Michael Voris’ Ultra-Pessimistic Views of the Church

Michael Voris’ Ultra-Pessimistic Views of the Church July 3, 2013
Berlin, 1945 [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]




This debate occurred on my Facebook page, on 2 July 2013. Adrian Combe’s words will be in blue; Felix Lopez’ words in green.

* * * * *

Do you think the Church is ‘all but destroyed’?

No. I’m fighting against this position. This is what Michael Voris thinks, according to his video that I critiqued a few days ago.

So, in your opinion, when God said to St. Francis, “Go and rebuild my church, which, as you see, is falling into ruin?”, was He espousing the position of quasi-defectibility?

That’s not near-destruction. It was a rough period (one of many through history): arguably much worse than what we are going through today. But St. Francis, like other saints, took the long view and had faith enough to look ahead to the coming revival. This is not what Voris is expressing. Here is an example of his rhetoric, from June 21:

The Catholic Church in the West: the establishment Catholic Church, no longer operates with the same set of first principles that we once did [sic]. The entire self-understanding, our own self-conception has been jettisoned, and been replaced by an entirely new and rotten sense: rotten to the proverbial core. Leaders have traded away the notions of truth and goodness and beauty in exchange for accommodation and indifferentism and political correctness.

It would be difficult to find two people more vastly different in outlook than St. Francis (one of my very favorite saints) and Michael Voris. Good grief. Do you really want to go down that road?

I agree that Voris has fallen into this trap. In my opinion, it is probably more emotional/psychological though in which a fact check and some meditation, critical thinking can help relieve. It is not easy to see the good when there is so much rampant moral and spiritual decay that surrounds us daily and then to make matters worst we find it in our local parish on Sunday.

Actually, you can only rebuild something that has fallen apart, so not only does your distinction fail, the position from which St. Francis was operating was more dire than anything that Voris has expressed. 

Sheer nonsense . . . It’s a matter of degree. The Church has had many rough periods. I cited Chesterton twice in the chapter I posted above, writing about all the decadent periods, but I didn’t include those, to cut down on length. He, like St. Francis, was an optimist, and he noted that the Church always bounced back. He wasn’t making a point that the Church’s tradition has “been replaced by an entirely new and rotten sense”.

‘Sheer nonsense’ is not an argument. There is nothing that Michael has said, or that anyone could say, that is more dire than a church that is falling into ruin and needs to be rebuilt.

I didn’t say it was an argument (nice try): it was a comment on your very weak and misinformed argument.

What he is obviously stating is that most church leaders seem to have embraced this ‘new and rotten sense’ – that is not something I have heard disputed.

Obviously, your unfounded assertion that my argument is flawed…is not an argument either.  

Again, I didn’t say it was! I gave a little bit of an argument, about the folly of comparing St. Francis and his outlook to Voris and his.  So who is part of this “Church within a Church”? Is my bishop (Vigneron)? How about me? Mark Shea? How about all those “head-in-the-sand” “neo-Catholics” at Catholic Answers and EWTN and the Coming Home Network (where I worked for three years)? Are they part of the “remnant” or already on the dark side?

Voris knows all this stuff, apparently. So let him start giving us some specifics, so we can be on the true and narrow path.

This is just a difference in speaking style and personal psychological perspective. In Michael Voris’ view the ESTABLISHMENT Church refers to the purely career drivin professional Catholics that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis frequently lamented, it is not much different than from St. Francis’ time and no one is saying that Voris is a Saint nor perfect, I agree that his tone and lamentations occasionally go overboard, but not always, he does give kudos to good clerics and other figures every now and then. Keep in mind that in News commentary (both secular and religious) we tend to only focus on bad news.

Okay; cool, Felix. So maybe you will answer my questions from my last comment, if Adrian doesn’t.

I don’t think Voris ever claimed to have that crystal ball the way you are claiming. But, I think you or I or Felix or Michael can talk to someone for five minutes and figure out where they are at, for the most part. If someone can explain three different ways why the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception is true, it is unlikely they are a dissenting Catholic.

So you’ll take a pass on interpreting Voris’ rhetoric and actually applying it to real life. Duly noted. Much easier to just throw out the near-blanket condemnations, that collapse as soon as someone asks, “well, who do you have in mind there: how about some examples to illustrate your point? How about Mr. So-and-So?” In other words, what good does it do to say “the Church is 99% bad guys” and then when asked to identify who are the good guys, Voris and his followers go mute . . .

Isn’t it supremely important to know who the good guys are, in such a dire end-times scenario? Or is it just expected that we lop up everything Voris says: that he is in effect the ultimate “good [trustworthy / orthodox] guy” in the Church and the go-to guy?

Voris has named names and I don’t see this as a problem. Neither does the National Catholic Register. I am pretty sure you have named a name or two on your blog.

