Ed Peters brings his customary sanity…

Ed Peters brings his customary sanity… January 19, 2012

…to the various excuses, loony conspiracy theories and rubbish being espoused to make excuses for Michael Voris’ “Real Catholic” defiance of his bishop.

The main fuzzy place (that I doubt anybody has really given sufficient thought to) is the matter of the “Catholic Cookies and Milk” blogs and websites set up by well-meaning folk who just wan’t to swap recipes, gab about what interests them, and so forth from the perspective of a Catholic layperson. The new media have given abundant scope for honest, well-meaning people to stick the name “Catholic” on to a plethora of things, because they happy to be Catholic. That is basically how this blog get started (as well as a million others) and it has never pretended to be a, alternate magisterial authority, just an expression of hearty personal conviction. When I became aware of canon 216, I checked with the Archdiocese of Seattle to see if the blog was according to Hoyle. The person I talked to at the chancery had a reaction that basically went, “What? Are you kidding? We don’t have time to micromanage stuff like this. Your blog is fine. Forget about it.” I suspect that will be the norm anywhere in the world–unless some self-appointed prophet decides that God has anointed him to pronounce judgement against the vast majority of Catholics and their shepherds and “expose their lies and falsehoods” and gather a following to himself of fellow Real Catholics bent on perpetually elevating their personal preferences about things to the level of dogma. As Ed Peters puts it:

I don’t know how many small initiatives by Catholics use the word “Catholic” in their title nor, of those that do, how many have no authorization for it. Let’s assume, lots. If the Voris/RCTV matter is a wake-up call against slapping the label “Catholic” on every activity carried on by Catholics, fine by me. But, as a practical matter, I doubt that ecclesiastical authority is going to see grandma’s blog, “Catholic Cookies and Milk”, wherein she recounts what’s being read by the parish book club and how much her cats hate the snow, as topping their to-do list. If, later, though, CC&M morphs into a multi-million dollar broadcast operation self-appointed to expose lies and falsehoods among Catholics and throughout the world, I might reconsider.

Anyway, I’m glad this little contratemps has educated me about Canon 216 and prompted me to contact the Archdiocese to cross that little t and dot that little i. If my bishop later decides “Catholic and Enjoying it” is a problem, I will happily change the name. I hope Real Catholic TV complies with the orders of the Archbishop of Detroit–or does an expose of its own lies and falsehoods as readily as it accuses others.

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  • Dan C

    The Opus Dei group needs some of its famed discipline about some of its more prominent members. Voris is bankrolled. Evaporate that lifeline and he quiets down some.

    • eugene

      why exactly would you want voris to quiet down. I don’t get it.Is he preaching false doctrine of any sort.? Why is mark shea increasingly becoming the the front man for the group criticizsing voris?

  • Ann

    Maybe some people need to view the videos of the interviews Mr. Voris did with bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Nebraska and Cardinal Raymond Burke, who applaud the work that Michael Voris does in bringing the Truth to the forefront, while teaching authentic Catholicism…something we don’t see or hear of much in most Churches and parishes. As for the use of the word ‘Catholic’, why is it that when the truth is being exposed, there are those who wish to turn a deaf ear; all the while we have liberal priests, bishops and nuns parading around promoting homosexuality, reiki, women ordination, to end priestly celibacy…and it goes on and on…and under their ‘useful banner’ of being “Catholic”.

    come on now, let’s really get to the nitty gritty of what has destroyed our Catholic Church and the whole Agenda behind it.

    If there were more Michael Voris’s out there, we would see some light being restored in our Churches and schools and in the minds of the faithful who have been lead into the dark for the past 45-50 years.

    Keep up the good work Mr. Voris…you are a true disciple of the Lord!

    • jcb

      Nothing whatsoever, “agenda” or otherwise, has destroyed or can destroy the Catholic Church.

    • Mark Shea

      I wonder when Voris devotees and acolytes of self-destructive conservative Catholic folk heros will develop the maturity to stop explaining every single problem these people create for themselves as the result of some mythical conspiracy by shadowy liberal conspirators bent on their destruction? These absolutely evidence-free scenarios are trotted out every single time some conservative folk hero behaves badly.

