A reader writes:

I followed the news of your debate with Michael Voris at the Argument of the Month Club in St. Paul, Minnesota in October of 2013. Do you have any idea why AOMC has never posted the audio files of this debate? They have posted a number of other presentations; however, your debate with Voris, which probably has a wider audience than any of their other presentations, is missing.

Perhaps they had technical difficulties.  Perhaps it was that I was essentially arguing the affirmative of an absolutely bulletproof resolution (“Resolved: The way to address the crisis in the Church is through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy”) and that Michael therefore chose to take the utterly impossible task of telling Jesus and the entire Catholic Church they are wrong to recommend these things.

The debate organizers came to me with a resolution that was no resolution at all (“Is there a crisis in the Church and what do we do about it.”) Realizing this was impossible have a debate about, I was the one who suggested the new resolution off the top of my head with the assumption that, surely, somebody would reword it a bit to make it more… arguable.  But to my astonishment, the debate organizers simply proposed it, unamended, to Michael and, to my even greater astonshment,  he accepted without proposing any changes.  This meant that I literally could not possibly lose, even if I had a stroke and lost the power of speech.  All I would have to do is gesticulate at the resolution on a chalk board, pound my chest, and nod furiously and I would still win.

This became evident in the debate itself.  There was simply nothing Michael could say against the resolution because he would have been arguing against Jesus Christ himself in the Sermon on the Mount and the parable of the sheep and the goats.  It was the theological equivalent of “Resolved: 2+2=4”.  Impossible to argue against.  So the debate was taken up with the only tactics somebody defending a hopeless position could use: complain that I was a bad person who was mean, and talk about other stuff like how much various bishops and clerics sucked, in his opinion.  All I had to do was just stick to the resolution and say, “Yes, it’s true I’m sinful and I’m sure you are indeed miffed at Bishop Whosit, but the *resolution* is ” Resolved: The way to address the crisis in the Church is through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy”.  I say “Aye!  So does Jesus and the entire Catholic Church.”

I have no idea who decides the winner in such debates.  I am told (by Dale Ahlquist) that, on the whole, the crowd moved in my direction, so I’ll take his word for it.  I’m a bad judge of such things.  But it was, at any rate, a fun evening and I felt generally pleased with how it went.  Hopefully, one of these days it will show up on video or audio.  You might drop Church Militant a line and ask them whatever happened to it.

While Fr. Barron is busy filming about Chesterton and Newman in England, for CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players

(Yes, that’s Fr. Barron at GKC’s grave.)

Michael Voris decides it’s time for another stupid, poisonous, worthless attack on him.

Voris mentions a private dinner between an unnamed source and Fr. Barron in which Father (allegedly) said “98% of the human race is saved”.

Based on this extremely unlikely and totally unverified piece of pure hearsay, Voris launches his attack (without bothering to check with Fr. Barron to so much as find out if he said it). He describes Fr. Barron’s work as “smiling, pseudo-intellectual, half-baked sound bites offered in front of book cases intended to make the audience perceive you as smart and educated, and your opinion therefore unassailable.”

He says:

“[Fr. Barron] is totally wrong on this point. In fact, he is so completely wrong on this point, that it destroys and undermines anything and everything else he says. Nothing else he says is worth anything.”

All based on unsubstantiated hearsay.

Let us be plain: Michael Voris has crossed a line here, just as he crossed a line in recklessly hinting that some kind of “severe punishment” should be meted out to Cdl. Dolan “perhaps even before you die”. He has slandered a good man’s name based on nothing more than a rumor. There is no justification whatsoever for what he has done here and nothing whatever for him to do but apologize, repent, ask forgiveness, and think long and hard about ever doing something like this again. No “This is your fault for misunderstanding me” video a couple of days from now to blame his audience for hearing what he is saying and to deny what he has done here. Simply a retraction and then a full mea culpa.

Church Militant could be a force for good, if Michael Voris was not bent on destroying innocents in his war on the phantasmal Church of Nice. But if he continues this kind of vile treatment of good and innocent Catholics, then I urge decent people of good will to ignore him–and to instead support the fine work of a great witness to our beautiful faith: Fr. Robert Barron.

He apologizes for his “Pope Harming the Church” video:

…the denizens of the American Catholic blog, and all in that orbit of things:

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

When we debated back in October, one of the things I noticed about him was that he quietly and adamantly refused to attack Pope Francis (and that in a roomful of guys who showed no hesitation about registering their… disquiet… about the Holy Father). It impressed me then. It impresses me even more now. Why?

