When Passion Goes Too Far: Crossing the Line

voris on dolanIt is nothing new for many people to be passionate about the Catholic Church, whether that passion is directed against the Church or for the Church.  However, passion should be balanced with compassion. As a theologian whose special interest is ecclesiology — the theology of church — I try to be aware of what’s going on in and around the church.  I try to avoid extreme positions on either side of the spectrum, firmly believing the ancient maxim “in medio stat virtus“, “virtue stands in the middle.”  Presuming the truth of that claim, then, we might conclude that “at the extremes stand weakness,” and perhaps even sin.  As one approaches the extremes, then, it becomes important to know where the boundaries are, the lines that one must not cross if it is truly truth and virtue that is sought.  For this reason I think it is important for us to consider the recent activities of a supposedly Catholic commentator by the name of Michael Voris.  I would not normally pay much attention to his work since in the several times I’ve reviewed it, I have found it consistently unbalanced and “over the top.”  But I was recently directed to a couple of his most recent broadcasts which seem even more so, and in my opinion, can give us a good example of how passion brought to the extreme crosses the line.  So, while I am loath to draw attention to his work on the one hand, I think that we also have a responsibility to challenge such extremism so we can all avoid it in the future.  Simply hoping that this kind of thing will just disappear if we ignore it is simplistic, dangerous and naive.

Mr. Voris has recently targeted for particular attention the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.  (For full disclosure: I have known Cardinal Dolan for many years, first meeting him briefly when we were both in the seminary, and again more closely during the years I served on the senior staff of the USCCB.)  While there may be more videos like these out there, these two will give a sense of what is going on.  Watch them here and here.  

One of my first reactions when I watched them for the first time was what I would do if someone said such things about me in such a public forum!  Certainly I would be consulting an attorney about whether such videos might constitute slander or libel.  But the legality of these videos, at least under US law, is a matter far beyond my qualifications or competence.  I can only examine them as a theologian, so let’s begin by highlighting just a few of the claims Mr. Voris makes in the videos above.

Cardinal-DolanCardinal Dolan is accused of being “a wicked bishop”, of being “under the grip of the devil.”  He is accused of not caring for or loving the Church, and that he apparently no longer believes in Hell.  He is accused of “giving your blessing to a group publicly celebrating their sin,” and that “you give your approval to mortal sin. . . You give active homosexuality a free pass in your Archdiocese.”  Then Mr. Voris expands his list of complaints, accusing Cardinal Dolan of not supporting “faithful Catholics.”  He has, according to Voris, never publicly condemned Islam as “a heresy and a false religion that does not have supernatural faith.”  The Cardinal, he claims “has been a non-stop source of scandal” and is “not fit to be a bishop.”  Voris wants the Cardinal and any other bishops who agree with him (the Cardinal) to repent their sins and resign their office.

Where to begin?  While reasonable people might certainly disagree with the actions of any bishop, just as one might with any leader, one must certainly stop there, without going on to try to infer motivation or motive.  I am sure that if Cardinal Dolan were asked about these things, he would completely and fully reject all of these assertions, and with good reason. To lump together, as Mr. Voris does, sexual orientation and sexual activity is to miss an important distinction made in the teaching of the church.  Nowhere has Cardinal Dolan ever sanctioned sinful behavior by anyone, nor does the record indicate that he has ever given anyone a “free pass” on sin of any kind.  There is no substantiation of any kind for a claim that the Cardinal has lost his faith, or that he is not striving to provide for the cura animarum of the people of New York — all the people.  To spring from a criticism of certain decisions into a full blown attempt to characterize another person’s intentions and motivations — much less that state of that person’s soul — is not only fatally flawed logic, it is seriously deficient in Catholic morality.

But perhaps most disturbing is the challenge offered by Mr. Voris toward the end of the first video: “Do not think that the punishment visited on you will not be the most severe when you die, perhaps even before you die, if you do not change.”  He then cries, “Now is the time for an authentic Catholic uprising.”  For me, these statements are most disturbing and downright frightening. I suppose coming from a person whose website is called “Church Militant,” this should not be surprising.  Still, couched in such militaristic tones and context, one could easily infer a call to physical violence against the Cardinal and other bishops.

The last point I wish to highlight is the claim made in the crawler at the bottom of the video.  It is an advertisement for a paid subscription to the site, which professes to be “100% faithful to the Magisterium.”  I must confess that when I first saw that claim, while watching the video and its assertions about Cardinal Dolan and other “wicked bishops,” I laughed out loud.  How a person could claim to be completely faithful to the teaching authority of the Church while at the same time denigrating those men whose ministry includes being authoritative teachers of that Magisterium is simply nonsensical.

What are we to make of all of this?  Let’s review some basics.

