Sunday, March 1, 2015

Are You Judge and Juror of Your Parish?

Only evil minded people profit from confusion in the hearts and minds of Catholics. They're able to sneak in their wicked agendas weakening the faith and self understanding of the faithful.
Michael Voris
Okay, okay, I know.  This is my third post in a row on Michael Voris and the "lies and falsehoods" that he promotes.  But he keeps putting out videos that are truly harmful and, if accepted, will most definitely "weaken the faith and self understanding of the faithful."  So I keep writing posts that counter him and give a different point of view, hopefully one that is true to the faith.

I have written in the past about all of the many times Voris has attacked and condemned lawfully ordained priests, bishops and cardinals of the Catholic Church and demanded that they resign or be fired.  Voris has also urged Catholics to withdraw their financial support from the Church.  One of my posts in particular got a lot of attention because Pewsitter linked to it for a few days.  You can read that post HERE.  As Voris said in that video,
Since money seems to be the only thing that motivates the Establishment Church – it is more than time for the faithful to begin withholding contributions. Why give money to a diocese that is gonna use that money to keep the status quo going – to abuse faithful Catholics while supporting fake Catholics – parishes and individuals.
First of all, as I showed in that post, it is a mortal sin to willfully withhold financial support from the Church. And further, what happens if people stop financially supporting their dioceses and parishes? Church closings, which means loss of access to the sacraments, and if allowed to take its natural course (which won't happen because the Holy Spirit will not allow it to happen), the destruction of the Catholic Church.

Voris is not only aware of the destruction that would result from Catholics withholding financial support, he celebrates it:
The whole thing is gonna blow up anyway – the sooner the better. What will emerge from the rubble is a purified Church, doctrinally, liturgically, morally, devotionally and clerically. Too bad Catholics didn’t know this about 50 years ago.
I would like to know where, in 2000 years of Church history, Catholics have ever been urged to destroy the Church in order to save her.  We have always been urged to pray and sacrifice for the Church and her leaders, but to actively participate in her destruction?  Sorry, Mike, but you're all alone on that one.

Now Voris has made a video in which he is urging Catholics to leave their Catholic parishes, which you can see HERE. Why would a person who claims to love the Catholic Church tell other Catholics to leave their parishes? This is the description of the video from the website:
Almost nothing that happens in your parish each Sunday has a thing to do with the Catholic Faith.

I will readily admit that there was a time when I was in total agreement with that statement.  As a result, I avoided my own local parish for many years.  I had had a bad experience there in which a priest told me in confession not to pray the rosary because it was nothing more than a mantra.  So I stopped going to that church.  I have since come to see just how wrong I was.

In the video, Voris gives 10 signs which indicate a Catholic parish is no longer Catholic.  Voris says these churches are operating under a false "Spirit of Vatican II" as opposed to Vatican II.  He tells us that if a church exhibits five of these signs, we should hit the road and look for a new church.

When listing these "signs" Voris follows each with the same statement: "Vatican II never ordered it, but the Spirit of Vatican II crowd did it in the name of Vatican II." There is no doubt that many have cited the Council as the reason for bringing true abuses into the Church which needed to be corrected. At the same time, Voris is treating Vatican II as if it was the deposit of faith and therefore anything done in the Church that is not specifically spelled out in Vatican II must be rejected. Vatican II was a very important council, but it is not the deposit of faith which can never be changed.  The purpose of Vatican II was to help the Church go into the world to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of the Council was NOT to give marching orders on what can and cannot be done in the Church, as Voris alludes to.

