Virtual Polemical Videos, Not Real Catholic TV

Virtual Polemical Videos, Not Real Catholic TV January 29, 2010

There is something about the internet that people feel as if they get a following, they have become legitimate authorities and their voice is the voice of truth. While the internet does provide some good, because it allows the otherwise disenfranchised to speak, we must also remember why so many of these people are disenfranchised. They speak from their heart, it is true, but it is often a heart founded on ideology. This is true all over the net. Caution is important. I would even be the first to say this is true with what I write as much as what I find elsewhere — one should consider where I am coming from and determine how and why that means my own commentary and opinions are also incomplete and imperfect.

Of course, I think there are different standards of authority and intellectual acumen; I respect honest disagreement if it is shown to be based upon actual, reasonable engagement with the questions at hand. The problem is that so many who speak for Catholics on the net become virtual authorities; they come from an ideological background which tends to be rejected by the Church. More importantly, they lack the scholarly background, the study of diverse sources, to understand the full range of possible Catholic opinion: they think their “common sense” approach to the faith is the faith, just like Martin Luther did several centuries back. They do not understand what is “common” in the “common sense” tends to be cultural, and in the United States, that culture is of Protestant individualism. That this is the foundation by which many interpret and understand Catholic concerns is readily apparent when these same virtual authorities take on anyone, including the Vatican, with no respect for the real authority possessed by the ones they are criticizing.

There are many examples of this problem, but one recent one I’ve been following is the so-called Real Catholic TV. The irony behind the name should tell us much: the television station in question is a virtual, internet-only station; but, from what I’ve viewed, it has more credibility in defining itself as a television network than as Catholic commentary.

One of Real Catholic TV’s primary shows is The Vortex with Michael Voris. One can almost think this is a parody as soon as one sees how he places an S.T.B by his name. That’s his claim to authority? You can’t be serious? And yet, it seems, he is.

The show is basically an attack show, criticizing things he does not like, and using any and every rhetorical means possible. Often, that means employing one or more logical fallacy. Let us look to this example:

So, the US Catholic Bishops listen to someone who is a lesbian on the issue of labor and health care reform. The fact that she is a lesbian has nothing to do with the credibility or lack of credibility she possesses on the issue of health care and health care reform (it’s an ad homimen to point out she is a lesbian and use that as an argument against her health care views). Second, there is a kind of guilt by association going on here – the Catholic Bishops are criticized because of their association with a known lesbian.

While I can understand Pharisees using guilt by association, I find it difficult a Catholic ever would; it was one of the ways Jesus was attacked by his critics — he hung out with sinners! And yet, guilt by association is commonly used by Voris as his means to suggest scandal. His series against environmentalism begins with a scare tactic: many people who were communists have become environmentalist. So the movement is all communist because some in it might have been communist.

So we have him giving us this absurd conclusion that environmentalism is really some sort of communist plot, and it has found a way to have a malevolent influence on everyone — including the Vatican. It is clear he doesn’t want to go too far with his criticism of the Vatican, because it would open up too much of his American individualistic anti-authority core. Instead, he tries to treat it as if it is a concern with the Vatican, but a minor one in comparison to what is at the USCCB.  This allows him to set up the USCCB as an easy target, though ignoring all the facts which would show how incredibly shallow his criticism of the USCCB is. He would do well to look through all the material by the recent Popes on the environment; he will see the concern of the USCCB, not his lack of concern, is in line with Catholic tradition as a whole, and though there might be some people in the movement who have done wrong, that does not dismiss the movement itself, just as any Christian sinning does not make the whole of Christianity false.

It’s easy to see how pathetic this commentator is. He talks about “the job” of the Church and reduces it, like a fundamentalist, to gnostic soteriology (one might wonder if that is the real reason he has no concern for the earth?!). He ignores that the Church has several roles and they are intricately connected; it’s work includes the healing of the world. The work of Jesus was, as with the Church, for the salvation of the world, we can all agree with that; but  but salvation is holistic, and is meant to be the whole of the person (and the whole of the world). Would he go and ask Jesus, “Why do you care about the poor, why are you healing the sick? I thought your work was just to die!” Reductionism is always bad, but even worse when it is used to reduce the Church to some sort of mediation for gnostic salvation.

Of course, his understanding of many issues, and not just the samples I provided here, are quite bad. Sure, sometimes he is right; sometimes common sense is right. But he is often right without justification; he just asserts without explanation or credibility. Most of the time, he shows that he has not really engaged the issues he speaks about on his program; he only has pre-determined conclusions, and he will use them, without proof, to criticize anyone who disagrees with him and his virtual authority. Thus, when he said that there is no “shred of credible evidence” that there is a relationship between the use of carbon and the environment, one must wonder if he provides any credible evidence of this fact? No, not at all. At best he offers us “Climategate.” But scholarship requires more than this (even if some people were proven to have lied in one instance, that does not make everything they said a lie, nor the whole of the science limited to those few people; guilt by association and ad hominen once again are the means by which he argues — these people lied, therefore, the whole movement is a lie; so would he say Christianity is a lie when we can show various Christians have, throughout history, lied and made up false evidence? no? go figure). To get deal with the issues properly, he has to show he has done scholarly research; he would have to go through several studies (not merely criticisms he approves) and show his understanding of both sides of the issue before he himself can indicate his opinion has any authority to it whatsoever. He so far has not done that.

Funny enough, in a recent video, he criticizes the book Love Your Enemies because it is based upon “bad” scholarship. It “doesn’t show all the possible interpretations” and historical beliefs of Christians.  What? And what about your claims about Jesus and the Temple? What scholarly studies have you done to see the various interpretations of the event? Did you know that many classical commentaries made it clear Jesus did violence to no man?  Sorry Michael, with your STB, I don’t think you have yet figured out what scholarship is about.

And I fear Real Catholic TV is as bad a name for this enterprise as is possible; I’ve not seen any indication that it is real, it is Catholic, or it is television.

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  • brettsalkeld

    Wow, those clips were terrible!

    Usually if someone needs an adjective like ‘real’ in front of their Catholicism, they are suspect. I suppose he’s ‘ultra-orthodox’ too.

    I’ll stick with regular orthodoxy, thank you.

    • Brett

      It is terrible, but sadly, it is this kind of video and rhetoric which is influential on the net, and explains quite a bit about the poor sense of Catholic teaching we find by those who follow such “authorities” as Voris.

  • If I were to do a parody video of the American Catholic right, it would look a lot like this!

  • Joe H

    I love Real Catholic TV. That guy tells it like it is. It’s time Catholic’s who are faithful to the Church’s teachings started getting out their message more. As my Army dad would say: HOO-RAH!

    • Joe H

      The problem is, Voris doesn’t tell it like it is. He misrepresents and uses all kinds of fallacious arguments for his ideology. There is hardly much real Catholicism involved with his “real Catholic” views.

  • Wj

    I at least like his sweater vest.

  • Kimberley

    But in the post just below this one, Vox Nova criticizes the actions the USCCB took on healthcare that was contrary to your position on healthcare. The videos you link to are bad and unfair to the USCCB and should be criticized. How is this different than Vox Novas criticisms of the USCCB actions? And your defense of the criticism in the comments?

    • Kimberley

      Several differences. First, we don’t proclaim ourselves as the “real Catholic tv” where “lies are exposed.” Second, the criticism on Vox Nova has been the question of the leaders giving the USCCB the advice, not for the general norms under question. Voris et. al. question the general character and moral principles. Third, the issue I brought up is the kind of criticism from Voris is fallacious and being used for ideologies which run counter to Catholic teaching. Calling themselves “real Catholic tv” and not engaging the Catholic principles but calling them “liberal” is what happens there. I have no problem with disagreement; but I have a problem of someone acting as an authority, denouncing others for lack of scholarship because they don’t engage diversity of thought, and then they show no understanding of the history of Catholic thought on the topics they raise.