PentecostThe Magisterium is not simply a “who”; it is a “what.”  Magisterium refers to the teaching authority of the Church, a Church we believe guided by the Holy Spirit.  Every person, in some way or another, and in the broadest sense of the term, participates in this teaching authority, constantly learning and sharing this faith.  Think of parents, for example, teaching and forming their children in faith, as they are charged at baptism; they are part of the magisterium in this broad sense.  But in a very specific and particular way, the highest human teachers in the Church are the College of Bishops, always in communion with each other and with the head of the College, the Pope.  Unless and until an authoritative judgment is made by the College (always in communion with the Pope), or by the Pope himself, that a bishop is no longer part of that College, then the bishop in question remains an authoritative teacher.  It is not within the competence of someone else (like Mr. Voris, or myself) to judge when a bishop is no longer teaching authentic or faithful doctrine.  In fact, I will go further and suggest that, if there should be a presumption of veracity and accuracy in presenting the Church’s teaching, that presumption goes to the bishops, not to anyone else.  Put simply, Mr. Voris is neither qualified nor competent to make the judgments he is attempting to make.

Do bishops disagree with one another?  Of course they do, but not about the fundamentals of the faith.  They may disagree over pastoral strategies, over how a particular situation will be dealt with in their diocese, and they will be certainly be judged on the exercise of their ministry when they stand before God.  But disagreement in practice does not necessarily mean a break in communion.

God as JudgeAm I saying that bishops never make mistakes?  Of course not!  Bishops make mistakes just like the rest of us, and they also deserve the benefit of fraternal correction.  Some bishops commit crimes and should be held accountable under civil, criminal and canon law.  But no one has appointed any of us to take the place of God in judging us all for our sins.  Alone we will stand before God and take responsibility for the way we’ve lived our lives.

Let’s take just one example from the litany of complaints made by Mr. Voris, and analyze just how wrong he is.  He condemns Cardinal Dolan for not publicly condemning Islam as “a heresy and a false religion”.  While this may be what he believes, it is NOT what the Catholic Church teaches (remember the claim that he is 100% faithful to the Magisterium?).  What DOES the Magisterium of the Church teach about Islam?

IslamHere’s some truly authentic magisterial teaching, found in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution [please note that well — it is a DOGMATIC text, dealing with the most fundamental issues of faith and church] on the Church (Lumen gentium), #16:

But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator.  In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.

Later, this thought is developed in the same Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate), #3:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and
subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has
spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as
Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though
they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His
virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of
judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead.
Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual
understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

Vatican IIIn fact, even earlier — when talking about religion in general, the bishops of the Council (that “episcopal college” mentioned above) taught at #2:

The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.

When a person claims to speak with complete faithfulness to the Magisterium, then, we should expect that this person would be echoing these teachings, which Cardinal Dolan has certainly done.  The Church does NOT teach what Mr. Voris teaches: that Islam is “a heresy and a false religion.”

Finally, I want to return to the threatening language used by Mr. Voris when he refers to punishment that he thinks may happen to Cardinal Dolan after he dies, “or even before you die,” and when he issues his call for an “authentic Catholic uprising.  I would refer Mr. Voris and anyone else who is interested to the following canons from the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 1372 A person who makes recourse against an act of the Roman Pontiff to an ecumenical council [note: such as Vatican II]  or the college of bishops is to be punished with a censure.

Can. 1373 A person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary [note: such as Cardinal Dolan] because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry or provokes subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.

It would be interesting to hear the opinion of a canon lawyer with regard to these canons as they might apply in this instance.

Many lines have been crossed in these ranting diatribes by Mr. Voris against Cardinal Dolan and any other bishops Mr. Voris decides to condemn.  Lines of civility, lines of Christian charity, and lines of faithful adherence to what the Church actually teaches have all been overstepped..  One would hope that Mr. Voris will himself be open to fraternal correction.  We just heard about this in the Gospel last Sunday.  As Christ taught his disciples 2,000 years ago, as well as his disciples today:

 If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

voris on dolan 2Mr. Voris is entitled and free to make his own judgments about things.  However, he is not free to play fast and loose with the truths of our faith or to challenge and mock the legitimate and authoritative exercise of servant-leadership by a bishop in communion with the Church, regardless of his own personal disagreement with those teachings or that bishop.  Yes, Cardinal Dolan will someday give an accounting of his stewardship; so, too, will Mr. Voris and the rest of us.

58 comments on “When Passion Goes Too Far: Crossing the Line

  1. Bill, I give you credit, I think… I could not even make it more than 50 seconds into the first video. What a vile man, God have mercy on him. Passion is one thing, but utter, base vitriol is another.

    What worries me more are all those who follow him, clinging to such exclusionary and hateful thoughts. God help us all.

  2. GodSpace says:

    Thank you – this shall now make the rounds of the people calling upon me to be a Cardinal detractor. Who am I to do so?

  3. Very well said Bill. I have made post after post about Mr. Voris, but it seems that so many want our bishops to be “wrong” so they can continue in their single minded views. So what do we do with a Mr. Voris?

  4. Bill McG Sr. says:

    I guess Michael Voris may have some influence. But fortunately most people have never heard of him, and if by any chance they watched him for a minute, they would quickly dismiss him as a crank.

  5. Unfortunately, Bill McG is not correct – I have had to explain to a number of people in my parish that Mr. Voris is not in line with the Magisterium on a number of matters. In fact, the Archbishop of Detroit required him to stop using the original name of his “program” – “RealCatholicTV” – since it was not “Catholic”. Bill, you were very gracious in your systematic dismantling of Voris. I would have had to take many deep breaths to approach the topic as reasonably as you did.

  6. Robert Davis says:

    Well said, Bill! Thanks!!

