I, like Michael Voris, am a "cradle" Catholic (I don't really like that term) who left and then came back to the Church after 38 years. I could barely recognize the Catholic Church as the same one I had known as a child. The church buildings looked completely different, with tables in place of the glorious high altars I had known as a kid, most of the statues seemed to have been removed, the magnificent Stations of the Cross had been replaced with little stick figure stations and many of the confessionals were now storage closets, to name just a few of the changes. I was stunned at people's demeanor in church, from the kind of clothes they were wearing to the fact that no one seemed to have any qualms about holding loud and disruptive conversations before and after Mass (and sometimes during Mass), children playing with toys during Mass, and almost no one bowing or genuflecting in front of the Tabernacle.
These are the kinds of issues that Michael Voris speaks to, so he really captured my attention. I felt like he gave a real voice to my feelings and frustrations.
Lately, though, I have begun to feel differently about the way in which Voris defends the Church. He is a lot like talk radio in that he creates an "us versus them" mentality, and the "them", more often than not, is not even those in the secular world world who actively oppose the Church, but our own bishops and priests. Voris actually seems to relish pointing out the spiritual failings of the bishops and priests of the "Church of Nice" as he calls it.
On January 3 Voris produced a video to explain the mission of his organization. He entitled this, "Slaying Dragons." You can watch the video here. As he explains, he sees the role of the Church as basically a militant warrior destroying evil wherever it is found:
We are prepared to do battle against the forces of darkness .. namely the kingdom of Hell and Satan which hates humanity because we are God’s most precious and beloved creatures. As the Old testament says of God .. “it is my delight to strive with the sons of men.” Imagine.
|Michael Voris says we should all look like|
beat up warriors at the end of each day
[UPDATE: FidesSpesCaritas and Christine in the combox below pointed out that I have misunderstood this statement from Voris that "As the Old testament says of God .. 'it is my delight to strive with the sons of men.' Imagine.", and I believe they are right. I think Voris was trying to make a positive statement about God's relationship with man and was actually using a bad translation of Proverbs 8:31 which says, "my delights were to be with the children of men." I was very confused by Voris' statement because it is very similar to Genesis 6:3 which says, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man", which would seem to contradict Voris. But upon reflection, I think Voris did mean this in a positive light, and he means God wants to be with man and yes, it is absolutely amazing that God chooses to have a relationship with sinful and weak human beings. I apologize for misunderstanding and mischaracterizing Michael Voris' statement here.]
Michael further expounds on what he sees as the Church's role:
Its role is to fight .. its charter to attack and tear down the kingdom of Satan .. the empire of lies and falsehood and heresies that so dominate the world today .. in short .. the mission of the Church and Her members is to slay dragons.
In James 4:7 we are told, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." The most effective way to defeat Satan is not to go on the attack against all that we perceive to be wrong in others, but, as James the brother of Christ told us, to submit to the Will of God in our own personal lives. We don't "attack and tear down" as much as we enlighten the world through the preaching of the Gospel. That certainly does involve pointing out sin and evil in the world, but this must always be done with love and concern for the souls of others. We are not told that we are the nuclear weapon of the world but rather, a light set on a hill. A light illumines, it does not destroy. Christ also called his followers the salt of the earth, salt being a preservative, not something which destroys. As for any fighting that may be involved, Deuteronomy 20:4 says: "For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you." Jesus defeated Satan through His Death on the Cross. He is the one who fights. Our job is to preach His Message.
And please, we most certainly should not be attacking and tearing down one another in the Church, and yet Michael Voris seems to take particular delight in doing just this.
An example of Michael Voris' delight in attacking others in the church is a Vortex episode he did in December entitled, "Trendy Catholics." You can watch this episode here. This episode is promoted as follows: "The clock is ticking on the Church of Nice. It won't be long now." He referenced an article in the Economist magazine which said that Traditional Catholicism is becoming more and more popular in the Church:
Traditional Catholicism is all the rage .. at least in England. But that is the case all over the western world. It’s avant-garde .. trendy .. almost like a hipster to actually bow before God and receive His Body and Blood on your tongue. It’s fashion forward for priests to be in cassocks and nuns in habits. Oh My. Imagine the shock all and horror bouncing off the walls of the Church of Nice. Unable to hold or inspire their own flagging parishes .. where are these other “nut job” Catholics coming from.Voris describes the Church of Nice as follows:
the saccharine syrupy hand holding ultra-feminized altar girl protestant hymn singing social justice priest facing with his back to God staring at the people staring back at him Church – in short practically every parish in the western world.Is this really what Our Lord wants us to do, to attack fellow believers? I am also very concerned about the blanket statement Voris makes here: "in short, practically every parish in the western world." By making this statement Voris is, in effect, setting himself up as judge and juror over the entire contemporary Church. Painting the entire Church with one broad brush stroke is prejudicial to say the least and, as can be seen, leads to very judgmental thinking. If we really believe that "practically every parish in the western world" is in spiritual trouble, shouldn't we, with great humility and mindful of our own sinfulness, be reaching out to them with love and compassion and praying that they will turn from error instead of just gleefully pointing out how wrong they are?