      • eugene

        mark, it is quite unbecoming of you to refer to anyone who agrees with voris as a devotee….grow up man

  • nate

    So what’s relevant, then, is that Voris is part of a ‘significant media undertaking’. Fair enough. Certainly, it is right to note that an archdiocesan office cannot be bothered to check up on every little blog or otherwise employing the name ‘Catholic’. Only those who engage, it seems, in ‘significant media undertakings’. I suppose it seems fair to say that if an organization has multiple employees (as opposed to Shea, Inc.), etc., then it is at that point engaged in a ‘significant’ undertaking. Or not?
    Would Mark Shea, Inc become ‘significant’ if his book sales and speech schedule picked up so much (please God) that he had to hire a personal assistant? Probably not even then. But at what point does an autonomous apologetics organization become ‘significant’? Certainly, it is wrong to accuse the archdiocese of making an ‘arbitrary’ cut-off line in the case of Voris, but at the same time, it is reasonable to ask what the criteria for ‘significant’ is, so that we aren’t relying on a mere intuition by an administrator at the Archdiocese of Detroit, or worse yet, a deservedly well-respected canon lawyer.

  • I thought Voris and Real Catholic TV has tried several times to have a meeting with the archbishop to discuss these things but were consistently rebuffed.

    And then the archdiocese made the public statement – sans any private letter or communications to said company.

    They were too small before (rebuffed) and now they’re too big (a threat)?

    Funny how Voris and Real Catholic TV have gone from being shrill small beer hardly worth a gander and an embarrassment for folks to even halfway mention, to a great big bad mind-controlling threat that will overthrow and supplant the Magisterium and become the big bad wicked judges of everybody’s soul if they are not stopped right now.

    • nate

      Paul,
      That’s as good point. One could reasonably argue that precisely because Voris Inc is significant, financially and otherwise, that they deserve a sit-down. Perhaps this argument could be spun as implying that ‘money talks’ and that therefore they deserve the time of day only because they are monied, and the church, not wanting to support oligarchy, should treat them as anyone else. Perhaps. But they aren’t anyone else. That’s why they are being called out. So one might also reasonably say that, since Voris Inc has a considerable following, even having fellow bishops as fans, and prominent public personalities as guests, that he deserves a sit-down.

      The diocese could respond by saying ‘talk to the hand’ as it were, and they are in their canonical rights to do so. But one wonders if that would be the wisest way to proceed.

      We’ll see…

      • Voris has contacted the archdiocese seven times, and each time has been ignored.

        Even those who disagree with Voris’s approach agree that this is UNJUST.

        And what people fail to note is that Canon 216 is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT if the archdiocese lacks jurisdiction in this matter.

        If Brammer owns the title to RealCatholicTV.com, then only Brammer may change the name–and HIS diocese has jurisdiction to make that demand.

        Voris is an employee. He doesn’t have the right to change the name of a company he works for. That’s like asking a journalist to change the name of the newspaper he works for. He doesn’t have that authority.

        Voris has made this clear to the archdiocese–and has been ignored.

        Good commentary on this situation:

        http://tinyurl.com/7ptmvx2

        I don’t think it’s insignificant to consider that, not only is Dr. Peters on the diocesan payroll, his commentary is linked to on the diocesan website. Conflict of interest, maybe?

        • Mark Shea

          Yes. Peters and all who dare criticize Voris are part of The Conspiracy. That’s always the explanation for devotees of Conservative Folk Heros. Always.

  • Aaron Streeting

    I was aware of this canon before this incident occurred. It’s often used for independent schools opened by Catholic laypeople. In many cases, they’ll petition the diocese for official recognition as a Catholic school, but the process might take several years. This makes sense. Since the bishop wasn’t involved in the formation of the school, he might want to wait a few years to see if it’s something he wants to officially sanction.

    In the meantime, in obedience to the bishop, they’ll not refer to themselves as a “Catholic school” in their marketing, even though their mission statement, etc. will talk about how the curriculum is based on Catholic teaching and church principles. Those that violate this canon find themselves in disobedience to the local bishop. Organizations like Catholics for Choice, the National Catholic Reporter, Anglo-Catholic churches, or the Polish National Catholic Church don’t care about the Church’s authority, so they go ahead and call themselves whatever they want.

    For mom-and-pop organizations like RealCatholicTV (and this blog, as you point out), it’s probably more of a use-at-your-own-risk sort of deal. The local ordinary reserves the right to crack down, and if he does (for whatever reason), you’ve got to stop using the name if you respect his authority.

  • Mark, I suspect that if you can avoid vitriolic encouragements to swamp a parish with calls by posting the same parish’s name and phone number on your blog (yes really), you’ll probably be just fine.