The "warning signs" give by Voris are the following in ascending order:

10) "GIRL ALTAR BOYS." It is up to the local Ordinary to allow or not allow female altar servers. The one who made this decision was St. John Paul II. This decision was put in the Code of Canon Law 230:
§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.
According to a 1994 letter from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship [HERE],
The Holy See respects the decision adopted by certain Bishops for specific local reasons on the basis of the provisions of Canon 230 2. At the same time, however, the Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar.
So yes, the preference is to have boys serve, but "girl altar boys" is NOT a liturgical abuse.  It is completely valid and does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

9)  "HOLY COMMUNION IN THE HAND".  Again, it is up to the local Ordinary to allow or disallow reception of communion in the hand.   I personally prefer receiving on the tongue and wish all people did.  However, from a letter dated May 29, 1969 from the Sacred Congregation [HERE], the following is stated:
In reply to the request of your conference of bishops regarding permission to give communion by placing the host on the hand of the faithful, I wish to communicate the following. Pope Paul Vl calls attention to the purpose of the Instruction Memoriale Domini of 29 May 1969, on retaining the traditional practice in use. At the same time he has taken into account the reasons given to support your request and the outcome of the vote taken on this matter. The Pope grants that throughout the territory of your conference, each bishop may, according to his prudent judgment and conscience, authorize in his diocese the introduction of the new rite for giving communion.
As can be seen, it was Blessed Pope Paul VI who allowed communion in the hand.  The letter gives very specific instructions on how this is to be done, and sadly, it is not followed as it should be in many churches.  But receiving communion in the hand is not a liturgical abuse and the practice of same does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

8)  "INCORRECTLY CALLED EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS."  Again, this is covered under Canon Law 230, §2.  Voris is correct in that they should be called Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, but nonetheless, no matter what label you use, they are not a liturgical abuse but are completely valid, they do not render a church any less Catholic and this is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

7)  "MOVING THE TABERNACLES OUT OF THE SANCTUARY."  I do not like this practice, either, and it is heartening that many churches who have done this are now changing course and moving the tabernacle back.  However, it is not illicit in any way to move the tabernacle out of the sanctuary.  In fact, it is sometimes a wise thing to do.  Case in point:  the memorial of Mother Cabrini is here in NYC.  Her uncorrupted body lies beneath the altar at the church of her shrine as seen below:

This is a tourist attraction and many non-Catholics, who have no concept of the honor and reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament, visit the Shrine.  The tabernacle, therefore, is kept in a separate room.  I understand this is not the case with most churches.  Even so, moving the tabernacle is not illicit, does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

6) "CONSTANT LACK OF PREACHING ON THE HARD TRUTHS OF THE FAITH." I love a good sermon that expounds on the teaching of the Catholic Church. I do wish priests would talk more about the problems that plague our society such as abortion, homosexuality, broken families, etc. But even if your priest is actually teaching heresy, the answer is not to leave the parish. The answer is first to go and talk to him, and if nothing is accomplished, then report him to your bishop. The state of the soul of the priest and/or how effective his sermons are does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

5)  "THE PARISH RELIGIOUS ED PROGRAMS BEING RUN BY UNKNOWLEDGEABLE AND OFTEN TIMES UNFAITHFUL CATHOLICS."  This most definitely can be a problem, but is the answer to head for the hills, or is it to try to correct the problem as in #6, by first talking to your priest and if nothing is accomplished, go to the bishop.  The good or bad state of religious ed programs in a parish does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

4)  "HOMOSEXUAL AND HOMOSEXUAL FRIENDLY PRIESTS AND BISHOPS."  This is a favorite bugaboo with Voris.  He claims that if a priest or bishop shows any sympathy or compassion for those who carry this cross, that is an automatic sign that the cleric is off the rails and on his way to hell.  But what if your priest is actually guilty of this, even denying church teaching?  There are channels in the church in which to address this issue, and for the love of the Church, it is important to follow these channels and not just abandon ship, as Voris recommends.  It must be remembered that the state of a priest's soul has no effect on whether he can administer the sacraments.  He may be in mortal sin, but he is still Catholic and still a priest.  Further, by including bishops in this, Voris is saying that people should not only leave their Catholic parishes, but they have to leave the diocese as well.  The spiritual state of a cleric does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