Voris recently produced another Vortex episode that I felt was even more cutting against fellow Catholics. This one is entitled, "Dead Branches." You can watch this episode here. Once again, he is attacking what he has labeled the "Church of Nice," this time telling us that they are all dead branches that need to be thrown out.
Take a good look around the Church these days .. look up and down the disastrous parish life that predominates the Catholic life on the ground. Take a look at the educational establishment .. universities and local religious ed departments. Closely examine the sprawling infrastructures and bureaucracies that permeate every diocese and archdiocese. Take a good long look at them all .. and then prepare to say goodbye. There is simply no way in 20 years .. most likely less that this sprawling behemoth is still going to be around. It has simply abandoned its mission of saving souls and making saints and as such .. the need for it no longer exists.There can be no denying the truth of what he says about the spiritual condition of many parishes and dioceses. But should we be rejoicing over the fact that those who are running these institutions are going to "get what they have coming" as Voris says here:
For a crowd so bent on social justice .. it’s actually good to see a little meted out to them. Not good that the faith has been eviscerated, but that many who have done the eviscerating get to see their life’s work crumble around them. And so it will go, with ever increasing pace and rapidity as the next few years roll along.
The leadership of these dioceses around the nation can fool themselves all they want that they have developed some new marketing plan or restructured evangelizing platform ..and give it all kinds of corporate sounding jingo names like parish “clusters” and new “collaboratives” .. neither of which by the way is a term from canon law .. but does sound very Madison Avenue .. go ahead and keep kidding yourselves. The old modernism is vanishing like the morning dew .. thank God. These people who have bought into this fake Catholicism and promote it until their dying breath have wreaked havoc on untold millions upon millions of souls .. betrayed Our Lord and are now receiving their just desserts.
And while it’s a pity that they made these choices .. it is NOT a pity that it has come to this. How can Our Blessed Lord continue to bless dead branches. They must be cut off and thrown into the fire .. and that is exactly what is happening and frankly .. too bad it didn't happen sooner.We absolutely do need to hold the Church hierarchy accountable for their actions. Should we be rejoicing when they get their "just desserts? Should we be saying "too bad it didn't happen sooner"? Shouldn't we instead be praying that they will repent of any wrongdoing, and shouldn't we mourn the choices they made instead of applauding their destruction? Voris would have us believe that the Church hierarchy is our enemy. But St. Paul specifically tells us in Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
|Michael Voris comparing the hierarchy of the|
church to dead branches and saying they must be burned up
It is an interesting contrast to look at how our Lord treated his betrayer, Judas Iscariot. He always knew Judas was going to betray him. But that didn't stop Jesus from treating Judas just as he did all the other Apostles. In fact, Christ even honored Judas by making him the treasurer, entrusting him with money. At the last supper, Jesus washed Judas' feet and even gave him Communion with the other apostles. All of this, we can be sure, was Jesus' way of attempting to draw Judas to repentance. And when Judas finally got his "just desserts", did our Lord take joy in it? Hardly.
Voris defends his statements with the following:
Think of all the human misery .. temporal and especially eternal that most assuredly would have been prevented if this demonic mischief and chicanery had been exposed and cleared away with sooner.We should never refer to any human being as "dead branches" as Michael Voris has done. That is the equivalent of condemning a person to hell. The only one who can make that judgment is God. Only God knows the state of a person's soul and what they are capable of. We know that the greatest enemies of the Church can sometimes become our biggest saints, as in the case of St. Paul, who was actually killing Christians before he repented. We need to be in prayer for the souls of those whom we think have gone off the track.
In this Vortex episode, Michael Voris actually makes the following statement about the hierarchy of the Catholic Church:
Too much of the establishment in the Church have turned to dead branches and the sooner they are cut off and become fuel for the fire .. the better for the rest of the vine.
|David spares Saul's life|
Our Catholic bishops and priests have been specially ordained by God. We have no right in making any judgments about their souls and hoping for the day that "they are cut off and become fuel for the fire." We certainly need to call them out when they are disobedient to the Church, but we must never, never rejoice in their destruction.
We live in very evil times when the Church is under attack. And we undoubtedly have enemies inside the Church as well as outside. But it is not our job to judge any one's soul and then to actually rejoice when they "get what they deserve." Our Lord showed us how to treat our enemies in the very fact that he did not rejoice but mourned the fate of Judas, the one who betrayed him.
I supported Michael Voris and his organization for a long time. And he does some good work. But his penchant for attacking the hierarchy of the Church has really started to bother me. I have personally been guilty of this sin as well, and I truly repent of that I hope Michael Voris will do the same.