    I can only imagine what it was like at that parish and how the priest & staff felt about being put in the limelight (nationally?). I’m sure my own efforts to have the archdiocese step would be…. enthusiastic, in if that were to happen to my own parish or parish staff.

    • My favorite quote – which can’t properly convey the contempt of the tone in which it is offered – from the video (linked above):

      “Now, if you want to see a living example of the soft underbellow of effeminate modernistic politically correct cultural moronic inane idiocy run wild in the Church, look no further than that asinine explanation of why a Catholic parish refuses to say ‘Merry Christmas’. Because they don’t want to be offensive and they want to include everyone. Maybe the decision to sell out Christ at this parish was made because this parish is close to the largest Muslim enclave outside of the Middle East. Perhaps it had nothing to do with, it all, and this is just another of the thousands of Catholic parishes that have gone completely off the rails. In either case, its beyond ridiculous: its rude….”

      Wait, what? If politeness is the standard by which something should operate in a diocese, we would do well to re-examine the modus operandi of RealCatholicTV.

      When the dust settles and the Archdiocese of Detroit & Michael Voris figure this all out, it would be well to examine how to change the tone of our cultural critiques (legitimate though they are) so that they reflect Christian charity.

      • Marie

        Father, maybe that is what Ed Peters is talking about here:

        some seem to think that, provided the ‘verbal content’ of a message is free of doctrinal error, it qualifies, or should very quickly qualify, for ecclesiastical approval. Not so fast. The Church’s duty to safeguard the “catholicity” of the Good News is about more than making sure that a given religious message can pass a theology exam. The catholicity of an undertaking is not only about what is said, it’s also about how things are said; it’s about the balance achieved (or not) while saying it, it’s about what topics are chosen for treatment, and why, and what topics are not talked about, and why not. All of these considerations, and many others besides, combine to form, as experts in the media know, a unified message, and all of them impact on the Catholic character of content proclaimed as being really Catholic.

        • it’s also about how things are said

          I’ve got to quit skimming his blog – I miss the gems he hides in his commentaries! Thank you for re-posting this.

  • Sherry Weddell

    When you are offering widely publicized speaking gigs at World Youth Day that did not go through the normal vetting process, and which generate enough questions that the World Youth Day organizers have to make a public statement saying that you are not an official event, you are certainly operating at a level that positively invites this kind of scrutiny. We did Called & Gifted presentations in Sydney but went through the vetting process like everyone else. And wouldn’t have dreamed of putting on public presentations that could be mistaken for “official” without being vetted.

    I can still remember when I asked my Dominican pastor to “vet” the first edition of the Inventory because I wanted to make sure that it reflected fully the teaching of the Church and a couple of his older women friends started yelling (with delight in a restaurant): she’s docile, she’s docile!” while I was ready to slide under the table with embarrassment. I wasn’t even sure what “docile” meant exactly at that early stage but it seemed obvious that while I had worked very hard to reflect Church teaching, that it only made sense to have more theologically savvy heads give me a second opinion.

    If Voris had show docility to his archbishop in what is actually a relatively minor point (dropping the name Catholic), I would have been greatly reassured as to his essential authenticity. But when your public response essentially amounts to “those who question me are bad-willed and allied with the enemy”, that’s a really, really bad sign. Great saints like Therese of Avila spent 4 years under house arrest with far less fuss and a far more robust sense of perspective and humor (When she heard that she had been reported to the Inquisition, she laughed.) until the Church discerned accurately that her mission was of God.

    • Docility! What a blessing to have people who are docile – which doesn’t mean door mats or bland (heaven forbid!). Its a great blessing to have folks who are on board with the Church and the authority of the priest/bishop/pope!

    • Sherry Weddell

      Sigh – that was Teresa of Avila. (I never learned to spell)

  • Richard

    How does one know if someone has the required approval to use Catholic in their name? Is there a list somewhere? Do I look for an imprimatur on a web site? e.g. how do I check to see if “Catholic and Enjoying it” passes muster?

    • As far as I know, the Archdiocese of Seattle (where ‘Catholic and Enjoying It’ resides) doesn’t have any list of online Catholic presences. I suspect that most (arch)dioceses take the same approach that Mark mentioned: its too much work – probably reactive instead of pro-active.

      ….if we had more priests and nuns, I suspect our chanceries wouldn’t be as overworked as they are – its never too late to encourage vocations!