Okay, so are the ones I named on the light or dark side? The rhetoric is useless if it can’t be applied. It’s just . . . empty rhetoric (precisely as I have been critiquing it).

I am quite certain Voris has not put himself in this position of infallibility you are insinuating. I am not really sure what you are getting at. You have named folks, good and bad, as has Voris…  

Okay, Adrian. Everyone can see you’re unwilling to tell us who are the good and bad guys. You won’t even say that the ones I cited are the good guys; part of this infinitesimally small so-called “remnant.” That’s fine; I knew it was almost certain that you wouldn’t, or couldn’t, so my point is illustrated. Thanks!

Sorry, not biting…you are doing the same thing Voris does, but you think he should be criticized for it.

Right. Nice try.

Actually, what I stated, was that you have named good folks as good, and bad folks as bad, just as Voris does (which you did not deny, I noticed).

I certainly have named names, as an apologist. I don’t say they are out of the Church, though. I don’t classify radical Catholic reactionaries (RadCathRs) that way: only sedevacantists, and SSPX is a borderline scenario. Voris’ claims are far more dramatic than mine. I talk in apologetic terms; he does in apocalyptic and prophetic and  melodramatic terms.

You have every right to disagree with Voris style and opinions. But, keep in mind, just as there are different equally valid and legitimate theologies in the Church (e.g. Thomist, Augustinian, Eastern, Latin, etc.) there are different equally legitimate and valid apologetics and evangelizing approaches. The remnant Church inside a Church that Voris refers to is the Pope, Bishops, Priests, religious, and laity who uphold Church teaching without illegitimate compromise (this includes the other apologists you cite). Voris does often criticize those who deny that there is a crisis, you cannot fix something you don’t believe to need repair.


It’s standard RadCathR boilerplate to accuse anyone who disagrees that the (very real) crisis in the Church must be defined in RadCathR terms (with Vatican II, ecumenism, and the New Mass as the usual boogeymen) has their head in the sand. I have been accused of that in recent threads, myself. It’s very common.

So I am asking about the people and groups I mentioned, who are often classified in such a way.

As far as I know, Voris hasn’t stated anyone is outside the Church. Like you, he notes when someone teaches something that is at variance with the faith. ‘Apocalyptic, prophetic and pathetically melodramatic’ are descriptors of style, not substance; moreover, they are subjective, rather than objective – and thus, unworthy as subject of debate for an apologist, especially one of your calibre.

1) Voris is 100% orthodox and in good standing with the Church just as you and your associations which you named. I know this from personally watching both his vortexes daily and his various other programs. The vortex show is just 1% of all the programing and is intended solely to address internal Church problems and a few political issues in which I do not always agree with him on. It is more opinion and punditry than anything else, much like the Curt Jester blog but in video format.

2) There is honestly not much difference from what you and others do with Voris, the difference is he does so in VIDEO format with his own personal style born from his own human experience and passion. Are errors said or bad choices of words sometimes, certainly just as errors and bad choices of words have been exposed in the various apologists and associations you cited as well, whom I like by the way. Most of the errors at the end of the day are usually personal hypotheses, innocent flawed interpretation, or whatever.

3) I am afraid that you are accusing Voris of intentional malice for things that even Saints have done and you yourself have done in good clear conscience. The Saints also often spoke melodramatic and in apocalyptic style terms. Don’t you read any of the medieval mystics?

You’re still sidestepping the substance of what I am driving at. He’s making extreme statements. They are untrue in the first place. Things are not nearly this bad as he makes out. It harms people’s faith.

If he wants to make out that the remaining remnant is so tiny, then why doesn’t he tell us who is in it? His followers cannot ultimately defend what he says, or interpret who in the world he is talking about.

Voris is neither a saint nor a mystic. Making these comparisons do not help your case. St. Francis built an entire order and revolutionized Christian monasticism. Many mystics did the same. There’s no comparison at all.

It’s not “orthodox” to trash the Novus Ordo Mass when Pope Benedict XVI specifically decreed in 2007 that both forms of the Latin rite were equally acceptable. That is not the Mind of the Church; sorry. People have to choose between his outlook and the pope’s in this regard. Everyone knows what side I come down on when it is a question of John Doe vs. the Holy Father. If I wanted to dissent against the popes I’d still be a Protestant; I would have never entered the Church.

I saw that whole documentary on the mass. I do agree he went overboard in it and kind of offended my own sensibilities a bit. I see what you’re saying and give you that, but I figure it is just bad insensitive choice of words driven by passion. I give him a pass on it and overlook it only because I can relate to coming across as rude and overly exaggerated when I don’t mean it. For one thing, it is easier to be more careful and calculating in writing than in oral statements. I dont think he even waits that long to carefully edit, or ask for independent feedback, and then publish his videos. He probably posts them almost instantly. The mass destruction video was taped in live audience with no feedback from the audience nor did the priest he interviewed even say anything about his presentation.

