Monday, October 26, 2015

Michael Voris the American Polemicist

Don't you find Michael Voris 'STB', the most irritating man? I do, but all the same I find him almost compulsive viewing. Whenever I do it is important to remember he is an American polemicist. Some of his broadcasts on the Synod were really very good. In his latest video he suggests that the crisis with our bishops goes back to Pope St John Paul and Benedict, myself I think it goes back much, much further.

The problem is being Pope you can't be in control of everything, you are not the US president, I think unfortunately this is how Michael, like many Americans sees his role. What frames the politics of the Church as much as any government is 'events'. As for bishops a pope can only select from the candidates presented to him, unless he has special knowledge of a particular Church, or the qualities of particular people. Even so the Pope is not the chief executive of the Church, as Benedict said rather sadly to Bp Fellay for the most part his authority stops at the door of his study. In theory the Pope has limitless authority, in practce because he has to act through others and with the co-operation of others, by them can be seriously and severely limited - to the point of impotency.

There is the story that Pope John Paul when presented the with names of Lehman and Kasper to be made Cardinals, at first refused but then was told if he did not give them the red hat, there would be no German money for the reconstruction of the Polish Church. The problem for John Paul was that the Secretariate of State had under Cardinal Casaroli from 1979 -1990 had continued the embrace real-politik, the policy that meant that Vatican II made not a single mention of Communism. Though John Paul had taken control of the Secretariate's relations with the States, it still remained in control of presenting the Pope with the names of future bishops. The saint notoriously, I think, put episcopal appointments low on his list of priorities.

Voris, I think in his black and white way, is not entirely fair to Pope Benedict either, many of those who were created Cardinal by Benedict were actually already in Cardinalatial Sees. One has to remember of course the terrible feuding andd factonalising that broke out during John Paul's long illness, for Benedict this was the time of the wolves, Voris forgets that for much of Benedict's reign the Secretariate of State was in open rebellion. He forgets the difficulty of simply getting Sodano, Casaroli's successor, out of the Cardinal Secretaries apartments, which give access to the Pope's apartments - one reason for Francis' move. He forgets the refusal of many of Sodano's appointees to even speak to Bertone, let alone work with him, which I am sure in part consequently led to Bertone's own ineffectuality. By the way Bertone's memoirs were supposed to be due out this summer, they should have been an explosive reading, has anyone heard anything of them? Is he waiting for an appropriate time?

Benedict might well be as guilty as Voris suggests but one has to remember, Benedict's fundamental idea, that truth always is eventually victorious,  he believed in the Tradition. As for his resignation history will tell whether it was good or bad. Voris as an American conservative sees it as bad. I as a European trad am open to wait and see. Conservatives see things in the short term, trads look at the Tradition, I think we tend to be more flexible and more radical. As I keep saying Vatican One's idea of the Papacy is far from the inflated Ultramontanism we have today, or certainly distant from the teaching of Vatican I. Benedict's resignation is a way, I hope, of rethinking the papacy, and returning it to its more traditional purpose.

Incdently Voris earlier in the year was attacking Cardinal Dolan for his support of the New York St Patrick's day parade. A priest of Dolan's diocese, not a great supporter of his Archbishop, told me that the Catholic organisers of the parade were very concerned that it was becoming secularised - hence the inclusion of an LGBT group - they wanted Dolan to take part as Grand Marshall to reassert the Catholicism of the parade and the more orthodox party on the committee. It wasn't as Voris played it, that Dolan was (necessarily) supportive of the agenda of those who took part, on the contrary he was supportive of the Catholic party.


Adulio said...

I don't think I can take Michael Voris seriously anymore. His newly adopted papalotry under Pope Francis' reign is nauseating to say the least - he is part of the problem.

Montenegro said...

Thank you for your very measured commentary. I think Michael would be appreciative of it, as he seems to value reasoned debate and discourse. It is also important to point out the cultural and national context under which Michael operates and speaks. The only thing I'd probably have to disagree with in your post is your assessment of the reasoning for Card. Dolan's participation in the St. Patrick's Day parade. That "defense" really sounds like a smokescreen to me. Also, being an American Catholic who is somewhat familiar w/ the AD of New York, I can say nearly without hesitation that any of +++Dolan's mighty predecessors (e.g. +++O'Connor) would simply - under the same circumstances - have _not_ participated, and would have thunderously opposed any inclusion of LGBT groups. So that excuse from +++Dolan's office? I'm not buying it. God bless.

