Monday, May 13, 2002

More on the Jesuit Memo

Got an email from Mark Shea this morning where he wrote: I don't have time to write more stuff on it, so please feel free to post what I emailed you. He is referring to the email that I originally sent both him and Emily entitled Those damn alcoholic Jesuits! which I posted here.

Mark replied to that email as follows: It's what the email doesn't say. The warning is against "notorious" gay bars. It doesn't say "Don't get drunk" but "have a designated driver".

Now, before I give my reply, I want to make something clear. I am a Shea-ite. I have the highest respect for Mark Shea and the work he has done as a Catholic apologist. It's just that I disagree with him on this particular subject. In no way does my differing opinion place a strain on how I view him. It was Mark Shea who I attribute with giving me a new profound insight (and thereby affecting my life as a Catholic) through his defense and recommendation of Han Urs von Balthasar on the idea of living a charitable life. One that involves intense prayer, forgiveness, mercy and hope. I say all this because I don't want to be misrepresented and labeled as part of an anti-Mark Shea faction (it's been my observation that people have been riding him hard lately, as a fellow Catholic in the trenches, I think that's a shame).

Anyways, my back-tracking placed aside now, I must disagree with Mark's comments here. I don't see anything in the letter itself which addresses "notorious gay bars". The letter makes no mention of homosexuality here whatsoever, and while Mark might feel justified in looking at the draft in the light of the "bigger picture" I think this memo is nothing more than just an "FYI" given to the priests telling them to "be careful of what you do, especially during this trying time".

As another emailer said to me about the issue: I do not see why anyone should make a big fuss about the Jesuit draft memo. In the words of my military friends: "That's just standard op that we hear sometimes."

I tend to agree. Also, about the designated driver bit. Does one need to get smash-mouth drunk to need a designated driver? Not really. Even a single beer can impair one's ability to drive. I don't see the Church condemning the drinking of alcohol (I think we leave that up to the Southern Baptists) and so I assume that it is ok to go out and have a beer or two on occassion (I do not believe in taking it to excess). I would also recommend that even if you only planned on having one, that you have a designated driver... it is, afterall, only prudent. Imagine the scandal if suddenly priests start getting pulled over for breath-alyzer tests? Come on, with this "fair free press" even if the priests blood-alcohol content is well below the legal limit, nowadays, just taking the test is front-page news. "Catholic: Guilty until proven innocent, and even afterwards." is the motto of the press of today.

So, to put this issue to rest: It's a memo, matter of fact, it was a draft. Not a pastoral letter. It was issuing a warning, in the best interest of the Church to be exact. People should be happy something is being done.

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