Why wouldn’t he retract it, then, if it went overboard? It gives his opinions! This is what he believes. I don’t think it is simply a matter of sloppy language and going overboard; getting carried away or whatever.

His high testosterone ego would be offended to call very late attention to his mistake, lol. But, people have to bring it to his attention first of course.

You said it, not me. LOL Imagine if I had said that? ROFL

He does see the Extraordinary Form as superior and the Ordinary Form as inferior. I don’t necessarily disagree with him. I think however the best of both should be syncretized into one as Pope Benedict wanted but couldn’t.

The problem is that when he told a bishop that he often receives complaints of being too forceful the bishop beat his breast and said that the bishops have not been forceful enough. From then on he figured it was license to boil peoples’ blood all he wants, lol. That bishop is the one shown on the website giving a complete blanket endorsement of everything he does.

* * * * *
Further thoughts of mine on Voris and his views, drawn from statements of mine on Facebook threads:

Voris trashed the Novus Ordo; Pope Benedict did not; he made a perfectly acceptable analysis of the Mass and some of the problems of translation, implementation, liturgical mediocrity, etc. But what he stated as pope in 2007 is perfectly clear, and Voris seeming apathy about it, or outright rejection of it should be alarming to any orthodox Catholic. Here is what Voris stated about the Novus Ordo Mass in his video, Weapons of MASS Destruction:

We’re talking about: is this authentic Catholic worship? Is this how Catholics worship God? Is this a break from the past, that’s so violent, that you can’t really say this is authentic Catholic worship, as we have understood it? Has the theology behind the Mass been so manipulated and twisted and deformed, that Catholics going to this Mass miss something of the theology, compared to talking about the traditional Latin Mass: the Tridentine Mass? . . . Has your faith been damaged, on the other hand? Yes. . . . We’re talking about, is this authentic Catholic worship; is what’s going on behind the scenes a possible detriment to your faith? . . . In short, the prayer, the public worship of the New Mass; the question is: is it more Protestant or more Catholic? That is a very, very key question. . . . The language used in the New Mass confuses nearly every aspect of the Mass: the idea of sacrifice; who’s actually offering the sacrifice . . . with all of these confusions, the very nature of the faith itself is undermined. . . . the former theology is largely dismissed. . . . The question is, what is it substituted with? When that old theology, the Catholic theology is gone, something else is brought in. 

What is the something else? In my paper critiquing this, I specifically contrast Voris with Summorum Pontificum from 2007.

If someone can persuade Michael Voris about the extremity of his bashing of the Mass, and excessively gloomy views, then potential problems ahead could be nipped in the bud and avoided. He could do a lot of good — a lot more good — if he straightened out these problems that I and other critics observe in his presentations.

I think he has a good heart and good intentions. I’ve seen other RadCathRs moderate their views and become more sensible. It’s not too late at all for Voris to do the same.


 I’ve always said that if my choice was your usual Novus Ordo Mass (with all the abuses of the rubrics and silly things many of us despise) and a Tridentine Mass, I’d be at the latter in a second. I’ve been blessed to not have such a dilemma. Our parish offers a very reverent Novus Ordo Mass in English and Latin: an extremely rare occurrence. So I can worship as I most desire: reverent, traditional Novus Ordo, such as what Pope Benedict XVI was calling for. I think the Tridentine is very beautiful as well and it is almost always reverent.

If I didn’t have my parish, I’d be at the Tridentine, most likely. Our parish (a merger of three parishes) offers that, too.


Voris makes many accurate and correct observations (credit where it is due). Even the Catholic Culture site (that rates Catholic web pages and endeavors), when cautioning readers about his site, acknowledged that, and so do I. I’m critiquing his extremist rhetoric, where it occurs, which is not always, and indeed, occurs only in a fairly small portion of his video talks.

Jay McNally, a friend and Catholic journalist, asked me: 

I just did a search on your web site for “Dignity/Detroit” and can’t find anything. Tell me, have you ever published so much as a sentence about Dignity in Detroit? If not, why not?

I don’t follow “internal” Church issues of this sort; I basically stick to apologetics (no one can do everything). That’s my calling, and I write about more than enough along those lines (very wide-ranging), so that I don’t want to “spread myself too thin.” What I do do, however, is write about underlying principles and premises of liberalism and modernism and how they are wrong and evil. I have a web page about liberalism, as I do about RadCathRism.

I think Voris has a valid point to some degree that these things aren’t covered enough in the Catholic press. I fully agree that journalists in the Catholic world ought to expose scandals and so forth: as long as there is solid evidence for any given thing (so as not to fall into detraction and calumny). It should be done. These are valid and important issues and questions. But I think Voris is dreadfully wrong to make the sweeping charge that it is all because of money and cowardice that all these groups and people don’t cover stuff like he does. There is a happy medium here between saying nothing and sometimes becoming extreme in language and pessimism, as Voris does.