3) "CONSTANT EMPHASIS ON THE SAMENESS OF ALL RELIGIONS." This is a very subjective call, and personally, I have not found it in any of the Catholic churches I have attended. Recognizing that there is truth in other religions - even though it is not the fullness of the truth as found in the Catholic Church - is not declaring all religions equal. It is recognizing that God is working with and calling every human being.  This does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

2) "PUTTING A SIGN OUT IN FRONT THAT NO LONGER READS CATHOLIC PARISH BUT NOW READS CATHOLIC COMMUNITY."  C'mon!   You're going to leave a Catholic parish because of semantics?!  Just how does this lessen the ability to receive the sacraments or worship in Mass?  You may not like it, but this does not render a church any less Catholic and is absolutely no reason to leave a Catholic parish.

1)  "THE OVERALL PROTESTANTZATION OF THE MASS TO DOWNPLAY CATHOLIC IDENTITY AND FAITH."  This complaint is in direct violation of Summorum Pontificum, which says the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary From are two valid and equal forms of the same rite, and one is not to be preferred over the other.  Again, if there are liturgical abuses, we should go through the proper channels, first to the priest and then the bishop.  But this "Protestantzation" (is that a word?) is, again a purely subjective judgment and as long as the Mass is in the correct form, it is valid whether you like it or not.  The Ordinary Form of the Mass is completely valid and licit.  To reject this Mass is to reject the Church.  

Voris calls all of these signs "protestant gobbledygook".  As I have shown, none of these are reasons to declare a parish "non-Catholic" and to leave it.  

As I stated, Voris's website says that most of what goes on in Catholic churches every Sunday has nothing to do with the Catholic Church.  What exactly does Voris call the Blessed Sacrament?  You may decide that a church is not Catholic enough for you, but the fact remains that Jesus Christ is still there, and His Presence makes all the difference.  Why would you leave a Church which has Jesus Christ residing in the tabernacle, no matter where that tabernacle may be?  Are you holier than Jesus?  If He is there, why aren't you?  He is not running away because there are problems.  He is not saying that because a church is not perfect, it is not Catholic.

Voris is basically saying here that we should not attend any Church that does not measure up to our standards.  If there are problems, don't stay and try to correct the problems.  Just wipe the dust off your feet and keep on going.  And just how does that help anyone?  Aren't we responsible for our spiritual brothers and sisters?  

Voris then goes on to cite a litany of signs that Catholic churches are no longer Catholic:  the priest facing the congregation during Mass, the use of vernacular over Latin, the use of contemporary music over "sacred music" (contemporary music can't be sacred?), he doesn't like the vestments worn by priests, less statues in the churches, removal of altar rails.  You can dislike any or all of these things, but none of these items of and by themselves has anything do with just how Catholic a parish is.  

So is there anything that would make a parish less Catholic? What are the signs of a genuine Catholic parish?

The answer is quite simple.  Ask yourself these four questions:
  1. Is the Parish in communion with Rome and under the lawful authority of the local bishop?
  2. Is the Blessed Sacrament present?
  3. Is the Mass validly celebrated?
  4. Do you have access to the sacraments?
If you can answer yes to these four questions, then your church is Catholic and you have no right to judge it otherwise, and certainly you have no excuse for abandoning it. If we were to listen to Voris and leave a church over five or more of these "signs" (the vast majority of which are perfectly licit and valid), 95% or more of Catholic churches would be closed. Voris even admits in the video that this "protestant gobbledygood has found its way into almost every parish." I can't speak to his inner motives. Maybe Voris really does believe this garbage he is spewing. But it is tremendously destructive to those who are taken in, and if followed, the Catholic Church would basically disappear.