    Bob Davis Paterson/Charleston

    On Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 6:01 PM, Deacons Today: Servants in a Servant Church wrote:

    > Deacon William T. Ditewig, Ph.D. posted: “It is nothing new for many > people to be passionate about the Catholic Church, whether that passion is > directed against the Church or for the Church. However, passion should be > balanced with compassion. As a theologian whose special interest is > ecclesiolo”

  7. Anonymous says:

    thank you, deacon, for standing up for Islam

  8. AJ Perez says:

    I stand with Michael Voris. God bless him and his work.

  9. Carmen Allard says:

    I stand with AJ Perez and his stand with Michael Voris. I assess by reading the article and the comments that you all do not know much about him and his devotion to the Church and his commitment to the salvation of souls. And Deacon, you question the name of his organization, ChurchMilitant.TV as if it’s a hostile entity…we ARE the Church Militant on earth…do you not get the reference? Also, for those who couldn’t get through his video, you are taking his entire effort out of context if you are not familiar with any of his entire body of work. Regardless, he is a voice crying out in the desert and many people DO know who he is. Blessings to you all.

  10. Francis says:

    I am a priest living in New York City and though I am not a member of the Archdiocese of New York, I was also living in Rome while Cardinal Dolan was the rector of the North American College. Though perhaps I do not agree with the way that Dolan has handled some things, I can personally attest to this man’s love of God and the Church. He is not giving a “free pass” as the video says to gays in the Archdiocese. I was very troubled in spirit when I saw this video. The man needs our prayers and love and support. I hope and pray that as a priest I love the Church one tenth of what I have personally witnessed in the life of Cardinal Dolan.

  11. Helen McDevitt-Smith says:

    I have serious reservations about the authenticity of the Catholicism presented by Michael Voris. I find him to be divisive, mean spirited and arrogant. In addition, I question his credentials to speak so authoritatively about the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Unfortunately, he appeals to like minded people who seem to thrive on this kind of rhetoric. We hear it on talk radio and even within our Church.

  12. Brian says:

    The Archbishop has gone well away from the teaching of Christ in this matter.

    While Mr. Voris’s comments are harsh, if we look at the present day Church in America and the complete lack of discipline exercised by our past and present prelates Mr. Voris looks more like St John the Baptist and AB Dolan more like Herod I’m afraid.

    Where is the fraternal correction of AB Dolan; yet why do we find only one layman making any type of criticism. The AB is wrong, there is no two ways about this. Will one prelate say something? But have faith one good priest did speak up, Monsignor Pope of DC, and what was the result I ask?

    Rather than providing cover for the AB I wish more clergy came out and asked for his resignation.

  13. DJ says:

    Islam is not a heresy and a false religion? Really? It isn’t a system of beliefs which, when held by a baptized person, involve a denial of some truths of the Catholic Faith (heresy) or a religion which teaches false dogmas (for those who don’t qualify as heretics)? Deacon Ditewig, I’m sure you know quite a lot about Catholicism…but I get a very strong impression that you don’t understand Islam.

  14. Francis says:

    I understand very well the nature of necessary fraternal correction: however, and perhaps I am wrong, but I believe this goes far and beyond that.

  15. Jeff says:

    I’ve never watched a Voris video until now, but I think he’s taking a courageous stand for Christ and the Church at a time when it is dangerous to do so. St. Paul warned us of ‘pastors’ such as Dolan in Galatians 1:8-10 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. [9] As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

    The Gospels, the Apocalypse, and approved private revelation have all warned of a time such as ours when prelates would lead people away from the faith. Now that it is upon us Catholics STILL follow blindly, more concerned with pleasing men than God.

    Apparently some Catholics don’t understand that we worship God-not the Church-and the Church exists to help us to reach heaven. We are Catholics, not Ultramontanists (an excessive clericalism condemned by Vatican I), although it is hard to tell difference based on such prevalent defense of error.

  16. The only thing more depressing about Michael Voris is the number of people in this thread, though they may seem few, who agree with him. God have mercy on us all. How are we to be true to the Magisterium if we put our own people in charge of it?

    How disappointed many will be when they come face to face with God…

  17. I see I can’t reply to individual comments, but to @Jeff above I would simply add to his Galatians reference that Paul also said in 1Corninthians 12 that we do not follow Paul or Apollos, but Jesus Christ. For this reason, I’m sticking with the Church, not some self-proscribed church militant.

  18. Jeff says:

    Fran, the confusion you’re suffering is your pseudo-protestant belief that because a cleric says something, it is prudent (let alone true). This is the error of Ultramontanism I cited above, forcefully condemned by Vatican I. Today’s version is a sort of fundamentalist approach to Catholicism that denies the true nature of the Church (and her UNCHANGING dogmas) and replaces it with “whatever my pastor says” submission of your intellect to another’s, and the abandonment of your supernatural faith for a natural trust in men. Hundreds of millions have abandoned the faith in this manner, simply because their pastors told them abortion was okay, sodomy was okay, contraception was okay. The present example demonstrates this perfectly. As you and Dolan say “bravo” to perversity, faithful Catholics stand with Peter and Paul as they resisted wayward priests and say, “We should obey God rather than men”. Acts 5:29

    Remember that Satan will encourage a ‘good’ to obstruct the ‘perfect’. He will encourage otherwise well-intentioned Catholics to subvert the hierarchy of virtues, exalting ‘obedience’ when obedience, properly understood, serves truth. When a properly formed conscience identifies a conflict between obedience and truth (although let’s be honest and admit no one is even being called to ‘obey’ Dolan in this error, but presumably, to remain silent), we can recall St. John Chyrsostom’s insight that the path to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.

