"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

SJ Excommunicated From the Church of Shea

If Catholic issues and religion are not your cup of tea, tune out now.

I run this blog primarily as a current legal events/ legal issues blog from my perspective as a prosecutor and a Catholic. I sometimes specifically foray into truly important issues like religion and culture. One such foray, commenting here about the wisdom or not of making a Catholic saint out of a convicted cop killer, drew a severe reprimand from a gentleman named Mark Shea, who runs a Catholic blog.

Shea thinks my questioning the wisdom and motives of the movement to make the cop killer a formal Catholic saint renders me a lover of "vengeance against sinners." Never mind that I specifically credited the position that the convicted killer could actually have been personally very holy. In Shea's world apparently, if you're a Catholic (or at least one who agrees with Shea's positions), your job is to shut up, "pay, pray, and obey" and not question any action taken by a Churchman.

In my world, I give total obedience to the formal teachings of my Church, defend them and try to live them. But nowhere has the Church told me that I have to agree with the preliminary process of proposing someone for canonization. In fact, until recent years, the advocatus diaboli would bring foward reasons why a person should not be canonized. Sometimes these reasons have nothing whatsoever to do with whether the candidate is actually in heaven or not, but rather with the prudential question of the propriety of formally declaring sanctity.

Sadly, the devil's advocate has either been eliminated altogether or is rarely used. In any event, it is hardly treason to the Church or disrespect to the French Cardinal who began this process to point out that this choice may be imprudent. Indeed, several police groups in France have done so. Further, no mention has been made of the candidate's heroic virtue or miracles attributed to his intervention, both recognized prerequisites for canonization.

Does this mean that Dismas cannot be honored as a saint? Or that we cannot acknowledge saints who lived sinful lives prior to conversion?

Indeed not, and it is a cheap, disingenous straw man argument to bring it up. Dismas was not formally recognized as a saint by the process of canonization, but has always from time immemorial been honored as such by custom. I think we can agree, too, that his situation is somewhat different, since he suffered next to Our Lord and received the guarantee of his salvation from His own mouth. Dismas, incidentally, is rightly called the patron saint of death row inmates, but he, unlike the Frenchman, acknowledged the justice of his sentence, an acknowledgment the Lord did not contradict.

Other great sinners turned saints did great works of holiness after their conversion. I will stand correction on this point, but there are few if any saints like this Frenchman, who simply converted but did little else of note thereafter.

In any event, Shea seems a rather bitter character. I've had a link to him for a long while, even while he has banned me from commenting on his blog because I differ with him on the propriety of the Iraq war, and now, he attacks my character on his blog when I can't defend myself to the 2,561 daily visitors he gets. For comparison, I get about 40-45 a day. He knows he can smear with relative impunity.

But for goodness sake, Shea, get the name of my blog right. It is not Confounding the Wicked; it is, as he would notice if he looked at the big words at the top, Seeking Justice. But that's just the level of attention to detail his readers have perhaps come to expect.


Jay Anderson said...

Outstanding post, Tom.

But don't hold your breath waiting for your antagonist to acknowledge it. As you said, he can slime you with impugnity since you're "banned" from responding at his blog.

Jay Anderson said...

Sorry. That should say "... he can slime you without impunity ..."

Typing too fast in my "casual style" of writing.

Dymphna said...

That's why I don't read Shea anymore. He seems to get a kick out of attacking and mocking people and Heaven help you if you dare argue back.

Judging from his blog I have no desire to read any of his books or to ever see him speak in my parish.

Windypundit said...

"He seems to get a kick out of attacking and mocking people and Heaven help you if you dare argue back."

Yeah, but he also links to you as he mocks you. 2561 visits you say? Maybe I should start trolling his site to pump up my numbers...

123txpublicdefender123 said...

Yeah, I'll take someone doing a hatchet job on me if they link me on their much more popular blog! ;)

I commented on your earlier post, Tom, and I wanted to clarify. First, while I am not a Catholic, so can hardly speak to the issue with the same history and authority you can, as a non-Catholic, it seems to me that a healthy debate on whether someone should or should not be beatified and/or canonized by the church seems to be a good thing, not a bad thing. I also appreciate your acknowledgment that being a convicted killer, alone, shouldn't necessarily preclude someone from being made a saint, considering what they may have done after repenting and converting after their bad conduct. I have no idea about this particular man and what he may have done to justify putting him up for sainthood, but it seems that you are correct in saying it's important to look at what the person DID after conversion and not the mere fact that he may have converted.

My one disagreement with your argument was on the issue of this man not being willing to accept the death penalty he was given. You characterized that as his refusal to humbly accept his just punishment. But, I don't think it is that simple. I think he can have honestly believed that he needed to pay his debt to society for his crime, but that for him to be killed was an excessive punishment, and one that could do more harm than good, in that he may have been able to do much more good from his prison cell than he could being executed. For that reason, I don't think his appeal to not be executed alone should disqualify him. Indeed, even Jesus sent away the woman accused of a capital offense (prostitution, I think) with the admonition to go and sin no more. He didn't demand that she accept the punishment of death.

youngest sister said...

Dont worry Tom--I defended you AND used profanity. SWEET.....