Because since that time, the Reactionary freakoutery about Francis has, if anything, only gotten worse, with nutjobs speculating that he is the false prophet of Revelation and people courting schism (all of them, of course, “faithful Catholics” who are waaaaaay better Catholics then the low caste slobs who go to the OF and need to be kicked out of the Church in order to maintain purity of essence).  The Perfecti seem to be coming to the conclusion that they must destroy the Church in order to save it.  And as they do they, with the cannibalistic instinct that always seem to come to the fore when Puritans begin a purge, have decided to begin by devouring anybody who thinks the Pope is, you know, the Vicar of Christ and our spiritual father.

And so, in a bizarre (and yet curiously hopeful) turn of  events, Michael Voris actually had the moxie to to issue a statement to the ravening pack of Francis haters on the Right that, no, he’s not going to attack the Holy Father since he’s, you know, the Pope and the Pharisaic Perfecti are not more Catholic than he is.  This controversial-to-nobody-but-insane-Reactionaries policy is now being met with increasing hostility, led by first class Francis-hater Louie Verecchio.

Voris refused to back down, issuing this video:

And so the grateful Verecchio, whom Voris has, in the past, been kind enough to promote, invested 30 pieces of silver in a video counter-attack on Voris for his mortal sin of charity to the Holy Father (title: “The Gore-Tex”. Get it?). Various other Reactionary kooks are joining in the struggle to save the Church from the pope and from the curses of faith, hope, and love. Ever ready to eat their own, the Reactionaries are–I am not making this up–seriously calling a Catholic’s failure to hate on the Pope “Vorisgate”. Insane. (Amusingly, a number of Reactionaries in the comboxes and around the web fixate on one figure as the archetypal demon with whom to compare Michael Voris’ betrayal of Truly True Purely Pure Catholicism: Yr. Obdt. Svt.

Meanwhile, Voris hits back, still refusing to be herded into the increasingly insane camp of Perfecti who seriously believe that to maintain their holier-than-thou purity Catholics must attack and even renounce even the pope.

It’s no secret that Mr. Voris and I have some real differences. But I have no hesitation at all about commending him when he does the right thing. Here, he is doing the right thing (and paying a real price for it as Reactionaries do their best to punish him socially and financially for not knuckling under to their poisonous and foolish hatred for the Holy Father. My hope is that this will be a time for CMTV to move forward with positive coverage of this fine man and not lose heart in the face these nasty people.

Well done, Mr. Voris!

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.

That’ll be tomorrow at St. Augustine parish for the Argument of the Month club. Here’s the, uh, write-up:

Oktoberfest at AOTM- Special Event- Starts at 3pm
Roll up your sleeves, men, and come hungry—not only for the debate of the year, but also for Oktoberfest beer, brats, cigars, and more in the tent outside and maybe even a dunk tank for whoever loses the debate. This may not be fun for wimpy, girly men, but the rest of you will want to come early and stay late! Festivities will begin early outside under the tent so plan accordingly. By that I mean take off work early and get your but down there!
AOTM General Event Information
3:00pm Event begins -Basement hall is open and tent outside/ Social Hour and Appetizers
6:00pm Debate Voris vs. Shea
7:00pm Dinner
7:30pm Round Table Battle- Voris, Shea, Matt and Deavel
8:30pm Dessert
8:45pm Wrap up round table discussion with closing remarks.
9:15 Closing prayer

For more information contact:

Oh dear. Yes, well, about that: Your prayers that it will be an actual debate ordered toward getting at truth would be appreciated.

As to the rest, I’ll also be hanging out with Dale Ahlquist, soaking him for lunch and/or dinner, and visiting with the Chesterton Academy before the debate and round table tomorrow night, plus doing some sort of interview. Should be busy, and during the down times, I will find some way to make myself a nuisance to Dale.

Back here Thursday. I will plug in some fun stuff to run while I’m gone.

Here is the extremely level-headed and modest flyer the Argument of the Month guys have whomped up 🙂

Oct 8th AOTM Oktoberfest Double Header

First at 6pm:

Two Heavyweights go toe-to-toe:

Mark Shea vs. Michael Voris

One Night. One Fight. Who’s Got It Right?

In a world so militantly secularized that even the Catholic Church cannot escape the dictatorship of relativism, every man must ask himself:  What does Christ expect of me?  Do I speak out?  Do I publicly resist? Do I pray and fast?  What does it mean to be a soldier of Christ in a Christophobic day and age?

