Confronting the Voris issue with Spot-on Charity

Because time doesn’t permit, and because my interests don’t really ride there, I rarely write about anything touching on Michael Voris — I think the Church Militant needs to be balanced with Mercy in just the same way the Church Triumphant needs to balance with Humility, but I have enough trouble minding my own soul to get exercised about either gang. Occasionally, a Voris story blips across my awareness and then I’ll either argue against purges in the family or defend him, if I think he needs defending.

Recently Calah Alexander let lose with an uncharacteristic rant on Voris, and while no one gainsays her right to do that (and she made some sound points) today, having digested Pope Benedict’s recent letter to Catholics in New Media, she reassessed her post and made a classy mea culpa:

In the post, I couched my rant in terms of “this is really a public service announcement, you know, just so that non-Catholics don’t think we’re really this deranged.” That was completely disingenuous, and not even cleverly so. It was a weak excuse to foam at the mouth, throw someone under the bus, and stir up a hornet’s nest. I don’t actually know if that was a consciously-formed intention, but I sure did refresh the combox gleefully that afternoon. I was even disappointed that there weren’t more angry commenters.

I’m sure that Michael Voris didn’t see that post, but if he had, it would have had the same effect as walking up to him on the street and spitting in his face. I made no coherent argument. There was no true concern and not the slightest hint of charity. I do think he was wrong. The video did upset me. The mature, charitable, Christian thing to do would have been to write a post laying out an argument, pointing out errors, and attempting to open up a dialogue. Instead, I laid on the virtual floor and kicked and screamed like my toddler sometimes does. She gets sent to time-out for that, and has to come back and apologize.

So this is is me, coming back and apologizing. In no way did anything I wrote in that post contribute to fruitful dialogue in this virtual reality. I do think that video is wrong on so many levels, but throwing a public hissy fit about it only caused more division, strife, and anger-the very things I was upset about Michael Voris doing.

This is really well-done of Calah, and I urge you to read it all, but then I urge you to further check out another piece on Voris — the link was left in the comments section at Calah’s post — that is spot-on in articulating precisely what it is about Voris’ militancy that so many find troubling, but manages to do it with admirable grace and charity, and is all the more powerful, because the author does admire him, but to a point.

We should never refer to any human being as “dead branches” as Michael Voris has done. That is the equivalent of condemning a person to hell. The only one who can make that judgment is God. Only God knows the state of a person’s soul and what they are capable of. We know that the greatest enemies of the Church can sometimes become our biggest saints, as in the case of St. Paul, who was actually killing Christians before he repented. We need to be in prayer for the souls of those whom we think have gone off the track. [. . .] Michael Voris is talking about priests and bishops – men ordained by the Holy Spirit – when he says they are dead branches who should be “cut off and become fuel for the fire.” Michael might do well to look at the story of David and Saul. Saul was anointed the first king of Israel and was a total failure at it. David was then chosen to replace him, and Saul reacted by trying to have David killed. At one point David had a chance to kill his mortal enemy, Saul, and David was urged to do so by his men. But David’s answer to this was, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”

Our Catholic bishops and priests have been specially ordained by God. We have no right in making any judgments about their souls and hoping for the day that “they are cut off and become fuel for the fire.” We certainly need to call them out when they are disobedient to the Church, but we must never, never rejoice in their destruction.

Read the whole thing.

Catholics are spending way too much time tearing each other down, venting at each other about who is reflecting a more perfect sort of Catholicism — you can find evidence of it all over the internet. I’m sure I’ve flung my arrows, too, although as a rule I don’t have much to say about other bloggers, because I think everyone’s entitled to their own work, which should speak for itself.

Still, if we can’t find a way to hang together, we may yet find ourselves “hanging alone” as Franklin said, and I am increasingly concerned about Corapian cults of personality creeping up around “celebrity priests” and nuns and even the laity online, and the idolatry such cults unwittingly foment — and no, idolatry is not too strong a word. I recently read (in my email or a combox thread; I can’t recall) someone refer to a layman and a priest as “living saints” who should be pronounced Doctors of the Church, either immediately or instantly upon their deaths.

Sistah, please! It’s entirely possible that a future saint or two may now reside within New Media but if they’re there, he or she would be the last ones to stand for that sort of adulation. And if there are potential Doctors of the Church herein (and there may be) they’ll be the ones presenting a knowledgeable and balanced teaching of the wholeness and totality of Catholicism, without rants or obsessions….which narrows the field greatly.

And totally shuts me out! :-)

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