    We have no shortage in this generation of clerics who have not been faithful to Christ. In every great apostasy, whether it was the Arian, the Pelagian, or the Protestant Rebellion, it has been CLERICS who led the way out of the Church. Today is no different. To follow them blindly over the cliff because of their office is to place your faith and hope and trust in men, rather than God.

    We should follow the example of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, martryrs for the truth who resisted the pressure from prelates to deny Catholic teaching. We should “stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle” (2 Thess 2:15)

  19. Brian says:

    @Fran, your quote from 1 Corinthians 12 supports Jeff’s comment completely…we do not follow AB “Bravo,” we follow Christ Jesus. Also the Church’s authority does not rest on one pillar but three: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Living Magisterium.

  20. @Jeff, it seems we won’t agree on this. Let us agree on Christ, and leave it at that. Prayers and peace to you.

  21. Timothy K Ryan says:

    Did not Mark Twain say, ” Everyone is entitled to his own form of insanity so long as he does not try to share it with others? ” I wonder what Twain would say about TV and The Church Militant and MR V?

  22. Brian says:

    The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I’m not a scholar, I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!

    Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

  23. Brian says:

    I don’t see the logical contradiction between what Mr. Voris believes Islam “is” and what Vatican II says that Muslims “do.”

  24. BrianSTC says:

    Honestly, I am not educated enough to know whether Michael Voris’ approach is right or wrong. However, I do know that there is something wrong. Something is wrong when a majority of “Catholics” vote for the most pro-abortion president in history. Something is wrong when pro-abortion politicians like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Andrew Cuomo are “Catholics in good standing.” Something is wrong when a American Cardinal

  25. BrianSTC says:

    (Cont) says that the “culture wars are over!” This as millions of babies continue to be killed every year. Maybe the approach that Voris takes might be wrong? I don’t know. But with the confusion among the faithful and lack of clarity coming from catholic leaders, maybe a voice like Michael Voris is needed.

  26. anotherepigone says:

    That logic you presented about Muslims is 100% wrong. Those quotes don’t deny that it is a heresy and false religion. It certainly is.

  27. polymath123 says:

    Islam is a false religion. The Church teaches that it contains the fullness of truth, and by consequences all other religions which are not the Catholic faith are in heresy and thus are false. What truth such religions like Islam do contain (which is very little) is truth because it aligns with the Catholic Church. Islam denies the divinity, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, making it a false religion and thus it is the duty of all Catholics to know this and make others aware of this for the sake of their souls.

    Voris did not say anything that went too far. The way some of these cardinals and bishops act makes you wonder if they even believe the Catholic faith, let alone in Hell. If it weren’t for people like Voris and others like him, there would be nobody reporting these kinds of stories about the filth inside the Church and you wouldn’t be able to write articles like this since there would be nobody to cross that line in the first place. Your passion against Voris should be directed against EWTN, Catholic Answers, Zenit and the other mainstream Catholic media outlets who refuse to talk about these stories at all, let alone go too far…

  28. I have let this comment thread go relatively unremarked simply because I’ve been too busy at work to respond before now. Also, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, as am I. I do think though, that several commenters have either not read the entire post or are choosing to misrepresent it. 1) The point behind the whole post is not about homosexuality or about Islam. It is that it is very possible to go too far in expressing passionate opinion, and I believe that Mr. Voris has crossed that line. Just because a person is passionate, and even if a person is right in his or her opinion (although I do disagree with Voris, obviously), that doesn’t give him license to act in any way he chooses. There are limits, especially for a Christian. 2) You may disagree with anything I say here, but again, I simply presented the teaching of the Magisterium which everyone here, and Mr. Voris, professes to uphold! I did not offer my own counter opinion — on Islam, for example — but simply provided the magisterial teaching. So your argument is not with me personally, but with the Magisterium you claim to uphold. 3) The post is not really about homosexuality at all; it is about how Mr. Voris takes that claim and immediately and incorrectly launches into assertions about the Cardinal’s character, faith, motivation, and orthodoxy. As a commenter noted on a similar thread on Facebook, one may certainly judge the actions of others, but not their heart; only God does that, and none of us is God.

    So, I thank you all for your own opinions about this. My point remains unchanged: there are limits of compassion, charity, decency, and even of Canon Law, which we who profess to be Catholic should observe. If we claim to fully support the Magisterium of the Church, then we should know what that entails. It is not, as one commenter maintained, “ultramontanism”: it is respecting the traditional role of the college of bishops which has been with us from the beginning of the Church. To disagree with a particular bishop does not mean one disagrees with the Magisterium; of course not! However, as I say in the post: if I’m going to presume that someone is teaching in accordance with the ordinary Magisterium of the church, it’s going to be the bishops, not a “well intentioned layman”, no matter how passionate. By all means, if Mr. Voris — or anyone else — wants to critique a bishop or bishops, have at it! As I say in the post, bishops can make mistakes like anyone else; critique away! BUT THERE ARE LIMITS A CHRISTIAN SHOULD RESPECT IN DOING SO.

