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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Blind Leading The Blind

Over at Patheos, Deacon Greg Kandra praises Mark Shea's non-judgemental demeanor.
Mark had this to say about a friend of his who was, according to Mark, a sodomite:

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.... 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. ...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.
Of course, we all must be in accord with Scripture, and Scripture is quite clear on this. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Obviously, no. 

I am supposed to imitate Jesus, who never, ever said harsh things to anyone. Not a single soul. Jesus didn't judge anybody and He never will. Not for all eternity! Never!

As Mark implies, it's absolutely possible for someone to engage in homosexuality, adultery, incest, violent rape, but still be very Christ-centered. Heck, he could be a saint, even. Already canonized. In heaven. Praying for us. And for his victims, presumably, which just shows how generous the man is.

As one sterling Christian said, we can commit adultery or murder thousands of times each day, but as long as we have saving faith, we are saved! Of course, that same magnificent Christian was also fine with bigamy, but that's no big deal. Bigamy is a private matter. Not. My. Business.

How many people can identify the theological error Mark Shea engages in?
Deacon Kandra, go ahead and sit on your hands.
You clearly have nothing to contribute to this one.

Anyone else?
That's right! 
Mark has confused the grace of charism with the grace of sanctification!

You see, the grace of charism, or charismatic grace, is a grace intended for other people's salvation, not for my own. When God gives a special charismatic grace to someone, He intends that grace to be exercised for someone else's good.  And I can exercise that grace for someone else's good even if I am personally in a state of mortal sin.

So, let's say I have a charism of teaching. I can teach you about Christ very effectively, yet be engaged in the most monstrous soul-damning sins myself because the grace of the charism is external to my own salvation. It operates for YOUR salvation, not mine.

Sanctifying grace is quite a different matter. It assures MY salvation. 

So, I can appear to be Christ-centered through my charismatic grace, but unless I am actually Christ-centered through sanctifying grace, I still go to hell, even though my teaching was effective enough to get you to renounce your sins and allow you to enter heaven.

The Result
Now, when Mark says that this poor sodomite's personal sins are not his business, Mark is, of course, merely echoing Cain, who insisted that his brother's affairs were not his business either. 

Jesus didn't tell the adulterous woman that her sins were not His business. He told her that her sins were most definitely His business. And if we are co-workers with Christ, part of His body and sharers in His glory, then we also share in His ability to judge sin. Indeed, on the Last Day, we will even share in His ability to judge angels. 

To the extent that we close our eyes to someone else's lifestyle, or lay out the claim that this is Not. My. Business., then we reject our union with Christ and our duty to do Christ's work.

Objectively, it is sinful to hold that someone else's possibly sinful activity is Not. My. Business.  I can say  that I don't know what to do about helping him past those sins. I can say that, given his attitude, my pointing out the facts of heaven, hell, sin and damnation will likely be counter-productive, so he would be better off if I didn't. I can say I love him, but I hate his sins. But I can't say his sins are Not. My. Business. 

Sure, the state of the individual's soul is a matter between that individual and God.
No one but God can judge another person's soul.

But the action itself?
We are REQUIRED to judge the action. 

If I know my friend is an alcoholic, and I find out from a friend that he has a bottle of rum in his house, it is my duty to get involved in helping him get away from that situation. If I have a sodomite friend and he has a "partner" in his house, the same would apply.

So, Mark mistakes charism for sanctification, he mistakes judgement of soul for judgement of action, and he (ironically) canonizes someone who the Church herself has not got around to canonizing.  I say that last bit is ironical, because he actually does judge this poor sodomite's soul - he judges it sound enough to enter Heaven immediately, even though he himself says that the man's sins are Not. His. Business.  I believe that's called "willful blindness."

There was something about the blind leading the blind in Scripture, but I'm sure it's all good.
Right, Mark?

There's a nice summary of the Vatican II and Thomistic response to Mark here. 


Adrienne said...

Deacon Greg pats Mark Shea on the head. What else is new. It's why they blog at Patheos.

There was someone else I ran into today glorifying the words of Mark.

I wouldn't waste my time reading either of them or, for that matter, anyone at Patheos.

Ellen Wironken said...

Read Paul Melanson's post on this at La Salette Journey:


Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Mark Shea pronouncements on moral theology are becoming more and more bizarre. I strongly suspect a horrendous scandal will occur in the near future around Shea, and it will bring him down for good.

veneremurcernui said...

I was thinking much the same thing, including the alcohol/drug analogy. You beat me to posting, but great job.

I've never cared for any of the Patheos Catholics, except Scalia, who years ago was quite good but has gone increasingly downhill as she has increasingly sold out (my opinion only). But it appears that their participation there is rapidly accelerating the descent of all the writers involved. I saw Crescat say some really bizaare, emotional, immature things in a combox on a totally unrelated blog recently. Kendra is not even sensical at times. I get a dark vibe whenever I'm around that place.

Lynne said...

I love this blog. I don't have to wonder what you meant what you say something...

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Lynne's right. Even when we disagree, at least I know what you're trying to get across.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

I've noticed in the past when someone has criticized Mark Shea's actions or words, he has always resorted to this little catchphrase in his defense: It's almost as if he/she can read my soul. The implied meaning of this so-called defense is that you don't know what's deep in my heart. No, but when someone uses vile, abusive langauge to rip another person to shreds, and goes out of his way to destroy another man's reputation (Mike Voris) because that man doesn't agree with your one man magisterium on some issue, you can pretty well know what's in the heart by what comes out of the mouth. Frankly, what has come out of Mark's mouth in the pat has always been tripe. But now, he has gone from tripe to saying an unrepentant sodomite is a virtual saint. Mark is right that we can't read his soul, but we should wonder, after reading his elegy to a fairy, what's really in there?

Magdalene said...

Mark Shea is no theologian.

No active sodomite will ever be canonized no matter how nice they are are.

I have met Mark. I do not read his blog.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

"Mark Shea is no theologian." Sometimes I wonder if he's even a Catholic!

DB said...

Fine work and insights, Steve.

You and others might also be interested in my latest blog post for related material and insights that dovetails in quite nicely with your post:

God Bless!


Kevin said...

You know, I have no clue about any of this situation. I really don't know who the players are.

Yet when I see this, I think "why not just say you appreciate the good things he did. As for if he was celibate, one hopes so, but even if he wasn't, there's still a lesson to be learned from his examples here."

Now is it still imprudent to cite an example? Could better examples be found? Maybe. But at least one avoids stepping into a minefield.

But, traffic is never generated playing it safe. Heck, the only times people read my old blog is when I called Dave Armstrong an idiot, and skewered Janet Smith in every possible direction. Controversey sells, and Mark Shea knows that better than everyone. Heck, the mere mention of him gives him traffic.

I honestly think he's just trolled all of you personally. ;)

Steve Kellmeyer said...


Yes, I agree with you in every respect.

But there's a meta-lesson to be learned.

If you are right, Mark will do anything for traffic.

That's sad.
The alternative - he really thouhht what he said was Catholic - is also sad.

So Mark is the object lesson here.