Michael Voris Again Smears an Innocent Catholic

When we think of menaces to the Church or obvious dissenters, who should we think of? Pelosi? Sebelius? Islamic murderers of Christians? Apostate theologians who say Jesus was eaten by wild dogs? Crony capitalists destroying families with unjust wages?

Of course not! No the huge threat we face are the best evangelists of our generation. So Michael Voris sets about the task of ginning up a mob against none other than Fr. Robert Barron as a heretic for his views on hell, just as he recently set about ginning up a mob about those equally dangerous people Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, Al Kresta their ilk–again providing evidence that Reactionaries are, at bottom, most frightened of evangelists.

Here is what Fr. Barron actually has to say. You will note that what he has to say is basically identical to what Pope Benedict has to say in Spe Salvi. It is, as it is with Benedict, a speculation, not a forecast or a doctrine. Voris, to his credit cannot bring himself to declare Benedict “wrong” but does not hesitate to bring up Barron on heresy charges for his audience. The problem is, Barron is guilty of no heresy, has said nothing “wrong” and is perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation. No. Really:

Now those, such as Ralph Martin who speculate that few will be saved are also (obviously) also within the pale of orthodoxy and share their opinion with not a few Fathers and theologians. But at the end of the day, that’s all you have: two schools of opinion–both of which are allowed by the Church.

But Voris is certain that somehow Benedict’s and Barron’s speculation is not *really* allowed by the Church and so set about portraying his opinion, not merely as “different but within the pale of orthodoxy” but as “wrong”:

The problem is, as we discuss here at some length, Barron is not “wrong” in his speculations just as Benedict is not wrong. They (and numerous other Catholics) are guilty of no dissent against Church teaching whatsoever. Yet Voris attacks all who share Barron’s opinion as guilty of precisely this.

Reader Joe Grabowski comments:

I would critique and refine Barron’s presentation of this matter in some regards, to be sure – and I am personally a champion of the theory that we can hope that all men may be saved. But it is one alternative of two equally allowable theological positions in an open question, and neither side can claim a slam-dunk victory in this matter because it is simply not definitely settled at this point.

And that’s what makes Voris’s presentation here (par for the course for him) malicious, unfair, ham-fisted, offensive, insulting, and stupid.

The exasperating thing about Voris’ consistent method is that he targets, not heretics or enemies of the Faith, but innocent people, disobedient to no precept of Holy Church, and dissenting from no doctrine of Holy Church, and then maliciously smears them with the suggestion (and in this case the flat declaration), that they are believing, living (and in Barron’s case) teaching error. Whether it’s Barron (as here), or Keating, Akin, Kresta et al (for the “sin” of making a living), or people who receive communion in the hand (who are somehow associated with Priscillianist heresy) or people who happen to like “Amazing Grace” (Protestantism!), Voris’ method is not to defend the Church from heresy, but to accuse innocents of heresy and sic his audience on them. It’s sinful and it should stop.

And before somebody says something stupid like “Why aren’t you taking this to Michael Voris directly?”, remember two things.

1.  I did, when he launched exactly this malicious attack at the Argument of the Month Club and I told him to his face that Fr. Robert Barron is not the enemy and this sort of fratricidal nonsense is purely destructive.

2. Lemme ask you, Gentle Reader, if you are wringing you hands over a public response to a public attack on an innocent man, have you gone to Michael Voris and asked him if he took this smear to Fr. Barron before recklessly launching this video today or whether he took his smears of Keating, Akin, Kresta et al to them to verify that there was, in fact, anything wrong with their personal incomes before broadcasting them to the universe with the suggestion that they are money-grubbing whores and gutless cowards in the pay of the Church of Nice?

This stuff is poison and needs to stop.

  • Mark

    I think Mr. Voris has it right. You
    see, the Church teaches from Scripture and Tradition and only comments by her
    authority over either as necessary in some historical context. That this
    question about the human presence in hell hasn’t been precisely clarified in
    dogma does not mean that there is no doctrine to be preserved by the Church–as
    it turns out, in both Scripture and Tradition. For example, before the dogma on
    Purgatory was defined, the doctrine on purgatory existed and was properly
    understood and validly taught in catechesis and used in correction of those who
    had mistaken opinions. The same for the Marian dogmas, sacramental dogmas, etc.
    All such beliefs pre-existed their formal definitions. We cannot say someone is
    a heretic until there is a dogma, but we can accuse people of error and false
    teaching and demand correction because they don’t correspond to the doctrine.
    Likewise for this current question. There are orthodox and unorthodox answers
    to the question of human presence in hell, to be judged by whether they
    correspond to the (I claim) valid and existing doctrine.

