The Great Shea-Hippolito Grudge Match

Saint Blogs can be an entertaining place, and one of the more amusing grudge matches for the past decade has been the ongoing feud between Joseph D’Hippolito and Mark Shea.  This fight has been waged on every Catholic blog imaginable.  Go here for a google search of a few of their combats.  Neither of the verbal gladiators is a stranger to bombastic language, over the top characterizations and the unending construction of straw men.  On the other hand, both are pretty good writers and have some talent at argument when they deign to do so rather than to simply vent.

Joe started the latest conflict with a post at Front Page magazine in which he mildly compares Shea and his comments on Iran to the mad poet and traitor Ezra Pound who broadcast pro-Fascist propaganda from Mussolini’s Italy during World War II.  Go here to read it.  Mark responds here  by patiently calling Joe a cold-blooded advocate for mass murder.

Now this of course is my cue to make a remark similar to the one famously made in the video below:

Alas, one of the main reasons why I blog is for simple amusement, and I have enjoyed over the years watching this blog vendetta, albeit in an observing a car crash sans injuries type of way.  So, cry havoc and unleash the hounds of blog war!



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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. I am not familiar with Joseph D’Hippolito but I know of Mark Shea and he is the reason I discontinued my subscription to “This Rock” magazine (now Catholic Answers). Nor will I support the parent organization of that magazine in any way.

    His over the top rhetoric is unnecessary. It’s not a matter of “taste” either, it’s just unnecessary and adds nothing to what he tries to say. The one or two well written articles on Catholic doctrine he writes are overshadowed by his many bellicose postings. In particular the vicious attacks on John Corpai come to mind. Regardless of what Corapi may or may not have done, his “writings” on that situation was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

    I find that avoiding Mark Shea all together has been an excellent choice. My time is better spent reading sites like this one. I will take my time and money anywhere Mark Shea is not.

  2. I find that avoiding Mark Shea all together has been an excellent choice. My time is better spent reading sites like this one. I will take my time and money anywhere Mark Shea is not.

    That doubles for me. Mark should stick to apologetics – at which he does a very fine job – and his articles at NCRegister and OSV, where he has an editor to check the reins as needed.

  3. That article by Joe D’Hippolito over at Front Page was so hysterically critical of Mark in such a blatantly ignorant, dishonest and hate-filled way, that only Joe or Mark himself could have written it.

    Two sides of the same coin, those two.

  4. Given that one of the people whose murder Joe has not-so-subtly advocated is me, I do think that Joe’s rhetoric is a problem–and a documentable one. However, I have not actually feuded with Joe for roughly five years, when I wrote him and said I thought it was bad for both our souls to continue the squabble. Joe agreed (I have the correspondence), promised to stop invading my comboxes, and then promptly broke his promise. I banned him and killfiled him and, since then, the “feud” has, for the past five years, consisted entirely of Joe endlessly complaining about me in comboxes all over St. Blogs (all while complaining of being “stalked”) and me almost never engaging or discussing him (check Google and my blog if you don’t believe me). I responded to *this* piece because what Joe (and Pewsitter) wrote is libel. I will be happy to return to avoiding the man.

    As to mohawks, I have a chin mohawk.

  5. Mark—I had the same reaction to Shea and he now writes for the Register I believe. I will not bother to voyage into the debate as I am not familiar with Mr. D’Hippolito. I found Mr. Shea to be not just intellectually dishonest and ridiculously misinformed on subjects ranging from conservative politics to international relations, but I consider him to be stylistically sanctimonious, passive aggressive, and snarky. I have better things to do and better things to read. …but to each his own.

  6. I too have ceased to support Catholic Answers due to their looking the other way at Shea’s calumnious screeds. Same goes for the rest of Catholic writers and apologists establishment who have also continued to fete Shea despite their clear knowledge of his despicable behavior. This brings unspeakable shame upon the Church.

  7. This post was meant to be fairly light hearted. I do not want it to degenerate into a “I hate Shea-athon.” Mark has people who like the way he blogs and others who hate the way he blogs, but an examination of that is not the purpose of this post.

  8. Donald:

    I caught your light-hearted tone. As to the comments: they are a suitable Lenten penance for me.

    Also: “Rocky” was way better than any of its sequels. I’m just sayin’.

  9. I tend to agree with you on Rocky Mark, although I have always treasured the final fight with Clubber Lane in RocKy III and the line: “He’s not getting killed, he’s getting mad!”:

  10. I think some of you guys are far too precious WRT Mark Shea’s writing style, which is hyperbolic and confrontational and designed to get us uncomfortable. He expresses his views clearly and unambiguously, and Greg saying his writing brings “unspeakable shame on the Church” is, frankly, ludicrous.

    I actually like his style, and he doesn’t mind one disagreeing with him provided its not abusive – which is fair enough, I say. I have several of his books, and use his material in my RCIA and apologetics.

