Mark Shea’s Public Apology

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Sorry

 

 

Interesting public apology by Mark Shea:

The past week has not been a pleasant one, but it has been a fruitful one.  I won’t bore you with a lot of autobiography, but I will say that the Holy Spirit has been very busy, turning over some rocks in the heart that have nasty things living under them.  And since some of them concern youse guys (who have been way more patient with me than I would be if I were reading me over the past several years) I think I owe some apologies.

You know how something can be right in front of your face and you can’t see it?  That’s what it’s been for me this week and really for a good number of years.  I’ve sensed that something is wrong, but not been able to really get it or know what to do about it.  Partly I spent a lot of time thinking about the reaction to this piece, in which it was very plain that the issue for readers was simply that I had offended and angered a lot of people for a long time. But in many ways, the reactions to that piece just seemed to recapitulate a lot of reactions over the years. It seemed obvious to me that the problem was me, not my readers (since I don’t believe in conspiracy theories).  My assumption is that when a random sample of people all report a very similar experience, that’s because they are reacting to something that is there, not conspiring to create an illusion of something that is not.

So there was that.  There is also the fact that, over the past several years, I have engaged in a number of arguments on a number of questions that have brought to the surface some pretty deep rooted habits of soul.  I have remarked on them in the past and tried to repent of them (sincerely, I might add, but of course the problem with besetting sins is that they are besetting: think about that sin you’ve confessed a hundred times and seem to make no progress with.  Frustrating, ain’t it?)

Anyway, it all kind of came to a head this weekend on Sunday, starting at Mass.  The hymn was, appropriately enough for Corpus Christi, “Taste and See”.  As I was praying it just got more and more apparent to me that the message I’m getting back from so many quarters is, if you will, “You taste bitter”.

And I couldn’t argue with that.  I do taste bitter. And for that I am deeply, profoundly sorry, because it is through my fault, through my fault, through my own most grievous fault that I do.  I’ve become bitter in much of my interaction with people.  And bitterness is a root that “defiles many” according to Hebrews.  In my case, I think I have defiled quite a number of hearts who came here looking for the gospel and instead just got Mark Shea getting increasingly cynical and angry about all sorts of stuff.  You can’t eat food, including food for the soul, that is bitter.  My apologies to all to whom I have done this.

Go here to read the rest and the comments.  I wish Mark well in regard to his apology.  It is difficult to blog without sharp elbows being thrown and I think it safe to say that in Saint Blog’s Mark has had two of the sharpest elbows.  Most blogs routinely deal with controversial topics and people are going to disagree.  How to deal with disagreement without sometimes being disagreeable I confess is certainly a discipline I have failed to master.  I blog for fun and I enjoy a good back and forth in the comboxes and in that process feelings can be hurt on occasion.  Since the death of my son I have been taking stock of my life and I hope to make amendment for my sins and failings since I very much wish to be eventually where I am certain he is.  A bit more charity from me wouldn’t hurt, and I think I will attempt to be more charitable in the future, although no doubt with imperfect success, as I am sure will be pointed out to me.

 

More to explorer

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part III

Part three of my presentation of the four sermons of John Henry Cardinal Newman on the Anti-Christ delivered in 1835 before his conversion. 

38 Comments

  1. “A bit more charity from me wouldn’t hurt, and I think I will attempt to be more charitable in the future, although no doubt with imperfect success, as I am sure will be pointed out to me.”

    I know of few better bloggers than you, Donald, and Paul Z. and Darwin and the others contributing regularly here at TAC.

  2. I stopped reading him long ago. Particularly after being banned for good under a different name. Actually, I’ve been banned by Mark perhaps 12 or 13 times under different names.

    But we are all under the burden of sin. I would not like to have to make a public apology for a number of my sins. Good for Mark to do this.

  3. I was at a Knights of Columbus service event this morning with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa’s group). I quipped to my wife tonight that these sisters are all going to bypass purgatory and head straight into heaven, and I was only half-joking. They just exude a natural holiness, and they are simply the most amazing witnesses to Christ.