The sex scandal illustrates my own personal approach. I have collected many articles by people who have followed and investigated it. If I personally have little or no knowledge about a particular thing, then I’ll cite and link to people who do. I didn’t try to hide anything. It was all upfront from the beginning (as could be proven with Internet Archive). I agree with all the outrage that has been expressed about bishops not doing something sooner. It was pathetic and heartbreaking. This is the fruit of allowing liberals and practicing sodomites to run rampant in the Church. Many in the Church bought into pop psychology.

Jay McNally again:

Dave, have you written about about Jane Schaberg at UDM [University of Detroit-Mercy], or about the recent disgraceful march into dissidence of Madonna University? All of these topics are perfectly within the scope of what you write about. I’d be eager to see any report you have that gives names of the specific professors — especially the bishops and priests incardinated in Detroit — attached to lies they teach. My bet is no you haven’t published anything about any of this even though all of these are scandals are in your own backyard and you surely know quite a bit about them.

No; again, as explained above, I’m not a journalist, nor do I specialize in the Church’s internal affairs. I don’t deny that a lot of rotten things go on. Modernism is the greatest crisis in the history of the Church. I differ with Voris (and “traditionalists” and RadCathRs, generally) about how bad things are, the causes, and what to do about it.

I’m an “ideas” person, so I go after the underlying false principles. So, e.g., on my liberal page I attack the false premises of Joseph Fitzmyer and liberal Catholic historians who deny infallibility. Or I go after liturgical mediocrity and violations of the rubrics. I scathingly criticize Catholics who contracept or who vote for Obama.

What you call for is simply not my area and I don’t pretend to know things I don’t know, or spread myself too thin (just as you probably haven’t written books about Luther and Calvin or edited quotations books of Aquinas, Augustine, Wesley, and Newman, or published 38 books, as I have). I know what my calling is and I stick to it. I agree that journalists and those who do write about internal affairs of the Church ought to cover these things: with the right attitude in terms of being faithful, obedient Catholics.

I don’t know specifics about them because I don’t follow this sort of stuff (I wasn’t even familiar with the name of the professor you mentioned at UDM). I’m busy writing my books. No one person can do everything. Now, Jay, you do cover this stuff, so according to the common sense notion of “division of labor” you should write about it, because you know about it; send it to me, with lots of specifics and proven facts, and then I’ll publish it (at least some; it can’t take over my pages).

Deal? I’m happy to spread truth from you or any person who speaks it. But I won’t countenance RadCathR garbage. Facts about modernist dissidents are fine; bashing the Church and Vatican II and the New Mass are not fine, and are wrong. I know where the line lies there. If you critique a specific person and their wrong ideas with facts, that is fair game. Saying, on the other hand, that it is because JPII was a liberal incompetent, or because of VII, or the New Mass, is RadCathR nonsense.

If something is pointed out (like this), I readily agree that it is wrong and scandalous. Voris goes too far: this is my point. Mixed in with much true analysis he takes the next step and starts making sweeping, prejudicial, uncharitable charges. He’s directly attacking people’s motives, and that’s wrong. I wouldn’t even treat a liberal dissident the way he has treated fellow orthodox Catholics. He can’t read their hearts. He doesn’t have that information of what motivates a Scott Hahn or Pat Madrid, or the folks at Catholic Answers or EWTN (or myself, by logical extension).

How does one “refute” a claim that entire classes of well-known Catholics have a rotten motivation of cowardice and putting money above truth? How does one disprove that this is the case? Basically, they have to do what Voris demands (which is unreasonable): talk about what he wants them to talk about. Otherwise, they are unscrupulous cowards with ill motivations. It’s agree with Voris or you are a scoundrel . . . (so I must be one too, I guess).

That’s absurd. He assumes from the outset what he is trying to “prove”: that the only reason they don’t do what he wants them to do, is nefarious motivation and lack of ethical principle. That’s a cheap shot and atrocious debating (terrible logic), without question. It’s also calumnious and slanderous.

If we were to believe Voris and his implication in one of his videos (that I critiqued elsewhere),  Catholic Answers, Hahn, Madrid, Grodi, Ave Maria Radio, EWTN, and all the rest of what RadCathRs call “Neo-Catholicism” (Voris uses the term “establishment”) are a bunch of cowards, and place filthy lucre and their own income above truth-telling and what is right for the Church.


Voris could have done this video by making the point that I agree with: Catholic journalists should cover these sorts of scandals much more than they do. I would have agreed with that; even “rah-rahed.” But he had to take it to the next level (as he so often does) and start attacking many people’s and groups’ motivations.

If he’d omit the extreme, conspiratorial-type statements and rhetoric, I’d have little problem with him at all. It’s those statements that I have critiqued in my (now) four blog papers about him.


