Skip to comments.Mark Shea, Deacon Greg Kandra and false compassion
Posted on 05/02/2012 6:31:17 AM PDT by cleghornboy
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 Ive ever experienced. I wouldnt 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 Im not interested in whether or not he was celibate. Not my business. Thats 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 its not a secret that I agree with the Church that homosexual acts are sinful. I dont see how. If Perry was an active homosexual, its 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 dont 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, its 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.
I think I smell a “seamless garment” component to Shea’s article. That is not a smell I am fond of.
One of the most evil, pernicious and false doctrines ever foisted upon the Faithful!
Shea has a bad habit of doubling down when challenged, which gets him into arguments he can’t win and perversely refuses to concede.
Shea denounces them on pretty nearly a daily basis. and in the strongest possible terms.
The part excepted here is were he is trying to make a distinction between public corruption which is unquestionably damnable, and the interior disposition of one person's soul, Perry Lorenzo, which he says he does not know.
He does know that this man had many virtues. He does not say that if you add up a dozen of this man's thoughts, words and deeds and divide them by 12, he's a nice guy so anal penetration must be OK. He does NOT say it's laudable if the guy commits sodomy. He doesn't KNOW whether or not he committed sodomy.
Sodomy is serious: just as serious as a person committing contraception, by the way: in itself a grave sexual sin.
What Shea's trying to get at (in his typiclaly fervent style) is the difference between denouncing sinful sexual behavior, which is objectively wrong, and judging one Perry Lorenzo, whose private life Shea did not put under surveillance.
It would appear that your desire to be “fair” to Mark Shea is blinding you to the point I am raising. You note that Mark Shea did not put Perry Lorenzo’s private life “under surveillance.” In other words, he just doesn’t know Perry Lorenzo all that well.
But this is precisely my point. How can Shea regard Mr. Lorenzo as being not only an inspiration but “very likely” a Saint?
Saints are known for holiness of life. Isn’t it a bit rash to say that someone was “very likely” a Saint when that person was publically known to have a homosexual inclination and lived with another man who professed his “love” for him?
By the way, homosexual, Pope Saint Pius X, in his 1910 Catechism, teaches us that sodomy ranks second in gravity to voluntary homicide, among the sins that ‘cry out to God for vengeance.’ According to this Catechism, these sins ‘are said to cry out to God because the Holy Spirit says so and because their iniquity is so grave and manifest that it provokes God to punish with more severe chastisements.’
The Catechism of the Catholic Church published by the Vatican in 1994 teaches clearly that homosexuality is contrary to nature and that homosexual acts are among the ‘sins gravely contrary to chastity.’ (CCC, 2396). This Catechism teaches that homosexual acts are ‘intrinsically disordered,’ ‘contrary to the natural law,’ and that ‘under no circumstances can they be approved.’ (CCC, 2357)....Now while it is true that everything must be done to help sinners, this cannot include helping them to sin or to remain in sin. Because of human frailty, every sinner deserves both pity and compassion. However, vice and sin must be excluded from this compassion. This because sin can never be the proper object of compassion. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.1, ad 1).
It is a false compassion which supplies the sinner with the means to remain attached to sin. Such ‘compassion’ provides an assistance (whether material or moral) which actually enables the sinner to remain firmly attached to his evil ways. By contrast, true compassion leads the sinner away from vice and back to virtue. As Thomas Aquinas explains:
“We love sinners out of charity, not so as to will what they will, or to rejoice in what gives them joy, but so as to make them will what we will, and rejoice in what rejoices us. Hence it is written: ‘They shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not be turned to them.’” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.6, ad 4, citing Jeremiah 15:19).
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that the sentiment of compassion only becomes a virtue when it is guided by reason, since “it is essential to human virtue that the movements of the soul should be regulated by reason.” (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, c.3). Without such regulation, compassion is merely a passion. A false compassion is a compassion not regulated and tempered by reason and is, therefore, a potentially dangerous inclination. This because it is subject to favoring not only that which is good but also that which is evil (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.1, ad 3).
An authentic compassion always stems from charity. True compassion is an effect of charity (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 30, a.3, ad 3). But it must be remembered that the object of this virtue is God, whose love extends to His creatures. (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 25, a.3). Therefore, the virtue of compassion seeks to bring God to the one who suffers so that he may thereby participate in the infinite love of God. As St. 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.” (St. Augustine, Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, No. 49).
Scratch the word “homosexual” in the fourth sentence of my response after the words “By the way.”
And I still say that Shea's writing shows vehement opposition to gay sex acts and the Gay Pride movement/ Gay activism , while at the same time shielding individuals from the serious injustices which are known as "rash judgment, slander and detraction."
Shea sometimes expresses himself with an impetuosity that invites exasperated questions (like, "'Very likely a saint'?? Wouldn't it be more prudent to say 'a man whose public virtues I admire and love, and whose private sex practices I do not know'?)
In the matter of Mr. Perry Lorenzo, Mark Shea is extravagantly lauding his virtues, and ignoring possible sinful acts because he frankly does not know whether the man committed them or not.