    I say this because I often fall short of being a model of what a Catholic should be like, and being among the sisters is truly humbling.

    There is much good that comes from blogging and from the internet generally, but how easy it is to fall short of being a model Catholic on these pages. Certainly I have fallen short many, many times.

    Good for Mark for recognizing where has fallen short, and may his example guide all of us.

  4. What is really important about Mark’s apology is what he DOESN’T apologize for. And that is repeated calumnious attacks upon those whom he disagrees with, He has, on numerous occasions, equated legitimately Catholic viewpoints with being pro-abortion and and being outright “apologists for mass murder”. There is not one hint of an apology for anything even remotely close to that at all. We all know that is what his real problem is not rudeness. He rudely libels good people with well thought out morally legitimate views. And only apologizes for the rudeness. This fact is also conspicuously absent from Donald’s commentary on the Mark’s apology.

    Furthermore, Mark has issued mea culpas for being rude in the past only to continue his calumny. Unless I see movement in the direction of his taking responsibility for what is his most serious offense, I can only suspect this is another head fake.

    In response to those who would say this a “work in progress”, I would say that not saying anything publicly until we get a better sense of how this will play out.

    Donald, I can’t help but ask if would you be as gracious to someone like a Dan Savage or even someone who is not a prominent figure in orthodox Catholic circles if he issued this kind of apology ?

  5. “Donald, I can’t help but ask if would you be as gracious to someone like a Dan Savage or even someone who is not a prominent figure in orthodox Catholic circles if he issued this kind of apology?”

    I have always accepted the apologies of people for wrongs done Greg. Life is too short for grudges. Time enough later to berate people if they do not live up to their apologies. I do not expect Mark to alter his views, but I do expect him, based upon his apology, not to be as abrasive as he has in the past with those who disagree with him. Not being perfect I have a keen appreciation for those who confess some of their imperfections and indicate that they are seeking to mend their ways. Such an attitude is to be encouraged in us all.

  6. God bless you, Mark.

    You also might want to consider decreasing the number of words in each of your posts.

    Ray Marshall
    Minneapolis

  7. Yeah, one day I felt the fury of Mark Shea. I am glad and thankfull that he understands that when many people say the same thing we must rethink our behavior.

    Excellent. I will pray for him and us.

  8. Stopped reading, Mark, over a year ago. I concur with Greg’s assessment almost completely. His apology while apparently heartfelt, still seems wanting for true closure. I will try reading his material again and will see how much invective he has toward his readers.

  9. I wish him luck, and if he manages to heal his issues, I’ll go back to reading; I fear that he’s mistaking the problem as one of tone instead of substance, but recognizing that there is a problem and trying to fix it is a hopeful sign.

    If nothing else, his darker developments have made me watch very carefully what I do/say to promote what I conclude is right and true.

    A secondary reason for me not to head back over: I really, really doubt that words from me would improve the situation in the least!

  10. The bar has been set. It is higher than most expect it to be. Most will not attempt to clear the heights for in their hearts its just to high.

    For others with moxie this challenge is acceptable. They realize it is a great stretch, however they call upon Him who set the bar and they rightly Hope in His help.

    The bar is loving your worst enemy.

    Go for it!

  11. “I have always accepted the apologies of people for wrongs done Greg.”

    Really, Donald? Is that so? That’s funny, because you were not at all accepting of Cardinal Keith O’ Brien’s apology for his despicable acts even though the Cardinal showed more evidence of true contrition than Mark does. Cardinal O’ Brien voluntarily declined to participate in the conclave. He has also basically accepted a one way ticket to a monastery to do penance.

    My issue here is not about holding a grudge Donald. It’s about calling attention to the fact that someone who is prominent in orthodox Catholic circles is still at this time an unrepentant slanderer and a Catholic media complex that continues to aid and abet his objectively gravely sinful behavior by their silence and in some cases outright defense. And you know that!

