Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Agree with Mark Shea and not with Michael Voris

I'm a bit late coming to it, but I've just come across this Hallowe'en post on Mark Shea's wonderful Catholic and Enjoying It! blog, in which he defends the great Fr. Robert Barron from an attack by Michael Voris.

If you don't know who Michael Voris is, I advise you to keep it that way. He is a Catholic television presenter who runs an internet TV station called Church Militant and who specializes in attacking other Catholics, as well as the Church authorities (though cannily avoiding attacking the Pope-- both Benedict and now Francis-- even when intellectual consistency would seem to demand it).

To my mind, both Mark Shea and Fr. Barron are perfect examples of that dialogue with secular culture which Pope Francis has called for. Voris, on the other hand, seems to have nothing to say to anybody except a convinced Catholic, and a convinced Catholic of rigorist views at that. (And I don't mean orthodox. I mean rigorist.)

The whole tone and atmosphere of Voris's polemics are clearly contrary to that of the last forty or fifty years of Papal encylicals and Magisterial documents. If there is such a thing as a sensus fidelum, Church Militant TV and their like are clearly out of step with it.

Mark Shea and Fr. Barron have both been instrumental in consolidating and deepening my own Catholic faith. I'm with them, not with Voris.


  1. Sorry Maolsheachlann, but I can't agree with you here. Michael Voris is the one who has helped deepen my faith. I can't speak on what he has said about Fr Barron in this instance, but reading that article by Mark Shea I can't say I really agree with him at all (excluding the part about Fr Barron as I just mentioned).

    The thing about Church Militant TV is that it's not aimed at non-catholics; it's aimed at poorly taught Catholics. Real Catholic TV, and then Church Militant TV, have been instrumental in giving me more courage and wisdom in my faith. Mark Shea claims that Voris doesn't attack anyone but innocent Catholics which is a farce in itself. Either Mr Shea is being dishonest, or he has a very interesting idea of what an "innocent" Catholic is.

    Voris is definitely very blunt in what he says, but I actually like that. I'm glad to see someone just say it straight and call out people who are just simply heretics - claiming they are Catholic but don't agree with x, y, and z, because they want to do a, b, and c.

  2. No need to apologize for disagreeing with me!

    The thing about Voris, in my opinion, is that, though he is theologically well-informed, his whole attitude is wrong. He is attacking genuine abuses in the Faith and in the world, but where is the charity in his approach? Surely it's a warning sign that his own diocese found it necessary to distant themselves from him?

    I do not think he lives up to St. Peter's injunction: "Always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their accusations."

    Again, the Church is obviously committed to Christian ecumenism, but Voris never seems to mention Protestants except with derision.

    That said, it's good that he has deepened your faith and sometimes I do agree with him-- he's undoubtedly right on many things.

  3. I'll agree with you there - though his tone isn't exactly aggressive, he does have a way with words that could be taken as aggressive. I'll also hand it to you that while he does quite often bring up "Always have your answer", he does tend to leave out the bit about courtesy and respect. I suppose the reason I tend to lean towards Voris' style is that, admittedly, I tend not to be a very patient person. I can be patient to an extent, but when I feel an argument is going nowhere or I'm dealing with someone who tries to be witty, I tend to lose patience - one of my bigger flaws. As for his diocese distancing themselves, I'm not sure whether that's because they have a problem with his style or if it's because they're just not good Catholics. I'm not implying anything in that last sentence by the way, I genuinely don't know.

  4. Mark Shea has repeatedly calumniated Michael Voris for years in the most uncharitable terms, while Voris has held his tongue and refrained from returning insult for insult. Shea is hardly the example of charity here.

    As to Voris, instead of going on others' mischaracterizations, check out his work for yourself and form your own judgments.

    God bless,

  5. I admit I first heard about Michael Voris through Shea's blog, but I've watched many of his videos since then-- his non-premium content on Youtube, and a few on the Church Militant website. I was watching him back when he was Real Catholic.

    It's not that he's not very often right, and it's not that he never makes good videos. There is one recorded talk that he gave in Africa about the End Times, which was wonderfully well-informed and deep.

