Sunday, October 26, 2014

Do We Abandon the Church in Stormy Waters?

This video of ships being tossed around and almost capsized by massive ocean waves is basically what many have characterized as the condition of the Catholic Church following the Synod on the Family.  With the ending of the Synod, the Catholic blogosphere and certain "catholic" media are telling us that the Church is in a major crisis and that Church hierarchy, including and maybe most especially Pope Francis, are trying to destroy the Church.  Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara put out a video in which they actually said Pope Francis may well be the "worst pope ever" and we might have to start thinking in terms of "anti pope."

Michael Voris did a video in which he reported that Cardinal Burke accused Pope Francis of harming the Church. A few days later Voris pulled the video and actually did a mea culpa, saying he did not want anyone to think he, Voris, was in any way publicly criticizing the Pope. Some of those who are normally critical of Voris were instead applauding him for this move, while the normal Voris supporters harshly criticized him. The world truly was upside down. However, both groups need to really rethink their positions. Yes, Voris said he will not publicly criticize Pope Francis, but just two days before he released a video of how Catholics should react if the entire Church hierarchy, including the Pope, is unfaithful to Christ and His Church.

From Voris:
"So let’s just say for discussion that the pope is a bad pope and is very opposed to the traditions of the Church."
Many will say that Voris isn't actually accusing the Pope of anything. He is just proposing a scenario. Well, he then proposes more "scenarios", all of which he has stated, more times than I can count, represent the actual state of the Church:
Let’s just say there is a cabal of wicked and evil bishops and cardinals in cahoots with him to overthrow the Church.
Let’s just say there are many other cardinals and bishops who through a willful ignorance and cowardice and naïveté are going along with this because they actually believe it is better to accommodate the world than to fight the evil in it.
And let’s just say most dioceses in the world have succumbed to one degree or another to the evil and most of them are unfaithful in varying degrees.
Let’s just say most Catholics no longer believe the Catholic faith, which must be believed totally.
And let’s just say most leaders in the Church, including the pope, are no longer Catholic in any meaningful manner and want wholesale changes that touch on the very heart of the faith.

We know that Voris believes all of the above because he has certainly stated these things enough times. So it is only logical to assume that he also believes Pope Francis is a bad pope, although he refuses to "publicly" state so.  Voris somehow thinks it is okay to attack every part of the body but the head.  It is okay to cut off toes, fingers or even whole arms and legs, stab and slash at vital organs, beat with bats and sticks, etc., but just don't touch the head.  Voris actually has the gall to say the following:
"I have dedicated the remainder of my life to serving the Church and to have to consider that I did something that brought some harm to Her makes me heart sick."
Voris is the guy who told everyone to stop financially supporting their parishes and dioceses. Voris is the guy who said Cardinal Dolan is evil and going to hell. Voris is the guy who said most bishops are "homosexualists". Voris is the guy who said the average Catholic sitting in the pew is "Catholic In Name Only." It seems to me that his entire "apostolate" is all about destroying the institutional Church, which he has said is on its last legs and needs to be destroyed.

It should be pointed out that the answer Voris gives to the above "scenarios" is that we should remain "faithful." My question is: faithful to what? If we are to believe Voris, this is no Church left to which we can be faithful.

Not to fear. In a video a few days later, Voris has given us the answer. There is a group of people who can always be trusted to never go off the rails and lead us astray. It is "the faithful Catholic media" of which Voris is a proud member. Never mind that Voris' own bishop will not allow him to use the word "Catholic" in his organization's name. That guy is just part of the false "Church of Nice" anyway and no one should listen to him. In fact, the very fact that Church hierarchy rejects Voris only gives him more credibility, because "faithful Catholic media" can only be faithful if they are separate from the Catholic Church, as Voris tells us:
"You simply cannot have a Catholic Media run by the Church. It must be free and independent—a free press, a free Catholic press—beholden to nothing but the truth."

So should Catholics now fear that there is a snake under every rock threatening to destroy the Church?  Do we stop trusting the Church hierarchy and start trusting people like Michael Voris and Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara?  Has the Holy Spirit abandoned the Church and left us to fend for ourselves?