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  29. Keith Davis says:

    Thanks, Bill. This needed to be said – desperately!

  30. Thank you Bill for your post and for your comment. This thread left me shaking my head, with my heart hurting.

    Today as I drove to work, listening to stories about ISIS or ISIL, or whatever they are called chilled me, and as I listened to some background on their ideology I had an awful,awful thought… Michael Voris and some of the commenters here are making their way to be a Catholic version of IS. How tragically sad that is to me. God have mercy on us all.

  31. Wow. I couldn’t even watch the first video beyond 1:45, which is no surprise as Michael Voris has been on my radar to avoid and I make it a habit to avoid those who advocate his material, but in this case, he’s gone beyond ‘over the top.’ Although not a primary reason for my conversion, one of the reasons I entered the Catholic Church, besides sensing the Spirit’s call, is that I was grateful leaving behind for the most part the kind of mean-spirited and addictive hatred found in so many fundamentalist camps to which I had been acclimated since I was a toddler. Maybe not a reason for conversion, but definitely an added benefit, leaving so much religious poison behind. (I still have many wonderful, loving non-Catholic Christian friends; I am not making a rash judgment of all evangelicals or fundamentalists — but distancing myself has in many ways been very healing.) ow, Thanks to Voris and others of his ilk, in the past few years I’ve sometimes I’ve found myself at Mass wondering how many people around me actually might think like Michael Voris. It could be a temptation to become upset to know this man even has an audience among the faithfuI. I am not one to say with any authority, but I think attitudes like Voris seems to exhibit can cause scandal and make people stumble who are seeking God and even worse drive people away from God. As for myself, I make a choice for none of these things to move me – my soul is fixed — ‘looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.’ Thanks be to God. Pax.

  32. Michael Voris today posted a commentary that goes even further.


    According to the transcript (the video hasn’t gone up yet), Voris says:

    “The Culture of Death, INSIDE the Church must be defeated, not merely engaged. When you are in war and you engage the enemy, you kill him.”

    Note: he doesn’t say “kill it.” He says, “Kill him.”

    This is, quite simply, unspeakable.

  33. jeffcassman says:

    Reverend Dr. Witewig, if you find any of the statements I made in my comments inconsistent with the scriptures, the teaching or the tradition of the Church, I welcome correction. Pax!

  34. lamminator says:


  35. Dear Jeff,

    Well, first, my last name is Ditewig, not Witewig. In terms of your other comments, I simply direct you to my post and to my comment above. The truth is that my post is about Mr. Voris’ behavior, and how it has crossed all bounds of reasonableness. Even if one were to agree with his opinions, his means of expression are still not acceptable. Remember one of the axia of moral theology? “The ends do not justify the means.”

    In terms of the Teaching Office of the Church (the Magisterium), acknowledging the Magisterium and those who participate in it as official teachers of the Church is NOT — as you so rudely chastised Ms. Szpylczyn — an exercise of ultramontanism. Under no possible acceptable understanding of that term is that what this is about.

    The Magisterium, in its Ordinary and Extraordinary forms, has always recognized the role of the college of bishops as authoritative teachers of the Church. Not each bishop acting alone, but bishops acting collegially. This has been true from the so-called “Council of Jerusalem” that we read about in scripture, to the hundreds of local synods held over the centuries, and the twenty-one general Councils of the Church: they have been assemblies of the episcopal college. Ultramontanism is a completely different thing, about as opposite to the conciliar approach to ecclesial polity as can be imagined.

    Bottom line: Voris is dangerous — not only because of what he teaches, but how he acts when he does it. Calls to violence against anyone, including a bishop of the church, is just plain wrong. So too is professing teachings as authoritative church teaching when, in fact, they are not.

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  36. DJ says:

    I don’t watch Voris. I think he’s a bit of a clown, and I think he’s only moderately knowledgeable about the Faith. On the other hand…that doesn’t mean he’s always wrong, or that he doesn’t serve an important role. How can he claim to be faithful to the Magisterium while denigrating some bishops who form part of that Magisterium? The same way the faithful who ran Bishop Nestorius out of town for teaching heresy from the pulpit were faithful to the Magisterium. Interestingly, the person who first publicly denounced Nestorius for heresy was a layman, Eusebius, who later became a bishop. Of course, there is a significant difference between what Nestorius did and what Cardina Dolan did. Cardinal Dolan’s praise of, and participation in, celebrating homosexual behavior (which is the significance of marching under a gay banner at a parade is; no one marches for gay pride while recommending gay celibacy) is not a heresy, but neither is it an exercise of his teaching authority any more than investing in a brothel would be. Both are actions which could be done by any layman and should be spoken against regardless of who is doing them. Is Voris more scandalous than Cardinal Dolan? Cardinal Dolan certainly has a bigger audience, and unfortunately the message he is sending, deliberately or not, will likely lead more souls to reject the truth that the Catholic Church teaches than Voris. Voris is angry, yes, and his message could be better polished, but this instance his anger seems to be justified.