  • Joe H

    I have to disagree. In a world in love with its own reflection and full of relativist theologians, his teaching is a breath of fresh air. I’m not saying he speaks with the authority of the Church, but please find one erroneous statement that he has made regarding the Faith of morals. And I am totally aware of the possibility that he says wrong things, but I haven’t heard them. To me, he is orthodox and in line with Rome- that is all I can ask of anyone. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • Joe H

      You really got to be kidding me here, right? “Relativist theologians.” Er, who? Who are these relativist theologians (please, name some names) which are also being criticized by Voris here in his ridicule of not only the USCCB, but the Vatican itself. The standard ideological arguments of “self love” really are absurd. The only ones who I see practicing this are the so-called “real Catholics” like Voris; to be concerned about the world is Christian following the example of God himself (For God so loved the world). Of course it is a relative good and not to be idolized, but being concerned about the earth doesn’t make it into an idol. Indeed, not only does God love the world, the incarnation is all about this very point — the world is being worked on for its restoration in and through Christ. The fact that this is ignored, and made as if one’s working for the betterment of the world is somehow going against the saving of souls is absurd, for the salvation of the person is of the person as a whole. But of course, I already explained his Gnosticism and you ignored it.

      • BTW, if he really wanted to show the problems of “relativistic theologians” he would do so through theological positions and explanations. He doesn’t. He just follows logical fallacies. Thinking logical fallacies establishes truth basically says untruth is truth; that is good? Seriously, if he wanted to argue points using Catholic theological positions, I would give him credit; he doesn’t. That’s the problem. He argues using his ideology as a base and anything which doesn’t fit his ideology just gets mocked without any real substance. Ad hominems like “She is a lesbian” have value in relating to the truth or falsehood of her advice. Using ad hominem labels like “communists” and “liberals” (and getting both labels wrong — hmm, is there any truth involved here) — again, shows lack of substance. Come back to me, Joe, when he provides a sound Catholic principle and uses it to reason out his conclusions. He has not made a Catholic case; indeed, he makes an anti-Catholic case. One might wonder why.

  • Joe H

    As I said, please provide some specifics on how he is not true to the teachings of the Church.

    Someone who self identifies as a lesbian should not be consulting our Church, no more than someone who describes themselves as a pornographer, a rapist, or a pedophile. Someone who says, “I struggle with X” is a different story. When the USCCB seeks out these people for CONSULTATION, it is clearly a doulbe standard. First, we should try to help the aforementioned lady to see the error in homosexual relations. Next, we should pray for her.
    This is not to say that people with SSA have no place in the Church or for the Church, but someone who is CLEARLY opposed to any of the Church’s teachings should not occupy a consulting position.
    There before the grace of God go I, but I try to follow the Church where she leads.
    I was raised to think of obedience as a virtue and not a vice.

    • Joe

      “Someone who self identifies as a lesbian should not be consulting our Church” where is this in Church teaching? Again, Jesus consulted with sinners! There you go. That is the first foundation for the error. As I have said, this is a mere ad hominem. It doesn’t establish whether or not she is in error on her views under consultation; nor does it say the Church follows her views, either. To listen to and consult is a part of what we are called to do — to love the sinner, and even to recognize that despite their sin, they are people with dignity that is to be respected. Seems like he and you go against that dignity, and think if they follow a sin you do not like, they are to be ignored.

      And I would say much of what Voris points to in many of his videos is gossip, plain and simple, mean-spirited gossip, which has no place in the matter either. As I said, her sin has no standing in the argument, and there is no Church declaration that sinners cannot be, nor that they should not be, consulted. Rather, the Church doctrine on the dignity of the human person, you know, the pro-life stand of the Church, says otherwise. So there you go. That’s the error, which is going against the morality and teachings of the Church, to use a sin against someone to denigrate them and what they can contribute to society.

  • Joe H

    BTW, I say these things out of love for the people in question, both Vorris and the lady he mentions, and the people who run this site. In all things, let us strive to stay close to the Church and her teachings, which is the corpus verum of Christ on Earth.

  • Joe H

    You are plainly NOT reading at all what I am writing. Please read what I write, not what you think I am writing. Christ CONSULTED sinners, they did not consult HIM. He needed no consultation.

    You have made a grave error when you said “Seems like he and you go against that dignity, and think if they follow a sin you do not like, they are to be ignored.”

    You obviously did not read what I said in a earlier post “This is not to say that people with SSA have no place in the Church or for the Church..” OR “I say these things out of love for the people in question, both Vorris and the lady he mentions”

    We can disagree all day, but I will not tolerate someone putting words in my mouth AT ALL. I believe I am owed an apology on that front. You have NO IDEA whether I am dealing with SSA, a family member or a close friend. You have no idea if I am involved in the COURAGE program at ALL. To say that I am against their DIGNITY is a very serious attack. It is completely out of line. I will continue to pray for you with love and charity.

    • Joe

      It seems you have problems with English grammar; are you a native speaker? If Christ consulted sinners, he is asking for their opinions. Of course he did, but they also consulted him. This is basic human dialogue, and Christ followed it many times in his ministry (look to the questions he asked of others, including sinners).

      But you have this notion that “the Church should not listen to lesbians on health care.” Why not? You have not answered. The Church consults all kinds of sinners throughout time. And often, though they were sinners, they provided good, valuable guidance to the Church for its activity in the world. The Church needs to consult those who are in the world, and experts in the issues being discussed, even if they are sinners, because we are talking about technical expertise which the hierarchy of the Church rarely possesses (how many of them came out of the medical industry, for example?).

      Once again, you are demanding something which runs counter to Christ. He said we should be the good neighbor. The “Good Samaritan” today could be recast as “The Good Homosexual” and you would begin to understand what Christ was doing by using the Samaritan as the example. I wonder how many looking to critique the Church in her consultation would have ridiculed Christ in his day for his suggestion that Samaritans can be good?

      You say what I said to you is a serious attack, yet you ignore the even more serious attack on the Church for following through with the dignity of the human person and listening to an expert on a technical field of expertise. Once again, you have established principles which run counter to the Church and her history and Christ’s message. That doesn’t even deal with the fact that the whole argument and attack against the hierarchy of the Church continues to be one big fallacy. But I guess it’s good to attack the hierarchy of the Church, and bad to be answered as to what your error is?

  • To me, he is orthodox and in line with Rome- that is all I can ask of anyone. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Precisely. He is orthodox to you and that’s all that seems to matter. That’s relativism.

  • I was raised to think of obedience as a virtue and not a vice.

    How about considering that obedience could be a virtue or a vice depending on the circumstances?

  • Joe H

    Obedience to the Church and the Catechism is never a vice.

    “To me, he is orthodox and in line with Rome- that is all I can ask of anyone. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Precisely. He is orthodox to you and that’s all that seems to matter. That’s relativism.”

    Prove to me where he is not in line with the Church and I will agree with you.
    I used personally, because we are talking about a man who I have never met and only know through 2 minute videos. Hardly enough experience to make a definitive, objective statement. To my knowledge, you have never met him either. Therefore, the “personally” was expressing that my belief in his orthodoxy is a personal and subjective statement based on the facts at hand. If you pulled up a video of him talking about how all people who sin should be murdered or that torture isn’t intrinsically evil, I would change my mind. It is possible that he does do those things, but I am rating him off me experience of him. This is not relativistic. This is about as logical and systematic as one can get. In my experience with him, I have not seen that. So please, tell me where he crosses the line. As I said, I hold no personal allegiance to him. I think he makes good points, and I think he fights for the Church. That is not to say I am 100% correct, but I need something specific to change my mind. I am trying to keep this calm and civil. Thanks!