    Your post here is like a retraction for a false claim being printed in the lower corner of page Z 23 while the original claim was printed above the fold with an inch bold headline on the front page.

    It is apparent to me that your giving what is an “apology” whose sincerity is suspect, given he has done this kind of thing in the past (a fact I pointed out in my previous comment which was conveniently overlooked by you), such prominent attention while virtually ignoring some of the worst behavior of not only Mark Shea, but others who are popular in orthodox Catholic circles with the approval of the Catholic commentariat is an attempt to circle the wagons.

    And that is another symptom of the cancer that continues to metastasize in the Catholic media complex.

  12. “It is apparent to me that your giving what is an “apology” whose sincerity is suspect, given he has done this kind of thing in the past (a fact I pointed out in my previous comment which was conveniently overlooked by you), such prominent attention while virtually ignoring some of the worst behavior of not only Mark Shea, but others who are popular in orthodox Catholic circles with the approval of the Catholic commentariat is an attempt to circle the wagons.”
    You got me Greg! I wrote approvingly of Mark Shea’s apology because I want to be “popular in orthodox Catholic circles” and I am “circling the wagons” to protect Shea. (No doubt all that explains my annual efforts to defend the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings each year on this blog.) My reaction could have nothing to do with what I wrote in my post, or in my initial response to you, and you have discerned my real, hidden meaning!

    Or, it could be that what I have written previously is precisely my motivation, that you so despise Shea due to past run-ins with him that you are unwilling to believe anything he says, and that your stance underlines why Christ’s teaching about forgiveness is so important as to how we deal with one another in this vale of tears, and so difficult to put into practice when we are put to the test.

  13. First of all, Donald, have the decency to accurately represent my position. I presented more than ample evidence cast doubt upon Shea’s sincerity, based upon his past actions, not my run-ins with him.

    And here’s a challenge, start posting about the MSM like behavior of the Catholic media complex who look the other way at the bad behavior of not only people like Mark Shea, but also others, both clerical and lay, who enjoy massive popularity in orthodox Catholic circles.

  14. I call ’em like I see ’em Greg on this as on all issues I choose to write about on this blog. Shea has given what I perceive to be a heartfelt apology for bad behavior on his part and I think apologies for bad behavior are to be encouraged.

  15. The difficulty one has in assessing this matter is that “Mark Shea” often seems like a pseudonym shared by a mess of different characters. For years I’ve thought it was because people like Brian Saint-Paul extensively redacted his submissions…

    One can always hope. The thing is, the man is 56 years old. His vices are pretty embedded and there are times when his hostility seems so gratuitous as to be bewildering.

  16. I call ‘em like I see ‘em Greg”

    An admission of blindness if there ever was one, however unintentional 🙂

  17. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that life is way too short to spend valuable time reading the rantings of someone like Shea; heck, I can barely read Don any more, because I know I’ll just get worked up when he gets on his Lincoln hagiography kick, or some similar issue.

    In short, blogs are a very, very small and insignificant feature of life, so I can’t understand why anyone lets Shea or any other blogger become an irritant. The solution is simple; stop reading some crappy blog and pick up this ancient and little known artifact, a “book;” there are many, many good and profitable ones that a person could go their whole life reading nothing but these strange “book” things, and never even have to look at a blog, much less dissect a blogger mental disorders from afar.

  18. For me, it became a “near occasion of sin.”

    Years ago, I stopped reading Mr. Shea because of his aggressive stands against those that disagree with his “ex cathedras” and his (even) nastiness/hostility towards those on “our side.”

    That being said, Shea is on “our side.”

    I pray for him, and many others (with whom I’ve butted heads), each day.

    “Forgive all inuries.” One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

    From the Gospels, “How many times should you forgive your brother? . . .”

    We all need to develop/work on the love of humility (see the First Joyful Mystery) and practice charity towards those with whom we disagree.

