Rorate Caeli

A kleptomaniac I consider a Saint

Shea's Rainbow dahlia, a symbol of the
Catholic Kleptomaniac "lifestyle"

One of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint was a kleptomaniac guy who lived here in NCVille named Barry Vincenzo. You could get something of a sense of the man if he had a blog. Dunno if he actually stole things or not and, frankly, regard it as none of my business. All I know is that the guy was clearly a man who loved Jesus, loved his Catholic faith, and taught a huge number of people about it, both kleptomaniacs and not, in a way that was immensely attractive and uplifting for everybody who encountered him. He was also one of the most learned people I have ever met and a profoundly humble man. He was, for many years, the director of education for the NCVille Symphony. Had a brilliant knack for speaking the Catholic tradition to the cultured despisers of tradition here in NCVille. His funeral, which he planned himself as he was dying, was one of the most beautiful and Christ-centered liturgical celebrations I’ve ever been part of. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if half the congregation was not Catholic: a testament to his greatness.
Some Catholics (and some of my kleptomaniac readers) will probably be surprised to hear that I’m not interested in whether or not he actually stole things. Not my business. That’s between him and God. I had a reader write me in some degree of scandal after I posted on his death because he apparently had a business in which he sold the stuff he could well have stolen. If memory serves, I expressed to my reader a deep lack of interest in that fact since a) Not. My. Business and b) merely being a dealer of used goods  in the black market is not proof of anything anyway, either about his relationship with his products, or about his relationship with God.
So do I contradict myself, since it’s not a secret that I agree with the Church that stealing is sinful? I don’t see how. If Barry was an active thief, it’s none of my business and certainly not mine to judge. After all, I also agree with the Church that my own acts of gluttony are sinful and even gravely so. But I don’t believe God has abandoned or rejected me and I trust his grace to help me slowly become conformed to Christ, so why should I believe for a second that somebody like Barry, who manifested such abundant and beautiful fruits of the Spirit, was not pleasing to God and was not doing his best to strive for God? On the contrary, I regard him as a role model and greatly admire his deep, generous and true faith. I hope he prays for the Church in NCVille and I think he is (not was, God rest his soul) one of the great ornaments of the Church.
There are other kleptomaniac members of the Church for whom I have a similarly high regard. Some do not actually steal. Some, for all I know, may not be kleptomaniacs. Since I don’t see it as my mission to peer into other people’s private lives, I wouldn’t know. What I know is the fruit of the Spirit I see in their lives. Toward whatever weaknesses they may have, I think Hell's general attitude is summed up by Screwtape’s wise counsel: “Keep from the patient’s mind the thought, ‘If I, being what I am, can consider myself a Christian, why should I assume that the faults of my neighbors render their faith merely hypocrisy and convention?’” I choose to dissent from Hell’s urging to judge, lest I be judged.
I take this attitude toward people who struggle with urges to steal. I take it, likewise, with people who have the urge to steal and rob and *don’t* struggle with it. Not my business what they do in their spare time. I take it with Christians and with non-Christians. Though I will happily tell you, should you ask, that I consider kleptomania one of the myriad forms of concupiscence, I will also point out that concupiscence is not sin. And if somebody embraces this particular form of concupiscence and indulges it, I will say what I say about all such choices to sin: God forgives sin so who am I to judge? Indeed, I have talked to priests who tell me that there are people they counsel who steal all the time for whom it's best to allow the stealing to continue for the time being since, for reasons specific to that business venture, it would result in something more destructive to end it. I can completely believe this (which will no doubt shock some of my more conservative Catholic readers for whom scorched earth is always better than accommodating human weakness). There is, after all, often real need, material or psychological, present in kleptomaniac behavior, however disordered, and need should be strengthened and satisfied, not crushed with contempt. At the same time, as a person who has never even been tempted to this particular form of concupiscence, I don’t feel myself Chosen by God to tell kleptomaniac persons what they are supposed to be doing beyond, “Seek Jesus Christ because he is the true source of the happiness you seek.” I suspect Barry Vincenzo would have said the same. So if some kleptomaniac's confessor or spiritual director takes a lenient approach to weakness I’m not going to offer my ignorant opinion to the contrary. God knows my confessor has often been lenient and merciful to me.
If kleptomaniacs wish to steal together, or have the benefit of law to protect their (legitimate!) property, I don’t think it’s the job of the state to stop them. Not all sins should be illegal. I leave most matters between kleptomaniacs and God and ask only that I not be subjected to demands to celebrate disordered appetite.
But mainly, I think of Barry Vincenzo, one of the finest Catholics and disciples of Jesus I have ever known and ask his prayers as I pray for him. He is one of my heros.
[Based on a text posted elsewhere. Well, at least kleptomaniac acts are not "sins that cry to heaven"...]