  37. I have never said that disagreeing with a particular bishop was a disagreement with the Magisterium of the Church. I have said repeatedly that we may all certainly critique the actions of a particular bishop.

    The point I’ve been trying to make vis-a-vis the Magisterium is that, when one claims to be fully supportive of that Magisterium, one should not teach things that are at odds with that Magisterium! Please re-read the original post.

    Again, the issue I’m raising is not, ultimately, about homosexuality, or Islam; it’s about proclaiming ACCURATELY what the Church teaches, and to do so in a MANNER which reflects Christian behavior as modeled by Christ.

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  38. DJ says:

    Deacon Ditewig, I have read the initial post several times. The only thing you indicated might be at odds with the Magisterium was Voris’s statement about Islam, which is actually not only not contrary to what the Magisterium teaches but is actually a necessary consequent of both the definition of heresy and the fact that the Catholic Faith is the only religion which holds the fullness of truth. That and his criticisms of Cardinal Dolan’s behavior seemed to be the foundation for your critique of his calling himself “100% Faithful to the Magisterium.” If in fact that is the only point you wished to raise about the Magisterium, then perhaps his claim of being faithful to it is not a falsehood or exaggeration.

    As far as modeling one’s behavior on Jesus…Jesus at times found it necessary not to mince His words, particularly when criticizing the religious leaders of His time. His language in Matthew 28 is particularly strong. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men’ s bones, and of all filthiness.” and “You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?” And of course we also get from John 8 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.” This is not to necessarily excuse Voris’s particular approach, but if we are to criticize Voris for the way he criticizes then we should be extra cautious in our own criticisms to make sure that they are accurate and accurately reflect what we wish to convey.

  39. I think most people get it, thanks.

  40. Valerio R. Moriello says:

    “It is not within the competence of someone else (like Mr. Voris, or myself) to judge when a bishop is no longer teaching authentic or faithful doctrine. In fact, I will go further and suggest that, if there should be a presumption of veracity and accuracy in presenting the Church’s teaching, that presumption goes to the bishops, not to anyone else. Put simply, Mr. Voris is neither qualified nor competent to make the judgments he is attempting to make.”

    The Cardinal claimed that it’s not his responsibility nor obligation to supply a public judgement for the faithful on the matter of celebrating homosexual status – a status that is increasingly defined by its usual corresponding behavior (97.3% of the time). He is wrong here (wrong, wrong, wrong) and the consequences of his error are grave (grave, grave, grave). Yet the matter doesn’t stop there.

    In the same interview, the Cardinal contradicts and further misleads the faithful when he DOES make a judgement (affording his blessing on the act of celebrating homosexual status with “Bravo” and “good”).

    The Cardinal’s dereliction of duty is clearly against his episcopal oath, church teaching and the Holy Scriptures. Seriously lying and/or misleading the faithful is a sin. The Holy Father and fellow Bishops should have provided a swift admonishment for the sake of his soul and the faithful. However, they did not. Therefore, others must now do it (“perfect charity” strongly desired, but not necessary).

    I’m with Voris on this one. The Cardinal committed a grave sin (even if the Holy Father and Bishops don’t offer their stamp). There, I said it. You should say it too, Deacon, and so should everyone else.

  41. Grave sin (by which I presume you mean mortal sin) requires three conditions, two of which lie within the sacrosanct confines of the confessional. So, no, I won’t be saying it, and neither should you.

  42. ericstoltz says:

    Wow, Bill, you mentioned gay people and Muslims in the same post! That’s like red meat to the third power in bringing down the wrath of the multitudes! Couldn’t find a way to fit in guns? 🙂

  43. Terry says:

    Further confusing an already confused faithful. So much wrong with the church today, no wonder we are in such a terrible decline.

  44. Chris says:

    I completely agree with you about the tone of Voris and how it is often times devoid of anything resembling pleasantness. I find his ad hominem attacks very disturbing as well.

    Dr. Ditewig, with respect to your position sir I would like to point out that you have engaged in some ad hominem attacks as well. Voris has video of encounters with people (I believe at St. Francis Xavier) admitting to an openly gay lifestyle within and celebrated by the parish (there was also a parish in NYC that held an advertised “Pride” Mass–ironic combination of words for sure); he also has video of Cardinal Dolan being presented with an openly gay group (I believe at the same parish). Should Voris limit his critique of the Cardinal to his actions, while giving the benefit of the doubt about internal dispositions? Absolutely. But you sir should do the same to Voris.

    As far as Islam is concerned–because this is a major point with what is going on around us. I was under the impression that works of the Doctors (those singled out by the Pontiffs for the value of their teachings throughout all ages) were part of the Magisterium. St. John Damascene (himself a holy Doctor of the Church) certainly refers to Islam as a heresy. If we are to apply the Hermeneutic of Continuity to documents of Vatican II– we see a noble effort by the Council Fathers to make inroads with Islam during a time of historic docility–the language used by the Council Fathers was extremely guarded (who *profess* to hold the faith of Abraham) and hardly in endorsement of Islam.

    That time has passed and we must the reality of our current situation and the world we live in. We must recognize feast days in the Holy Church (a recently past feast day that commemorates the battle of Vienna was reinstituted by Pope St. John Paul II)–we must recognize the writings and words of canonized Popes in regard to Islam–in order to embrace the Magisterium you must embrace it in its entirety and not pretend that its a mere several decades old.

