public or manifest, these acts continue to be "intrinsically evil" when done in private.  This is the teaching of Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor: "If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it.  They remain 'irremediably' evil acts per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person" (Veritatis Splendor, No. 81).

When Mr. Shea writes, "If Perry was an active homosexual, it’s none of my business and certainly not mine to judge," again this might appear on the surface to be the Christian attitude.  But, as Dr. Germain Grisez explains, while "Vatican II neatly formulates the prohibition against judging others: 'God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason he forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone'..This norm..does not preclude judgments necessary for determining that one should try to dissuade others from committing sins or to encourage them to repent if they have sinned...the responsibility, stated precisely, is not to admonish sinners, but to admonish those who seem to be sinning.  To evade this responsibility on the ground that one cannot fulfill it without being judgmental is to rationalize indifference and cowardice, rooted in the inadequacy of love of neighbor." (Citing Gaudium et Spes, No. 28).

Mark Shea is advancing a false idea of compassion.  True compassion, as Thomas Aquinas tells us, is an effect of charity (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 25, a. 6, ad 4).  But the object of this virtue is God, whose love extends to creatures (St., II-II, q. 25, a. 3).  Thus the virtue of compassion seeks to bring God to the one who is suffering so that he may participate in God's infinite love.  As Saint Augustine explains, "'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'  Now, you love yourself suitably when you love God better than yourself.  What, then, you aim at in yourself you must aim at in your neighbor, namely, that he may love God with a perfect affection." (Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, No. 49).

Obviously, none of us has the right to judge Perry Lorenzo's internal guilt.  For as Gaudium et Spes emphasizes, "God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts."  But for this same reason, none of us has the right to declare Perry Lorenzo a saint.  The fact that Mr. Lorenzo was openly homosexual and was known to have lived with another man is a matter of serious concern not to mention a source of scandal.

I would pray for Mr. Lorenzo's soul.  But to declare him a saint is imprudent.


  1. Shea asserts, "One of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint was a gay guy who lived here in Seattle." Interesting. With all of the great Popes and Saints and Fathers and Doctors of the Church we've had, Shea most admires a "gay guy" [interesting how he buys into the use of the word "gay" instead of using homosexual] who lived with another man.

    We all have our models.

  2. Anonymous7:09 AM

    It is a mark of shame on the Church in the United States that Mark Shea has the voice, the platform, he does to spread such nonsense.


  3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was solemnly promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992, teaches that there are explicit kinds of human acts, specified by the object of moral choice, which are always morally wrong because a willingness to choose an object of this kind demonstrates a disordered will (i.e., moral evil).

    The Catechism explains that, "A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting 'in order to be seen by men'). The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts - such as fornication - that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil." (1755).

    The same Catechism identifies various kinds of intrinsically evil acts, proscribed by absolute norms. For example, the intentional killing of the innocent (2273), specific examples of which are infanticide (2268) abortion (2273) and mercy killing or euthanasia (2277); masturbation (2352), fornication (2353) adultery (2380-2381) and homosexual acts (2357).

  4. Samantha7:38 AM

    The obituary for Perry Lorenzo in The Seattle Times says: "Paul Hearn of Seattle, Mr. Lorenzo's longtime companion, said they met when Mr. Lorenzo gave a lecture at the University of Washington 13 years ago. Though Hearn was not Catholic, their first date was to St. James, he said.

    Hearn said Mr. Lorenzo brought him to the Catholic Church and broadened his appreciation of opera.

    The two would pray together and do morning liturgies. 'We were monks in love,' he said."

    Monks in love? What does that even mean? Two men living together who claimed to be "monks in love," and we're supposed to believe the relationship was purely an expression of agape love?

    Is Shea that naive? This represents a huge scandal. What good is it to bring someone to the Church if you are engaging in a homosexual relationship with that person?

    Odd. Just odd.

  5. Anonymous8:23 AM

    The "gospel" according to salt n pepa:

    So Shea is saying that one can even engage in homosexual sex and still be a saint?

    I am confused.

  6. Derek9:40 AM

    Let's see, Shea says "Dunno if he was celibate or not and, frankly, regard it as none of my business.." but he nevertheless claims Lorenzo was "very likely" a Saint.


    This is demonic.

  7. In one of his last homilies, Archbishop Oscar Romero, the martyred Archbishop of San Salvador, said: "A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good so that they become entrenched in their sinful state, betrays the gospel's call. A preaching that does not discomfit sinners but lulls them in their sin leaves Zebulun and Naphtali in the shadow of death. A preaching that awakens, a preaching that enlightens -- as when a light turned on awakens and of course annoys a sleeper -- that is the preaching of Christ, calling, 'wake up! Be converted!' this is the church's authentic preaching. Naturally, such preaching must meet conflict, must spoil what is miscalled prestige, must disturb, must be persecuted. It cannot get along with the powers of darkness and sin."

    But Shea is saying that if another Catholic appears to be living in grave sin (with a known homosexual inclination and living with another man), it isn't our concern.