    • Joe,

      What do you mean by “obedience to the Church”? Martin Luther said similar things as a means to reject the hierarchy of his day. The fact of the matter is you have not answered my objections and my points. You ignore the whole issue of logic, which is the foundation of his error. You ignore the Church’s documents on dialogue and proclamation — they indicate we are to listen to the other, to the sinner, to recognize them and realize they might even have things to contribute to us. You create demands which are illogical and agree with the Pharisees in their belief that guilt by association means the associate is in the wrong. That your methodology would condemn Christ should say enough, but it doesn’t. What is it that you find he says which is actually SAID by the Church. That is what I asked. Once again, confirm his position is that of the Church. You can’t. I have affirmed his position runs counter to logic, and would condemn Christ. I think that is good enough reason to object. Until you answer these questions, you will not have any more voice in this thread — because you are not dealing with the issues and ignoring what people tell you. I know, I’m a sinner. So maybe that’s why your ears are deaf to me!

  • David Nickol

    How about considering that obedience could be a virtue or a vice depending on the circumstances?

    As in, “I was only obeying orders.”

    • David

      Right. While obedience is indeed a virtue, people often ignore the different levels of obedience, and different levels of doctrinal authority and demands on us, and there is a role for the conscience as well.

  • Obedience to the Church and the Catechism is never a vice.

    Well, that’s not what you said above, is it? You simply said “obedience.” Aside from that I think it is conceivable that obedience to “the Church” and to the Catechism could in fact be a vice.

    Prove to me where he is not in line with the Church and I will agree with you.

    I didn’t watch these particular videos, and won’t. I watched some of his other nonsensical videos before though, over at that blog “The American Catholic” where this guy is revered to some degree.

    Whether the guy is “orthodox” or not makes little difference to me. The obsession with “orthodoxy” that Real Catholic TV and The American Catholic display, when it is clearly used in an ideological way, is tiresome and boring. And it’s quite simply a reductionistic way of viewing Christian faith. Unfortunately one can be “completely orthodox” according to the Republicatholic-Meter™ (a meter whose default settings read a “what-can-I-get-away-with” style of faith) and at the same time be a completely wretched, un-Christlike person.

    So I’m not sure there is technically anything “heterodox” about this Catholic TV punk saying that Catolic bishops should not speak to lesbians. And there wasn’t anything “heterodox” about the Argentinian bishop who said that homosexuality threatens to destroy the human race. But such statements are about as un-Christian as they come and thus these people demonstrate that their presumed “authority” is defective.

    • Michael I

      I would say the heterodoxy goes with the way it counters human dignity, and goes against many of the Vatican’s own documents on evangelism and the moral responsibility of the Christian to listen to the non-Christian and to meet them where they are at and to deal with all their needs, spiritual and physical.

  • David – Exactly. Substituting obedience for Christian responsibility is a vice. So many Catholics do this, I’m afraid.

  • Kimberley

    Where in the bible or catechism does it say Jesus consulted with sinners?

    • Kimberley every time he talked to someone and asked them something. Read the Gospels.

  • Henry! Prove it with the Catechism! I want a paragraph number!

  • Frank

    Real Catholic? More obviously, Real Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    According to his bio he claims he left the seminary after discerning that he didn’t have a vocation to the priesthood. I have a hunch the discernment was done for him by the rector when it quickly became apparent that Voris was more suitable to leading a cult than following the church’s line of authority.

  • I wonder who is funding this? Is there an order or organization behind it, or is this a one man show?

  • Henry, could you post a link to the ‘love your enemies’ episode? I’m sort of impressed that he actually read the book.

    • I would have linked to it when I wrote the post, but it was not yet on youtube; now it is — here is his commentary on “Love your Enemies”:

      • BTW Nate, I’m not sure he read it or not; but he is not doing the book any justice. He is acting like it ignores the whole history of the just war tradition, when that tradition is central to the work and its discussion. He also instantly assumes interpretations of locutions in ways which St John of the Cross decries — you might remember how I interpreted the sign given to Constantine, showing how Constantine misunderstood it (as many do) as a thing of war, when the conquering Christ intended was something quite different (Rome was conquered by the cross, and this before Constantine). So what we have here, as is normal: strawmen combined with Voris making declarations without exploring the scholarship on the issues he himself brings up. Who is the poor scholar here? Obviously Voris. Just look at how he says “well, the Beatitudes were not meant to be used like that.” Did he say how they were supposed to be used? What their meaning was? The answer is of course, they are teaching us how we should act. If our political vision goes against Christ’s new law (as the beatitudes are often known), I just don’t understand why people suddenly dismiss the beatitudes. Of course they require much out of us; but Catholics have always known grace isn’t cheap.

        You will see, beyond that, his normal methodology in full swing: begin with guilt by association (this book is bad because it is used at Notre Dame, Boston College; what other places is it used, Voris? Or is that beyond your scholarship?); he of course also does guilt by association with Obama (very typical approach). And, as it should be clear to anyone who has read the book (or skimmed through it), the book goes through Church history and doesn’t ignore the just war tradition itself, but explores its development. The point of the book is far more complex than his strawman reduction, and its appeal to sources is diverse, unlike what we get through Voris himself, who seems to just make claims without backing them up.

  • David Raber


    In purgatory–if indeed you will have to spend any time there–probably you will be consigned to endless hours of what you have just been through, carefully pointing out the flaws in the arguments of rabid ideologues who clutch at any stick handy to defend their position. Better you than me.

    Unfortunately the job needs to be done, because the sort of stuff you highlight is all over the place in our political discourse, especially on talk radio.

    • David

      Egads! I would go crazy. I thought Purgatory was meant to help us become sane 😉

  • There are at least two excellent points in this essay. One is the influence of fundamentalism on American Catholics. The second is to be suspicious of anybody who proclaims their own personal magisterium, which is what the title “real” Catholic proclaims. I have a view of what catholicsim really is, but I cannot confuse my view with the final word on that reality. My opinions are always subject to constant critique and refinement by people who have, on the one hand, more knowledge, and on the other by people who have less knowledge, but more experience. The most infallible sign that I have gotten off track is if I were to proclaim my views “real” Catholicism.

  • John

    Thank you; yes, one of the difficult things for so many of us is to both be willing to offer, in charity, our opinions while also be willing to see the incomplete nature of our views and so to be willing to learn from others (and you are right, people who have less academic study, but more real world experience, should offer a major contribution to our discussions). Humility requires both.

  • Ronald King

    Voris, “Do you want to know why faithful catholics are ticked off…” I had to stop listening there because the contempt is palpable–not mine. Once anger reaches the point of contempt in any relationship that relationship is doomed unless through divine intervention.
    Consequently, unlike what others may believe, he is not an orthodox catholic. An orthodox catholic is mindfully focused on being motivated through the Love of God. The first truth about God is that God Is Love. That is Orthodox. “The moment discussion of wrong begins, wrong stirs in one’s heart, and the result is new injustice…True justice…is capable of loving also when it apparently has all grounds for hate…it gains the power to unseat that hate and to overcome it…By this process true justice of the heart is established, that justic which enables a man to look in the heart of his adversary. There he perhaps learns that the ‘wrong’ inflicted was not really a wrong at all, but the result of inheritance, destiny, necessity; now, as a brother in their joint human guilt, he can concede even his natural enemy his rights before God.”-Guardini in “The Lord”.

  • So I wrote him a letter:

    Dear Mr. Voris,

    Thank you for the work you are doing, and may God bless your continued efforts for Christ, especially with regard to abortion.

    I recently watched a clip of The Vortex in which you criticized the book, ‘Love Your Enemies’, and made a case that Jesus was not a pacifist. I find your position odd, considering the Catechism’s

    “2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, “You shall not kill,”[62] and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to
    turn the other cheek, to love their enemies.[63] He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.[64]”

    The Catechism says that Jesus turned the cheek, loved his enemies, and did not defend himself. While you are right that secular pacifism is not the same as Christian pacifism, the Church has always approved of
    individual pacifism – especially among the clergy, who are canonically forbidden from shedding blood. The priest, like Jesus, renounces the use of carnal violence so as to wage spiritual violence against the
    forces of darkness.