Those who say we must reject Church hierarchy need to be reminded of the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in Luke 10:16.  This is what Our Lord told not just Peter, but ALL of the apostles, of whom Catholic bishops are the direct descendants: "Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me." The "you" spoken of in this verse is not referring to "faithful Catholic media" but to Church hierarchy. Jesus Christ specifically says that to reject the authority of Church hierarchy is to reject Him. Yet, this seems to be exactly what Michael Voris is proposing.

Our Lord told us (John 15:5) that "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  For those who think they can be independent from the church, Our Lord warned in the next verse: "If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." And as Luke 10:16 shows us, the only way to truly remain in Christ is to accept the authority of His Church.

Michael Voris and those who defend him would answer that they are not talking about being separate from the Church, but just from those in the corrupt hierarchy.  But is it really possible to make our own personal judgments and separate ourselves from the hierarchy of the Church and still remain in communion with the Church?

Even though they are sinful, fallible men, we cannot separate Church hierarchy en masse from Jesus Christ. This does not mean that we have to accept every word that comes from every individual bishop and priest.  But as Our Lord said, to deliberately separate ourselves from earthly Church authority is to separate ourselves from the true Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.  

We need to remember that Our Lord gave the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter, NOT to the laity and not to "faithful Catholic media". There was no clause to this agreement between Peter and Christ that this would be binding only as long as Peter acted in a certain way. Why? Because Peter and his successors and all of Church hierarchy are, in effect, nothing more than puppets. This is not saying that they give up their free will in their personal lives. They are still fallible human beings who are as capable of losing their salvation as any of the rest of us. (And because of their positions, they are actually judged much more severely than the laity.) But our Lord told us that the Holy Spirit is the One who is really pulling the strings in the Church, and even when it seems like He is asleep in the boat as Jesus Christ was with the apostles, He is still in charge. That is why Jesus said that when we reject Church hierarchy, we are rejecting Him. We cannot just decide on our own that we can no longer trust those put in charge by the Holy Spirit. We never have the right to become our own magesterium.

I find it interesting that none of those who are condemning Pope Francis for leading the Church astray have quoted from his final speech to the Synod. You can read the entire speech HERE, and I would strongly suggest it. Pope Francis directly addressed those statements from the Synod that seem to have been in conflict with Church teaching, and how we should deal with this. Here are just a few excerpts:

"Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.
Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).
And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.
Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.
And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.
We have been given an ironclad promise by Jesus Christ that the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church.  The night before He was crucified, just a few short hours before He was arrested by the Sanhedrin, Our Lord told His Disciples (John 14:1):
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In that same chapter of John 14, Jesus said (verses 16-18):
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you.
Many have accused me of being an ultramonatist, which means I believe the Pope can do no wrong. I do not have faith in any man, not even the Pope. But I do believe the words of Jesus Christ who told me that He gave the Keys to the Kingdom to Peter, and that He will never cease to work through Peter.  Our Lord never told me I had to rely on my own weak and sinful judgment.  He said I need to do is trust in Him, and He will never allow me to go astray.  Michael Voris is actually right - we do need to remain faithful.  But that means being faithful to Holy Mother Church, not to "catholic media" or anyone else who is apart and separate from the Church.

Proverbs 3:5-8:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.

This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
We live in very evil times, and the Barque of Peter is thrashing wildly on the troubled seas. Now is not the time to decide the Church is not seaworthy. Now is just when we should be trusting even more deeply that Our Lord is in charge and will not allow His Church to be destroyed, either from within or without. It is not up to us to stand in judgment of those in authority. If we really feel they are not fulfilling the duties of their office, as St. Paul wrote in I Timothy 2:1-3:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Our first Pope, St. Peter, wrote (I Peter 1:5-6)
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
As Pope Francis reminded us at the Synod:
So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).
When you are feeling lost and afraid, go before the Blessed Sacrament and realize that there is nothing to fear.  Our Lord has conquered all.


  1. Bravo! A very well written expose on individuals who claim to be faithful to the Church, but whose actions and statements show their true colors.
    Talk about calling a spade a spade. Well done!