  1. Rodrigo, please post your comment again.

  2. rodrigo6:03 PM

    I think it is a stretch to call Mark Shea a "conservative". Though he has his moments of verbal brilliance, he has a long and unpleasant record of making needless attacks on friends of Tradition, and he often seems to strike poses purely for the sake of appearing paradoxical. The trend in American Catholicism which he represents - pseudoChestertonian ex-Evangelical American-wannabe-Englishmen spouting pseudoCatholic talking points - is to be deplored.

  3. John McFarland6:53 PM

    Dear New Catholic,

    The following seems to me a fair epitome of your procedure in dealing with the memory of Mr. Vincenzo (RIP):

    1. I am ready, willing and able to judge him on the basis of the good things I know about him.

    2. Far be it from me to judge him on the basis of the bad things I know about or suspect about him.

    Viewed as an objective phenomenon, this looks like special pleading.

    Viewed as a subjective phenomenon, this looks like doublemindedness.

  4. Mr. McFarland.

    Take a look at the last sentence of the post to realize what this post is all about.

  5. Brilliant. Simply Brilliant.

  6. A regular reader of Rorate7:17 PM

    To New Catholic:

    This front page of RORATE CAELI is NOT admirably presented to the usual standards expected of this site.

    When Almighty God HIMSELF gave the 10 Commandments to Moses and bound all following generations to adhere to this revelation of His MINIMAL requirements, He did NOT state: "Thou shalt NOT steal - unless you are a 'kleptomaniac'".

    Therefore, since the writer neither well addresses the Divine Command to love the sinner and hate the sin nor that we are NOT to judge the state of other's souls or even our own, a RORATE reader must question WHY YOU PRINTED THIS above all other magnificent musings of the saints.

    This gentleman's need to share his thoughts in print somewhere else is his business BUT YOUR NEED TO SHARE his ramblings could undermine/negate your EXCELLENT and ESSENTIAL other articles. This is NOT normally an eclectic site.

    Through the Holy Spirit's Mercy, may you receive an increased awareness of the dignity of your position from this point forward.

  7. Matthew Rose7:20 PM

    New Catholic:

    Thank you for a good laugh, and for pointing out the patent absurdity of the original text and position in question.

    May God bless you!

  8. what in the world!?!7:36 PM

    Why entitle this post the "Klepto Saint" when you go on so long about why you do not care if he was etc.,

    This is a very strange posting and one I think that belongs in your diary rather than this wonderful blog.

    Anyone new to this blog might be quite alarmed at what you find is important enough to post --and it will certainly turn off many!!

  9. Pray for me. I pray for you.7:37 PM

    This is a Catholic?? What senseless, silly rambling! He needs prayers. Many prayers.

    He uses the false humility of not "judging" someone just like Liberals and Prots do. Yet he, in his infinite wisdom and authority DID judge the man. He judged him to be a saint. Santo subito!