    In addition, the Church also approves of those laity who embrace Christ’s renunciation of violence:

    “2306 Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do
    so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies”

    I hope you give further attention to ‘love of enemy’, which Pope Benedict XVI called the ‘nucleus of the Christian revolution’.

    Thanks again, and peace,
    Nate Wildermuth

  • Christianity does not teach, nor has it ever taught absolute pacifism. By absolute pacifism I mean the belief that any use of force on the part of the state is illegitimate and immoral.

    This is different than saying that the use of force ought to be limited to just cause. Absolute pacifists say there is no such thing as a just cause. The Church teaches that there is.

    I think that people who are unable to draw a distinction between an individual person and the state have a hard time agreeing with the Church’s distinction, and thus her teaching. This disagreement produces lots of high-falutin’ moralizing language and the attempts at proof-texting and the emphasis on the radical nature of the Christian call. Except radical used in this context refers to a belief that “goes beyond” or “goes ahead” of Christian teaching into the superior moral framework created by the one made uncomfortable by the teaching of the Catholic Church.

    A few qualifications: it’s perfectly reasonable to be an advocate for pacifism, it just cannot be the standard to which everyone is held. Advocacy of absolute pacifism is probably right for some, but not for everyone. The Church herself does not argue it and her members cannot be forced to embrace it. Maybe if it were more persuasive! But most people with common sense recognize that the demands of justice in a fallen world sometimes necessitate the use of force, and the Church agrees. This means not just just war but also the legitimate role of law enforcement through means of the police and other state offices.

    Is the use of force always a failure, in some way, of human relations and human communities? Yes, of course – to use our recent visitor Scott’s abused phrase it is probably an “ontological failure”: a failure to live up to the greatness of our true God given being. Do we have a radical call to live a life of humility and are we called to turn the other cheek? Yes. But the Church is the Church not just of St. Francis of Assisi but also the Church of St. Joan of Arc.

    • Zach

      Have you read the book which is being criticized? Come on, look at it under google books. Then see how absurd the commentary was. Strawmen do not help anyone, nor does continuous ad hominems, which is the normal method of Voris. He doesn’t offer scholarly responses, though the book he criticizes does.

      As for the rest of your comment, we have gone over this before, and you still do not reflect on the response of your interlocutors. Not good.

  • Ronald King

    Zach, It seems that you want to indulge the use of your self-preservation instincts because they seem to be the foundation of your human identity. I do not hold this against you, however, I beg you to reconsider the narrow gate.
    Christ had no enemies on the Cross.
    This may look like absolute pacifism.
    John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
    John Paul II “This is the other aspect of solidarity which on the religious level is developed in the profound and magnificent mystery of the Communion of Saints, thanks to which it has been possible to say that’every soul that rises above itself, raises up the world.’ To this law of ascent ther unfortunately corresponds the law of descent. Consequently, one can speak of a communion of sin, whereby a soul that lowers itself through sin drags down with itself the Church and, in some way, the whole world. In other words, there is no sin, not even the most intimate and secret one, the most strictly individual one, that exclusively concerns the person committing it. With greater or less violence, with greater or less harm, every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family”.
    Nate, perfect letter.

  • Christianity does not teach, nor has it ever taught absolute pacifism. By absolute pacifism I mean the belief that any use of force on the part of the state is illegitimate and immoral.

    No, some expressions of Christianity HAVE taught this, including some expressions of Catholicism.

    Absolute pacifists say there is no such thing as a just cause. The Church teaches that there is.

    Correction: The Church teaches that “just cause” is a theoretical possibility. Pacifists may or may not agree that it is a theoretical possibility, but they all would insist that in practice no cause would justify war. The Church’s official teaching includes pacifism as an option. Although it does distinguish between the pacifism of individuals and the “responsibility” that “the state” has to protect its citizens, I don’t know of any Church teaching that condemns the pacifist’s position when it spills over outside of mere individual commitments. In other words, Catholic pacifist are allowed not only to refuse to fight in wars personally, but also to believe that nothing can justify the state’s wars.

  • David Nickol

    S.T.B. (the letters after Michael Vorhis’s name) stand for Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus, which (and correct me if I am wrong) is a bachelor’s degree in theology. Apparently some people who get a BA go on to take courses and get a STB, but nevertheless, like a BA, the STB is an undergraduate degree. While I don’t suppose it’s anything to sneeze at, I can’t think of anyone else advertising their undergraduate degree to bolster their image of some kind of authority.

    It’s a small point, but not entirely irrelevant.

  • David Nickol

    I’m not in the mood to type all of this, but in his book A New History of Early Christianity, Charles Freeman points out that there are two conflicting stories of Constantine’s alleged vision. He goes on to say:

    The most likely explanation for these stories is that Constantine had already decided to bring Christianity under the auspices of the state and realized that the best way of doing this was to associate his dramatic victory with the Christian God. There is no precedent in the New Testament for association of Christ with war other than a single reference in the book of Revelation to a warrior, normally believed to be Christ, in a bloodstained garment on a white horse. When Eusebius wrote up the battle he had to find texts in the Old Testament, among them the overwhelming of Pharaoh’s chariots in the Red Sea, as a prophecy of the collapsed Milvian Bridge. So was born an uneasy relationship between Christianity and the imperial state that relied heavily on Old Testament texts.

    Now, in Catholic grade school, I was taught something very similar to this:

    Religious history relates the following: The Emperor Constantine, while yet a heathen, took the field against his enemy Maxentius. But the enemy’s army was far stronger than his. Then Constantine prayed fervently to the true God for His assistance, and behold there was visible in the heavens to him and his whole army a brilliant cross with the inscription: “By this sign shalt thou conquer!” Constantine had a standard made like this cross, and had it carried before him in battle. He fought the enemy courageously and defeated him. From that time (it was in the year 312 after Christ), Constantine was the champion and protector of Christianity. The Cross now became a sign of honor and victory. It gleamed upon the crown of Constantine, and was displayed at Rome, which formerly was the headquarters of paganism, high up the Capitoline Hill, to proclaim the triumph of the crucified Saviour to the whole world.

    I certainly don’t mind giving up the grade school version for Freeman’s. But Zach does raise an interesting question about Joan of Arc.

    • David,

      There are many issues involved with Constantine (and I am a great fan of his, and consider him great, but I also think he was but a man, and did much which was sin and he was often in the wrong). First, there is a question of Constantine’s vision. That itself is not so easy — while we now accept, in general, he had a vision of Christ and the Cross and saw that it would lead to some sort of victory, Constantine himself did not know how to interpret it. The earliest commentary we have of it is that he saw it was a vision from Apollo — this comes from a pagan source which predates his conversion. It shows to me, something happened, he had a vision, but he was confused, and from that time onward, he was trying to understand its meaning (and often changed his interpretation of it because of his quest for understanding); he interpreted it with the hermeneutic he had been given: so first, it was a vision of Apollo, but soon, probably through his mother, and then through his Christian counselors, he saw it for what it was: a vision of Christ. However, recognizing it was of Christ does not answer — what is he conquering, what exactly is his victory to be. Since we know, as Christians, Christ’s victory is the victory over death, the vision itself was a vision of Christ, the death, and the Christian path to victory through the cross. I believe Constantine eventually understood that (near the end of his life), and was indeed himself conquered by Christ, just as Rome was, through a non-violent revolution which begun in the 2nd century with Christian social action. The fact that the vision, its interpretation, and long history of Constantine trying to interpret it is ignored says much; it shows Voris is not familiar with the whole record (most people are not, and of those who are, there still are conflicts of interpretation; but that is the point here — interpretation is not so simple).

      Second, St Joan of Arc. Another interesting case. While she was clearly on the battlefield, interestingly enough, she herself never fought in them. That doesn’t mean she didn’t give support to the military, but there is, even with her story, much more that is taking place. I am not an expert in her and her life, so I would only have opinions beyond that.