Come to the AOTM and watch two heavyweights go toe-to-toe on the issue that matters most: How do we defend the Catholic Church in Crisis?

After the dust settles, who will be left standing: The Investigative Catholic reporter, or the Catholic Apologist?

The AOTM is proud to present THE debate of the year.

Next at 7:30pm

Mark Shea, Michael Voris go at it again but this time they are not alone: AOTM veterans Michael Matt and David Deavel join them in a spontaneous round table debate on “How do Laymen address the Crisis in the Church?” 

During this segment the opponents will go deeper into the issue brought up during the debate.   These men do not agree on this topic and are known for telling it like it is, having passion for what they believe—and this at a time when so many are lukewarm because of a lack of clarity.  Not so with these guys!

We will be taking questions from the audience during this time.

Oktoberfest at AOTM- Special Event- Starts at 3pm

Roll up your sleeves, men, and come hungry—not only for the debate of the year, but also for Oktoberfest beer, brats, cigars, and more in the tent outside and maybe even a dunk tank for whoever loses the debate.  This may not be fun for wimpy, girly men, but the rest of you will want to come early and stay late!   Festivities will begin early outside under the tent so plan accordingly.  By that I mean take off work early and get your but down there!

AOTM General Event Information
3:00pm Event begins -Basement hall is open and tent outside/ Social Hour and Appetizers
6:00pm Debate Voris vs. Shea
7:00pm Dinner
7:30pm Round Table Battle- Voris, Shea, Matt and Deavel
8:30pm Dessert
8:45pm Wrap up round table discussion with closing remarks.
9:15 Closing prayer

$15 at the door to the hall or at the entrance of the tent.  (The total cost for the night) You will get great appetizers and beverages, hear one of the best debates you have ever heard. Do all this while you listen and enjoy a fabulous   “Manly Meal”. Men of all creeds and ages are welcome to join in the good  humor, food, and fellowship. Priests and seminarians get in free but will not  be shown partiality in debate.


From The


Apps- Beer Cheese Bread dip (with lots of   Bacon!!!)

Dinner- Beer Brats
These Brats are grilled and then slow cooked in onions, peppers, in Bavarian style sauerkraut and of course lots and lots of beer!
Served with German roasted potatoes covered in dill onions, garlic and LOTS OF BACON!
Dessert- Apple Crisp served with REAL whip cream

St. Augustine’s Catholic Church
In the basement of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church.
408 3rd St N.
South St Paul, MN 55075

Click for a Map and Directions

I was going to try for Lincoln/Douglas sobriety, but now I’m trying to decide on whether I want the purple and gold spandex costume with the the Mexican wrestler mask, or just the simple sumo loincloth.

We talked for about an hour.  Got a chance to know each other a bit and I had a chance to lay out most of my concerns.  It ended on a friendly note, though I don’t think I really got through to him.  I promised I wouldn’t talk about anything he said, so I can’t really detail the conversation much.  But a good start, I hope.

By sheer unrelated coincidence, I was contacted by a friend out in Mpls./St. Paul who asked if I’d be willing to debate him next month at a thing they have going out there called the Argument of the Month Club.  It’s basically a bunch of guys who like to get together, have a good time, and argue about Issues of the Day.  Michael Matt of the Remnant (who I spoke to on the phone and very much liked), Dave Deavel, Dale Ahlquist and sundry others have moved in and out of its precincts, so it sounds like an interesting and fun crowd.

Anyway, they are having Michael Voris out on October 8 and wanted somebody to argue with him about something, seeing as how it’s an argument club, so they asked if I would do it.  I said I would and we hammered out the following point to argue: Resolved: The way to true reform of the Church is prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy”  I will argue in the affirmative.  I presume his replies will not be “No. It isn’t.”

Best part: this gives me a chance to spend a couple of days sponging off Ahlquist.  When he comes to Seattle, I always take him to Ivar’s for seafood and a walk on the waterfront, so I fully intend to soak him for some really nice meal.  I’m thinking maybe steak.  Just so long as it’s expensive.

He writes:

I just finished watching the following video by Michael Voris that I’ve seen posted by a few friends in various venues:


I was interested in your reaction to it.

I think there’s much that’s true in what Voris says in this video; however, like some of his other presentations, I found it unnecessarily antagonistic/combative as well as being skewed factually in some ways. For example, early in the video, Voris said, “Robertson, in typical Protestant fashion – meaning an answer made up out of thin air based on nothing other than his own feelings and opinions and misreading of Sacred Scripture…”.