Vincent said...

Father, to be fair to Voris, I think he's trying to suggest that you could lay a lot at Pope Benedict's door, as you can at Pope Francis'. I think he's trying to say how unfair it is to criticise Francis for everything when it, as you say, goes back a lot further.

But whilst we're on the topic, I am glad you've posted about CMTV... I cancelled my subscription - couldn't cope with them any more. For me it was significantly the SSPX series they ran, but it had built up over time. To me, they're too polemical; their combox is strictly moderated to remove any criticism of them. I don't have a problem with that, if they stated those were the rules. But they don't...

Maybe as you suggest, it's American vs European, but it's a bit like a bull in a China shop....

railrider said...

The pope is somewhat like a president with even more latitude, he appoints those he chooses and one would think push his ideas and agenda while rejecting those with opinions he disagrees with and goes so far as to banish then from the scene. He holds the power.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Slightly off topic but relevant to the current situation: I get the impression that some people think that discipline and pastoral are the same thing. Surely they are not. One could compare the words to the situation in the secular world:

Doctrine = the Law

Discipline = the enforcement of the law

Pastoral = rehabilitation or how you treat someone who has been convicted.

If the Police catch a serial killer the law is enforced by trial and sentencing - discipline. How he is treated during his sentence and what mercy is shown him comes later and depends upon how rehabilitation works. You do not show mercy by deciding not to prosecute him!

In the paedophile scandal in Ireland discipline was entirely ignored - no action was taken in accordance with Canon Law - this was equivalent to civil authorities saying they would not prosecute a criminal because they felt sorry for him.
Pastoral practice and mercy are things to be considered at the time of sentencing and thereafter and depend very much upon the attitude of the criminal e.g. whether has expressed sorrow or not.

In the case of the divorced and remarried the discipline is that they are not eligible to receive communion whilst they continue in their adultery. Pastoral practice is to persuade them to repent and stop sinning leading to communion.

Unless one understands and maintains this distinction between discipline and pastoral practice one has the present muddle.

Pelerin said...

I see it's not over yet ! I had hoped that the dust would be settled by now. One commenter on Voris' site writes 'the Spirit of the Synod will take hold of the Church just as the Spirit of Vatican II did.' oh dear! And another commenter there mentions Bella Dodd - her story on the Internet really makes one wonder about the goings on behind the scenes at the Vatican. Her name meant nothing to me until I came across it on the Internet some months ago. Quite an eye-opener.

I agree that Voris' presentation is irritating but I was sufficiently fascinated by his approach to go and hear him when he came to London. Very slick and professional - the Americans seem to do evangelisation much better than us. Catholic videos I have seen on the internet always seem to be by Americans - Fr now Bishop Barron is a good example.

Sixupman said...

I have to avoid Voris in order to keep my blood-pressure in check, he has lost any balance and, it has been alleged, he is andering to his financial backer(s).

BXVI's problem, if such it is, was a surfeit of Charity and an attempt to bridge the unbridgeable. God Bless Him!

Vatican II was a step into the unknown, which has let loose virtual anarchy within Mother Church - variation from parish to parish, not knowing that which you will find as a stranger.

Leaving aside the somewhat abstract arguments. to the average layman, regarding the NON/TLM arguments, but compare the Ablution Prayers, you do not require a PhD to grasp the enormity of the difference.

epsilon said...

In fairness to Michael Voris, reading between the lines, there is probably no one more sick of what Pope Francis is doing right now than MV! His video/transcript today is truly admirable where he encourage us all to not just give up but to make great noises and not accept things in despair. Well done Michael!

Aged parent said...

Father, your article is well-reasoned and helpful. Thank you.

I would only add that Cardinal Dolan, who was once the Ordinary of the diocese I reside in, is if I may speak bluntly, a disgrace to his cloth. He might change one day into a serious Catholic, but as of now he is simply a politician, and a very cowardly one at that.

Thanks again for the fine post.

Joe said...

Dear Fr. Blake,
you write Voris is always fascinating to watch. Is he? I'd say his daily session at the chopping block appeals more to the lower instincts and the question, who's turn will it be today? His onslaughts have the attractions of a gruesome boxing match. And today it was JPII and pope Benedicts turn. The criticism of the above was a tad more gleeful. It was payback time for the loss of support he suffered when he tried to mince the PX Society and all those who stand near them. The traditionalists do have a more favorable view of pope Benedict and are deeply grateful for S.P. And the yearly pilgrimages show that. And therefor the traditional Catholics are willing to overlook to some the degree some of the more controversial actions.
Too bad Voris operates this way, certainly his effort of evangelizing the people would be worth while.

abevec1 said...