    Where in the world did he get the idea that his opinion was sound or that anybody needed it? Is he now a priest? A theologian? Psychologist?? He could, however be barrack obama since almost every one of his sentences begins with "I", "I", "I". Narccisism is an ugly thing.

    Where do all these self-important small people come from? Put Shea back in the box with Voris, Mirus and all those Q & A "experts" that confuse poor people with all their half-truths. They should all read Soul of the Apostolate until they know every word by heart. If they spent just half the time they used promoting their own opinions, instead in humble prayer begging for the grace of humility, they would not have time for this nonsense because they would be too busy being Catholic Militants in the style of Tradition like the saintly Catholics who came before them.

    New Catholic, pardon me for saying so, but it would not hurt my feelings at all if you never posted any more opinions from this sort of...Catholic...again. If I wanted to hear unsound, theologically deficiant opinions from the Darkside I could go to New Advent's homepage. Talk about scary.

  10. Consecrate Russia Now7:52 PM

    He refuses to "judge" and still he judges.

    He loves kleptomaniacs in the church yet he does not know if there even are kleptomaniacs in the church.

    He accepts gluttony as a grave sin yet he accepts to continue to commit it.

    Irrational ramblings makes my hair hurt. Yikes!

  11. Prof. of Theo7:55 PM

    I wonder if we substituted any of the other sins you usually complain about on this blog for kleptomania, if you would be willing to be so generous.

  12. David8:10 PM

    I think it might be a good idea to make it a little bit more clear that this is satire. Many seem to be lost on it, me included at the first read.


  13. P.K.T.P.8:14 PM

    I could not agree about the part of allowing the sin to continue for a while to prevent a worse outome, for intent preceeds consequence. We are not teleologists here. What is the story of St. Onesimus? He robbed his master and fled. He encountered St. Paul at Rome. St. Paul wrote a letter of apology to his master and sent him back to him with the letter. His master forgave Onesimus, who went on to becomes a saint. The end can never justify the means, so one can never counsel one to continue in his sin.

    The parallel between kleptomania and sexual inversion has been raised before. The inverts can only answer by asserting that their proclivities do not harm others but only affect those who participate in them. Of course, this is not true; it is only that the damage done to others is indirect. The example set by homerasty mililtates against the divine purpose of sexuality, which, in turn, was instituted for the progagation and indeed survival of mankind.


  14. "...[Based on a text posted elsewhere. Well, at least kleptomaniac acts are not "sins that cry to heaven"...]..."

    Here is the sermon based on men like your klepto 'friend':





    Sermons and Conferences: Featured sermons of Father Joseph Pfeiffer;

    Zacheus and the House of God.

    And yes, as a matter of fact, I did steal it.

    Deo gracias.


  15. P.K.T.P.8:21 PM

    The 'not judging' error comes from a Biblical passage. What the passage really means, from its context and the Church's commentatary (e.g. see the Haydock Bible) is that we must not judge *RASHLY*. Since the 1960s, liberals have deliberately misinterpreted this passage to justify all manner of evil. (Another of their ploys has been to disparage 'labelling'. Labelling of persons is a good thing: we need labels to sort out persons, as long as we understand that their applicability is not always precise. If a man be conservative, we should say so: he's a conservative. Never mind the errant nonsense to the contrary. All of this comes from liberals who want to slip-slide out of all categories, for they hate the structure of truth.)

    Indeed, we are called upon and at times are duty-bound to judge not only the sin but also the sinner, but we must do so never assuming that the sinner is any worse than we are, for only God can see all the circumstances. But it is not a sin to judge a rake to be a rake or a thief to be a thief, and it may be necessary to do so to protect one's goods, or one's daughter.


  16. Oh, for crying out loud. Can't anyone recognize parody?

    Here's the original:

  17. Mellow8:27 PM

    Folks. It's a sarcastic piece.

    Thanks, NC. Very funny.

