If you’re a Catholic, you’ve got an Internet connection or a Facebook page, and you’re a fan of Catholic online content, then there’s probably a good chance that you’ve come across at least one or two videos produced by Michael Voris.
He’s a man serious about what he does, as evidenced by his passionate expressions of religious fervor. And ‘his star is on the rise’ – as they would say in the entertainment business – as evidenced by the growing number of hits his videos are attracting on YouTube, etc.
However, it’s not just his viewership that is increasing, but so are the number of troubling incidents and aspects of his social media enterprise, and it is this growing list of concerning incidents that leaves me troubled by Michael Voris.
Here are just some of the things that I find concerning…
-On an episode of his Roman Report show he featured, and clearly seemed to endorse well-known Anti-Semite E. Michael Jones. In this interview Jones calls dialogue with the Jews a “failed experiment”, and at the 40 minute mark he presents a bizarre conspiracy theory about the CIA having infiltrated the Church, and he even claims that Pope Benedict XVI was fooled into accepting this infiltration. What is even more troubling are his outrageous and historically false statements claiming that the history of the West for the past 2000 years has been a struggle between the Jews who rejected Jesus and the Catholic Church. (He also presents a definition of Antisemitism that is so narrow that it is basically incorrect, and then proceeds to claim that he is not an Anti-Semite because his brand of Antisemitism falls outside his own VERY narrow definition of Antisemitism).
This very concerning interview ended with Michael Voris asking E. Michael Jones if he would come back on a future show, and then Voris encourages his viewers to “read everything” that E. Michael Jones has written.
-In an episode of The Vortex, Micheal Voris presented some logically flawed and concerning personal opinions about temporal government, claiming that the “only way to run a country” is a benevolent Catholic dictator, and that only faithful Catholics should be allowed to vote – even going as far as to imply that this is a Christ-ordained form of government.
-His continual use of labels such as “the church of nice” to malign Catholics who don’t hold to his view of things is both frustrating, and ultimately a meaningless and uncharitable ad hominem fallacy. This sort of terminology basically becomes a convenient way of calling someone a name and not actually presenting a logical defense of your position, or a logical argument against theirs. It also invites the question; ‘does this mean that Voris thinks we should be the church of nasty?’
-He regularly presents his content in a very divisive way, like a recent episode of The Vortex where he refers to contraception as a “Protestant poison” even though the Protestant reformers were strongly opposed to contraception, as are certain groups of Protestants still today. In another episode of the Vortex he sets up logically flawed and factually problematic divisions between two different groups of orthodox Catholics – one group he calls “traditionalists” and the other “non-traditionalists” – he then suggests that those whom he labels ‘traditionalist’ are in fact the more authentically Catholic of the two groups, and that the “non-traditionalists” are actually aiding the destruction of Catholicism.
-His questioning of the authenticity, or Catholicity of the Novus Ordo Mass – questioning which is often at odds with what the Church and Pope Benedict XVI, etc, have actually taught about the Mass and the hermeneutic of continuity, etc.
-His regular presentation of errors, like, for example using the term ‘the Catholic right’ to describe orthodox Catholics. ‘Left’ and ‘right’ are political descriptors, not ecclesial ones, and they are very very problematic, in that they ultimately reduce truth to the level of opinion (‘oh, that’s a right wing idea’, etc), while error becomes merely a different opinion (‘oh, that’s a left wing idea’, etc.).
Another example of error are the incorrect statements he makes about receiving Communion in the hand while standing, something he wrongly calls a modern or Protestant practice. Dave Armstrong, who receives Communion on the tongue while kneeling at an altar rail each Sunday, points out here why such claims are simply not accurate.
-He constantly attacks the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. These attacks are often over matters that really don’t warrant the level of outrage and attention that he directs at them (like the infamous World Youth Day dance episode of the Vortex), and they are often VERY uncharitable (name-calling and snide remarks are common).
-One of the biggest problems I have with Michael Voris is the constant (and very serious) negativity and despair that permeates many of his shows.
For example, in a very recent episode of his live-stream radio show ‘Mic’d up he refers to Catholics who “believe the doctrines of the Church, …have wonderful families, …pray together”, and who “love Our Lord, say the Rosary, go to Mass” as “kind of the carriers of a disease [of modernism]“. Voris even referred to this segment as the “key” moment of his interview with his guest Christopher Ferrara. Ferrara then joins in these scandalous attacks on good Catholics by referring to them as “Novus Ordo Catholics” who have “allowed themselves to become liberalized”.
Last week Michael Voris engaged in what I think is probably one of his lowest moments so far when he chose to target the Catholic Answers ministry in an episode of The Vortex. What was their crime? Well, Catholic Answers ran a radio program which discussed some concerning aspects of the more radical elements of the group often referred to as ‘traditionalist Catholics’.
Now whether you agree or disagree with the program that Catholic Answers initially aired, there is no doubting that Michael Voris’ response to it in his Vortex show was imprudent and totally lacking in charity. Instead of actually addressing the claims made by Catholic Answers in their radio show (which would have been a legitimate response), Voris chose to air details of the Catholic Answers staff wages (details that are publicly available, by the way, despite what Voris insinuated on his show). He then used these details to malign Catholic Answers and imply that they are engaged in some sort of financial disparity. He also claimed that they are in the pocket of the establishment because they refuse to criticize bishops like he regularly does.
After the airing of this episode, Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong ran a blog article questioning Michael Voris’ attack video. This lead to the release of a statement by an employee of Michael Voris which not only continued the attack on Catholic Answers, but also contains a very telling statement (emphasis added):
“You, and others, survey the devastation of Hiroshima and only notice the miraculously spared patches of green and declare a New Springtime or a New Pentecost. We are, indeed, living in a “Desolate City” (Anne Roche Muggeridge) in a “Devastated Vineyard” (Dietrich von Hildebrand). While an “apologetics of attraction” has much to recommend, by itself it is not adequate to be anything more than whisp of green within the surrounding devastation. If no one is “crying fire,” then even the green shoots will be destroyed.”
What I find interesting about this statement are its implications.
It suggests a belief that the Church is on the brink of total destruction, and that if it wasn’t for the work of Michael Voris (and others who take a similar approach) then the good that is happening (which this statement clearly implies is very minimal) would also be destroyed. Not only does this run contrary to the promise of Christ that He would never abandon His Church, but it also suggests a belief that without the work of Michael Voris the Church would be lost.
At the end of the day Michael Voris’ videos reek of a spirit of despair and negativity, and they regularly lack authentic Christian charity; the kind that can speak into error without insults or character assassinations of the human persons involved – persons who are willed and loved by God.
The overwhelming sense that someone is likely to take away from Michael Voris’ videos is that the Church has largely fallen into the hands of Satan; she has all but been abandoned by Christ, her Bridegroom; and that there are probably only one or two bishops alive who are actually still faithful to Christ.
The one thing that I find lacking from a lot of Michael Voris videos is the actual truth and beauty of Christ and the Catholic faith, and a living witness to hope in Christ Jesus – and at the end of the day, that’s probably the most troubling thing of all.