It’s a very plain ethical difference. If Voris had said the following, I would have agreed with him 100%:

“Many people in Catholic journalism ought to speak out more about problems in the Church, such as modernism and the gay agenda: do true, critical, investigative reporting.”

But he didn’t do that. Rather, he was sweeping, named names, and went after motives:

The establishment Catholic media is . . . composed of . . . lapdog careerists . . . protecting their own financial interests by painting a dubious picture of things being kind of okay in the Church. . . . In short, they won’t tell you the truth, because they’re too cowardly to pay the personal financial cost.

The first statement is true and doesn’t attack individuals, groups, and motives. It’s constructive criticism, and I agree 1000%. The second makes out that all these people and groups (that I’m quite associated with, myself) are ill-motivated, lack integrity, lie to themselves every day, live merely for money rather than truth and goodness. Vastly different . . . Why can’t people see what I take to be utterly, absolutely obvious and undeniably wrong? I don’t disagree with all that Voris says. Much of what he says is true: even most of it. I disagree with this stuff, that I cite.

Yet critiquing the more extreme statements (what I’m doing) somehow immediately gets interpreted as “disagreeing with everything Voris says” [which would be a ludicrous denial that modernism is a crisis], and then further morphs into “smearing” him and being motivated solely by wanting to personally “attack” him. One guy said I was “jealous” of him. It’s ridiculous.


I’m passionate about this issue at hand, not because I desire to run Voris down, but because, to me, it is a crucial and elementary ethical principle at stake. The larger issue of “how bad is it in the Church?” is also in play, but mainly I was concerned with the personal attacks.

***  I think there is a happy medium. We as laypeople have every right to at least receive answers to sensible questions to bishops, as to why certain heterodox groups are allowed to function within the Church and are even funded. Bishops aren’t gods: above all possible discussion or queries. When it comes to this sort of thing, I agree with what Jay was saying, and much of what Michael Voris said.

On the other hand, we need to also respect the office and grant the benefit of the doubt, in charity, to bishops. It should be somewhere in the middle. We don’t just sit here like dummies, blindly accepting everything, no matter how seemingly dubious (the extreme of “obedience” and faithfulness). And we don’t go crazy bashing everything on a daily basis, as RadCathRs do.

So as usual, I am sort of in the middle, looking for that “golden mean” . . . I am often sympathetic to many “traditionalist” concerns, but I criticize them when they go too far, and stress obedience to those in the hierarchy that God established in the Church.


Let’s get some things straight:

1) I’m not against everything Michael Voris says; I agree with him on quite a bit, as I do with “traditionalists” and even sometimes with the RadCathRs.

2) I concentrated on one portion of a nine-minute video (maybe 30 seconds) where he attacked the motivations of large portions of the Catholic apologetics and “outreach” community: basically accusing them of being spineless, unscrupulous cowards who are in it just for the money. This is ethically indefensible. Perhaps some of them are that. But he doesn’t know this. He can’t read minds and hearts, and making sweeping judgments like this is not only outrageous but absurd as well.

3) I think bishops should be accountable, and should be asked “hard questions,” and I have offered to Jay that he cross-post some of his hard-hitting critiques on my page.


I find myself in agreement with a lot of what Voris says (and he says it very well, I might add; he’s very professional in the polish and style of his presentation; I never denied that). I was too harsh, in accusing him of “quasi-defectibility” in the past, but I still classify him as a RadCathR.

He trashes and bashes the Novus Ordo (as he has: make no mistake) and expresses at times a disdain for Vatican II and legitimate ecumenism, and definitely towards Protestants (these are all hallmarks of RadCathRism).


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  • Excellent Dave. What is even more enlightening is how St. Francis of Assisi REFORMED. He NEVER "EVER" Criticized our Cardinal's, Bishop's and Priests and SPECIFICALLY ordered his Friars to follow his Example. Great Article on this very wise way to reform the Church. THE exact Opposite of Michael Voris. http://ccgaction.org/respectpriestsandbishops

  • A response to corruption

    In the thirteenth century many priests were involved in seeking wealth and having a pleasant life. They hardly preached at all, virtually never studied, and paid for important positions so that they could get even more money. A number of priests openly lived with women, causing great scandal. Some of the bishops lived in unbelievable wealth, and would sell Church positions to keep their rich life style. Many of the people were just as bad as their leaders.
    St. Francis:
    "Alas, how sad it is that some are far more ready to judge (and criticize) priests than they are to pray for them."

    As a result, many so-called prophets had appeared, some good, some not-so-good, who promised terrible punishments if people did not reform. Peter Waldo was one of the reformers who had a great beginning. He gave up his riches to live in poverty and spread the faith. He had many followers who also lived as poor men, and did penance. However, when they began to preach without permission against the lazy and sinful priests, the Archbishop of Lyons, France, excommunicated them.

