A friend wrote to me about this post over at Mark Shea's today. Without giving up too much of the letter, he was not happy about it. He wanted to know my opinion.
I had seen that post earlier today, and my initial thought was: Oh boy, Shea's gone and kicked the hornet's nest again. This is going to get ugly. My friend's letter showed me that my reaction was, sadly, correct. I wish I had been wrong.
For those who have not read the post, Shea begins by mentioning that he saw a bit of news about Fr. Corapi, but it wasn't really any news at all. He segued from that into making remarks about Fr Corapi's cult of personality, and then went on to drag in Michael Voris, and compared him to Corapi.
I admit that I am a frequent reader of Mark Shea, and I also admit that I share his concern about the cult of personality that has grown from time to time about certain Catholic figures- including Shea himself. Shea put up a post later today in which he showed that he is plainly aware of the dangers of his own cult, and actively discourages anyone from participating in it. For that he is to be commended. However, I cannot commend his earlier attack on Voris. I condemn it.
I say that as someone who has on occasion disagreed with Voris and said so on this blog. I may even do so again. However, I would never launch an attack on him without a reason or a cause, when he has not done something specific to merit criticism. We are to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Criticise the man's actions, not the man. Shea today lumped Voris in with Father Corapi not because Voris has done anything recently to deserve it, but because, like Corapi, he has a large personal and devoted following. I agree with Shea that such followings are dangerous to both the followers and the man whom they follow, but there is an important difference between Corapi and Voris: Voris has not fallen into disgrace yet. I pray he never does. I pray that, if he does fall into disgrace, he will dust himself off and continue on in his faith. It would be righteous to warn him and his followers about the dangers they are in. Acting as though you are waiting for him to fail, so you can then point to him and say "See? I told you so!" is wrong. Acting as though he has already fallen, or that his inevitable fall from grace is a mere technicality, is not just, it is not fair, and it is not right.
It got worse in the combox. I will say that I read Shea's blog, and that I enjoy his wit and his insights. But there is also a reason why I have never linked to him in my sidebar, and that reason is his comboxes. They are a savage place, and Shea himself is among the most savage. I don't understand how he can show such wit and insight in his posts, but drop it all in the combox, and accuse people of saying what he thinks they said, rather than what they did say. On the occasion that I do comment over there, it is always on some humorous or trivial post. I have no desire to be drawn into the quagmire.
Chesterton once said that, (I am quoting from memory here) while we still need a St Paul or a Saint Francis Xavier to convert pagans to Christianity, we have an even greater need for a Domenic or a Francis of Asissi to convert Christians to Christianity. The bloggers, at their best, are trying to do just that. We all reach out to what people we can. Some of us reach some groups more easily than others. Shea appeals to one crowd, Voris to another. If it matters, I prefer Shea's style over Voris', but there is room for them both, and more. They are brothers in Christ doing their work according to their talents. Strife between them serves no one but our enemies.