Dave Armstrong’s Opinion on Michael Voris’ Outlook

Dave Armstrong’s Opinion on Michael Voris’ Outlook August 12, 2013
Archangel Michael Hurls the Rebellious Angels into the Abyss (c. 1666), by Luca Giordano (1632-1705) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]




Being an apologist is a lot like being an umpire: you always have folks disagreeing with you. I seem to be caught a bit in the middle here, so I’m-a-gonna splain a bit, if I could . . .

A big stir was made a little while back about my softening somewhat with regard to my criticisms of Michael Voris. I didn’t say I thought he was perfect, nor that most of what I already stated in critique of his work was no longer valid. I didn’t say he shouldn’t be closely observed in the future.

All I did was agree with one video (and yes, there are a few things in there I would quibble with, such as his implied hostility to communion in the hand, the ad orientem issue, etc.). I haven’t taken one thing back concerning the critique of his trashing of the Mass. His view on that (“Weapons of MASS Destruction” video) is clearly out of line with the Mind of the Church.

I don’t see people as purely evil. Voris is a mixture of good and bad, like we all are. I’ve never followed the man. I’ve critiqued him all along and will continue to do so if he deserves it. I merely softened a little because I saw that he was expressing a lot of truth, too. I had accused him of believing in the defectibility of the Church, or the near-possibility of same, and on reflection that was a bit harsh, so I modified my view and took out those sections in my critiques.

Sometimes I will change my opinion, if I think the facts warrant it. People have to accept (or “take”) me as I am. I call things as I see ’em. I have opinions and sometimes I change my mind (I did recently, for example, regarding my discontinuance of the term, radtrad: which had some serious problems in usage and reception). It’s not instability; it’s thinking; rationality. I always have a reason for what I do. I try to be as fair-minded as I can, and Michael Voris deserves that, just as any other person deserves to be treated.

One problem in all this is that many people almost fanatically follow people that they perceive to be “celebrities.” Some people act as if they couldn’t survive without their Voris video every day. They put him up on a pedestal. If someone tried to put me in that place, I’d tell ’em straightaway that they have a huge spiritual problem and should probably stop reading my stuff immediately and devote themselves to prayer and Bible reading.

There is absolutely no question that with Michael Voris there is a certain amount of “cult of personality” going on (i.e., among some [many?] those who follow his videos), because this happens again and again (Fr. Corapi, etc.). It’s the American way. We love to follow men. I fight against that indirectly by agreeing with Voris where I can and critiquing him, too. That counters the notion that he’s perfect or that he is totally evil (cardboard caricatures of real, complex human beings).

Many who like Voris seem to think he’s perfect. The ones who don’t like his stuff tend to despise him. What I’m doing is being realistic, not fanatic: he has good and bad qualities. I’m being a critic, but not a mere basher, or painting everything all black. Big dif . . .

People are much more likely to listen to a critique of him if they feel he’s been given a fair shake, and if they know that the one who critiques has also acknowledged good things in his videos. Even the Catholic Culture site that urged “caution” about his videos did that. Likewise, those who despise him may hear when I note some good things, so that there can be less division. The dogmatism and “black-and-white” mentality on either side is what causes division.

I’m always willing to acknowledge truth and good things when I see them: whether in Luther or Calvin, or James White. This is what the Church does with Protestants, Jews, and Muslims. So I am applying Vatican II when I do it.

There is a place for hard-hitting reporting. I agree with Voris when he says that Catholic journalists are a bunch of wimps, for the most part. It’s to our great shame that the secular media had to expose the sex scandal. No major player within our ranks had the guts to do so.

I remember reading stuff in The Wanderer about sodomy among priests, so it said something. But by and large, the secular world broke the story, and it has caused untold damage to the Church and priests as a result. Therefore, there is a place for it, and it should be done. It’s journalism. It must be balanced with an attitude of obedience, though, which is the tricky part (how does one criticize a bishop and still be “subject” to him?).

Some saints have criticized popes (St. Dominic, St. Catherine — who was very critical of the pope and anti-popes of the time — especially; so did true orthodox Catholic reformers like Erasmus and others). One of the items in “traditionalist” boilerplate is that us non-trads think that no one can ever criticize a bishop or pope, ever. That’s simply not true. Sometimes you can. But it should be rare, respectful, and from the right people: not every day, loud and vocal, and from any Tom, Dick, and Harry. I agree that generally speaking, we shouldn’t make all these strong criticisms to our ecclesiastical superiors; but there is a time for someone to do so. And that is perfectly orthodox and in line with past history.

Perhaps Voris could do better and tone down his objectionable rhetoric (where it occurs), if folks give critiques that don’t merely “yell” that he is Satan incarnate. I criticize Voris when I think he is dead wrong and I have now acknowledged that he teaches a good deal of truth in some of his videos, too, and says stuff that needs to be said. Credit where it is due . . .