    It's his whole tone. Do we really need a Catholic shock jock-- which is essentially what he is? I understand that he sees himself, as his fans see him, as reacting to the liberal rot in the Church and the watering down of Catholic doctrine-- which is certainly happening. But it seems to me that Voris is just becoming the mirror opposite of liberal Catholicism. Liberal Catholics fudge Church teaching on homosexuality? Voris will become obsessed with a supposed gay mafia in the Vatican. Liberal Catholics commit and condone liturgical abuses? Voris will make a video attacking reception of Communion in the hand. (I receive Communion on the tongue, by the way.) Liberals think that the way to bring about a new Pentecost in the Church is to fritter away orthodoxy and to conform to secular culture in every way? Voris thinks that the most uncompromising, hardline, triumphalist form of Catholicism will bring people flocking back to the pews. I think he's wrong.

    Voris often complains about the disproportion of contemorary Catholic teaching on Hell, compared to the fact that Jesus mentioned in ninety-something times (or whatever) in the Gospels. But who is our Lord's number one target in the Gospels? Isn't it the Pharises and the scribes, for their legalism and rigorism? "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath".

    The other thing that bothers me about Voris is his lack of the proper docility due to Church authorities. When St. Padre Pio was forbidden to say Mass in public by the Vatican, he didn't bicker about it. He meekly accepted it and time vindicated him. Whereas Voris waged a battle of words with the Diocese of Scranton. It's a warning sign.

    I'm not saying that Voris is a bad person or attacking his viewers. I'm just saying that, in my opinion, I don't think his approach is a fruitful one and I think it is laden with dangers. And-- although Mark Shea definitely has a choleric temperament, and has apologized for this on many occasions-- I think he is right when he complains that the Church Militant attitude seems more intent upon finding heretics than on making converts.

    Thanks for your comment and your blessings

  6. Of course, I meant the Archdiocese of Detroit, not Scranton. I understand both Diocese have distanced themselves from him.

  7. Why doesn't anybody really dig into this guy's background? I think you would find it quite "colorful". The truth about this hypocritical charlatan will eventually come out....

  8. Oh, I think that's harsh. I have no doubt Voris absolutely believes in his own message and approach. As for his past, let the dead bury their own dead...not that I know anything about his background.

  9. So Mao... what I read your saying is that you disagree with Voris' delivery and if his delivery were less arogant you would be more in agreement with his that correct?
    I feel ya. I have shared with others and they are taken aback at his approach but once they understand he isn't with the Church of Nice crowd (I call them the politically corectors) they can really hear his message which I think is... We have a dire crisis within the church. It's perfect that someone is exposing the crisis.. Instead of acting like it doesn't exist cause then we are going to get the same as we are getting. From crisis we can get to work. Being nice about how one exposes a crisis is like saying the Dam has a little leak. WE HAVE A CRISIS PEOPLE!!! Let's get to work.. nice guys over here, you worry about looking good and sounding Charitable and when you finally get to a point where you would like to get in action we have a place for you. Michaels approach speaks to me cause it is straight man talk. Here are the facts this is what so... and like he always finishes his episodes... Let's pray A LOT, LEARN THE FAITH, and God Love you.

  10. I don't agree that we have a dire crisis within the Church. It's true that the Faith is taking a kicking in Western Europe and America but how can we say that wouldn't be happening at this moment despite out best efforts? Is the Church today more venal and worldly than it was in the High Middle Ages?

    My problem with Voris is that he seems angry and bitter all the time. Who would want to become a Catholic if it makes you so angry and bitter? It seems to me that the Voris approach ignores the parable of the wheat and the tares. The visible Church is never going to be perfect. I like Pope Francis's metaphor of the field hospital. And what is the opposite of the Church of Nice-- the Church of Nasty?

    I think Catholics should spend more time trying to reform themselves and spread the Gospel than trying to reform the Church itself. The Church is the one thing that comes with a divine lifetime warranty from Christ himself. No matter how many liturgical abuses slip in, and how many priests teach dubious doctrine, we know that the barque of Peter is never, ever going to sink.

    God love you too, sir (or madam). I appreciate the comment.

    1. Jumping up and down AGREE with you Catholics should spend more time reforming themselves and spread the Gospel of Love than trying to reform the Church. Jesus will not abandon his bride. I just watched a couple Michael Voris videos for the first time tonight and then researched him a bit. I agree his content is fantastic - it's his delivery that sometimes fails. I can live with that. And I strongly suspect, so can Jesus.

