I always liked Michael Voris’ attacks to the hypocrisy, cowardice and heresy of such a large part of the modern clergy. It is very good that some voice of the Media – God knows, there aren’t many – points out with energy and wit to the immense stupidity of too many of our shepherds, and to the damage they cause to countless souls.
Still, I see a growing problem in the fact that there is a huge elephant in the Catholic porcelain shop, and as far as I am aware Voris & Co. have not managed to express any real criticism to said (oh so humble) elephant. I do remember a mention of a “messy” papacy, but at least among the commentaries I have listened to I have found nothing of more import than that.
Now, I fully espouse – and I am sure most of my readers do – Voris’ thinking: the “Church of Nice” betrays Christ and destroys souls as it substitutes sound Catholicism with the fluffy, self-reassuring tale that provided you are nice you will be fine, and the only thing you have to do is to celebrate your niceness.
It is now perfectly evident, though, that one of the hypocritical, cowardly, and heretical prelates Voris so justly criticises has now become Pope. To make matter worse, the new man is not one to say things half. Every day that God sends, Francis promotes not only that very “church of nice” that Voris criticises, but an extreme version of it.
Can you imagine Voris’ reaction to an Archbishop blabbering around that to criticise is a “violent” and “criminal” behaviour? Such an archbishop would be pounded in no uncertain terms without much delay, and very rightly so. The same applies to prelates who were to go around saying “who are we to judge”, washing the feet of infidels, and obviously inventing a new “religion of conscience”.
Francis does all of this, and he does all of this all the time. Voris is a journalist, and therefore under no illusion that every time Francis publishes one of his letters or homilies or other utterances he (Francis) knows perfectly well which phrases will be picked up by the press and make headlines the world over.
Nor do I have any doubt that Voris does not agree with the narrative of the “misunderstood Pope”. Firstly because he is far too smart for that, and secondly because such a position would destroy his credibility altogether. If it is allowed, or just, or even “charitable” to twist Francis’ words to the point of making them unrecognisable but in some way “acceptable” as the moderate conservatives are now doing full-time (you know the reasoning: “Francis knows that atheists who die in their atheism go to hell, the journalists just did not pick the implicit Catholic message in his explicitly heretical words!” or the like), why should the same not be done for the bishop or archbishop? Why should we not take their own love ‘n peace, “church of nice” utterances under our tender loving care until we have made them say the contrary of what they obviously want to say, and blame the press for, once again, not seeing the (very carefully hidden) meaning of their words?
If the same triple saltos, bending over backwards and assorted equilibrisms that are made daily for Francis were made for the archbishops and bishops who talk in almost as heretical a manner as he does, we would have to conclude that the “church of nice”does not exist at all, or exists only in the fantasies of the secular press.
No. Voris clearly understands what is going on, and the fact he (as far as I am aware) has not even tried to defend the Pope in the last months whilst the sound Catholic blogosphere was continuously incensed at Francis’ antics is a clear indication he has recognised the problem. If this is the case, I do not think there is any real alternative to the acting on it.
Of course, this poses some problems, and I am not so naive or so fanatic as to think a TV outlet with a worldwide following should be using the same tones as an emotional, very assertive Italian blogger writing his emotional reflections in his free time. Est modus in rebus, and the approach of a professional media outlet must perforce be different from the approach of an amateur blogger. Still, with every day that passes this Pope becomes more of a circus attraction, and whilst I cannot imagine anything more stupid than comparing criticism of others to criminal activity, I am sure Francis has other circus numbers he wants to share with us. The problem will not go away until Francis does; therefore, every day that passes makes the ignoring of Francis’ antics a bigger threat to the channel’s credibility, or at least to its incisiveness.
If the people at “Church Militant” were to ask me – which they don’t, though I know the one or other reads me at times – I would allow myself to suggest the following steps:
A media outlet like Voris’ is an ideal vehicle to correct widespread prejudices concerning the Pope. He could regularly point out to the fact that Popes are not elected by the Holy Ghost, have historically tended to have the vices and virtues of their time, and have been heretical on several occasions. This, he could do again and again. In times, this would create a sound basis for a, if must be, crude analysis of the present situation. I notice time and again from the comments on my blog that some of my occasional (not regular) readers do not understand what I write because they do not have (yet, hopefully) the instruments: for example, they think criticism of the pope’s novelties is a self-defeating argument because… the Holy Ghost picked him and must perforce want whatever he does.
This requires the skilled and professional journalist, and I do not doubt the necessary competence is amply available in Voris’ shop. Still, it is possible to criticise the Pope in a deservedly devastating way without using tones that the majority of viewers might find inappropriate; a talent, this, that I cannot say I possess, but that can certainly be expected by a professional journalist. Some examples from the last times includes the excellent comment of Mr Archbold to Francis’ letter to Eugenio Scalfari, about which I have written a blog post, and the unforgettable comment of that distinguished Catholic layman – I forget the name – who stated he would never allow Francis to care for his children’s Catholic instruction. I know this pope is an utter disgrace and a pathetic clown; I know many of my readers agree, and I suspect Voris’ opinion might – just might – not be very dissimilar, particularly considering the way he comments on prelates who behave in a, if we are honest, far less scandalous way than Francis. But all this does not necessarily need to be said on a TV channel, and the unpleasant but salutary duty to call a clown a clown can, I think, be left to the amateurs’ blogs.
Voris is a theologian, and I do not doubt sound doctrinal knowledge is amply present among his troops. If he were to use his channel to present sound doctrine every time Francis dishes some heresy, he would do a huge service to his readership and greatly enhance the prestige of his channel. In time, his outlet would become the go-to place for sound instruction every time the Pope speaks out of his black shoes; which, I am afraid, will be very often. That this cannot be done without a comparison with, and criticism of, the Pope’s circus numbers is, though, rather obvious.
I am, and will remain, an affectionate follower of that worthy channel; but I do not think the dangers of the present Papacy can be further ignored or simply very mildly censored as “messy”. Once again, if Francis had made all his utterances of the last six months as an archbishop, he would have easily won the prize of worst bishop/archbishop around and not only Voris, but all conservative blogs would shoot at his heresies with all their cannons.
The worst of all heretical bishops is at the head of all of them. Whatever criticism is – justly – levelled at them must be levelled at him in the first place, because by behaving as he does Francis does not only confuses countless faithfuls and confirms infidels and atheists in their error, but he also encourages his priests and bishops to do the same.
The fish stinks from the head down. The head of this particular fish smells atrociously. It is time, I think, to look closely at the fish and recognise whence the stink comes.