    St. Thomas (another doctor who the last several Popes have pointed us towards) said that without an understanding of the nature of God–you fail to worship God and instead worship something imaginary that you have deemed to call God. Every religion but Catholicism is false sir, therefore calling Islam a false religion is completely in line with the constant tradition of the Church.

    There are things to critique Voris for, a lot of things, but I cannot understand how a well meaning Catholic can critique him for citing the falsity of religions which are not the spotless bride of the Man who is also God.

  45. Chris says:

    As a follow up I would also like to point out that saying there is truth to be recognized in some of these false religions is in no way calling them true–its a means in which to evangelize.

    We have sibyl’s painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, St. Justin Martyr invoked Saturn and Hercules while addressing the Roman Senate. Yet, no Catholic/Christian ever considered Roman paganism true.

    We need to highlight what is true in order to bring them into the light not in order to leave them in the darkness of error.

  46. How very sad… and in a way ironic… when I log in, I see the post before this about mercy and love. So little is shown in this thread.

    Deacon Ditewig simply,as I see and understand it, pointed out that Mr. Voris’ passion had gone too far. How is that an ad hominem attack? The thread, as Deacon Ditewig has pointed out repeatedly, is not about LGBT issues, Muslim or interfaith matters, but rather about the level of passion, the lack of charity, and a proper understanding of the Magisterium.

    If I were a less hopeful person, I would be more upset, but I am actually very hopeful. God is full of mercy – and surprises. May God bring us more charity and unity, and may we cooperate with God’s dreams for us.

  47. Chris says:

    Because Fran–Voris albeit in an uncharitable manner has used video evidence in his critiques of Dolan. Instead of defending Dolan against these evidence based critiques, he assails Voris personally, as Voris does against Dolan. We should not attempt to judge or allude to judging the internal dispositions of others.

    Saying that Islam is a false religion and a heresy is completely loyal to the Magisterium (and to Christ)–the Magisterium–the Deposit of Faith is as old as the Church and should be viewed in its entirety, modern statements should be viewed through the lens of everything that came before it and with an understanding of the time and place in which it was said. The Islam the council spoke with is no longer the Islam we face today and even when speaking the Council used very guarded wording.

    Every religion other than Catholicism is false–when you choose Catholicism you are rejecting the others–thats simple logic. You can find truth in other religions and that truth should absolutely be highlighted–highlighted in order to help them become Catholic.

  48. Once again I reference the post prior to this one, which cited Paul in his letter to the Romans:

    The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

  49. Whatever one may think of Michael Voris’ theology or his online evangelizing efforts, the real issue here is the tactics he employs. We have this evidence before us:

    1. In a widely viewed online video, he publicly accused the cardinal archbishop of New York of heresy and condemned him to hell.
    2. In this same video, he questioned the personal belief, obedience and faith of a prince of the Church, and called for his resignation.
    3. In publicly proclaiming #1 and #2 above, broadcasting it worldwide and doing it in the most condemnatory fashion possible, he has set himself up to be censured, according to Can. 1373: “A person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary [an archbishop] because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry or provokes subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.”
    4. He has issued thinly veiled threats, including a call to “kill” men who are perceived to be enemies of the Church.

    Michael Voris’s actions here are irresponsible in the extreme—expressing disdain and hatred for those who lead the Church he professes to love. These are not behaviors one would rightly associate with a loyal and obedient son of the Church; they are nothing less than a call to disobedience, schism and sin.

    They are, in fact, anti-Catholic—seeking to divide the flock, rupture the Body of Christ and sow dissension.

    They deserve the strongest condemnation from ecclesial authorities—and, quite possibly, penalties by civil ones, as well.

  50. “A religion that is resigned to considering some brothers and sisters eternally lost and that would not miss them eternally is profoundly self-centred on the question of salvation and therefore already bourgeois and capitalist.” [Charles Péguy, Le porche du mystère]

  51. […] Where to begin?  While reasonable people might certainly disagree with the actions of any bishop, just as one might with any leader, one must certainly stop there, without going on to try to infer motivation or motive.  I am sure that if Cardinal Dolan were asked about these things, he would completely and fully reject all of these assertions, and with good reason. To lump together, as Mr. Voris does, sexual orientation and sexual activity is to miss an important distinction made in the teaching of the church.  Nowhere has Cardinal Dolan ever sanctioned sinful behavior by anyone, nor does the record indicate that he has ever given anyone a “free pass” on sin of any kind.  There is no substantiation of any kind for a claim that the Cardinal has lost his faith, or that he is not striving to provide for the cura animarum of the people of New York — all the people.  To spring from a criticism of certain decisions into a full blown attempt to characterize another person’s intentions and motivations — much less that state of that person’s soul — is not only fatally flawed logic, it is seriously deficient in Catholic morality. (Source) […]

  52. Austermann says:

    “Voris is dangerous — not only because of what he teaches, but how he acts when he does it. Calls to violence against anyone, including a bishop of the church, is just plain wrong.”

    Deacon also says,

    “One of my first reactions when I watched them for the first time was what I would do if someone said such things about me in such a public forum! Certainly I would be consulting an attorney about whether such videos might constitute slander or libel.”