    “I call ‘em like I see ‘em” – I get that. I used to umpire Little League ball games. You can’t change a call even if it was wrong.

    “Never aplogize. It’s a sign of weakness.” Capt. Nathan Brittles, United States Cavalry

  19. He writes books, gives lectures and has a blog. He does nice apologetic work especially for those new to the Faith. For more detailed understanding there are better sources. But for what he does, its good. If you limit your reading to apologetic works, you’ll be fine.

    The problem becomes when he extends his pen to things political/social. He can take his sharp wit and become quite abusive – even in prudential matters or in matters where the Magisterium has not pronounced definitively. This is what he is apologizing for.

    I take him at his word and forgive his insults (and that’s what they’ve frequently been) to me. Time will tell, but as with any vice (and it is vice) it can take a while to root out. I have my vices too and my confessions always seem to be the same after all these years.

    Therefore I thank God for the seven times seventy. Because its been far more than that for me.

  20. In a very rare moment of sanity and lucidity which I am sure will quickly pass away:

    “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.

  21. While there is some definite “circling of the wagons” going on, Don is decidedly NOT part of that. The real circling of the wagons is coming from those bloggers (including a blogger who I admire and who is the subject of a recent book review here at TAC) and commenters who are saying that Mark has nothing for which to apologize. If Mark sees shortcomings in his blogging style for which he feels the need to atone and make a change, then those folks are doing Mark a disservice by coming out and saying that he’s mistaken in that regard.

    Don is not doing that. I’ve known Don via blogging for many years, and consider him a friend. I first became aware of Don in the comment boxes at Mark’s blog several years ago and, believe me, Don has been on the receiving end of Mark’s ire on a number of occasions. Heck, THIS blog has come under Mark’s scrutiny from time to time. Don, if he wished, would have as much an axe to grind against Mark as anyone else would. If anything, Don is NOT circling the wagons, but is being gracious and doing the Christian thing in saying that he accepts Mark at his word.

    Question his judgment in doing that, if you wish (although I think he’s right to be gracious in this instance). But don’t question his sincerity.

    (And, Greg, I do appreciate your sticking up for Don in the face of some fairly negative commentary from someone on Facebook. Don and I disagree on a number of things, but I have always found him to be respectful and even good natured about our disagreements. I’m glad you find him to be similarly respectful in disagreement – at least enough so that you felt inclined to defend him, even though you believe he was dismissive above about the bone of your contention with Mark.)

  22. All I said was that Donald isn’t ideologically in tune with Mark. That wasn’t really a defense. It was just a statement of what I believe to be true.

  23. I am not going to pass over in silence what I honestly think is an inaccurate characterization of Donald’s position, especially after I say that I think he misrepresented me.

  24. I also stopped reading anything from Mark a long time ago. I detected the DNA of dissent from catholic church teaching and a progressive or modernist element in his articles. I pray that he does well in the future.

  25. If Mark is sincere, then like the alcoholic who must avoid bars, I think there’s a few things he needs to do:

    1) Get off facebook. I’m not even on there but I’ve gleaned enough from people to know that is a prime tempting ground for Mark to fail.

    2) Avoid certain topics OR if he cannot do that, give up blogging all together. Concentrate on articles relating to his strengths.

    We’ll see how he does. One doesn’t have to be a saint overnight, but one can take real steps to reduce being a sinner at least. (I know he’s soured me on the Church for a good while, I even very nearly rewrote a book in progress.)

  26. I agree with Greg that Mark has failed to apologize for behavior far worse than nastiness or rudeness. I’ve seen plenty of that elsewhere, of course, but it’s clear Mark is especially “gifted” in wielding the sword upon those he deems as deserving adversaries.

    I migh thave returned to his blog occasionally except for the kinds of calumnies and dogmatic condemnations Mark has bestowed upon those he’s decided are too eveil to be good Catholics.