    And if you don’t like it, get over it and move on, but don’t bleat like sheep. 🙂

  11. Don, what do you think would happen? Light hearted? You post something about Joe D’Hippolito writing a piece making very serious accusations (which actually have some merit) against Shea and you were just being light hearted? Please!!!!!

    I find it peculiar that you seem to want to protect Shea despite the fact that he engages in some to the worst behavior imaginable for a prominent Catholic apologist and writer. Furthermore, you have the entire prominent Catholic apologetics and writers establishment who refuse to do their, I think grave, Christian duty to fraternally correct him and publicly distance themselves from him should he refuse to act according to that correction. Pointing that out is not a hate-a-thon.

  12. More seriously, though I’m no fan of either writer, Joe’s post (though hyperbolic) contains actual facts and links to credible sources. Mark might think snark and strawmen are convincing, but only if one views these exchanges as a sort of performance art.

  13. Paul:

    Slightly off topic, did you ever see “Son of Rambow”? Charming movie, though I do get tired of Evil Repressed White Male Christian Dude as the stock villain.

  14. One can easily write a post with “facts” in it and draw conclusion from these “facts” that are libelous. This Joe has done. He strings together a few quotes and links and tries to claim I am a writing propaganda on behalf of the regime in Iran. Being opposed to the drums being pounded for war against Iran is not propaganda on behalf of their brutal regime. It is opposition to yet another foolish war against that regime. Meanwhile, Joe has advocated the use of nuclear weapons against multiple targets in the mideast, as well as the indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims in New Jersey. I don’t see that it is either snark or strawman to point out these facts, nor to draw actual valid conclusions from them, such as “Joe D’Hippolito is not a particularly reliable credible source on our Iran policy.”

    That said, I like talking about “Son of Rambow” better.

  15. This post was nothing of what I expected when I followed it from http://thepulp.it , but since I’m here I must say I enjoy Mark’s blog as it is a reminder to me that to be Catholic is to be neither Republican nor Democrat.

    On another note, I think some of the remarks here are unnecessary and would fall under the sin of detraction.

  16. I think some of you guys are far too precious WRT Mark Shea’s writing style, which is hyperbolic and confrontational and designed to get us uncomfortable.

    Difference between confrontational and distasteful. I won’t post examples of his writings to point this out because of respect for Donald’s wishes.

    And if you don’t like it, get over it and move on

    Well I cannot speak for everyone, but I have stopped reading from sources associated with him and have in fact “moved on”. I think most of us posting about our dislike of Marks’s writing style (he very well is probably a wonderful person to chat with over a cup of coffee face to face) did so because of the topic of this post. Not because we could not move on.

  17. I actually liked Rocky II and then Rocky IV… how can you not like Rocky IV? It was the 80s and we beat the Soviets… ah, those were the days… when I was proud of my country and we beat the Commies…. now we are the commies… so sad 🙁

  18. BRET! Nice! What I wondering when the Mr. T v. Rocky Balboa comment was made is who would be Rocky and who would be the Soviet. 🙂

  19. Betsy,

    Sometimes humor doesn’t translate well online in a single line.

    It wasn’t meant to be a “National Enquirer” type of link.

    As for Rocky, I agree with Paul, the last one was kind of good.

  20. The first Rocky was the best, it was also a very good year for American movies – Network comes to mind. Hollywood is nothing but cheap propaganda for liberals now. I’ll be rooting for the Russians in any rematch. How times have changed.

  21. Shea is pretty much a dolt, in my view, trying to stake out a pious “pox upon both your houses” view of presidential politics, which, while very smug, is very dangerous. his disdain for McCain, while understandable, was reckless when it resulted in advocating voting for whatever quixotic candidate he voted for. Result: Obama. Now we see the same thing again, where no candidate is ritually pure enough for Papa Shea. Result may yet again be: Obama if enough Catholics follow his mutton-headed view of matters.

    That, plus his ill-informed pontificating on moral theology, waters too deep for him to be dabbling in, result in his frequent ham-handed pronunciamentos on particular issues like enhanced interrogation and the death penalty, about which he is educationally unqualified to offer more than a purely private opinion. Yet he thunders condemnations as if his positions are the sole one acceptable for a Catholic, and many times in the process ignores, dismissively minimizes, or belittles any Catholic teaching prior to 1965 in conflict with his conclusions.

    He is exhibit #1 in why no one should rely on the internet magisterium for reliable information on Catholic moral theology.

  22. Paul Zummo writes: Mark might think snark and strawmen are convincing, but only if one views these exchanges as a sort of performance art.


    Hold your cards.

  23. I have a great respect for Mark Shea’s work in at least one sense: He is willing to take on even his audience of mostly conservative readers when he thinks they are advocating evil. Whatever one thinks, he does stick to his guns, even when they may cost him in the pocketbook.

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