    The group, called the Waldensians, took their case to the pope, and he encouraged them. He praised Peter for living in poverty and gave him and his followers permission to urge the people to live moral and holy lives wherever the bishops allowed them to do so. But since they had not studied theology they were not permitted to explain the Bible or to instruct people in the faith. Unfortunately, they began to do both.

    St. Francis of Assisi
    In time they got into all sorts of errors, such as placing their interpretation of the Bible over the authority of the pope, denying both purgatory, and veneration of the saints. They also refused to go to confession to immoral priests, preferring to confess to good people who were not priests. As a result, the Waldensians were excommunicated by the pope in 1184.

    However, there were still a number of them going all over, spreading their errors. And, there were also the Albigensians or Cathari, as they were called in Italy, who condemned the material world as evil. As a result they denied the sacraments, and marriage in particular. Many people listened to both the leftover Waldensians and Cathari because they lived Gospel poverty, unlike the priests.

    Franciscans take another approach

    Despite their sincerity, and their living radical Gospel poverty, all [of the Waldensians and Cathari] fell astray. They lost the faith. But, their contemporary, Francis of Assisi did not. Why not? Because he never went anywhere to preach the Gospel without permission of the priests. Furthermore, he would never criticize the priests and bishops — even the most lazy and immoral ones — nor would he allow his friars to do so. (As a result, the Franciscans were always welcome just about everywhere they went.) http://ccgaction.org/respectpriestsandbishops

  • I can make a large number of arguments in support of Mr. Voris, and against your expressions and criticism (and I'd be happy to, it's worth doing, but life's too short), but I'd like to short-circuit that:

    I think the big gulf is one that ends up being prudence (that is, 'what is the best good?'), and it actually has to do with whether you believe in something closer to Universal salvation, or something closer to what the Church has historically taught (and Christ Himself seemed to say): that salvation is relatively rare, conversion requires changing everything (sacrificing one's "old man").

    (Indeed, it seems to really come down to whether one's own salvation is mostly assured – or mostly not, but I'll skip over that bit and keep it abstract.)

    If salvation is relatively common, then no extraordinary measures are particularly necessary, a middle group, compromising, mostly comfortable Catholicism will do: oh, certainly, the worst objective sinners should be helped, but mostly 'salvation' has to do with living with Christ in this life, being a good person, being kind to others, etc.

    In that context, one's 'vocation' isn't _that_ important: I mean, if someone fails in their vocation, gives up being a priest or religious, or is just a bad parent, then God will supply our infirmities (even those we chose against His grace).

    You can continue the idea to support most of what liberals hold today: contraception isn't _that_ bad (it's not murder), prayer and personal sanctity isn't _that_ important (it helps), original sin is miraculously removed because God so loves us(so the unborn murdered aren't really in jeopardy, and lord knows how hard it is to be a mother these days…), etc. God doesn't need much, so a little bit of self-giving is sufficient to appease him, etc.

    The many who have arrogated to themselves the "Catholic middle" or "mainstream Catholic" title are, from the above list, functionally what we would call liberal.

    On the flip side, for those who think with the Church and Her Saints, you hold that most people are not just going to get to heaven, then the whole logic of the Church in all times and in all really does hold together: it is a piece. Jesus' sacrifice, and our participation in that sacrifice, become much more 'real'. The danger to souls is also much more real.

    The response requires the extraordinary sacrifice of oneself to the vocation God has given, be it Vocation-vocation, or just a call to holiness. It requires clear and unceasing opposition to the poison of "the world" and the worldlings – servants of the prince of this world – because one is called, by being baptized and in a state of grace, to really participate in the salvation of others.

    This demands prayer and increasing knowledge of the truths proposed by the Church, all throughout one's life, because greater conformity with Christ (our "new man") is what is willed of us even now.

    In this latter paradigm, no words are too harsh to condemn sin, because sin is a big deal. No words are too harsh to condemn the injustice of bad teaching from those charged to do so, because even if you error (by, say, self-justifying, or justifying by bad reasons) in faith or morals, it has real effect on one's soul, it causes great evil in this life (c.f. abortion) and puts souls in jeopardy. Most poisonous are theologies (really, idol-logies) that serve to deform the awesome and aweful God who has been revealed in the fullness of His Love and Justice into some watered-down pygmy, a graven image of the worldly mind.

    This is the source of the uncompromising stance against "the world" that is identifiably consistent in the Saints. And those of us in the game to win victory for Christ – for the Glory of God, and not ourselves – are really not inclined to compromise.

  • I agree with all that. What's it gotta do with my paper, tho [scratching head]?

