Previously, I remarked on Mark Shea’s post about a “gay man” he considers to be a “saint.” I probably should have noted that Mark often (maybe not “mostly” but “often”) writes things that I strongly disagree with, but I don’t get mad at him for it because I know him. Getting mad at him would be like getting mad at my brother…but then….aren’t all of us (Catholics) brothers and sisters? Mark has a follow-up and I’m not sure it helps much.
I want to address briefly the inexact wording (my bad) and the unwarranted assumptions, since they are related.
So, Mark had “inexact wording” that he admits is a mistake but says the assumptions about it are unwarranted. Inexact wording may cause assumptions that are entirely warranted. Of course, we bloggers are more familiar with the kinds of assumptions that are completely unwarranted, but sometimes, it’s warranted, and I think that’s the case here. We are, after all, dealing with the greatest threat to freedom the Church in America has ever known when we are discussing homosexuality. It is equivalent to the contraception mandate, in that regard.
Robert Sungenis has taken this whole thing very seriously. He calls it “scandal.”
Let me reiterate again: Mr. Shea is not only wrong about this, he is causing a scandal. It’s one thing not to know the facts, but when one begins his evaluation by purposely avoiding the facts, we have a serious problem. Mr. Shea chose his title “A Gay Man I Consider a Saint” and he broadcast the title and his article to the whole world. Not coincidentally, Mr. Shea positions himself as a teacher of Catholic faith and morals. One only need look at his long list of self-authored books dotting the margins of his blog; or watch him on EWTN to know that disseminating the Catholic religion is not merely his hobby. As such Mr. Shea does not have the privilege to play ignorant, especially when it concerns one of the most heinous sins known to mankind. Before Mr. Shea starts canonizing people on his blog, he better make darn sure he knows the pertinent facts concerning the person, especially if someone else has evidence that the person in question lived with another male and most likely committed the act in question. Mr. Shea has no excuse for his ignorance. If he doesn’t know the details then he simply has no right to exonerate Perry Lorenzo.
Mr. Sungenis makes other important points that should not be ignored, but on the issue of “scandal,” I would say Sungenis is off base because I don’t think it’s Mark’s intent to lead people astray. Mark sends along an article he wrote on scandal, but I’m looking at Fr. John Hardon’s definition in the Catholic dictionary because it’s easier for me to just get the skinny, so to speak.
Any action or its omission, not necessarily sinful in itself, that is likely to induce another to do something morally wrong. Direct scandal, also called diabolical, has the deliberate intention to induce another to sin. In indirect scandal a person does something that he or she forsees will at least likely lead another to commit sin, but this is rather tolerated than positively desired. (Etym. Latin scandalum, stumbling block.)
Intent is key, and I don’t think Mark intends to lead anyone into sin. Having said that, again, Sungenis makes other important points.
Here’s a big problem, right here, from Mark’s follow-up.
The main thing I want to point out is that when I describe Perry as a gay man, I am using the common English word as a descriptor of his orientation (which I know) not his behavior (about which I knew nothing since, you know, Not. My. Business).
If we all saw homosexuality as a disorder, and all human beings as having dignity that has been elevated by virtue of the Incarnation, we wouldn’t run into these communication problems. I have a disorder, too. It’s called Bipolar Disorder. I am not a “bipolar woman.” I am a woman who “has” a mental disorder. I do not find my identity in disorder. Good thing for me since, if I did, I’d be most likely dead from suicide. No one is a “bipolar man” and no one is a “gay man.” We are all just human beings. Some of us “have” disorders. It is important to distinguish the disorder from the human being. Nothing about our disorders is going to be in heaven. In heaven, if he is in heaven, I promise you, Mr. Lorenzo does not have same-sex attraction, which is disordered. Neither will I have Bipolar Disorder. There is no disorder in heaven.
These things are important because if we don’t get them right, people can get the wrong idea about their own identity and end up committing suicide. It’s true that Mark is neither a priest, nor a bishop, nor a spiritual director, but we all have some level of responsibility for the things we write and we should do our level best to make certain that people aren’t made sick (quite literally) by the things we write.
Having said that, again, I know Mark and know that his intentions are noble and, indeed, Catholic. That’s important to consider here. God doesn’t give serpents to those who ask for fish.
May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Be Ever in Our Hearts!