  2. In my opinion you misread the video that you are talking about with Michael. I think he was trying to tell all the panicked and fearful people to calm down and the healthy Catholic response in the long run. I have an SSPX friend that I love dearly but she can drive me crazy. It is not logical to assume that he believes all of those things...He was stating all the various panicked and nasty scenarios from the blogosphere and saying so what if you are right...the response is still to be faithful to the pope and to the magisterium...You and Michael both frustrate me. How many articles have you done about Michael? Michael seems to be your favorite target because you think he is dangerous and you feel the need to warn people? You are relentless. But you do not see any of the good that he has done....
    Michael harps on Catholic media that does not call out evil as he does, or call out clergy who he sees as confusing or going against the faith. . What he does not seem to realize is that someone has to actually teach the faith and teach it without all the drama or real world views....we are not all ready for that. And he harps on Fr Barrons one mistake, (though Fr. Barron still may not see it as a mistake) that there is a reasonable hope that hell is empty. Michael brings it up and he cannot let it drop or even balance the script with reality by acknowledging the good that Fr Barron has done and is doing.. Michael does it because he feels that the notion that hell is empty is very misleading and that it is leading people astray .People need to know that is not right.
    What neither of you seem to realize is that the people who need to hear and understand your message will never hear it because they get defensive with relentless attacking of a person. I know you both do it in order to educate others of what you see as the dangers that are posed. But only the choir that you are preaching to will hear your message... In my opinion, both of you judge harshly and make enemies of someone on the same side as you who is also fighting for the Church, also fighting against Satan and also doing the best they can and doing what they feel is right.. Both of you go on the attack...Camps get divided.
    We are all on this barque of Peter together...
    Do you realize that when you are attacking another, even when what you say is true, you tend to sound really condescending , because it certainly seems that you are sitting in judgement of the other. We are all doing the best we can in the fight against evil. We are all following our conscience and not a one of us is perfect.. Michael has one of the best websites there is for learning the faith with hundreds of hours of great programming and reams of pages bursting with knowledge, the Catholic Faith, Apologetics. You have a great page with lots of great articles .. Fr Barron has tons of great talks and has done wonders in getting info to the world in general and people listen to on the same team, are turning people away from the one whose fault you cannot stand and that fault seems to blind you....I do not agree with either of you all the time but I learn from both of you. You both benefit me in my faith. I LOVE you both! It is so frustrating ...We are on the same team and the world is falling apart around us..You had a bunch of good stuff in this article but it came after all the stuff about Michael,,,,and it is hard to get that far for me.... Forgive me, I am tired and objectivity is not my strong point anyway...just know that. all of this is just the way I see things right now.....and I am far from either perfect or clearsighted... but I am who I have to work with....Jesus has teach me and help me and I have a long, long way to go.......

    1. Thanks for your comment. Except for the comment about the Pope, Voris has stated all of the other "scenarios" as the actual state of the Church many times. So it's hard to believe that he does not also believe this "scenario" regarding the Pope, but just will not publicly state it. For some mysterious reason, he deems it perfectly okay to attack and demonize every part of the Catholic Church EXCEPT the Pope.

      Yes, I realize that I have done many posts on Voris, and I think it tends to be too much. But the problem is that tens of thousands of Catholics - including many whom I personally know - listen to him and accept his garbage. And yes, I do find him to be a very dangerous person, turning Catholics against the hierarchy of the Church. So, unfortunately, I will probably continue to bring up his lies and heresies and warning against him.

      I have a long, long way to go to in my life as a Christian. So I do thank you for your comments and observations.

    2. I am going to have to agree with Plato on this one. If all trads treated the Pope the way Voris treats the Pope I would have much much less to complain about.

      In fact over on one traditionalist blog I post on they have a lot of hostility for Voris because he doesn't unload on the Pope and castigates those who do.

  3. plato does make a good point. However, I believe the evil that Voris is doing needs to be exposed and opposed.
    The evil I am speaking is to insult and attack Priest who are in good standing with their Bishops and Bishops who themselves are in good standing with the Holy See. These insults and attacks ultimately fall on the Holy Father himself, because it is he, as Vicar of Christ is where the authority of our Bishops and Priest comes from. In reality you can not separate the Pope from the rest of the Clergy.
    Canon Law allow us as laity to disagree with our Clergy, but it also maintains that we must show proper respect and religious obedience to them.
    In my opinion a Catholic who fails to follow this Canon is not in Communion with the Church and according to Mr. Voris in charity we all have an obligation to point this out.


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