Extending the greatest possible charity of judgment in this matter may strike us as being naive, but it is not a fault like assuming the worst.
True, and this is very courageous of him. As far as the Brownshirts are concerned therefore, he's a marked man, notwithstanding any "on the other hand" gestures of balance on his part to plea that some of his best friends are gays. Those who're not howling bigots themselves get that Shea's not a bigot; he doesn't have to prove himself. As for the Brownshirts, their identity and tactics demand that Shea be demonized. Posts counter to that narrative will be swept aside.
Once again, 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).
Grisez is NOT saying that each of us has the moral obligation to ask the people we know --- or even people we hardly know --- what they're doing sexually.
I wouldn't ask heterosexual married couples in my acquaintance, for instance, if they use contraceptives. Even if they had only 3, 2, 1, or 0 kids after a decade or two of marriage. Would you?
And contraceptive acts, like homosexual acts, are disordered, in violation of Divine and Natural Law, and morally proscribed. And they are far, far more common than homosexual acts.
But if the person in question is not volunteering the information, I don't think it's proper for me to ask. Or worse, to simply assume they must be doing wicked acts x, y, and zm , and speculate about it in print to the general public.
How much are you obliged to find out about an acquaintance's sex life? How much unsolicited sexual advice are you supposed to offer them?
Wouldn't that be as offensive as saying "I think Kleghornboy and Kleghorngirl probably do thus-and-such morally deplorable things in bed?"
Everyone who reads my writings, for insteance, knows I'm opposed to contraception, sterilization, and abortion, as well as acts of a sexual nature between men and between women. I'm published about this subject. THE SAME, COME TO THINK OF IT, IS TRUE OF MARK SHEA.
Everyone knows where he stands on sexual right-and-wrong issues.
That doesn't mean he, or I, or any of us are entitled to stick our noses, unasked, into other people's private relations.
Mrs. don-o, you’re being dishonest here. You write, “Grisez is NOT saying that each of us has the moral obligation to ask the people we know -— or even people we hardly know -— what they’re doing sexually.” I never implied otherwise.
But we do have an obligation to admonish those who seem to be sinning. And, as Dr. Grisez reminds us, “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.” Notice the wording: “who seem to be sinning.” For example, two homosexual men living together while expressing love for one another. As was the case with Mr. Lorenzo and his male partner.
But again you are missing the point of my post. Mark Shea is practically declaring Mr. Lorenzo to be a saint, a role model and one of the Church’s finest ornaments. This is highly imprudent.
A further thought: when two homosexual men set up house together, are they honestly striving to avoid the proximate occasion of sin. Fr. John Hardon, S.J., in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, defines an occasion of sin: “Any person, place, or thing that of its nature or because of human frailty can lead one to do wrong, thereby committing sin. If the danger is certain and probable, the occasion is proximate; if the danger is slight, the occasion becomes remote. It is voluntary if it can easily be avoided. There is no obligation to avoid a remote occasion unless there is probable danger of its becoming proximate. There is a positive obligation to avid a voluntary proximate occasion of sin even though the occasion of evildoing is due only to human weakness.”
Maybe I'm just weary today --- OK, I'm weary, it's true --- but I have never had, in this exchange, the bad will that goes with dishonesty.
Every statement you have quoted from Grisez is excellent, and I have only raised questions about their application in the case of Perry Lorenzo, a man unmknown to me and to you. I contend that to make an excessively generous judgment about oher people's virtue may be naive, but it is not a fault on a par with making a negative judgment about other people's bvice, when that behavior is not actually known to you.
But we have both made our points repetitively. I would probably not have even entured into this unless I had known both ex-gays and ex-lesbians who lived together chastely. That contributed to my realization that imputing bad behavior to others with actual knowledsge can lead one into rash judgment and detraction.
In indivdual cases,it is more just to discuss the general wrongness of unchastity, rather than imputing fault to people by name. In the case of Perry Lorenzo, there's not even the justification of fraternal correction, since the man is dead. Nobody now has the job of correcting him--- posthumously, and to others!
Go ahead and say it all one more time --- I'm giving you the last word --- and then have a good evening.
You were being dishonest. You wrote, “Grisez is NOT saying that each of us has the moral obligation to ask the people we know - or even people we hardly know - what theyre doing sexually.” But again, I never implied otherwise. By capitalizing the word “not,” you were suggesting [dishonestly] that I said otherwise.
When two homosexual persons set up house, it is safe to say that they are not serious about avoiding the proximate occasion of sin. In all likelihood, such persons are not committed toward living a life of chastity. Of course, there are exceptions [however few in number they actually are], but again, Grisez’s wording is clear: “..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.”
You remind me that Perry Lorenzo is “a man unknown to me and to you.” Yes. A man who seemed to be sinning by living in a scandalous relationship in which the partners openly expressed love for one another, both having a homosexual inclination.
But Shea didn’t know him either. Why then does he hold him up as a “role model,” one of the Church’s finest ornaments who is “very likely” a saint?
Another writer sounds off on Mark Shea’s errors:
One of the worst posts I’ve ever read. Confusing, irresponsible, and just.not.Catholic..
I’m speaking of Mark Shea’s original post..