  • (splitting it up into two, I seem to have gone over the limit)

    I'm intending to respond in general to the post "Debate on Michael Voris". I can respond to the original quoted item, but it's not really worth investing that much time in: it's all ignoratio elenchi to those who are clear on the actual 'trad' arguments: 1) that VII contains no new de fide teaching, it recapitulates many points that are not under any kind of criticism, but has many prudential and disciplinary items that, while they are within the power of the Bishops to do, are entirely arguable as to the outcome of their effect. One of those cases is the 'New Mass', which can be valid, licit, and still a really bad idea (specifically, the SSPX makes the case that it is a defect of the due good (you know what 'defect of a due good' is a synonym for, right?): that of proportion to the mysteries that the old Mass more fully elucidates).

    2) VII recapitulates in modern-readable – and in some places self-admittedly equivocal – language things that were already there in more formal theology language and perhaps the previous expressions have both superior weight and superior force, etc. Just because something is new doesn't give it any particular weight: there are plenty of random items in Oecumenical Councils that are to be read in terms of the historical circumstance in which they happened.

    Somehow, liberals – and those invested for various reasons in a certain 'now-ness' and 'me-ness' to the proposition that it's the temporal institutional structures and today's persons of the Church that save – can manage to read all the previous councils in their historical context (as can we), except Vatican II, which can only be interpreted as the most perfect expression ever, trumping all previous expressions. The rest of us (who are called trads) can read VII in the same way as we read the non-anathema sections of Trent or V I or the Council of Florence: worthy of study, but must be studied in their historical context and with understanding their personages as well as their offices. VII's historical context was objectively much worse than any previous: that it contains no dogmatic errors while simultaneously claiming to be dogmatic is, truly, miraculous in retrospect. We dodged a bullet there, by the grace of God.

    3) All the rest of the normal arguments about VII that put it firmly in the 'valid, licit, an act of the Magisterium, but not commanding assent of the intellect to every single point in every single document' category, since that wasn't at all the purpose of VII, and it's a (intentional, some of us would say) misreading of history to suggest such. The actual De Fide content of the Faith is expressed in such a circumscribed and precise way as to precisely avoid such issues as we've seen in the last half century. I think you can make an argument that without that precision, it can't possibly be De Fide.

  • Now, to flesh out my comments a bit more: the separation I pointed out in my first comment explains the reasons for the targets of his criticisms, how the criticisms ought to be interpreted (there is a specificity, it has to do with tying together underlying causes and emergent defects), and why it is indeed 'that bad', a proposition you reject in your response to this thread.

    What you see as 'quasi-defectibility' seems to me to be Voris (correctly) railing against the defectiveness of the members of the Church – including Bishops, but also including the "Catholic establishment" – in carrying out their offices. The invective is so biting precisely because it is targeted to the bad will and heteropraxis of the individuals in office, rather than imputed to the office itself or the Church-as-a-whole.

    Now, it seems an entirely licit theologumena to hold that the overwhelming part of people who are baptized in the Church Militant are presently headed 'in the wrong direction': St. Leonard of Port Maurice recounts the potential with what I think is the appropriate proportion. Others will differ as to the proportion, and thus the seriousness of the situation. But, if St. Leonard's sermon relating only 1 in 20,000 make it to heaven (and most of those go to purgatory) is even close to the statistics today – and some would argue it might be much, much worse – Voris and the trads are absolutely right to be righteously angry over what is presently going on in the current Church Militant, without at all questioning the capacity for the Church-in-total to save. Even if it's actually better than that, say 1 in 10,000, or 1 in 500, or even 1 in 2, pretty much every position that Voris and we have (holding to the 'theologically probable' opinions, and rejecting those ideas that by all participate – share – in anathemized positions, like modernism or things like modernism, and various expressions which add up to something closer to panentheism, indifferentism, or apokatastasis) is absolutely justified by the sheer weight of souls testifying to the seriousness of God's justice by their damnation.

    While we can't know who, individually, will 'finish the race' and gain the crown, there is absolutely nothing disproportionate about looking around and weeping for the state of souls, and fighting tooth-and-nail to bring them the justice (such as, say, the unadulterated and uncompromised truth of the faith which is the right of every Catholic)they deserve on account of their Baptism.

  • Hi JRP,

    See the final section of the above paper: revised tonight.

    You're a thoughtful guy. I'd classify you as a "mainstream trad"; not a radtrad. Like I said above, I think Voris straddles the line between the two.

  • And just to disabuse you about me (or, perhaps, disabuse you about at least the more educated radtrads en masse, in whose camp I feel I am firmly embedded), I really am a hairsbreadth away from the official positions of the SSPX (a little further away from every single point of every single sermon by every single Bishop or priest, certainly, but our notions of what living Catholic salvation entails seem undiscernably different).

    Honestly, if I could convince myself of the notion of 'supplied jurisdiction', I'd really be put into the soup as I'd have to make a clear conscience about whether to join them and pursue my vocation there, joining them in whatever censure they are under. But, I don't quite hold the jurisdiction question, so I'm not at that point: I just have to wait and hope.