    How unfortunate. Such an attitude leaves Zebulun and Naphtali in the shadow of death.

  8. Anonymous11:28 AM

    It would have been more prudent if Shea simply hadn't broached the subject. But to suggest that Mr. Lorenzo was most likely a saint is entirely inappropriate. It is scandalous.

  9. A man with a homosexual orientation is Mark Shea's role model? I would recommend Padre Pio instead. Or Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J., or St. Maximilian Kolbe.

    But Perry Lorenzo?

    Mark Shea....quo vadis?

  10. HolyCross201112:58 PM

    One thing that often gets lost in these discussions is that homosexual persons (as with heterosexual persons) not only sin by committing a sexual act (sodomy or fornication as the case may be) but also when they entertain sinful thoughts about a person of the same sex.

    We pray in the Confiteor:

    I confess to almighty God
    and to you, my brothers and sisters,
    that I have greatly sinned,
    in my thoughts and in my words,
    in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
    through my fault, through my fault,
    through my most grievous fault;
    therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
    all the Angels and Saints,
    and you, my brothers and sisters,
    to pray for me to the Lord our God

    Notice too how we pray for sins of omission "in what I have failed to do." By neglecting to witness to someone who is living in an apparent sinful lifestyle, we fail that person. To say that the person is none of our business is cold and uncharitable and very unChrist-like.

  11. Stewart2:30 PM

    Shea writes, "Dunno if he was celibate or not and, frankly, regard it as none of my business." Okay then Mr. Shea, not knowing whether he was celibate or engaging in homosexual acts, how then can you assert with confidence, "All I know is that the guy was clearly a man who loved Jesus, loved his Catholic faith.."

    How do you KNOW this with certainty? Can a man who is engaging in sodomy honestly be described as one who "loved Jesus and His Church?"

    Bottom line Mr. Shea: you don't know enough to comment on Mr. Lorenzo. So stop declaring him a saint.

  12. Another Catholic writer looks at Mark Shea's theological errors:

  13. Mark Shea said several years ago that homosexual acts ought be be decriminalized. Now he thinks a sodomite ought to be canonized.

  14. Anonymous10:47 AM

    Thank you. Exactly what I thought after reading Mark Shea's blog. Kris

  15. Anonymous7:07 PM

    "It is a mark of shame on the Church in the United States that Mark Shea has the voice, the platform, he does to spread such nonsense.


    So very true. Mark Shea and Deacon Greg are complete disgraces. The deacon should be removed from his position.

  16. Skeptico7:20 PM

    Is Mark Shea himself a sodomite?

  17. Anonymous9:15 PM

    Shea's writing is always tedious...he expends so much effort trying to be clever, but always winds up sounding weak. Why does this person have a job writng? Whos reads him?? The only reason I found this was from pewsitter.

  18. I agree with all of the comments posted so far. A smaller point regarding his statement "I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if half the congregation was not Catholic: a testament to his greatness." Why is it a testament to his "greatness" that half the congregation was not catholic ? Why was not the entire congregation catholic ? Mr. Shea just doesn't get the tough love perspective.

  19. Jonathan1:17 AM

    Because the Church Shea envisions will be devoid of that which makes it Catholic. It will be a humanitarian Church fashioned in the image and likeness of man.

  20. Anonymous8:04 AM

    What's of greater interest to me is the fact that Shea is known for nothing so much as his caustic, rancorous, sarcastic, downright hateful demeanor towards people who disagree with him even on minor subjects. He argues in bad faith, takes a needlessly offensive and accusatory tone towards people who object to most any little thing he says, and in general is among the biggest jerks you will ever encounter on the internet, which is really saying something. He makes presumptuous leaps of every kind when dealing with someone he doesn't actually know...and yet, he pretends not to know whether this man was celibate, and more than that, he pretends that it is not a scandal in and of itself that he lived with another man whom he considered a romantic "partner." He's ready to guess he's probably a saint, whereas a person who disagrees with him on the death penalty he will gladly accuse of all manner of moral and spiritual derangements.

    Shea is, frankly, demented. Go over to the Whats Wrong With the World weblog and Google his arguments there--the absolute ill will that he shows to people who are not only better men than he is, but brighter men as well, is enough to make you queasy. There is no amount a charity and gentleness that you can show him that will soften his approach, either. He reminds me of no one so much as Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs infamy, whose venomous attacks on even the most partial and uncertain dissenters in his combox are echoed instantly by his legions of sycophantic readers. That Shea has such a following among Catholics--and that they lack the most basic level of discernment necessary to see the spirit at work in his outrageously insulting rhetorical tactics--is a depressing thing in and of itself.

  21. Anonymous6:11 AM

    Shea really bombed out on this one. If there were many non-Catholics at the funeral it was probably because non-Catholics, including many Prostestant denominations, are accepting of a gay lifestyle and even have gay "priests" and "bishops." I don't see it as a "testimony to his greatness." Also, Shea tries to ignore the scandal of the "gay guy" living with his male friend. Obviously, this is similar to a single straight man living with a woman and not recognizing the scandal in that living arrangement.