    I watched the videos and Voris never called for acts of violence against Cardinal Dolan. Voris should be consulting an attorney for your false accusations against him.

  53. Dear Austermann,

    We shall see; I stand by my comments.

  54. InvictusLux says:

    There seems to be a rabid contempt for Mr. Voris expressed by quite a few here. Let’s not parse words here – many are judging him in the same way you think he judges Cardinal Dolan. And some of you think that a cardinal is above reproach but forget that none of the the apostles themselves were (ref. Jesus’ & Paul’s admonishment of Peter, Judas etc. ). In evidence here are all the the traditional “leftist” war-words to attempt to discredit and demonize the man (e.g. “extremist”); ironically emitting from a perspective at the foul-line from “extreme” left field (from my vantage position in the center bleachers)

    This following catechism snippet is often cited by those love-n-lollipop congregationalists residing in the modern “Church of Universal Salvation” who want to project Islam as just another “denominational” option in the smorgasbord of have-it-your-way offings. This all gravitates toward the heresy of Universal-ism – which is the “me too-ism” of self orbiting hubris.

    “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”

    Tying to use this CC ref to claim that Voris’ complaints about Dolan not speaking out against Islam is evidence of his not following magisterial teaching is a travesty of justice, is bearing false witness and as well as is a rather low intellectual strawman argument. Why must a man’s reputation be held hostage to other’s shallow insights at to what the CC teaching really is here?

    The Plan for salvation is that all souls sincerely following their inner conscience and God’s calling will adhere to that call to attach the full truth and become Catholic. In heaven there is only Catholic – there are no Muslims, or Jews or Protestants. Sanctification be it here and now or later is the mysterious aspect of God’s Plan that we do not have full insight to.

    The truth is – Islam is an a bonafide Christian Heresy that is well off the Christian path. It brought forward Christian heresies (Arian), inteposed some select Jewish teachings and added its own Arabic-centric mythology and socio-cultural texture to make it “sellable” to a wide range of audiences (including the Jews and Christians living and thriving in the now Arabic regions of the day). But, Islam is clearly a “gravely deficient” religion since it cleaves Charity asunder by divorcing God from Man that was incarnate in The Christ specifically to restore the God image and dignity of humankind and begin the new race of Man through the New Adam (and the New Eve. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a follower of most of the classical and now ever more radical branches of Islam to attain any degree of Christian Charity. Islamic notions of Charity are massively deficient and only at best get it half right. Islamic Charity alienates Man from God and God from man – the exact opposite of Christian Charity (Love God and Love of Neighbor together). A religion that has ALWAYS taught in all its branch forms (Suni, Shia etc.) that unbelievers must convert, be subjugated or killed while being obedient to God shows its Ishmaelite slave genesis and completely misses the central concept of Christianity and God’s Goodwill toward mankind (e.g. “I no longer call you slaves but friends”). One simply can not love God and hate humanity and attain to supernatural Charity. Both sides of the equation are needed: 1) Love of God; 2) Love of Neighbor. Love is only servile in its burning compassion to self-sacrifice or suffer for love’s sake but NEVER to denigrate those of the same divine likeness – not even self denigration since that mocks the Creator’s works and compassion.

    All that aside. It is time for The Catholic Church to stop talking out of both sides of its mouth and trying to fit-in with an accommodate the world’s paganism and rabid theological polyglot and errors of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism (a philosophy taken as a religion by many), Protestantism etc. We Catholics are supposed to be the Light of the World setting the shiny example – not just some other minor glitzy neo light one might see whilst passing through down-town. Michael Voris is keenly aware of what The Church is called to do and sees too well that we are not on the right path. We don’t need a new Catholic-ish denomination called “American-Catholic” or “USCCB-Catholic”. We need massive and radical re-evangelization and a return to orthodoxy.

    One last comment. I don’t recall Mr. Voris calling on anyone to kill bad bishops. If he said anything like that it was figurative. What we do need is to completely purge the Catholic Church in America of its radical left theological errors and the liberal clergy who are just going through the motions and more interested in keeping the pews filled with tithing congregation than they seem to be interested in teaching authentic Christianity. Christianity is not easy – but that is why Christ said that the gate to hell is wide and few enter by the narrow gate.


  55. Austermann says:

    InvictusLux is exactly on target.

  56. Catholic Joe says:

    I closely watch the videos. He clearly calls out scandal by these princes of the Church. If you notice, he DOES ask that we pray for them with hope that they’ll see the light. Do we just let scandal happen and say nothing?

  57. Fr. Clinton Pendleton says:

    Are you seriously going to just pass over the grave scandal that His Eminence is guilty of, and say nothing? Cura animarum indeed. As a Prince of the Church, Archbishop Dolan’s first duty is to look to the good of the sheep of the fold, not associate himself with active homosexual revelers. Yes, Dolan should be reminded that one day he will be called to answer for his actions, and then he will not be able to throw out any oneliners: “love to have ya!!”

    The “church of nice” is doing tremendous damage to the Church of God.

  58. Ah, Father, we all will be held to account. You have your opinion, of course, but thank the Lord, it is not Christ’s. Remember the bit about leaving the 99 sheep to go after the one that is lost?

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