Well, wait a minute.  Sure, where Protestants differ from the teaching of the Catholic Church, they’re wrong and they ultimately are left appealing to their own personal (and non-authoritative) interpretation of Scripture.  In the specific case at hand, Robertson is wrong on contraception. But, does that justify disparaging their entire approach to searching for the truth as making things up out of thin air based on nothing other than feelings and opinions and misreading Sacred Scripture?  In general, Evangelicals have far more *right* than wrong.  To broad-brush Evangelicals like this in such a disparaging way seems designed to merely provoke and incite rather than to edify and persuade.

Also, laying central blame for the societal acceptance of contraception today at the feet of Protestants seems, at the least, unfair.  After all, it was John Rock, a Catholic, who led the invention of the birth control pill. (Ironically, his intention was reportedly to comply with Church teaching, but he was still wrong.) He campaigned for Catholic approval of the pill. He published a book, “The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor’s Proposals to End the Battle over Birth Control”, and was featured by Time and Newsweek. He also gave numerous interviews with the networks.  “The pill” was critical to the so-called “sexual revolution.”

Catholic priests and theologians effectively defected from the faith over this issue and treated Humanae Vitae as DOA. The bishops didn’t have the knowledge or fortitude to stand. Now Catholics use birth control just as much as pagans, Buddhists, Jews and Protestants. And, as many have pointed out, that’s a good part of the reason we’re facing the immoral HHS mandate now.

Catholics led the way on “the pill” and when presented with “Peter’s” teaching, rejected it. That’s not the fault of Protestants who do not have Peter. If anything, I would say that Catholics are most to blame for society embracing contraception. We should have known better. We had the teaching. We had Peter. We had the Sacraments.  We had the One True Church to which Voris refers in his video. We didn’t care.

I think Voris would have been better served by taking an approach more like Protestant Charles Provan in his book, “The Bible and Birth Control.”  Provan does good job demonstrating for Protestants that they had always been – and should have remained – opposed to birth control. He presents historical examples and Scripture in a compelling but non-polemical way.

I’ve used him numerous times and to good effect with Protestant friends and family.  In my personal experience, I’ve found that Evangelical Protestants are largely open to hearing us on the issue of contraception.  In fact, “life issues” like this have played an important role in leading some Evangelicals home to the fullness of the faith in the Catholic Church.

I think approaching them with a hammer like this is unnecessary and wrong-headed.  I get the “hard truth” thing, but the “hard truth” at least needs to be “the truth” as well as being fair.  Being tough and unfair doesn’t typically persuade anyone that isn’t already in the choir. Clanging gongs and all that.

I like some of Voris’s work and he clearly seems to mean well.  But I think he missed the mark on this one.  Your thoughts?

I hold no brief to Pat Robertson’s frequent crazy commentary (most recently he was accusing video gamers of being guilty of “virtual murder” for blowing up stuff in games).  I’ve commented in this space several times that the guy needs to be taken out of media rolodexes and his daffy ramblings taken as seriously as Grandpa Abe Simpson’s.

That said, I agree with my reader that Voris manages to pull defeat from the jaw of victory with his absurd triumphalist commentary on Robertson’s dumb remarks.  All this video serves to do is tell Catholics in the bunker “You are awesome and the Protestants outside Fortress Katolicus are bad.”  That’s more or less what Voris’ schtick is.  It’s not interested in evangelism.  It is, in fact, hostile to it.  It’s interested in telling the denizens of Fortress Katolicus that they must at all costs defend the Fortress from the unclean hosts besieging it–and keep a wary eye on those in their ranks who may betray some sign that they too are not pure enough to be allowed inside. Those beseiging hosts, in addition to all Protestants indiscriminately, include such dangerous people as the bishop who investigated Fr. Corapi, the Knights of Columbus, Catholic news agencies that look into Michael Voris’ non-profit status, people who like “Amazing Grace”, the Knights of Columbus and anybody else who is pre-emptively declared to be a liar whose falsehoods are to be “trapped and exposed”.

It goes without saying that when Michael Voris teaches that Judaism is a false, manmade religion in the teeth of Nostra Aetate or when he declares that Catholic monarchy is the form of government Real Catholics[TM] should endorse, he’s not just “making things up out of thin air based on nothing other than feelings and opinions and misreading Sacred Scripture”.

Dave Armstrong does a more thorough autopsy on this particular video here.

Follow Us!

Browse Our Archives