      The official list of what is Catholic is appropriately titled The Official Catholic Directory. It is released every year and contains every priest, religious and institution in the United States that is officially approved by the ordinaries of their respective boundaries.

      • Sherry Weddell

        Fr. – More exactly, the Catholic Directory lists every independent Catholic non-profit who is approved by the local ordinary. I know because the Institute’s tax exempt status has been as a ministry of the Western Dominican Province but we are in the process of getting our own Catholic Directory listing and it is quite a process: incorporation at the state level, then the process of getting federal tax exempt status, then application to the diocese, then submitting your listing to the Catholic Directory, etc.

        My point being that there are many perfectly legitimate Catholic “ministries” that are recognized by the local bishop or religious community but not listed in the Catholic Directory.

    • Mark Shea

      You can’t, because neither my diocese nor, I’ll wager, any other micromanages blogs. I checked with my chancery and they told me I was fine. But they have no mechanism for putting that in writing for everybody in the archdiocese.

  • Sherry Weddell

    Fr. Maurer: I watched that video but seeing the exact words in print is really impressive! If only it were a parody . . .

    Marie, you’ve hit the nail on the head, I think.

    • I must admit, it took several rewindings to get all of that. I certainly respect Michael Voris for his insistence on orthodoxy, but that was some of the more unpleasant viewing I’ve endured in recent memory.

      • Father, it has been most edifying to read your posts, and I have wondered what to say to you to express my appreciation for your example of charity.
        “To lose always and let everyone else win is a trait of valiant souls, generous spirits, and unselfish hearts; it is their manner to give rather than receive, even to the extent of giving themselves.” Maxims on Love, St. John of the Cross.
        Withholding your righteous indignation in a response that would descend to using Voris’s level of speech depravity speaks volumes about your integrity and charity. Praise be to God! Thank you, Father.

        • Thank you for your kindness. One of the maxims of writing online is ‘the internet is forever’ (or at least, until the end of time!), which helps temper imprudence!

          I don’t know if I would say I have any righteous indignation towards Michael Voris. I sincerely sympathize with his frustrations and even anger at the abuses and failures in the practice of the faith here in the states. It was a terrific shock to discover in seminary that we are so terrifically splintered where we should be most united. Without good friends and holy priests, I could see myself haven taken a bitter path that rivaled the tone of RealCatholicTV. But for the grace of God… and we certainly don’t need unhappy priests!

          Thanks for your support. Keep praying for priests!
          – Fr. Maurer

  • Mark, you know I’m no Voris supporter, but I’m finding this whole thing a bit…frustrating. Somehow the way this canon is being presented seems to me to be saying: you can be Catholic, but don’t get too public about calling yourself one or using the name on anything associated with you, or you’ll be in violation of Canon 216.

    For example, these bloggers had recently changed their blog’s title to put the word “Catholic” in, and now they’re taking it back out:

    http://orthodoxcatholicism.com/2012/01/06/our-blogs-name-and-canon-216/

    I mean, good for them, right spirit and all, and we should probably rename the whole “Catholic” Blogosphere the Blogosphere Formerly Known by a Name We Can No Longer Use for Canonical Reasons just to show our hearts are all in the right places–but why do I keep thinking of bushel baskets?

    I guess what I’m getting at is that I would like to know if Rome views Canon 216 as essentially applying only to major enterprises claiming to represent the Church in some official or quasi-official way, like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (which gets the full stamp of approval, apparently) but not necessarily for every use of the word “Catholic.” Dr. Peters, earlier, says no: anybody who uses the word “Catholic” should theoretically have official permission; he even says above that if people stopped “slapping” the name Catholic on things it would be good. But does every single Catholic bookstore, gift shop, blog, etc. with “Catholic” in the title need permission or a name change in Rome’s view–and if they fail to call their local chanceries to get it are they in violation of canon law? Does the Catholic Illustrator’s Guild need to get permission, disband or rename? What about the Catholic Etsy Shop group? Do the ladies at Catholic Cuisine need to roll out a new title: Cuisine Inspired By the Liturgical Year and Feasts of Some Church or Other?

    I suppose what I’m trying to express in a not-very-effective way is this: isn’t there some difference between a business or enterprise using the name Catholic while engaging in some work where official approval is truly necessary and/or where the person is claiming to be speaking with the voice of the Church (education, evangelization, sacramental preparation, etc.) and a business or enterprise that can’t possibly be confused with an official Church enterprise (such as a blog discussing traditional Catholic food served in various places in the world on Catholic feast day, sharing recipes, etc.)?