Father Z answered a question on his blog about parishes borders and registration [HERE].  He wrote:
Every Catholic has a parish. Some have more than one.
Every place you have a domicile (where you intend to live with some degree of permanence, or have actually lived for five years) or quasi-domicile (where you intend to live for at least three months, or actually have lived for three months) is within the territory of a parish and a diocese.
You are a member of that parish, whether or not you fill out a registration form, whether you ever go there, whether you even know where it is.
. . .
With modern mobility, especially in North America, many Catholics choose to go to Mass in parishes where they are not actually members. Sometimes, they even register at these parishes, thinking that registering makes them members.
Do you abandon your family because they are not perfect?  Does everything and everyone in your life have to meet your standards and if they don't, do you boot them out?  It is not our job as laity to judge the validity of a Catholic parish.  If the local Bishop declares it Catholic, it is Catholic, and you can rest assured that Jesus Christ is present in the tabernacle, and the sacraments are valid.  If there are problems, then do what you can to fix them.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, at one time I agreed with Voris.  And I actually walked away from my local parish because I judged it not Catholic enough after a priest told me not to pray the Rosary.  Through the working of the Holy Spirit, I returned to my parish this past year, and I have found a vibrant group of people who pray the Rosary every day after Mass.  Yes, there are problems in the parish, just as there are in all parishes.  But Jesus Christ is present in the tabernacle, and I am among Catholics in my own neighborhood, right where Our Lord wants me to be.

We are all on the journey together.  Our Lord says we need one another.  He told us that a house divided against itself will not stand.  This is especially true now as the Church is coming under intense persecution all around the world.



  1. Amen and Amen.
    I reposted this on my own facebook page.
    I too have a problem with all 10 items that Voris mentions.
    I personally refrain from taking the Sacred Blood at Mass because it causes the need for Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist to have Chalices for everyone, but I serve as one in support of my Pastor's decision to allow it.
    Church Teaching and Canon Law require religious obedience to Parish Pastors and Bishops. It also gives us the right and the duty to bring own concerns to our Pastors.
    Just to get up and leave is not the act of a person professing to be a faithful Catholic.
    I was glad to see your re-print on Fr. Z answer on the Parish membership. I do not think much of Catholics shopping Parishes or drifting around to other Parishes.
    I was especially pleased in how you begain this article. With the very true state from the man himself.
    "Only evil minded people profit from confusion in the hearts and minds of Catholics"
    $10 a month very quickly adds up to 30 pieces of silver.

    1. We don't have to personally like everything that goes on. We all have our own personal preferences. But when Holy Mother Church speaks, it is not our prerogative to stand in judgment. I'm sure Abraham was not happy when The Lord told him to sacrifice Isaac, but he put his own feelings aside and obeyed. For that, he is called the father of the faithful.

      I think it all comes down to: do we believe the Holy Spirit is in charge? If we do, we put our own feelings aside and let Him lead, even when it doesn't seem to make sense. That is called Faith.

  2. Just a point of clarification on the Mother Cabrini shrine. As originally designed, the tabernacle was placed on that selfsame altar. When mass facing the people was introduced a decision was made to relocate the tabernacle to a separate chapel. Since that altar is on an island platform, it would be most difficult to permanently restore the Blessed Sacrament to the sanctuary, unless all the masses were to be celebrated 'ad orientem'. Having had the privilege of assisting at several masses there over the years I am quite familiar with the practicalities of the place.

    I do encourage all to visit the Shrine. It is a wonderful place of prayer and pilgrimage, all right across the street from the 190th Street "A" line subway station. And it is a short hike from the Cloisters museum.

    1. Thanks for the clarification. I'm sure you're right. However, I also think it is good not to have the Blessed Sacrament in the same place as the shrine since it is a tourist attraction.

  3. The staff does an excellent job of maintaining the decorum due a sacred place. As it is located far beyond the orbits of the various districts targeted by secular tourists, I am confident that the shrine is not overrun by those ignorant of the protocols of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament.

