Monday, March 24, 2014

No Choice but Pacificism in the Pope Wars

Michael Voris of Church Militant TV is proving to be a tremendous disappointment to many of his followers because he won’t come out and criticize what they consider to be some of the more egregious papal missteps and misstatements of Pope Francis.
There is no doubt that Pope Francis has thrown the Catholic neo-trads into a tizzy with a variety of comments from his “who am I to judge?” regarding gay clergy to his obvious disinterest in restoring the pre-conciliar liturgy to a place at least alongside—if not  exclusive of—the revised rites in the Church’s worship.  For months now, the Blogosphere has been asparkle like Fort McHenry  under British Bombardment with some of the most outrageous attacks imaginable on the Holy Father. 
The neo-traditional site Mundabor’s Blog, for example, printed this comment about the Holy Father:  There is no week now without this disgraceful man reaching for a new deep from the gutter in which he has already put himself.
Life Site News was perhaps less alarmist but still questioning:
What in God's Holy Name are Catholics supposed to think about this pope?????
The Tenth Crusade, a particularly vicious blog of a dyspeptic Bostonian, published this remark:  First of all, I think we're beyond the apprehension stage. We were apprehensive during the eight months of commentary undermining and insulting the 2000 years of the Deposit of Faith and those who love and evangelize It.  Though Pope Francis has issued numerous clarifications, he then went ahead and contradicted said clarifications with an apostolic exhortation which ratified the trajectory of his original statements.  Pope Francis selected a spineless bishop who operates a chancery that persecutes faithful priests and teaches Church laws can or should be ignored and disobeyed at our own will.
Our choleric Bostonian  also carried this remark
As many concerned Catholics have expressed, the silly statements from the Pope are damaging to catechists, parents, grandparents and Catholics who are intimately aware that the mission of the Deposit of Faith is to teach the substance that gives every person right judgment about their actions as they relate to the salvation of their soul.
Rorate Caeli, a blog that usually has more substance than the run of the mill neo-trad diatribes, lost its cool and published this remark: With all due respect he sounds like a typical Latin American Jesuit who has a kind of benign contempt for orthodoxy in favor of an exclusive focus on orthopraxis - - as if the two could ever be separated in Catholic life or thought. I'm surprised because as he has well said previously, the Church is not some glorified NGO. Her doctrine matters. This should be obvious to someone who attains that office.

Michael Voris has refused to cross the line,  however, and join in what he has termed the "Popewars."  This has been a tremendous disappointment to the winged monkeys of neo-Traditionalist Oz who looked to Voris to give the leadership in protecting the faith against a pope gone rogue.  But should we be surprised?
Michael Voris is in a very difficult spot—one that will determine whether his Church Militant TV project will rise or fall.  We need to take a look at Mr. Voris and see beyond the public relations mask to determine his agenda.
Michael Voris is the founder and president of St. Michael’s Media, a corporation that advances a neo-traditionalist agenda among Roman Catholics disaffected with the Church’s direction after Vatican II.  Voris is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he majored in journalism.  in 2009 he earned the STB (Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus, Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology) granted from the Angelicum University in Rome.  Mr. Voris did not study in Rome, but received the degree from Sacred Heart Major Seminary which is authorized by the Angelicum to grant the degree in its name.  A Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology represents less theological study than the average Religious Education Director in a local parish would have.  It would not qualify a person to pursue a doctoral program, nor would it match the requirements for ordination to the priesthood.  In other words, it is simply a bachelor’s degree in Theology.  “Would you like fries with that order?”
Mr. Voris’ comparatively shallow theological background often manifests itself in his ability to comprehend the more complex issues facing the Church today whether regarding the role of Religious women, Canon 915, the authority of the local Bishop over liturgical matters, or the relationship of the local Church (Diocese) to the Universal Church (The Holy See.) 
While he is no theologian, what Mr. Voris is is an entrepreneur.  And a potentially good one.  Voris saw the lacuna in Amercian Catholic tele-journalism left by the incapacity of Mother Angelica Rizzo, PCPA.  Mother Angelica’s network, EWTN, lost much of its spark when the fiery and street-savvy nun had to retire behind the cloister grille due to a stroke and subsequent problems.  The network struggled on, but without Mother’s voice often yelling “fire” in crowded theatres, lacked the sort of drama that could turn devout novena-saying Catholics into a pitchfork and torch carrying mob yelling for the blood of one or another Bishop or even a Cardinal.   EWTN had become simply another pious voice while the neo-trads saw the Barque of Peter foundering in the waters of modernism.  There was room for a new prophet and Voris determined to fill it.  He didn’t have the resources to start a new television network but, hey—it’s the 21st century and there are new channels of communication and channels that transcend the limited scope of television into the much wider world of the internet.  And so we have Church Militant TV.  It was originally called Real Catholic TV until Archdiocese of Detroit officials made Voris take away the word “Catholic” as he and his network do not in any way represent the Catholic Church but are an independent venture answerable only to Mr. Voris. 
Detroit took some action, but the bishops have found themselves powerless to face Voris’ attacks on their leadership—or lack thereof.  Voris has made the most outrageous (and usually unsubstantiated) charges against a wide range of American prelates, but with a particular focus against Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.  For awhile he climbed aboard Judie Brown’s revenge-wagon against Catholic Relief Services and spread her lies and half-truths about CRS and about the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  When you go after targets as high as these, it is difficult to find the mechanisms to shut you down without it looking like a unilateral cover-up from on high.  And right now I am not sure that Voris isn’t too powerful for any retaliation this side of the Atlantic—including the Nunciature. 
But should Michael Voris go after Pope Francis—ah, that would be a different kettle of fish.  At that point, Dolan and his fellow victims of Voris’ attacks could easily move to make it clear that Michael Voris does not represent an authentic voice of Catholicism.  And Michael Voris knows that.  He can mumble about how crazies on the left—and on the right—are distorting what the Holy Father says, but he can’t acknowledge any papal misstatements or he will find himself on the wrong side of the good Catholic line.  He is between the proverbial rock and a hard place as his blog advocates are growing increasingly frustrated at his waffling. 
Of course the various bloggers: The Chairman’s Blog: The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales LMS Chairman:(, Mundabor’s Blog  (, 
That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill (,  
Creative Minority Report (, and of course my favorite squeaky wheel, the Gaithersburg Cassandra, disingenuous Janet from Restore DC Catholicism ( furious with Voris for his lack of fortitude to rush in where Angels fear to tread.   Of course these various blogosphere critics of Pope Francis have nothing to lose—their following draws from the same crowd of pitchfork and firebrand katholik krazies that migrate through their parallel universe with its alternate reality coordinates, but Michael Voris is trapped between survival and the expectations of his former faithful who had posted episode after episode but who are now angry with him for not joining them in condemning a papacy they are convinced has gone rogue.  


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