    Again, according to Dr. Peters, canonically, no, and if the good ladies at Catholic Cuisine were ordered to cease using the name “Catholic” on their website they’d be required to obey. Which may explain why back in the day there were so many Societies of Saint A and Sodalities of B and so forth, as good Catholics kept the name “Catholic” out of their organizations and associations. And maybe that is what the Church would really prefer, but I’m finding it to be a really strange and, to be perfectly honest, somewhat unsettling idea.

  • This is the full timeline of the RCTV-AoD affair, complete with background information:

    http://veneremurcernui.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/the-action-of-the-archdiocese-of-detroit-against-rctv-is-nonsensical-and-unjust/

    It lays out the behind-the-scenes details that most internet commentators are unaware of.

    • Folks, Christine is an employee at Michael Voris’s studio. Read her comments with a grain of salt and please consider the source. Biased, indeed!

      • Mark Shea

        Wow. What chutzpah to impugn Ed Peters’ honesty while burying that little fact. But RCTV does encourage conspiracy theorizing as the go to explanation for all criticism of Voris, so it’s not surprising.

        • Right, Mark. She hides it all the time, on every blog that she runs after to track down Voris’s “conspirators.”
          Yet in a post above, she said, “I don’t think it’s insignificant to consider that, not only is Dr. Peters on the diocesan payroll, his commentary is linked to on the diocesan website. Conflict of interest, maybe?”

          Assuredly, some of us think that hiding her identity while being on the Voris payroll would raise the identical question, “Conflict of interest, maybe?”

          • LOL.

            Now I work for Michael Voris.

            That’s news to him. And to me.

            Of course, if you’d bothered to call him and ask, he could have told you the truth.

            Or if you bothered to ask ME, instead of going on rumor, I could have cleared that up for you.

    • Patrick Thornton

      Christine,

      The blog you linked to misses some glaring info about the situation.

      Namely, there are 2 RCTV’s and Voris owns one. And also, St. Michael’s Media is not legally affiliated with RCTV. So the AOD conversations with St. Michael’s Media do not pertain to RCTV except insofar as they involve Voris.

      • Quite possibly he owns two, as we have no idea who besides Marc Brammer has an interest in Greenstar, LLC in Indiana. I’m not sure how you can “start” something and be a “co-founder” and claim to have no vested interest or power. Also, as we pointed out in our video answer to Voris, Brammer stated emphatically that he does not edit Voris at all. (Let’s see if I can post a link to that video, sorry of I mess it up:

        There is no indication at all that anything but paperwork is located in Indiana. Real Catholic TV is a DBA for Voris’ Concept Communications and all of it, as well as Saint Michael’s Media, is located at the same address in Ferndale, Mi. Info at our blog.

        No one, including people who claim to work for Voris, or people who claim they don’t, know what’s really going on between Brammer and Voris but they, themselves.

        • Shoot. Oh well, it’s in the blog, if you want to watch it and the whole Brammer interview can be heard there as well, where he talks about founding RCTV with Voris. They are in the second post I put up.

          • Patrick Thornton

            Does anyone know how to get a copy of the video “Double Trouble” from 1997? Gary Michael Voris and John Fitzgerald Mola filed a copyright to a video cassette of that title in July of 1997.

    • There’s no provenance. None. Some guy with a blog says “I’ve been doing “research” and we are just supposed to believe his “timeline” is evidence of fact?

      It’s opinion until someone comes up with something, anything at this point, that supports these contentions. Once again, the AoD is some shadowy nemesis with nothing substantiated. It’s like the claim he ever called the AoD, much less called seven times. You, Voris and the whole crew seem to think the public is so abysmally stupid that we will buy anything you say anytime you say it with nothing to back up any claims.

  • Christine, you claim not to be the same person. Yes, the blog photo and Credo111 look slightly different, but put the hat on the gal at RCTV, and look closely at the facial features in the google link. A better shot is the one with Sadeer Farjo, the lawyer who lists his law practice at the RCTV studio address, shown with “Christine” in the google link. You could pass for twins, IMO. So if you still want to fool us all, I’ll go along with it. But for someone who ardently follows every Voris blog, posts at Catholic Answers, and knows such intimate details about his “C-corp” etc., I’d have to say I’m from Missouri.

    • Mark Shea

      Chill. This Christine is writing from Indiana, not Detroit.