    1. I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make, but I have been to the shrine, and I have seen the tourists and the obvious disregard or ignorance of being in a Catholic Church. I would say that a big problem is that the Church doesn't look like a traditional church, and so therefore doesn't, by its appearance, instill a sense of respect. The tourists weren't loud or obnoxious in any sense, but they did not treat it as a sacred place.

      The tabernacle could have easily been moved to a separate stand near the altar if the sole problem was that there was no room for it on the altar. But it has been moved to an entirely separate room by itself. And personally, I like that because it gives people a chance to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament without having to deal with people coming and going to see the body of Mother Cabrini. I personally have prayed the rosary in that little room with the tabernacle, and I was grateful for the solitude.

  4. I THINK Michael Voris means switch parishes, not leave THE CHURCH. I know saints have counselled such. For spiritual progress.

    Mother Teresa complained about invited clergy who would not show up at important events her order had organized. Is she condemned?!

    Michael Coren, Jesse Romero, Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. are all friends of Michael and work WITH his apostolate. There are many more notables. Perhaps they know something you don't.

    While private revelations of St. Catherine of Siena are not to be dismissed, they are NOT binding on the faithful. Paul rebuked clergy (Mark, Peter, Barnabas etc) Mother Angelica denounced her clerical foes. The faithful can confront the clergy when public scandal or harm is involved which the Catechism acknowledges and Church history has shown us.

    I think it was providential that Mr Voris learned his no-nonsense style right from Bishop Fulton Sheen (his fantastic apostolate a victim of a modernist in the Church) himself. As an altar boy, Michael witnessed Bishop Sheen dismissing a faith dilutor looking for endorsement for his yoga/Catholic book, with the Bishop pronouncing we only need the way of Jesus Christ, not ANYTHING else, or words to that effect.

    Michael's public exposure of a Canadian priest who threatened to sue a faithful Catholic because this priest's unCatholic 'leanings' were disclosed by that blogger were excellent. MV's research was great! That blurb (with more to follow, if…) pretty well ensure that blogger won't face law fare of an angry errant priest using good money supplied by the faithful, as a balm for his wounded ego. Just look at that Quebecois priest who sued the ever faithful LifeSite News because he was wrong, and was called out by them. Money came out of my pocket, and the pockets of many other Catholics to keep them going.

    Catholic Relief Services giving money to those who likely use it to abort children, or teach that end, is complicity in abortion. If one gives knowingly to these secretive modernists, knowing that is the end: automatic excommunicato ~

    Mother Teresa said what the Church needs the most, today, are fighters.

    How do you think the Apostle Paul would react to all the abuses we see in our midst? I think it would even be a step or two stronger that Michael Voris's fumigating.

    Whatever the faithless have been using to advance the Church and meet the call of the Great Commission head on, for the past 50 years—hasn't been working.

    The time is ripe for a Pope Francis, and yes, even a Michael Voris! May God bless both of them! And all of us—

    1. Do you walk away from family members because they are not perfect? Do they suddenly stop being your family? I would certainly hope you would answer no to these questions.

      Likewise, does a Catholic Church cease to be Catholic because there are abuses? Is the Eucharist no longer valid? Does a parish cease to be a part of the Mystical Body of Christ because it is not perfect? If the answer to these questions is no, then you should not leave the parish but instead work to correct the abuses.

      As I showed, most of what Voris calls "abuses" are perfectly legitimate and valid. These practices may not be to your liking, but they are not wrong and no reason to leave a parish. But if we accept Voris's line of thinking, then as he even admits, this would include most parishes, and if everyone leaves as he recommends, most parishes would close.

      Think about what Voris is really saying and what you are agreeing to.

      If you are looking for a perfect Church in which there are no sinners, then you are on the wrong side of heaven. Sinners in the Church is no excuse for deserting.

  5. Would you consider Mr. Voris a muckraker?

    1. Nothing as innocent as that. Muckrakers expose real corruption. I consider Voris a divider. He twists and manipulates facts and tries to put things in the worst possible light in order to turn Catholics against the hierarchy and against one another.


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