Mea maxima culpa

By Mark Shea, 15 January 2021
Image: Ian Hutchison/Unsplash.


The leadership of the Catholic Church in the USA plays an important role in the Universal Church. Catholic Outlook today presents three perspectives on that issue.

The first is from the late Cardinal Francis George, OMI, one of the most brilliant and credible pastors in recent decades, who articulates his thoughts on how the Church needs to address contemporary culture. The second viewpoint is from long-time lay Catholic observer, Tom Roberts, who offers one assessment about how well the recent leadership of U.S. Bishops has fared in their strategies to protect the dignity of all life from ‘womb to the tomb’ and the common good. Finally, Catholic convert and apologist Mark Shea reflects on the development of his thought on this important issue for authentic evangelisation.


I’ve been praying about this for some time and the events of last week finally compelled me to write this.

It’s not a big secret that I have been horrified by the rise of MAGA Christianity and the profound antichrist evil I believe it to be. You guys have heard me rail against it again and again. Far more than the damage it has done the US, I mourn the deep damage it has done to the witness of the Church which is the primary sacrament and has a mission to assist in Christ’s salvation of the world I believe Christians in the US are in desperate need of metanoia–of turning around and, above all, of taking full responsibility for our part in doing the ecclesial equivalent of dipping the Eucharist in sewage and then being upset that normal people are refusing to receive at it our filthy hands.

To do that with any integrity, however, requires doing what God teaches us to do every single time we come to worship: confession of our own sinfulness and the admission that I have sinned, in my thoughts, and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do through my fault, through my fault, through my own most grievous fault.

This is difficult to do for various reasons.

First it is often hard to pin down clearly where sin leaves off and ignorance begins. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” says Jeremiah. One is inclined to cut oneself a lot of slack in self-examination with “I was young and dumb” excuses. But there is a passage in A Christmas Carol that I find to be a tonic against such BS:

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”

“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.

The sins I mean to discuss were, yes, partly owing to ignorance. But I might have known it had my pride not blinded me from seeing and deafened from hearing those around me who somehow managed to know what I somehow managed to miss. In the end, the reason for my ignorance was my arrogance. Mea culpa.

Second, it is difficult to discuss this because I know a certain kind of person will inevitably call it “virtue signaling”. Virtue signaling is what Jesus refers to when he talks of doing good things in order to gain man’s praise. He has nothing against being seen doing good things to gain God’s praise. Indeed, he commands it, telling us to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and praise our Father in heaven. But when we do it merely so that others hail us, then we “have our reward” and no spiritual benefit will come to us. God will have to judge which I am doing here, whatever people think.

Third, and very difficult is figuring out how to make amends, which I suspect is a lifelong project and never finished this side of the grave. I have some ideas, but the first idea I have is to write this piece. After that, I’m kind of playing it by ear.

What I want to discuss is simply this: my part in creating the conservative Christian MAGA horror show that now rampages across our country, threatening life and limb, spreading Pandemic, crying with self-pity, raging against the Pope, the Church, its neighbors, and brandishing aloft the banner of the unborn, Jesus, guns, hatred for gays, “the family”, and “religious liberty” while it lawlessly destroys both the US and the Church’s witness.

To continue reading this article please go to Mark Shea’s blog.

With thanks to Mark Shea.


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