Disagree on the Cardinal Dolan subject. The cmtv series on his behavior was really shocking.

fzk5220 said...

The present pope like the present POTUS is likely to get an Oscar for public relations but a resounding F in everything else. I think I heard that from Michael Voris and I agree with him.
My only criticism of Voris is his tenacious plugging of his book and of course his hair piece. Where did he get that? Could be a genuine relic?

Cosmos said...

I agree that the Pope holds the power. God gave it to him. He is called to wield it. Whether it accomplishes the ends that it should is in God's hands.

Obviously, the Pope has to rule wisely and shrewdly and mercifully (not condemning violent secular rulers, for example, for fear of enraging them). But I don't think he has the same latitude that secular rulers have.

Where a Cardinal or Bishop is teaching heresy, a direct letter, followed by a direct phone call, followed by a direct meeting may be in order. If pressure is applied, then the Church should take its lumps and move on. If "licit" threats are made, such as withholding money... well, money is not the end all and be all.

I know it's all easier said than done, and I am not condemning anyone, but the Papacy needs to be an example, not just one more human institution.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree. One of the problem of the current papacy is that the Pope is just too important. Go back a millennium and you'll see that although the Vatican was corrupt, the average Catholic was completely unaware of it. His link to the Church was his bishop and that was enough. This was especially true when the Church branched out to other continents. The Pope's chief job was not to be a celebrity, it was to confirm Ecumenical Councils and deal with crises that could not wait for an Ecumenical Council. A single person could do the job.

The burden today is just too heavy for one man, and inevitably every Pope will mess up somewhere. One positive thing Pope Francis introduced is the Group of 8 Cardinals to advise him and share the burden, even if his choices for advisors are not uniformly good. But more can be done to ensure that Cardinals and Bishops are orthodox so that the Papacy isn't doesn't have to be so active because the Church is in a constant state of crisis.

Athelstane said...

It's beyond dispute that the two "conservative" post-conciliar popes made some bad appointments. Even the most polyanna of conservative figures long ago conceded as much. What Mike is digging up is no new revelation. It is one of the great frustrations of the past two generations in the Church, and a key reason why this time period has been such a catastrophe.

But in his haste to reaffirm his ultramontane credentials - and to vent against Benedict XVI his frustration for having abandoned ship - Voris simply refuses to acknowledge the distinction between concession and proactive appointments. Someone like Marx or Lehmann gets named because this is who the local conference majority wants, and the pope decided not to pick that battle (wisely or unwisely), and make no mistake that it would have been a battle. But Francis's appointment of men like Cupich (Chicago), Galantino (Sec'y of Italian bishops' conference) and Baldisseri (head of the Synod) were proactive picks that weren't on any terna. They were personal picks by the Pope, and their appointment reveals his agenda - just as Benedict's appointment of Egan, Davies and Hope in England revealed *his* agenda.

And those agendas are very different, Mr. Voris.

Bill said...

There was a time I watched Mr. Voris rants. I soon became disenchanted by his exhaustive negative attitudes about everything pertaining to the Church. Consequently, I do not listen to him anymore, and would hope others would also stop. The Church needs more positive attitudes than negative. This does not mean that what we find to be wrong or damaging to the Church should not be examined. It simply means that more of out positive actions must also extolled. In effect--stop the trolling.

Unknown said...

Father, your loyalty is admirable, but tragically misplaced. Benedict XVI could have righted all of his problems with one snap of his fingers. And what did he have to lose? Perhaps the Church might have fallen into chaos? The faithful might have become confused and disorientated? I could go on, but you get the gist.

The role of the pope is very like the American’s Presidential System, only the pope has total, immediate, and universal authority over the entire universal Church, which he can use at any time without having to give account to anyone on this earth.

Without being rude, I believe you are in danger of falling into a trap. There is indeed “Black and White”. And it is the reigning pope’s duty to proclaim it from the rooftops! Can you seriously imagine the apostles, or any of their successors before Vat II, using such langue as “Complicated” and “Cultural sensitivity” as many of today’s bishops do? Not at all.