    Now, I haven’t read what Benedict
    XVI said, but if he says anything similar to what Fr. Barron is saying, then he
    too is wrong and we have to call him on it. This, also, let me explain. I know
    where they are coming from. They are theologians of the first rank, but as the
    devil uses one’s strengths against the person (like jujutsu) they are focused
    on such a narrow technicality of something “not being defined in
    dogma” that they end up ignoring the whole weight of contrary evidence.
    They are just following an intellectual thrill at evaluating a most likely
    false but not yet declared false concept. In short, it is the difference
    between speculative theology (the suggestion that maybe all humans avoid hell),
    vs. normative theology (the doctrine that there is a hell and people have and
    do and will continue to go there).

    Consider what the Church recommends
    I quote:

    “28. The preceding considerations
    have a particular application to the case of the theologian who might have
    serious difficulties, for reasons which appear to him well founded, in
    accepting a non-irreformable magisterial teaching. [--like our question on hell--]
    Such a disagreement could not be justified if it were based solely upon the
    fact that the validity of the given teaching is not evident or upon the opinion
    that the opposite position would be the more probable. Nor, furthermore, would
    the judgment of the subjective conscience of the theologian justify it because
    conscience does not constitute an autonomous and exclusive authority for
    deciding the truth of a doctrine.

    30. In cases like these, the
    theologian should avoid turning to the ‘mass media’, but have recourse to the
    responsible authority, for it is not by seeking to exert the pressure of public
    opinion that one contributes to the clarification of doctrinal issues and
    renders servite to the truth.”

    Now, I ask you, considered plainly,
    is there any weight to arguments that God’s love is so great or his power so
    immense that somehow he finds a way to save all humans from going to hell? It
    is wishful thinking. Whether or not true, it is a wish and only a wish, hence “wishful
    thinking,” hence, “speculative theology.” Contrast this with the words of our Lord
    in the Gospels, which explicitly address the question of whether God’s will
    that all be saved in fact results in all being saved. Clearly many human
    persons go to hell. Many formulations and statements by popes and councils and
    saints could also be offered. This is the doctrine of the Church despite the
    fact that it hasn’t been elevated to the level of dogma.

    Mr. Voris is correct in his criticism that some theologians are presenting to the publicspeculative opinions without
    grounding while ignoring the normative teaching of the Church, which is well
    established in Scripture and Tradition. Such dissonant voices as Fr. Barron’s harm the evangelization they wish to support. Mr. Voris has a confrontational style, but I think it is justifiable in most cases.

    • anon

      If Christ has declared there is a hell and who will go there, that is the real end of the story. And since he has declared this, we should fear it. Father Barron and others like him enjoy pontificating on the matter without respecting the word of God. The subtext is always ‘Well, we really don’t think he really means hell, per se.’ But he did exactly mean hell!

      We should be in the confessional as often as necessary. Repent! This is what Father Barron should be saying. Repent, and then go on to enjoy your life knowing you spared of hell!

      • chezami

        You should attempt the difficult task of knowing something about what Fr. Barron said before joining the herd of inquisitors who are all stupidly certain he denies the existence of hell. Stop letting demagogues with webcams do your thinking for you.

  • Anonymous

    Michael Voris cannot be trusted on pontificating on matters of faith. The man has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology, has written nothing scholarly and has not been reviewed by fellow theologians. END OF STORY.

    • Jess Cartwright

      Perhaps you could share with us the Alma Mater that adorns Jesus’ college T-shirt. You sound like Pontius Pilot!
      Now you may close your “story book”, apply named.

    • John Paul Doyle

      Did venerable jacinta marto of fatima write any books ? Does her opinion on hell mean nothing? End of story.

    • FaithfulCatholic

      Mr. Voris is 98% dead on when talking about matters of the Faith. He only gets into trouble when he starts leaning towards the Rad Trad crowd, as when he invites E. Michael Jones for an interview. I pray he stays away from the Mad Trads …

  • Jenn

    what I don’t like about Michael Voris is the fact that he basically throws all of us who are divorced and remarried into hell….Jesus never said that those who are divorced and remarried are condemned to hell….but there are morons like Michael Voris and people on other Catholic sites who will scare you to death about this…when I got divorced I went to confession and was forgiven of that sin and even told that someday I might find someone else…well…I have…that was back in 1994 and that marriage only lasted 8 months…I guess I should also mention that it wasn’t long after the divorce that my ex-husband got remarried…which tells me that he was not even faithful to me…so basically while I was being the housewife he was out with his friends fooling around….I am now remarried in 2012 and am finally with someone who truly loves me…we have been married for over a year now and I have never been happier…so if any of you morons want to start something over this then go for it…but I warn you…I will not be scared anymore about being condemned to hell…I love God with my whole heart and nothing is going to change my heart…

    • FaithfulCatholic

      Jenn, Catholics who divorce are required to get an annulment before remarrying. If you are still Catholic, then go to your Diocesan Tribunal and get things straightened out. Also, forget about what “your heart” makes you think as that is based mostly on emotion and can be extremely deceptive as it pertains to Truth.