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! :-)

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • David

    Don’t overdo the apology, Calah. I watched the offending Voris vid. For sheer casual radicalism, apt to give maximum offense for minimal instructional benefit, it was in a class of its own. Does he have the remotest clue what the cause of “Catholic dictatorship” led to in the 20th century, esp. in Croatia and Slovakia? If so, why does he want to tie the the Church to that today? If not (as I charitably assume), why is he advocating what he knows nothing about?

  • The Crescat

    church militant TV & Voris is Javert!

    “I think the Church Militant needs to be balanced with Mercy in just the same way the Church Triumphant needs to balance with Humility”

  • Peggy

    I’m with you on Michael Voris. He can be way off the deep end on some things, but he occasionally gets it really, really right (like the video about homosexuals you linked to in the first paragraph– I often share that one, albeit with a warning for his other videos…). I do wish we would all stop being “liberal” Catholics or “conservative” Catholics or “Rad Trads” or whatever and just try to be Catholic.

  • Peggy

    Wow! Just watched the Voris voting video. Way, way, way off the deep end!

  • Guilty One

    Just waiting to hear from his staff and supporters. You won’t hear from him, he’s the President and personality. His problem is not getting it right, it how wrong things go sometimes. His advisers will never tell him because they all have other personal agendas. He will support them 1000% even when they burn him (which they have) and they will burn him again until he figures out.

    1 Corinthians 13

    God Bless

  • darling dora

    “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 …. ”

    Tru dat … and the Devil is laughing his socks off … can you imagine how gleeful Ol’ Scratch and his gang were at the development of the interwebz … making their jobs even easier into the 21st century … sigh …

  • TerryC

    Yeah because it way more important to be civil than to tell the truth. I think we need to remember that before Coke Cola per-empted St. Nicholas on of his big claims to fame was slapping heretics. Christ showed us that there are times to bring out the corded rope or the phase “You pit of vipers.” Sometimes people need to hear mercy and sometimes they need to hear the bald face truth. Sometimes things have gotten past the point when civility is the most important thing. When your country has allowed 55 million children to die. When has allowed perversion to become enshrined as a right. When it’s attempting to force you to become accomplices in these acts by making you pay for it, not only through remote means through your taxes, but through proximate means through your own health care plan, then its time to stop being civil.

  • Guilty One

    So Terry, If you are right you have every right to be mean and rude?
    In Paul’s Letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:5+)

    The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

    12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

  • Oregon Catholic

    It’s not just a cult of personality of celebrity priests, it’s also celebrity bishops who are purported to have the right ‘cred that are often receiving adulation. That scares me far worse because I don’t see any humility being spoken or called for among their ranks. Mostly just a willingness to ride the popularity wave and even to yuk it up for the media on occasion.

  • ahem

    I sometimes think Voris sounds strident, but he is essentially correct in his assessment of the dead wood: there are too many secular marxists in the catholic church passing themselves off as Christians, and they are far, far too influential. They have ruined at least three generations of Catholics—the Catholics who think Voris is an extremist. If you truly understood the total catastrophe Marxism has wrought, you would be alarmed, too. As pressure mounts on the church to shut its doors, these secularists will undoubtedly jump ship and head to more congenial organizations where their worldviews are accepted. At the rate things are going, only a remnant of the Catholic church is going to exist in ten years anyway. All Voris is suggesting is that they jump ship sooner, rather than later so that the rebuilding of the church can begin asap.

    If you insist on abortion and gay marriage adn believe in the “living” Church, you don’t take Christ’s teachings seriously. You’ve already relinquished your soul to the devil.

    Voris is the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

  • Victor

    Anchoress, after having seen The Vortex video and noticing that your comment box was still not open or did “I” mis-read? Anyway! Go Figure but me, myself and i got a chance to give our take on same-sex-marriage and how we feel about “IT” here below NOW.

    I hear ya Anchoress! You and your imaginary friends were going to write that here? Sometimes I do get lucky when “I’M” out of circulation Victor, I mean sinner vic! :)


  • Another Brian

    As time passes I am more an more convinced that the right path is that of St. John the Baptist and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The Lord must increase and I must decrease. All of this bickering in the blogosphere has only accelerated my conviction.

  • Jane Hartman

    As a convert, I was absolutely shocked to see how mean Catholics were to one another, supposed good Catholics who write concerning the faith. I used to read Catholic blogs such as Patheos every day or so. I thought I would learn about the church, scripture, etc. Not any more – just too disturbing. Today is just more of the same. Divide and conquer is what Satan is doing just now.

  • Al

    Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! Rogers & Hammerstein & the pattern of an emerging not so subtle anymore Catholic Blogosphere Intelligentsia because there is nothing else that deserves commentary, ridicule or correction in the entire Catholic Ecosystem or secular culture…Presents! …1…2…3….Full Habits

    “ you solve a problem like Michael Vorisa!….How do shut up a man and pin him down! How do you choose to make an issue out of Michael Vorisa! When there is University Of Notre Dame, A Flibberdjibbit! A Pelosi! He makes me frown!…..Ohhhhh How do solve a problem like Michael Vorisaaaaa!…..Whhhhyyyy dooooo we Catholic Blogosphere punditry classs obsess so onnn oneee maannnnn?!…,,,,, (In light of all the things that are much more obvious & important to talk about??????)