      But note the point of Michael I, which I think is a good foundation: he is saying we must first at least recognize that people can be absolute pacifists, which is different from requiring everyone to be such (though the absolute pacifists would also have a right in explaining why they think pacifism is the superior approach, just as those who engage just war pacifism [it is a form of pacifism and was meant to limit war] can proclaim why they think their path is proper). My own position is pacifist but not absolute, in-between just-war and absolute forms of pacifism, though with the added belief that all war includes sin, and stains those involved in them. It is, however, my view that the structures of sin are what create the wars, and they must be dealt with first, so as not to be the cause of war. And war can be “just” but only in defense, not offense, and must follow very strict rules of engagement. And finally, this is why the Christian must always look at all wars as sin, even if necessary; the fact that it is necessary in defense by a human state does not make it not a sin, though it reduces the culpability of the sin and might be less culpable than allowing other evils to happen. I wrote on this before, though again, I recommend to anyone Ellul on violence, where he discusses why Christianity must always denounce all violence, and if violence in war is “justified” it cannot be done so as to call it “Christian.” It is not Christian, but it is human. Christianity is above it, though few of us follow the full Christian message (most saints do not; I would hope no one would base their livelihood on how St Jerome treated former friends, after all).

  • Kurt

    Does RealCatholicTV pay AFTRA rates?

    Do you think I could make some money off them writing things like the following?


    The Obama Administration has sneaked into its budget busting, pork barrel, free spending Stimulus bill a special provision so welfare recipients can have taxpayer dollars to drink and smoke. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as Food Stamps, will use an estimated $48 billion of Recovery Act funds in the coming years to increase benefits for families seeking assistance. While Food Stamps can not be used directly to purchase alcohol or tobacco products, this is simply another liberal Democrat dishonest accounting scheme to try to fool taxpayers. We have all seen welfare queens at the A&P checkout line using Food Stamps to buy steak and arugula and then pay separately with cash for their cigarettes or chew or when they hand the checkout lady an extra $1.99 for a copy of Jet (Well, not the A&P in our gated community, but you know it goes on in those neighborhoods where those people live).

  • Wj

    Perhaps, in order better to reflect his actual knowledge, Vorhis should rearrange the letters of his title to B.S.T.

  • Ronald King

    WW II, for example, was claimed to be a just war. Was the pope a pacifist when he told both sides to fight honorably? Or was he passive and afraid, thus contributing to the killing of millions? Was Joan of Arc a pacifist or passive-aggressive? Was she a mixture of mystical and political?
    It seems to me that pure pacifism is an act of love in which one may sacrifice one’s life to prevent the death of many more. Christ on the Cross is pure pacifism in which He allows Himself to killed as an example of how to bring true peace and conversion to the secular and the religious.
    If we look any other place than the Cross we get crossed up with our own insignificance and the neurotic desire to be special and self-indulgent.

  • I received a gracious response back from Mr. Voris, and he made a point that I think is very true: “When Ms Cahill writes a book and talks about the total lack of charity toward the unborn, then perhaps she will have some sort of pulpit to preach from regarding war.”

    It reminds me of the time that I was at an abortion facility with my wife (to my shame, I have not been to one in years), and a passerby asked me, “Yeah, but I bet you’re for the war, right?” I told him that I was discharged as a conscientious objector and was a pacifist. At this, he showed surprise, and he said, “Well . . . at least you’re consistent”. It’s one thing to be consistent in theory, but quite another to be consistent in practice. These days, I’m inconsistent. But maybe this is a wake up call – no one will take us seriously if we aren’t living what we say we believe – all of what we say we believe.

    • Nate

      The problem is — it isn’t a valid point — it is called an ad hominem, which is again, his typical strategy. Whether or not she is consistent does not negate her point when it comes to Catholic tradition and war and exploring the concept of war. While I of course believe we are to be consistent in our promotion of life to see how it is all an integral issue, on the other hand, it is quite possible one person will be an expert in one field and not others (for example, would one complain to a roofer they don’t know how to finish a basement? should I go out and criticize police officers because they are not stopping abortions?). In other words, his response is the same response he gives: ignores her point, ignores the scholarship, and responds with a side point that is not directly responding to the issue he himself brought up, and doing a personal attack at that and acting like that is a proper response. Can he actually deal with her points and data, and show he understand it — or will he just criticize her as if that makes her point no longer valid? If I went out and beat up people one day, and the next told people “don’t attack people, it is evil,” would I be wrong about the fact we shouldn’t beat up people? Of course not.

      Or, a way to point out that he is bringing up non-sequiturs: the issue of her book is war, not abortion. One doesn’t have to bring up abortion in every discussion and use it as a trump card: well, she didn’t mention abortion here, so she is bad. Imagine someone going through the history of Christian doctrine in this way. “Well, St Athanasius, his on the incarnation is good, but he didn’t talk about abortion, so what good is it?” “Well, it’s true there is a holocaust going on in the Sudan right now, but it’s no big deal, it’s not abortion.” See how that works? One can talk about other subjects without having to bring up abortion. If I went to a mechanic and said, “Can you take care of my car” I don’t expect him to say, “Yes, but you know, babies are being killed, so I can’t do anything right now.” Of course babies being killed are an important concern, but it doesn’t make other concerns no longer important, nor does it become a trump card if someone says nothing about abortion in a work about war!

  • Henry, theoretically speaking I think you’re right – his point isn’t logically valid.

    But speaking from the vantage point of a normal human being, with our darkened minds and hearts, his point is practically valid. We need heroes just as much as we need philosophers. In fact, we need our philosophers to be heroes. If Jesus had not died on the cross, living what he preached, he would be just another rabbi. (Not to mention rising from the dead).

    • Nate

      The thing is, of course if someone can and does focus on all the life issues, it could be good. The point is that it is difficult in our compartmentalized world, and we shouldn’t let people’s foibles get in the way of what good they offer as well.

  • Ronald King

    Henry, A common point to agree on would be that each person has their blind side that is revealed in their attacks on each other. The fact is war is wrong and abortion is wrong.
    War begins with fear and anger. Christ stated that if we are angry with another then we have already killed him unless we make amends.
    If that is the case, can anger be considered a part of the culture of death? If so, does unresolved anger contribute to the culture of death that results in abortion, no matter what side one is on?
    Does anger spewed on the airwaves contribute to the culture of death regardless of its source?
    If we look into the physics of light that Christ talks about does he believe that even the thought of anger with someone contributes to his death if left unresolved?
    Quantum mechanics would theoretically say yes.

    • Ronald

      Oh, I completely agree, the problem with the culture of death is the root causes of it, and those causes would be the deadly sins; you are right in saying anger plays a huge part of it, because it really works against the love needed to fix the situation. It is not just anger, but things like greed, which are also playing a big part here. Egoism, of course, as well. The fact is the root causes need to be dealt with, and it is indeed something I’ve been trying to tell people – and one of the root causes is the complete idolatry of the free market system we see with some people — it seeks to create needs and then make profit on those needs, while others, with lack of ability to meet the needs, compensate in other ways.

      And yes, I agree war and abortion are connected and bad — the point is, of course, someone still could be focused on war and its ills without having to have abortion brought up; but it seems like what we get. “Iraq war is evil,” “Well, it’s not abortion the ‘most important issue of the time.'” As if that makes it all ok. Sad.

  • Frank

    So someone politely dares to question Voris and he stops them in their tracks by throwing Abortion in their face. Who would have imagined? More to the point, it seems to have worked! He’s now described as “gracious”.


  • Michael, I appreciate your response to my comment but I would appreciate it more if you read my whole comment. I specifically said the Church does not condemn people who would advocate for complete pacifism. I am glad to hear that we agree. Also, when I was talking about what the Church teaches, I was talking about the Magisterium of the Church, i.e. the Teaching Authority. I was not referring to smaller communities that do not have the authority of the See of Rome. Their witness is important and we ought to give it respect, but more important is the Teaching of the Successor of Peter.

    • Zach – Did you not say “Christianity” teaches such and such…?

  • Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick

    I must be some sort of troglodyte. I, too, want to know why the bishops have an open lesbian ON A COMMITTEE. (They don’t just “listen” to her.) And why from the Commie union, SEIU! (Yes! I said it!) Andrew Stern has announced that one of SEIU’s goals is to “take care of this 233-year-old problem.” Counting back from when he said it, you reach: 1776.

    So, yes, I would like to know why a Commie lesbian from a Commie union which is part of pro-abortion Obama’s principal political support system is in tight with the USCCB.

    • Perhaps because she knows something about health care? Once again, don’t let the ad homimen get to you.

      I can imagine what things would have been like in the 1st century if we had the internet.

      “I must be some sort of troglodyte. I, too, want to know why Jesus has a tax collector as one of his twelve. (Jesus does more than merely listen to him) Why from the Roman supporter (Yes! I said it!)”

      Seriously, whether or not she is a lesbian has nothing to do with what they are talking to her about.

  • Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick

    Communists from the East Bloc flooded into Western Europe after the Wall came down. One example: They took over Greenpeace, and EJECTED the non-Communist founders. The same thing has happened again and again. Do some research.

    So, again: NO–it isn’t just that some environmentalists used to be Communist, or that some Communists became environmentalists. YES–Communists TOOK OVER the environmentalist movement, making the environmentalist movement into a Communist movement.

    You are unbelievably naive and uninformed.

    • No, I am not naive (which is one of the reasons why I doubt it is a priest who just made those comments). Do you know many actual communists oppose environmentalism as new age religion? So I guess anyone who says environmentalism is a religion is now communist? And I guess anti-environmentalists are communists. No? Seriously, the whole “communists are involved” is just another side-step away from the issue. But ad hominems always do that.

  • Ronald King

    Henry, It is amazing to me how much fear and hate is in our faith. I must also be a troglodyte, except a troglodyte would not be using that term to describe oneself.
    I can see why some are worried about hate speech legislation. When they protest so much about proposed legislation against their speech it seems to me that they need to review what they are saying and the tone it is delivered.
    I just had a thought about a troglodyte. A troglodyte might be more aggressive and fearful in his response to unknown stimuli.
    I have a rhetorical question? How could anyone in our faith actually speak out against homosexuality and not expect a backlash as a result? Rhetorically speaking, would they not see that this joins them to the culture of hate which has killed and abused homosexuals as long as I can remember? Do they not understand that when they speak in such a way that they actually promote the culture of death?

    The sacrament of holy orders is an extremely powerful influence on each and every person in the world due to the fact that each priest can trace his vocation directly to Christ beginning with the Breath of Christ being given to the apostles and that breath being transferred through the rituals constructed to create the sacraments. However, the priesthood is the most influential sacrament.
    I read a long time ago from a physicist that we cannot know the most elemental particle unless we know what has touched it in the past.
    When a priest is holy that priest has a positively quantum effect on the entire human race. When a priest is not holy that priest would have a quantum harmful effect. When the church sins the effect is infinitely greater. This is basic theoretical quantum mechanics. This is why there is such a backlash against catholicism. If the church leaders cannot understand this then it will only get worse. If the church does not strictly follow the message given to her by Our Lady of Fatima then we see the results presently being exhibited due to the leadership’s passivity and failure to passionately proclaim the message of love which Christ explicity to us to do.
    Every negative reaction to the Church is a natural consequence of how far she has drifted away from the message of love.

  • Kurt

    Mary Kay Henry is the person chosen by the employees of Catholic hospitals to represent them in dialogue with the Bishops. The meetings were both respectful and productive.

    However, if RCTV thinks a dialogue with mutual respect and with each party chosing its own representatives is not proper, we can use the alternative model of strikes, picket lines and media campaigns so that workers at Catholic hospitals can address their concerns to their employers.

    It’s really the Church’s call. Either way is certainly fine with me.

  • Michael: I did but I meant Catholic Christianity. When I look for authoritative teaching I look to my Bishop and the Bishop of Rome.

    Ronald: Bad feelings are not always a consequence of “drifting away from the message of love.” Sometimes the truth hurts, sometimes love is painful. It’s all about our receptivity to grace.

  • Also Ronald I’m not sure I can make any sense of your comment. If you could clarify or rephrase what you were trying to say about me maybe we can continue our conversation.

  • David Nickol

    I must be some sort of troglodyte. I, too, want to know why the bishops have an open lesbian ON A COMMITTEE. (They don’t just “listen” to her.)

    Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick,

    You may or may not be a troglodyte, but you are definitely a dupe.

    Vorhis’s diatribe would be ugly were Mary Kay Henry actually on the Subcommittee on Justice, Peace, and Human Development, but she is not, and hasn’t been since 2006. Note the following article from December 7, 2009:

    Washington D.C., Dec 7, 2009 / 05:44 pm (CNA).- On Monday, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, media director for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spoke with CNA, clarifying the role of Service Employees Union executive and gay rights activist Mary Kay Henry with the bishops’ conference.

    Sr. Walsh noted that in the past, Mary Kay Henry was chosen by the unions to take part in a dialogue with the USCCB but left in 2006.

    She was not appointed by the bishops, Sr. Walsh explained.

    Last Friday it was discovered that Henry is listed on the USCCB website as a member of the Subcommittee on Justice, Peace, and Human Development who helped produce the working paper, “A Fair and Just Workplace: Principles and Practices for Catholic Health Care.”

    The same day, CNA had asked Sr. Walsh about Henry’s involvement with the USCCB, and she replied via email, “She is not a consultant.”

    Henry, the international executive vice president for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was recently named one of the nation’s “Top 25 Women in Healthcare” for 2009 by Modern Healthcare. Her biography at the SEIU website explains that she is “active in the fight for immigration reform and gay and lesbian rights.”

    Vorhis says, “What the hell is going on here? Is there anyone who works at the NCCB in a postion of influence who isn’t either gay, or pro-abortion, or a Democrat, or an Obama cronie, or has ties to the liberal left-wing Saul Alinsky style Acorn groups, or some combination of all of the above? Just exactly what is going on there?”

    Vorhis is attacking the entire USCCB, not just pointing out (falsely) that there is a lesbian on a committee. And yet, although he has a long and distinguished background in journalism, it would seem he didn’t even bother to call the USCCB and ask them to comment before he attacked. It appears the vortex, “where lies and falsehoods are trapped and exposed,” carelessly and — it seems to me — maliciously propagates falsehoods of its own.

    • David,

      So Michael Voris was also incorrect; I myself didn’t see a problem with her being consulted, but it seems like it didn’t even happen as claimed. Interesting.

      Just a side note: it is Voris, not Vorhis.

  • Ronald King

    Zach, What I was trying to say is that to defend a certain war as a just war prevents any further investigation into understanding the dynamics leading to war. Wars are about revenge and self-preservation. Wars never bring peace. The true pacifist is working towards peace and is not passive. The true pacifist is an activist for peace. However, the true pacifist must be internally peaceful and this can happen only through a constant meditation with Christ on the Cross.
    The just war theory is removed from the spirit of the faith and is materialistic.
    What would have happened in WWII if Pius XII had been an active pacifist instead of passive?
    Anger is a signal that either creates defensive aggression or is transformed through grace into love which would then result in a different dynamic.

  • Vorhis says, “What the hell is going on here? Is there anyone who works at the NCCB in a postion of influence who isn’t either gay, or pro-abortion, or a Democrat, or an Obama cronie, or has ties to the liberal left-wing Saul Alinsky…

    I wonder what Voris would have made of the deep friendship between Jacques Maritain, one of the leading theologians of the last century, and Saul Alinksy? Is Maritain just another “liberal” in his view?

  • I was not defending any particular war. And I think you are factually incorrect that wars never bring peace. The point of war is to bring about peace. It’s easy to forget what evil looks like, living in such relative comfort in the early 21st century. But not so long ago the world was faced with an evils so horrific that it would have been evil for good people to stand by and let them bring about their murderous regimes.

    The idea of just war is part of the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church and part of her consistent witness for thousands of years now. It is only removed from the spirit of the faith if you consider the spirit of the faith to be something it is not.

    I’m fine with you being a pacifist – I just think it’s foolish and I have every right to think so.

  • Michael: I did but I meant Catholic Christianity.

    Well, okay, but that’s a pretty big slip. But even given your correction, it is simply not true that the Magisterium teaches just war doctrine instead of pacifism.

    When I look for authoritative teaching I look to my Bishop and the Bishop of Rome.

    1) And who do they look to? The laity have the right to be curious about this.
    2) Out of curiosity, who is your bishop? When was the last time you consulted him specifically on something?
    3) The authoritative teaching of the Church upholds the pacifist view. I need to keep stressing this because, despite the fact that you say you agree with me, you keep seeming to give the impression that the authority of the Church backs you up but does not back up pacifists.

    • Michael

      One of the things many people do not understand, but I think they should, is that just war theory was created as a way to limit wars, to be a tool for pacificism (‘incremental’ pacificism one could say). They have turned it upside down.

  • Ronald King

    Zach, I could be wrong, but, I do not think the idea of a just war is part of the infallible teachings of the church.
    What should Pius XII have done in WWII when he knew that Christians would be killing Christians and he knew that Christians would be aggressors? What and when did he know what was happening to the Jews?
    Edith Stein wrote a letter to the Pope before the war started warning him about what was taking place and asking him to take a stand.
    True pacifism is activism for peace. The pacifist sees the conflicts that create the potential for war in human relationships and then attempts to warn others. Usually they are ignored or belittled as bleeding hearts.

  • ChooChoo


    Appreciated reading your thoughts on the Church and war.

    One thing:

    “Christianity does not teach, nor has it ever taught absolute pacifism. By absolute pacifism I mean the belief that any use of force on the part of the state is illegitimate and immoral.”

    Now, I realise it’s a historiographically controversial area, but I find the question of relating the early church (both in theory and practice) to the doctrine on just war deliciously awkward. Whether or not early Christians can be claimed as pacifists in the modern sense – and the practices of Christian communities certainly had a more pained sense of the difficult relation between matters martial and matters Christian than was true of other periods in Christian history – I think it would be difficult to find implicit or explicit arguments before the fourth century for the legitimacy of state use of force for the sake of justice. This must reflect, in part, the social position and priorities of these communities (and I think it misleading to characterise this as *solely* one of persecution pre-Constantine). But my question, I guess, is how much of a problem or challenge that is (and I assume that it is to some extent)?

    And on a spin-off…recently I learned of Bonhoeffer’s tortured attitude to his involvement in the failed plot to assasinate Hitler. What is striking is that Bonhoeffer did not see his choice as justified or right in some clean-cut way, as compelled as he might have felt by justice. For Bonhoeffer, there was no ambiguity that he was involving himself in something sinful. Another I wonder…wonder whether this tension between justice and sin is sometimes rather obscured beneath more triumphalist accounts of justice and warfare.

    • ChooChoo

      When you say, “Another I wonder…wonder whether this tension between justice and sin is sometimes rather obscured beneath more triumphalist accounts of justice and warfare,” that is exactly the kind of question which is often neglected. As I have said, just war theory was meant, in itself, to limit war, to go against such triumphalism. It was seen as a tool to limit war between Christian states. It worked to some degree, but not perfectly. Nonetheless, what happens in modern parlance is “well, war can be justified; so it’s not a big deal, even if it is sinful.” That kind of disregard is dangerous. And I think Ellul follows with Bonhoeffer on this; his point is the Christian message must never be contaminated by the needs created by sin, and then to act like violence is the Christian response, instead of what it is, a result of sin.

  • Lynne

    Michael Voris is extremely logical and clear thinking. He also speaks the truth, as stated by the Catholic Church. I find your article above to be the thing that is non-logical and well, rather prideful.

    • Lynne

      If you believe fallacious rhetoric is logical, well, I can’t reason with you!

  • ChooChoo



    As you say, just war doctrine is – in theory – an almost severely limiting way of understanding states and war. Oddly, it took some encounters with Christian pacifists who nonetheless have some respect for just war doctrine – again, in theory – for me to see this (most obvious example is Hauerwas). A jarring way of putting it is that truly sticking to just war doctrine can lead to awkward situations, much beloved in some arguments on these questions, where you cannot engage in war even if you can foresee great suffering in one’s own people or another people. This is the kind of charge often levelled against pacifists; that it is not levelled against just war doctrine is a measure, I think, of how it is not truly understood or otherwise embodied.

    Two further problems. First, there are modes of speech which sound like just war doctrine, but are often fragments of speech put to the service of ends which are incompatible with just war doctrine. At its worst, the word ‘just’ becomes a sort of perverse imprimatur, as you point out.

    Second, isn’t the discussion and debate about just war – say, for instance, the intra-Catholic debate – kind of academic if we don’t have a society, political body and military which is truly capable of being disciplined by just war criteria? In other words, do we inhabit societies capable of being disciplined by such criteria?

    I write from England, where a strong animus against Iraq is discernible across the political spectrum. That is, there is – if this is not presumptuous – a different social and political discourse of war from the US, and a kind of ‘triumphalist’ account is less resonant over here. But, I seriously doubt the UK is truly open to being disciplined by just war criteria when push comes to shove.

    • ChooChoo

      There are elements of the debate being academic, though I think for the Catholic Church it doesn’t have to be. It should have real results and real qualifications; if one is willing to ban those who vote for some pro-choice legislation from communion, certainly I think a similar ban can follow those who follow a state into an unjust war. Indeed, there were a couple noble bishops in the US who spoke out and said participation in the Iraq War was equivalent to participating in an abortion. That it doesn’t necessarily have power over non-Catholics, who do not care about the moral question, is indeed a serious concern; but that it can be used, and should be used, to prevent Catholic participation in unjust wars is a reason to keep discussing it (imagine if all the Catholics in the military had declined service in Iraq? That would have had large ramifications).

  • Ronald King

    Choo Choo and Henry, Only a few have the mystical vision to see what the two of you see. Why? It is because you have not mutated to the extent that others have in response to the violence, both physical and emotional, in human history. Those who have mutated have become less sensitive to their own vulnerable emotions and are more constructed to act in an aggressive and defensive posture to a perceived threat. The extrovert is more externally driven to compete against the obvious perceived threats and is thus limited by the reactivity of their progammed responses. The introvert is more internally driven by the innate sense of human suffering beginning with an instinctive response of caution and inhibition that is a reaction to a lack of safety or threat. The introvert sees that harm in human relationships begins the moment that the human being is invalidated and unknown.
    The introvert’s life is a series of events in which they do not fit in as the more extroverted human being and consequently, are not rewarded like the extrovert.
    I must stop for now.

    • Ronald

      It is true that the introvert often is ignored, neglected, and doesn’t get the awards, so they don’t seek after them in the same way. I do think many of us, if we were suddenly recognized, would have new problems to cope with, new temptations which we do not have.

  • ChooChoo

    Henry – sorry, I was a bit oafish. I meant something like this…

    Obviously there’ve been intra-catholic debates on whether iraq can be understood as a just war (certainly in the US, not so much where I live). I didn’t mean such debates are utterly futile…but, arguing about whether this or that war fits a list of criteria without asking whether the political powers, military etc in question can truly be said to be disciplined – or be open to being disciplined – by just war doctrine can neglect a fundamental point. And, sadly, I don’t think the answer to this question will be heartening.

    Ronald – am going to mull over your intriguing post. But, on a personal note, I don’t think I have this mystical vision. For pete’s sake, I can barely see without my trendy retro glasses and I’m very much a blurry-eyed sinner with them on. On a serious note, it’s discomfiting to think of how easily we do violence to others in our hearts and minds. I certainly know I do.

    Lynne – a confession…my immediate response to the Real Catholic TV clips was not charitable and involved less than reputable language (partly, I feel, because of what I see to be a profound lack of charity in the very tone and language of the programme and, partly, because of my own struggles with bad language).

    But, in the interests of friendly discussion, could you expand upon your thought that Voris is expounding the truth of the Church? What do you find inspiring about the programme?

  • Andrea Maciejewski

    This blog is just another liberal piece of garbage. No orhtodoxy in sight. Using the words of our 2 wonderful Holy Fathers and of Vatican II out of context does not substitute for proper study and understanding of what they were actually saying in accordance with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Michael Voris, former student of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, uses his genius for media to spread the message of the Church. His apostolate, blessed by Archbishop Raymond Burke who is currently Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, does wonderful work for the world.

    I know Michael Voris and his staff personally, and am aware of their education, commitment to Christ, and sound orthodoxy. Rather than jealously spouting opinion, this blogger would do well to spend more time in front of the Real Presence of Christ, from which the “Real” in this title comes from…

    • Andrea

      More fallacious argumentation. So what if he were a student of Groeschel? You know many heretics were students under saints and saints under heretics? Will you actually deal with the issues brought out, the lack of logic in his argumentation, and the fact that he misrepresents the situations he discusses (as was shown in this thread)? I am not “jealously spouting opinion.” The rules of logic are not “opinion.” And more importantly, it is interesting to see how Voris still gets a pass for claims of “teaching” without any scholarly reference given to prove his case. He just makes himself an authority which he is not. I am not an authority, either. But I don’t claim it.

      So, if you want to engage and show how his points are logically valid, show the truth to his claims, etc — go ahead and so so. But what I see is the typical ad hominem approach. “Liberal” for example. Just say it and it makes everything proven wrong! Not true (and it is quite clear you have not read this blog long if you are going to use that claim here). “No orthodoxy in sight.” Oh, what exactly is orthodoxy? Where is your authority to determine orthodoxy? Where is this blog itself in doctrinal error? Explain. Can you? Or will you just follow the same empty rhetoric of False Polemical Videos?

  • Ronald King

    Andrea, Why are you so angry? As a matter of fact, I believe that I am so orthodox that I appear liberal to someone who believes that she or he is orthodox. I am so orthodox that I believe Christ when He said that even the thought of anger is murder and the thought of lust is adultery. Finally, I believe His Words on the Cross asking Our Father to forgive us because we do not know what we are doing.
    Before you react please pray and think. Anger is a defense against being vulnerable and we can only love through being vulnerable.

  • ChooChoo – Thanks for that reminder about Bonhoeffer. You’re exactly right about him, and most people (including Jean B. Elshtain) get him wrong, as if to say, “Look, even the pacifist Bonhoeffer knew that he just had to use violence when the going got tough.”

    Andrea – As I said above, one can be completely “orthodox” and simultaneously a wretched human being. That’s one of the magnificent dangers of Catholicism, I’m afraid; one of the nice things we’ve set up for ourselves. I would rather be tarred with the word “heterodox” than to adhere to a theology that only serves to justify the killing of human beings as so many supposedly “orthodox” theologies do. If you can even call what Voris does “theology.”

  • I fear Andrea, like so many on the hard-core evangelical-aligned Catholic right, conglates theological orthodoxy with orthodoxy to a particular American political creed that calls itself conservative and yet is really a pure undistilled form of Enlightenment-era liberalism.

    She seems to think that Voris’s “orthodoxy” includes making nonsensical economic statements that are divorced from Catholic social teaching, and rooted in the arch-indivodualism of American liberal culture.

  • Here is another hack job:

    Of course, I wonder if we started looking to RealCatholicTV and its supporters and its associates, we can find them giving formal support to insurance companies which make a profit over abortion; they gave material support to pro-choice candidates (Scott Brown) in the name of the “pro-life movement”; they gave support to GW Bush and his unjust war (and therefore, support for the war crimes involved with that war, and the abortions which happened when pregnant women were killed in the US led charge into Iraq); they gave support to all kinds of causes for death. See how nice this tactic works? Anyone see how fallacious it is?

    I love his use of catch words like “relativism” despite the fact his sophistry is as relativistic as it comes. Indeed, his use of irrational tactics shows this — once again, what does he engage? Guilt by association! “He’s associated with sinners!” Well, Voris, are you going to want to stone him? Are you going to yell crucify him? Oh, you will instead make claims like “they are promoting abortion” and “promoting homosexuality.” On the other hand, will Voris will say “insurance companies are promoting abortion and homosexuality”? No. Why not? Money is being funneled by those groups which Voris supports for anti-Catholic attitudes, such as what happened with the promotion of Scott Brown… any peep from him on this? No?

    • One of the things which strikes me about these videos is the style is similar to anti-Catholic exposes of the Catholic Church. It is not saying he is an anti-Catholic, nor that he should be associated with an anti-Catholic, but if one took his methodology to light, one could make the association and argue this is all an underhanded way to discredit the Church from within.

  • Kurt

    Hmmmm, I can tell you for a fact that FUS helps its graduates get free abortions. (Their placement center has does not ban prospective employers that offer abortion coverage as part of their health care.)

    • Kurt

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they have insurance companies as prospective employers for graduates…

  • Kurt

    Yes, both insurance companies that offer pro-abortion policies and other employers that offer abortion as an employee health care benefit. I’ve investigated their criteria for employers particpating in their career center and they have no policy or program against abortion financing employers.


    More lies, misrepresentations, and poor logic.

  • Ronald King

    Henry, I totally agree with your observation of his use of relativism. These aggressive extroverts are the result of gene expressions that respond to perceived environmental threats with immediate aggression against the threat. The highly intelligent extrovert is very dangerous because their brains have the ability to develop complex defense mechanisms that make it extremely difficult to develop insight into the errors of their cognitive distortions.
    They fear looking internally beyond their convictions because it would create an identity crisis which would cause a regression into a state of fear and isolation in response to discovering the underlying repressed “hate” that drives their lust for power and being special. They have the “truth” and their identity is constructed on this narcissistic foundation.
    It seems that most of the catholic radio personalities rise to these positions because of their ability to be so well defended and thus appearing to be so confident in their understanding of the obvious basic truths of the faith.
    This also applies in the secular world as well.

    • Ronald

      Yes, I think what you said about why many people become popular personalities (Catholic or otherwise) is true. There is little intellectual honesty, and people who hold it are ridiculed, though they will do all kinds of sophistry for their own position. His newest video hit seems to want people to think like this “well, some people in the USCCB are Democrats; that means the USCCB is really a Democrat scheme; and that means they are all about the promotion of abortion!” And one of the underlying assumptions, which is in error, is that one could not have voted for President Obama. That assumption is primary, without any exposition, so it shows quite strong her faith is political, not religious.

      Of course people could have voted for Obama for the wrong reasons and be in error; but I think people who voted for McCain could have and did vote for the wrong reason too. A Catholic could have voted for either or neither, depending upon why and how they reasoned it out. But some people confuse issues, as he does. And he says it is all about life, though Voris seems not to care much about the lives of people dying because of a lack of health care, or because of hunger, or the like. Which shows it is not about life. It is about politics.

  • Ronald King

    Henry, People wired in this way tend to be from birth more aggressive and less aware of not so obvious dangers. Whereas, the introvert tends to be more cautious and experiences the more subtle harm in human relationships and potential dangers in the environment. The introvert also tends to have more pain receptors than the extrovert and will react to pain sooner and with more intensity than the extrovert.
    The extroverts tend to be masters of the obvious and they will thus focus their attention on the ‘intrinsic evil’ and not be able to see what creates this ‘intrinsic evil’ is what they may label a ‘lesser evil’. They live in the world of Newtonian Physics and are unable to comprehend the world of Quantum Physics. Evil doesn’t have degrees and to assume that it does is a mistake because those who think this way actually enable the ‘lesser evil’ to have the unobstructed energy to continue its nurturing of the “intrinsic evil”. They unknowingly become a part of the machinations of the popular slogan “culture of death”.