  18. P.K.T.P.8:41 PM

    Michael R.:

    Parody or no, the fact remains that many have, in the past, tried to draw a parallel between sexual inversion and kleptomania, so this affords us a good opportunity to compare the two and see the extent to which there are correspondences.


  19. Anonymous9:22 PM

    Thank you, New Catholic, for this little piece! It made me smile; the more so after being irritated by the "exemplar" posted elsewhere a while back. God love you!
    --Fr. Capreolus

    P.S. The almost-but-not-quite self-parody of the many serious comments was a bonus!

  20. Thank you, Fr Capreolus.

  21. Johnny Domer9:53 PM

    How to be Mark Shea (In 4 Simple Steps!):

    Step 1: Write articles that have controversial positions (e.g., gays should have legal means to share property, a gay man living with another gay man is not necessarily scandalous) and that you know will tick people off.

    Step 2: Have a comment box where the ticked-off will vent. Because it's the internet, many of these people will write angry, often imprecise comments even if their disagreement is serious and legitimate. This is entirely predictable. Some of the criticisms will be well-reasoned, but we needn't worry about those too much.

    Step 3: Act preachy and offended at the less precise and more angry comments. Focus on them, and not on the intelligent criticisms, in order to imply subtly that everyone disagreeing with you is a nutjob.

    Step 4: Repeat as necessary.

  22. Trifecta10:05 PM

    Take one look at the comments on this thread... and Traddies ask why few take them seriously.

    Time for self-examination folks.

  23. Not Anon10:22 PM


    Isn't it funny how the Shea-type Catholic always remarks about some particular sin, say it's none of their business, and then go on canonizing that person like it's just another day at the job?

    Ask for prayers, then ZIP IT (to use American lingo).

  24. Not Anon Strikes Again10:26 PM

    Here's the problem with sarcasm these days: we've seen it all, nothing surprises us anymore! We're completely blunted. It doesn't seem ridicilous at all, and, it isn't - because we've even seen worse, many, many times.

  25. My favorite part - I assume it was intended - was the NCVille pun. "(k)N(i)C(k) Ville" (to knick = to steal) and "N(ew) C(atholic) Ville." Very clever.

  26. JTLiuzza10:37 PM

    Trifecta said..."Take one look at the comments on this thread... and Traddies ask why few take them seriously."

    I've never encountered one Catholic who loves tradition that has asked such an irrelevant question. And the point of your remark escapes me, I must admit.

  27. John McFarland11:17 PM

    Dear Augustinus,

    "[Based on a text posted elsewhere. Well, at least kleptomaniac acts are not "sins that cry to heaven"...]"

    This remark was not much help in recognizing the parodic intent of the piece. Indeed, it was a lot more obscure than what went before.

    One can't very well expect JOKE!!! in 72 pt. bold magenta italics before a parody; but I at least need a little more help than this. If it weren't for those posters who knew of the Shea piece, I might have gone to my grave thinking that NC had had a bout of temporary insanity, or had finally fallen victim to the contradiction latent in all soft traditionalist thinking.

    But as for traditionalists who read Mr. Shea's stuff, notwithstanding my debt to some of them, they should be ashamed of themselves. Life is too short to waste time on this sort of thing, whether it reflects conviction or just the desire (all too common among the Irish) to say things just to get a rise out of folks.

  28. This needs a kicker like "Satirical and Enjoying it'

  29. Lol! Pretty funny and clever!

    Shea's Rainbow dahlia, a symbol of the
    Catholic Kleptomaniac "lifestyle"

    This had me rolling on the floor laughing!

  30. I'll never look at a dahlia in the same way again. Yet another perfectly good symbol ruined by the Klepto agenda. >sigh<

  31. Oh, and by the way... everyone who seems exasperated with those who didn't realize this was a parody, consider that those unfamiliar with Mark Shea's vomit are to be commended for their discriminating tastes, and not treated like ignoramuses. The ignoramuses are to be found among Shea's mind numb sycophants.