We apologists proclaim truth (or I sure hope we do!). We don’t fail to proclaim it because of how some folks may distort it. I couldn’t be an apologist for a day if I did that. We rejoice in whatever truth is found in folks. That’s true for Luther, Calvin, Muslims, and  Michael Voris, too. That’s Vatican II. If we don’t do that, we’re not applying the true spirit of Vatican II.

I “bash” Luther (along with Calvin and numerous others) when he gets it wrong, and I rejoice (and broadcast it) when he gets things right. Same with Voris or anyone else. The ecumenical element cannot be divorced from the apologetics task. Again, that is quintessential Vatican II (and JPII and BXVI).

John Calvin, for example, used the term “Mother of God.” appeared to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary (whereas most Protestants don’t), and was against contraception. Sure as Hades I’m gonna point those things out. We oppose falsehood but rejoice in truth: whatever the sources are. Often both are found in one person.

I don’t think Voris is a “kook” and I hold out hope for him to modify his views, where he is not in line with the Mind of Holy Mother Church. May God lead all of us — with His grace and power — into the fullness of truth, and give us the wisdom and humility to accept correction when we are wrong. Lord, help us to be open to that!

All of my papers devoted to Michael Voris can be found on my Radical Catholic Reactionaries vs. Catholic Traditionalism page, in one section devoted to him.

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  • Seriously???
    Does he even go to a Latin Mass (TLM or NO)?? I've heard, from a reliable gossip, that he's an EMHC.
    Could it be that he has just been ostracized because he didn't come up thru the EWTN/CA/Convert channels?? He could easily have been classified as an Opus Dei card carrying neo-Catholic peddling things like TOB and warning about the DaVinci Code when he started RealCatholicTV. But that market was saturated.
    Trads of every stripe were being starved for red meat and he moved in. But, in the end, he's just a journalist.

    Don't lose sleep or spill much ink over him.

  • That was a charitable assessment of the voice behind the Vortex .

    It is good to try to divorce a cult of personality from the ideas espoused. Sometimes Voris' presentation is so stylish that the crux of a topic is circumvented in the production.

    I appreciated his Vivisection of the Church of Nice for its presentation and some information, but also noted a mean spiritedness http://goo.gl/jqLDk . Ecumenism does not mean having no standards but joining in faith on broader ideas on which we agree and being enriched by others traditions.

    Voris strikes me as being a Catholic chauvinist, or more specifically a ROMAN Catholic chauvinist who would not appreciate the 22 churches (and the Anglican Personal Ordinariate) which comprise the Catholic Church.

  • This is a good and insightful article. Thanks for all of the careful thought that you put into it!

  • Your point of view is very warped. Praying for you

  • Thanks for the kind words and to Linda especially for her prayers. God bless all o' yas!

  • Coincidentally, Voris interviewed Ferrara last night.

  • It's a shame that people are called "reactionary" when people explain the disasters that ensued after the Second Vatican Council. Pope Benedict himself spoke of this. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3-J1deL4BY)
    "it (the Second Vatican Council) created so many calamities, so many problems, so many misfortunes; seminaries and convents closed, the liturgy banalized …" He goes on to explain how the media hijacked the Council.

    That's from BXVI.

    As for the "ambiguities" of VII, "Cardinal Walter Kasper made the long-awaited admission in L’Osservatore Romano on April 12, 2013 that Vatican II was created with ambiguities and contradictory statements for the precise purpose of fomenting division between the liberal and conservative ranks of the Catholic prelature."

    I agree with Linda, I'll be praying, too.

  • Maybe the truth is in the middle. There is a very RadTrad site, novusordowatch, that blasts Voris for being a modernist. Oh well, just my 2 cents.

  • I've always thought that the assumption that truth is found by splitting the difference between two errors to be intellectually lazy. Maybe the objects of neo-Cat derision should use it more often as in this example:

    it is a shame that the irony of these two positions arguing against each other was lost on both sides. For Neo-Catholics and sedevacantists realty are two sides of the same coin. Both treat every papal act, decree, teaching, sermon, or permitted practice as something that must be automatically revered and obeyed at all times. If what comes from the pope does not seem to square with past teaching, the Neo-Catholics say we must accept it anyway because it comes from the Pope. On the other hand, the sedevacantists say, that since these new teachings contradict that which came before, the man who is saying them cannot be the pope.

  • Hi there Dave,

    Could you comment on the recent issues with Michael Voris criticizing Cardinal Dolan on the St. Patrick's day parade?

    Also, how to you comment on your main page without going to other articles. I often have to find articles you wrote a while back and comment and I'm not really sure how to navigate this part…

  • I think Voris bashes bishops far too much. It's unseemly and improper. I have avoided this whole Cdl. Dolan bit. There is plenty on the Internet about it. Read both sides.

    I stopped comments on my main index pages, so people would stick to a specific topic. Here is a paper on how to navigate my website: