The now infamous manifesto, ChurchMilitant.TV Will Not Engage in Public Criticism of the Pope, is causing a sizable stir among some traditional Catholics and one might reasonably wonder why.
We have bigger fish to fry than this, don’t we?
The visible structures of the Church have been crumbling for forty-plus years right before our very eyes, the pope himself belittles us on a regular basis, and changes are coming under this pontificate the likes of which one shudders to even imagine.
And yet, we still find time to fret over the opinion of Michael Voris.
That CMTV shies away from directly confronting the pope’s words and actions is nothing new. The crucial issue, as I see it, concerns the comments that are made in this document about the SSPX, the Remnant, and good men like John Vennari and Christopher Ferrara.
So, what to make of it all?
Here are my thoughts on the matter:
The document in question was forwarded to me (by someone I won’t name) back on February 6th – the very day Michael Voris took off for Ireland, a journey that was followed almost immediately by a trip to the Philippines, rendering him largely unavailable for comment as it made its rounds. How long it existed prior to that, I don’t know.
While I’m left to merely speculate about some things, here’s what I do know:
It’s been obvious for some time that Michael Voris is not interested, at least for now, in directly confronting the pope’s offenses against the Faith. That’s his call. Can it be frustrating? Sure, but as I sit here today I’m not going to make this the litmus test for whether or not his work is of any value.
I like Michael a lot. Are we in absolute agreement on all things? No, but who is?
While he and I aren’t exactly drinking buddies, I’ve spent enough time with him to know that his commitment to the Church is as genuine as anyone’s. Mine was as genuine as anyone else half a dozen years ago too, back when I pretty much bought the company line about the SSPX and Vatican II – hook, line and sinker.
Here’s the point: There isn’t a single person reading this post who hasn’t grown to the place they occupy today. This time next year, God willing, all of us will have grown in the Faith further still.
At some point in time, barring Divine intervention, I suspect that there’s a good chance Michael Voris will be forced by circumstances to publicly address the Pontiff’s shortcomings. In the meantime, why not cut the guy some slack on his papal silence?
These are not “normal” times in the life of the Church. People of goodwill, like Michael, who are far more brothers-in-arms than an adversaries, are sincerely struggling to figure out how best to respond to the crisis at hand in the most constructive way possible. Obviously, we’re not always going to get it right and we’re going to have disagreements, sometimes even on things that are crucially important. We can thank the Devil for that.
For my part, I decided to address the pope’s foibles directly. In return, even though I reach some people I may not otherwise, still, I reach far less on the whole. Diocesan and parish conferences are a thing of the past, one-time supporters among various bishops, priests and theologians have run for the hills like horses from a barn fire, Catholic News Agency (among other outlets) has dropped me after five years, and on and on it goes.
I don’t regret it in the least, but that’s the reality. Who’s to say that in the long run my approach is the be-all-end-all and Voris is blowing it? I’m not.
And now we get to the part of the manifesto where the scent of a rodent is nearly impossible to avoid.
As far as the Society is concerned, Michael Voris has never, at least insofar as I’m aware, used the CMTV platform to attack the SSPX as “sedevacantist” or even “soft sedevacantist,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.
Is he an SSPX supporter? No, but as far as I can tell (mystery document aside), there is nothing in his track record that indicates that this is the hill he wants to die on.
Michael kindly invited me to do a “Roman Forum” segment with him a couple of years ago in which I was able to freely offer, to the best of my own knowledge at the time, the Society’s case, during which time he asked pointed questions but never denigrated, belittled or insulted Archbishop Lefevre or the SSPX in the least.
Michael has had Christopher Ferrara on his air more than once, most recently (I believe) in August. He has also collaborated with Remnant publisher, Michael Matt, and he has been a good friend to me over the past couple of years in the work that I’m doing, having me as a guest any number of times in spite of my own vocal criticism of the pope’s rhetoric.
One should also note that Michael Voris has a lengthy track record of ignoring his detractors. Twenty-five hundred word essays explaining and defending his positions are not his style. Not even close. In addition to that, the only thing this document accomplished was slandering the SSPX and dragging friendly collaborators through the mud. Also not his style.
No, this isn’t Voris’ work. This is just my opinion, of course, but I don’t believe for a moment that Michael Voris wrote this document, nor do I believe he commissioned it as written, even if he privately agrees with much of its content.
This thing has been floating around for at least three weeks, unsigned. Even those who despise Michael Voris have to admit that this isn’t his M.O.
Like him or not, Voris doesn’t insulate himself from his own positions. His name and his face are attached to all of his opinions. He is CMTV, and yet, this goofy document moves about anonymously for nearly a month?
It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to recognize that someone else is pushing this envelope.
Who might that someone be?
Well, whoever it is has obviously deluded himself into believing that going to war with the SSPX, and denouncing the work of people like Christopher Ferrara (whom Michael Voris clearly respects) is an act of Christian heroism.
It also appears obvious, given the fact that the still-unsigned document is now on the CMTV website, that he has managed to insert himself into a position of influence over CMTV’s operations.
I would bet dollars to donuts that this person’s personal crusade is starting to wear pretty thin right about now. (If it’s not, it should be.)
Though it seems obvious enough that this person took liberties in speaking on behalf of CMTV, Michael is now left to deal with it. At some point, he may even feel “compelled,” for lack of a better word, to lay personal claim to its authorship. If so, don’t believe it.
In conclusion, I don’t think Michael Voris invited this, and to be honest, I doubt he’s given it nearly as much thought as many of my friends.
My advice? Pray for Michael Voris and just suspend judgment for the time being. He obviously has his hands full with the crusading ghost writer who created this mess.