There’s also a real danger that the truth and its followers paint themselves into a corner. There’s no such thing as “Trad” Catholics or “Conservative” Catholics” in the Church. There are Catholics and there are those in error. When we start attributing to ourselves adjectives we start playing the very game they wish us to play. We become seen as just another opinion within the Church. And, as I said, this is far from the truth.

There are several etymological explanations for “Catholic”, but ultimately what matters is why it became the norm. It is clear to me that Heresy was the reason. Tertullian is largely attributed with coming up with “Catholic” yet it was the Aryans that made its use essential. If both parties were claiming to be Christian there was need for a name that differentiated them. Thus we ended up with Catholic. We should not cloudy the waters any more than they are already by using such terms as “Trad” “Conservative” etc? Please, let’s keep it Catholic.

Anita Moore said...

Well, I see Pope Benedict's abdication as a bad thing, even if understandable: among other things, he must have looked around and realized that, unlike his predecessor, he did not have a Cardinal Ratzinger watching his back. And, when I first learned that he was abdicating, my first thought was that I did not pray enough for him. Not that I am solely responsible for his lack of support; but to the extent he did not have all the support he needed from the prayers of the faithful, I played a role in that.

But even though I think the abdication was a bad thing, it is also clear that the Church is in a time of chastisement. This chastisement was never going to play itself out until we got a Pope who was essentially a product of the post-conciliar spirit within the Church. Now we have got that, and -- while the liberals think they are now having their "big mo'" -- I hope it also means the chastisement will soon end.

Hoser said...

You have to keep in mind Father, that American Papal watchers are intrigued with intrigue. We are always looking for a "bad guy" in everything, including our political persuasions. Michael Voris can be annoying, but he is the only Catholic internet outlet that has got more right than he has been accused of being wrong. Case in point is his pointing out the "homosexual" lobby here in the states and in the Vatican. While most Catholics do not inspect the minutia of sexual politics in the Church, we do. We have this "thing" about sex in the USA when our government pushes its agenda even after voting to eliminate same sex marriage in most states. In the American Church, there has been many instances of our Red Hats and Cardinal Hats sitting on their thumbs while children were molested. Our press is unmerciful towards the Church in these instances, so Mr. Voris, in his endless energy, pounces on every opportunity of malfeasance. I would rather have a Voris making us wince than to have a useless piece of journalism as is the National Catholic Reporter, or the Fishwrap that Fr. Z prefers to name it, continue to spread its homosexual, women ordination and legalizing of abortion, as the Catholic way.

Boris said...

Fr. Blake -- I am a devoted reader of your blog. But I think we in the US are extremely fortunate to have Michael Voris. He is a polemicist, yes, as Athanasius and J H Newman were polemicists. A very strong resistance movement in defense of the Church has come about here in the US through lay men and women taking up the struggle through the internet, i.e. blogs. It is a very positive sign, I think. The letter from the poobahs at various US Catholic (?) universities trying to delegitimize Ross Dothan - another splendid lay voice of the faithful - because he is just, just a layman, i.e. doesn't have the right credentials, is a very good sign that these sacred cows are really scared cows. So you, father, please keep up your good work, and let us rejoice at the increasing number of laymen and women like Michael Voris who are doing their much needed part. How refreshing it is to see someone like Voris express himself so clearly and forcefully -- a trait many clergy might learn from him. (Before their bishop sacked them or sent them to the outer reaches of their dioceses).

DJR said...

Fred Brown said... Tertullian is largely attributed with coming up with "Catholic” yet it was the Aryans that made its use essential.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch used the term "catholic" to describe the Church, and he died nearly half a century before Tertullian was even born.

Unknown said...

The Dolan part just really doesn't make sense. He had to know he'd be giving scandal. He also declared he was fine with that group marching. All in line with "bravo".

Adulio said...

But I think we in the US are extremely fortunate to have Michael Voris. He is a polemicist, yes, as Athanasius and J H Newman were polemicists.

The only difference is Athanasius and Blessed Newman were theologians - Voris is not.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

If you believe Voris, he's as Catholic as Bergoglio...

"In theory the Pope has limitless authority, in practce because he has to act through others and with the co-operation of others..." the Holy Ghost does not have a 'father-of-lies" caveat in His Infalliblity promise.

There's a book out, called 'Papal Errors'. On the continuum of aggiornamento, who could dissent?

On the promise of Christ, who could assent?

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