  11. a) Papal encyclicals have been very blunt and straight forward. I would hardly say that Humanae Vitae appeals to the less that "traditional" (or as you would say, rigorist) crowd. It did, after all, immediately spark violent reaction on the part of many liberal theologians.

    b) We are called to evangelize to non-Catholics, yes. But if we become so focused on appealing to the masses that we water-down the Church's teachings and never teach the faithful how to actually be Catholic, we have failed in our mission. There are many DOGMATIC teachings of the Catholic Church I was completely unaware of until I watched Michael Voris' broadcasts because my local church leaders simply never taught them to me.

    c) His criticism of the Catholic hierarchy also isn't that far off. 3 out of the 5 priests in my parish deny that there is such a thing as a "state of grace" and assert that there is something inherently wrong with the Church's teachings on mortal and venial sins because the teachings do "injustice" to God's mercy. I have had priests tell me that skipping Mass is not a sin, I have had deacons tell me that the Bible supports the ordination of women, I have had deacons tell me that all religions are equal in the eyes of God, I have had a priest give a homily in which he stated that a person can specifically know about Christ and reject Him and yet still be saved, etc.
    Many bishops have been openly homosexual in our country, and even more priests have been so. My pastor, who is faithful, told me that in seminary his teacher revealed that he believed Jesus' body has been stolen from the tomb. Many priests are into new-age.
    I have personally witnessed countless liturgical abuses, including placing children ON the altar and liturgical dances during the readings.
    I know nuns who reject the Church's teachings on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and cohabitation.
    And global statistics reveal that this doesn't just occur where I live.

    d) What about the saints would suggest that their Catholic faith was not rigorous?

    e) A strong Catholic voice will ALWAYS seem to be opposed to what surrounds it because it is different from the rest of the world. When Catholics become worldly, they become indistinguishable from the world.

    f) Michael Voris criticized Fr. Robert Barron's belief in "a reasonable hope that all will be saved" (legitimately, I might add), but he didn't smear Fr. Barron. In fact, one of the videos on his channel that he posted AFTER his criticism was a 40 minute speak by Fr. Barron on how to live out one's vocation. And this was posted to his audience as a resource to help build their faith.

    g) I have actually met face-to-face Fr. Barron. We is a wonderful man and an excellent speaker. I do disagree with Fr. Barron on his view of damnation, but I have a great deal of respect for him.
    I also greatly respect Michael Voris.
    You criticize Michael Voris for "smearing" others, but that is precisely what you've done to him. Why wouldn't you recommend faithful Catholics to him? What does he say that is anti-Catholic?
    Didn't Paul criticize his fellow Catholics point-blank? Always remember that the word "nice" never appears in the Bible.

  12. a) I've never read a Papal encylical that used the kind of rabble-rousing, sensationalist language Voris regularly uses
    b) There is no need to water down the Faith in evangelizing. There may be a need to concentrate upon the essence at first rather than confounding people with every detail. Nor do I think priests should be required to cathechize during homilies. We have the Catechism and other documents for that, pretty freely available.
    c) I think he sensationalizes the liturgical abuses. Most of the priests I've met are orthodox.
    d) This is just too big a subject to get into and I don't have the time to cull examples-- I don't disagree with you
    e) Catholics must often be a sign of contradiction but not for its own sake and we shouldn't set out with that intention, as Voris seems to do
    f) Nice to hear (and I mean that genuinely, not sarcastically)
    g) I never used the word smear. I think this comment must be adapted from a comment posted on Mark Shea's blog. I wouldn't accuse Voris of being anti-Catholic. I do accuse him of a lamentable lack of charity, and a lack of docility towards his pastors in the Church. St. Paul didn't criticize his fellow Catholics, but he didn't do it ALL the time, which is close to being the case with Voris.

    My problem with Church Militant TV is that it's NOT really Church Militant at all. It's Church Defensive, Church Siege Mentality, Church Raise the Ramparts. This to me is not a sign of confidence or robust faith but rather of fear and insecurity.

  13. I mean, of course, St. Paul DID criticize his fellow Catholics.

  14. I have mixed feelings about Michael Voris. Sometimes I think he hits the nail right on the head, but I also think he is way too angry way too often. The church is GUARANTEED to be FULL of both WHEAT and TARES (fake wheat). He should criticize, but also calm down. Also, he seems, at the beginning of his VORTEX episodes, to be a tad of a braggart (Welcome to The Vortex: where lies and falsehoods are exposed, etc etc) and that, really, is a huge turn-off.

  15. I totally agree with your last point! I haven't seen his premium content, of course, but his free content includes segments called THE VORTEX and MIK'D UP. Hello?, as they say these days. Egotistic much? (As they also say.)