    For my part, I was told, after a few years of formation at a famous seminary, "I don't have the personality of a modern priest", which as an assessment of myself, including aspirationally, I affirm. As a criterion for who should or should not be a Diocesian priest, I question, but recognize such things are within the purview of the delegated power of the local Ordinary, so I have no cause for appeal or injustice to right. I acknowledge the local Church's authority in this, without agreeing that it's a good idea. :)

    Being of a certain age, the less extreme trad orders don't bother with men of my age, and so I've left with the hope for a reunification of the SSPX, for whom I would hope they would take the 'not a modern priest' as a compliment rather than disapprobation, and given the circumstances, cut me some slack on my poor agedness. :)

  • Professional jealousy maybe?

  • Why not just try a better seminary (assuming they were wrong about you)?

  • The one to which I was sent was claimed to be among the best in the United States, an assertion with which I can basically concur. Given what little information I have, I surmise it was a bit more my sending Diocese, but the details were hidden from my sight: I can't claim to even know the 'real reason', I only know what I was told.

    A religious vocation was often suggested in my final interviews (which were in 2009, when talk of a return of the SSPX was hopeful, and for which I've been patiently waiting, since then I've lived a quiet lay life of prayer, work and penance, free of debt and prepared to move in an instant).

    The practice of going from "diocese to diocese" to seek ordination was reprobated by…someone, the reference escapes me at the moment. The fact that most people don't even know about this doesn't mean that I can reject the principle.

    Thus, I am obedient to my Ordinary, while putting me in a bit of a muddle: this puts me in the position of only having recourse to more perfect states of life, and relatively limited ones at that (in my own estimation).

    Truthfully, I don't really reject the criticism. Even beyond that, however, I certainly don't really know if I would make a particularly good pastor. But, I am sort of forced to continue to pursue it even if I might end up being a bad or even just a mediocre one, since I seem to be able to "take it", I was given the desire to cast myself radically in His service, and to celebrate His sacraments is worth more than my life, I am free to do so, thus I ought to do so. All perfectly reasonable.

    What I can do is reject – vociferously – that sort of criterion being prudentially good to determine who should or should not be a Diocesan priest. And, rail against these very historical circumstances the erroneous philosophy and theology that even today throttle our Holy Mother from declaring salvation with free voice. But, I certainly do acknowledge it's a decision that the vocations people, acting in their (delegated) authority, were free to make: I don't have to like it.

    These very experiences – and vastly many more besides – are one of the reasons I'm very sensitive to precisely some of these points raised, about the practical considerations of the indefectibility of the Church versus that of its members, even those acting within their authority, where it does and does not apply. I'm soaking in it. :)

    I remain seeking and pursuing God's will, and I let God judge the final judgment.

  • I hope you find it, brother. I don't think it lies in the SSPX, wherever God may be leading you . . .

  • I think there's a lot simpler explanation than quasi-defectability, if one is or isn't a radtrad/mainstream traditionalist. It's derp.

    Okay, if we want to be more technical, it is veiwing present events through a predetermined prism. In this case, since the time immediately following the council (and probably for the next 20 years after) was by any objective criteria awful, and beyond awful in America, that becomes the reference point for a lot of the present problems. The only problem is that we aren't living in those times anymore. Things have legitimately changed.

    We have a long way to go (really long) before we can say things are no longer bad. Yet the exitensial crisis the Church went through in the 60's and 70's (and the Church in America went through long after!) isn't really the problem today. The chances of a Humanae Vitae redux are slim to none. Where is today's Archbishop Gumbleton or Mahoney/Law amongst the American episcopate in power? Who is leading the charge to water down Catholic doctrine like Bernadin did with his "seamless garment" nonsense? (Nonsense the vatican formally rejected in 2004 btw.)

    That's why I sympathize a lot with what people like Voris say, but I find some of what they do counterproductive. What Catholics should be doing is having a discussion that recognizes how poor things are, but also realizes the last 25 years or so in the Church actually happened.

    Or to be more crass: things suck, but they don't suck as much as they used to, and if present trends continue, they will suck gradually less and less.

  • Note when I say "exitensial crisis", I refer simply to Paul VI speaking of the "auto-demolition of the Church" and how "The Church seemed to be attacking herself" in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, both statements that, when taken just on their merits, are true.

  • Hi Kevin,

    I was just commenting on your piece at your website and cross-posting it to my Facebook. Dunno if you saw that before writing this.

    I have upgraded my opinion of Voris' rhetoric from "quasi-defectibility" to "overly pessimistic." :-) Also from radtrad, to "trad" who straddles the line of radtradism and sometimes goes over it, as in the case of his views of the Novus Ordo Mass.

    In that sense, we largely agree: I just think he is further down the road of pessimism in a bad sense, than you think he is.

    All three of us could agree on many many things. I'd much rather do that wherever possible, than fight with folks. I've had enough of that for a lifetime, with all the hogwash I have to endure in the world of apologetics.