Mark Shea offers a public apology


Catholic commentator Mark Shea offered a very public apology today for the way in which he has argued on his blog lately. While contemplating the Eucharist during the Mass of Corpus Christi, Mark said it became apparent that he has received messages from many people saying, in effect: “You taste bitter.”

He responded:

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.

But Mark’s self-examination doesn’t stop there. People who he thought willfully refused to get the point? He started to dehumanize them. He also confessed that he treated those in the public spotlight like they were not human persons. And he included Lila Rose of Live Action in this.

To Lila Rose (and all her associates and sundry supporters) my sincere apologies and contrition. I got so caught up in arguing about points I wanted to persuade people of that I completely failed to see you as human beings and reduced you to means to an end. It was a sin and all I can do is ask for forgiveness. In addition, as the argument has “hardened” (for want of a better word) I have let that bitter taste poison the conversation. It’s lost people who might otherwise have listened, which is my own stupid fault.

To be clear, he wasn’t announcing that he had changed his mind on a specific theological question. What he was doing was more impressive. He was calling himself out for the way in which he argued: “Again, the point is not who was right or wrong about the point being argued, it’s that I have been wrong in the way that I argued, very often reducing people to means.”

Mark added: “In [the] future, I’m going to be trying to take the blog in different directions. Don’t know what that will look like, but I think it needs to happen.”

I’ve also made mistakes in public and had to apologize in public. It’s incredibly difficult and humbling to do. Mark’s earnest apology is to be commended.

I have met Mark face-to-face (offline as they say) and consider him to be a friend. I think he has a service to provide Catholics who honestly yearn for the truth of the Catholic Church and strive to be faithful to her. Much in our politics today is distorted by a Culture of Death. Conservatives and Catholics alike are not immune from this. (And the Culture of Death affects how we treat each other; it affects human sexuality and greed, etc.) And so we need to make sure that we take stock from time to time and make sure we question our cultural assumptions.

And Mark can be excellent at that. He can remind people that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are totally unjustified. He explains that torture is immoral (and by the way, doesn’t work well anyway.) He’s not afraid to call out the Prosperity Gospel and those who ignore the poor. He gets Catholics to really second-guess the Bush-Wilsonian aggressive foreign policy which tries to solve all the world’s problems.

While I don’t agree with him on every issue, I’m glad that he makes Catholics defend their positions in line with the Church rather than simply accepting everything Rush Limbaugh says as infallible.

So I hope that Mark will continue to write about politics and about how Catholics have a role to play in improving our public policy debates.



19 thoughts on “Mark Shea offers a public apology

  1. Shark May says:

    And he is back at it again. He remains as bitter as ever and even more in denial.

    1. rocky says:

      I have only just become aware of Mark or I should say that I have only now taken the time to listen to some of his talks and read his articles.

      I recognize both his insightful intelligence along with heavy dollop of arrogance. I am more compassionate towards Mark in this because I suffer from the same malady. Not the “insightful intelligence” part but the arrogance part. Perhaps its because we are from the same part of North America where the heavy rains creates a more sarcastic approach to life. (Hopefully not bitterness though.) I often think If I had not been “blessed” with a grievous fear of public speaking I might be a complete egomaniac by now. And possibly a most bitter one. I don’t know.

      So it seems to me to be a lot about our natural in-born dispositions along with a little environmental reinforcement. These are not easy to overcome. When we recognize the egocentrism and cynicism in our human dealings and the negative aspects it can result in we must come to terms with it, if only for our own sake. At least as Catholics we should recognize the urgency of this requirement.

      So we seek to acquire humility. Easier said than done. Only through a sacramental life and the grace that these offer is this possible. These must consist of frequent confession with daily (ongoing) deliberation of sin and prideful actions (or thoughts) and ultimately the Eucharist. Part of the process we call sanctification.

      Don’t be too hard on Mark. I think his public confession is sincere. But the flesh is weak. He is on the path. But it may take years for sanctification to change those unruly aspects of his natural self.

      Say a prayer for him. He is a warrior for the faith and deserves it.

  2. Stephen Dalton says:

    Mark Shea will never change for the better. His track record shows he always reverts to being what he was before his umpteenth apology. And why should he change if the Catholic community allows him to pull this nonsense time and time again?

  3. David Elway says:

    Catholics Advocating Total War

    I’ve not read the book although I heard the author speak on Kresta in the Afternoon. While I remain unconvinced, he did bring up some points that aren’t mentioned in the typical neo-con defense of the action that need to be addressed.

    As you know, these bombs wiped out a significant percentage of Japanese Catholics.

  4. diabeetus says:

    Sadly, Shea seems to have relapsed. Prayers are in order.

  5. carmen hertel says:

    How imperfect we all are and still God’s mercy is always there for all of us! It takes courage to ask for pardon, courage is grace given by the Holy Spirit. God bless you Mark Shea. We all have denied Christ but His mercy endures forever. Let us pray “come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love…”

  6. Alexander says:

    I’m glad Mr. Shea has apologized for his uncharitable ways…reading him was unbearable. I have at times made comments that wouldn’t be Jesus like. So I can relate to Mr. Shea. Now that he has cleaned his slate with that issue…Now he needs to work on some of his lingering Protestant views that go against the truths of the Catholic Church. As well, I will work on my repeated sins that wreak havoc on my soul and jeopardize my chance at gaining eternal life

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