    Having said that, I posted my support for Mark at his blog because I, too, love to weild the sword, especially upon those I sense I’m better equipped to overwhelm with my superior knowledge and logic :-).

    As best as I am able I’ll track his attempt to grow out of his past behavior but also I’ll keep a discerning eye on whether he eventually owns his far more egregious behavior as a natural development in his attempt to change.

    God bless him with Your grace to do just that.

  27. I totally agree with Nate Winchester, as well as some of the other bloggers. Mark has shown a tendency to lump together all his readers who disagree with him, no matter whether the disagreement is larger or small, in line with Catholic teaching or not, politely expressed or not. He *has* been on the receiving end of some very nasty treatment online, but since he can’t really remember who did this to him, he has taken to treating everyone who is not a sycophant as a enemy to be destroyed.

    Frankly, this result seems to be an inherent danger in blogging, maybe because the style of writing is informal and spontaneous, like a conversation between friends, but it is actually between strangers and lacks all the cues from tone of voice and body language. At any rate, I have seen similar, though generally less pronounced, issues with other Catholic bloggers, including priests.

    I have finally come to the conclusion that some blogs are a near occasion of the sin of wrath for me, even if I agree with 98% of what is said in them, so I must avoid these blogs. Mark’s blogs were the first I put on that list. I frankly suspect that the act of writing a blog can be a near occasion of sin for many people, and Mark should consider whether it is for him.

  28. “The solution is simple; stop reading some crappy blog and pick up this ancient and little known artifact, a ‘book;’ . . .”

    I have recently had the very same thought . . . and for all who dismay over the state of the blogosphere, it is advice worth considering. I must admit, that I have learned much less in reading and interacting with blogs than I have when reading good books.

  29. I must admit, that I have learned much less in reading and interacting with blogs than I have when reading good books.

    How about good blogs vs good books?

  30. @TomD — Yes, I agree completely. Yet here we both are, commenting on a blog. My excuse is that I scan bigpulpit.com and newadvent.org for news. I suppose CNN and Fox News are fine for anyone who is willing to settle for news about the marriages and divorces of actors and the random oddball murder case that we are assured keep us fascinated.

    I should probably add that I have discovered a few good books through reviews or commentary about them in blogs.

  31. @Foxfier: I would say, although I do learn from some blogs, I learn considerably more of substance from good books than from good blogs. Too many blogs, quite frankly, are light on substance . . . or perhaps, more accurately, tend toward the superficial, and are heavy on attitude and idiosyncratic opinion. But that is a personal observation. And, quite frankly, there seems to be a heavy libertarian presence on the Internet, which I personally have little patience for.

    More serious study and prayer time with the Bible, the Catechism, other writings of and about the Church and faith, both contemporary and from the past, are probably going to be more fruitful over the long term than spending much time reading and interacting with most blogs.

    I recently experienced, on a progressive, liturgical blog, where another blogger, of a very different philosophy, was invited to “participate.” His post was dissected by the followers of that blog, with almost no discussion of the actual substance of his point. It was all about his “tone.” This seemed to be intentional. He got so sidetracked addressing tone that he was unable to make much of a substantive point. Ironically, it was all done with a very smug and condescending approach. When the tone issue was beaten to death, they simply closed the comments box. So that recent experience, which was really a waste of time, may have affected my view today.

  32. More serious study and prayer time with the Bible, the Catechism, other writings of and about the Church and faith, both contemporary and from the past, are probably going to be more fruitful over the long term than spending much time reading and interacting with most blogs.

    I was delicately pointing out that comparing high quality to broad spectrum is very likely to favor the high quality.

    Gourmet home-made meals are better than the average restaurant; your five favorite restaurant meals are better than the average one you make at home.

  33. The only blogs I frequently regularly are here at TAC, Larry D’s Acts of the Apostasy, and (due to my occupation), Atomic Insights and a couple of other nuclear industry blogs. I visit Fr. Longenecker’s blog from time to time, but that’s it. I teach at my parish and simply don’t have time for anything else.

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