By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong
This occurred on my Facebook page, on 2 July 2013. Adrian Combe's words will be in blue; Felix Lopez' words in green.
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Do you think the Church is 'all but destroyed'?
No. I'm fighting against this position. This is what Michael Voris thinks, according to his video that I critiqued a few days ago.
So, in your opinion, when God said to St. Francis, "Go and rebuild my church, which, as you see, is falling into ruin?", was He espousing the position of quasi-defectibility?
That's not near-destruction. It was a rough period (one of many through history): arguably much worse than what we are going through today. But St. Francis, like other saints, took the long view and had faith enough to look ahead to the coming revival. This is not what Voris is expressing. Here is an example of his rhetoric, from June 21:
The Catholic Church in the West: the establishment Catholic Church, no longer operates with the same set of first principles that we once did [sic]. The entire self-understanding, our own self-conception has been jettisoned, and been replaced by an entirely new and rotten sense: rotten to the proverbial core. Leaders have traded away the notions of truth and goodness and beauty in exchange for accommodation and indifferentism and political correctness.
It would be difficult to find two people more vastly different in outlook than St. Francis (one of my very favorite saints) and Michael Voris. Good grief. Do you really want to go down that road?
I agree that Voris has fallen into this trap. In my opinion, it is probably more emotional/psychological though in which a fact check and some meditation, critical thinking can help relieve. It is not easy to see the good when there is so much rampant moral and spiritual decay that surrounds us daily and then to make matters worst we find it in our local parish on Sunday.
Actually, you can only rebuild something that has fallen apart, so not only does your distinction fail, the position from which St. Francis was operating was more dire than anything that Voris has expressed.
Sheer nonsense . . . It's a matter of degree. The Church has had many rough periods. I cited Chesterton twice in the chapter I posted above, writing about all the decadent periods, but I didn't include those, to cut down on length. He, like St. Francis, was an optimist, and he noted that the Church always bounced back. He wasn't making a point that the Church's tradition has "been replaced by an entirely new and rotten sense".
'Sheer nonsense' is not an argument. There is nothing that Michael has said, or that anyone could say, that is more dire than a church that is falling into ruin and needs to be rebuilt.
I didn't say it was an argument (nice try): it was a comment on your very weak and misinformed argument.
What he is obviously stating is that most church leaders seem to have embraced this 'new and rotten sense' - that is not something I have heard disputed.
Obviously, your unfounded assertion that my argument is flawed...is not an argument either.
Again, I didn't say it was! I gave a little bit of an argument, about the folly of comparing St. Francis and his outlook to Voris and his. So who is part of this "Church within a Church"? Is my bishop (Vigneron)? How about me? Mark Shea? How about all those "head-in-the-sand" "neo-Catholics" at Catholic Answers and EWTN and the Coming Home Network (where I worked for three years)? Are they part of the "remnant" or already on the dark side?
Voris knows all this stuff, apparently. So let him start giving us some specifics, so we can be on the true and narrow path.
This is just a difference in speaking style and personal psychological perspective. In Michael Voris' view the ESTABLISHMENT Church refers to the purely career drivin professional Catholics that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis frequently lamented, it is not much different than from St. Francis' time and no one is saying that Voris is a Saint nor perfect, I agree that his tone and lamentations occassionally go overboard, but not always, he does give kudos to good clerics and other figures every now and then. Keep in mind that in News commentary (both secular and religious) we tend to only focus on bad news.
Okay; cool, Felix. So maybe you will answer my questions from my last comment, if Adrian doesn't.
I don't think Voris ever claimed to have that crystal ball the way you are claiming. But, I think you or I or Felix or Michael can talk to someone for five minutes and figure out where they are at, for the most part. If someone can explain three different ways why the Church's teaching on artificial contraception is true, it is unlikely they are a dissenting Catholic.
So you'll take a pass on interpreting Voris' rhetoric and actually applying it to real life. Duly noted. Much easier to just throw out the near-blanket condemnations, that collapse as soon as someone asks, "well, who do you have in mind there: how about some examples to illustrate your point? How about Mr. So-and-So?" In other words, what good does it do to say "the Church is 99% bad guys" and then when asked to identify who are the good guys, Voris and his followers go mute . . .
Isn't it supremely important to know who the good guys are, in such a dire end-times scenario? Or is it just expected that we lop up everything Voris says: that he is in effect the ultimate "good [trustworthy / orthodox] guy" in the Church and the go-to guy?
Voris has named names and I don't see this as a problem. Neither does the National Catholic Register. I am pretty sure you have named a name or two on your blog.
Okay, so are the ones I named on the light or dark side? The rhetoric is useless if it can't be applied. It's just . . . empty rhetoric (precisely as I have been critiquing it).
I am quite certain Voris has not put himself in this position of infallibility you are insinuating. I am not really sure what you are getting at. You have named folks, good and bad, as has Voris...
Okay, Adrian. Everyone can see you're unwilling to tell us who are the good and bad guys. You won't even say that the ones I cited are the good guys; part of this infinitesimally small so-called "remnant." That's fine; I knew it was almost certain that you wouldn't, or couldn't, so my point is illustrated. Thanks!
Sorry, not biting...you are doing the same thing Voris does, but you think he should be criticized for it.
Right. Nice try.
Actually, what I stated, was that you have named good folks as good, and bad folks as bad, just as Voris does (which you did not deny, I noticed).
I certainly have named names, as an apologist. I don't say they are out of the Church, though. I don't classify radical Catholic reactionaries (RadCathRs) that way: only sedevacantists, and SSPX is a borderline scenario. Voris' claims are far more dramatic than mine. I talk in apologetic terms; he does in apocalyptic and prophetic and melodramatic terms.
You have every right to disagree with Voris style and opinions. But, keep in mind, just as there are different equally valid and legitimate theologies in the Church (e.g. Thomist, Augustinian, Eastern, Latin, etc.) there are different equally legitimate and valid apologetics and evangelizing approaches. The remnant Church inside a Church that Voris refers to is the Pope, Bishops, Priests, religious, and laity who uphold Church teaching without illegitimate compromise (this includes the other apologists you cite). Voris does often criticize those who deny that there is a crisis, you cannot fix something you dont believe to need repair.
It's standard RadCathR boilerplate to accuse anyone who disagrees that the (very real) crisis in the Church must be defined in RadCathR terms (with Vatican II, ecumenism, and the New Mass as the usual boogeymen) has their head in the sand. I have been accused of that in recent threads, myself. It's very common.
So I am asking about the people and groups I mentioned, who are often classified in such a way.
As far as I know, Voris hasn't stated anyone is outside the Church. Like you, he notes when someone teaches something that is at variance with the faith. 'Apocalyptic, prophetic and pathetically melodramatic' are descriptors of style, not substance; moreover, they are subjective, rather than objective - and thus, unworthy as subject of debate for an apologist, especially one of your calibre.
1) Voris is 100% orthodox and in good standing with the Church just as you and your associations which you named. I know this from personally watching both his vortexes daily and his various other programs. The vortex show is just 1% of all the programing and is intended solely to address internal Church problems and a few political issues in which I do not always agree with him on. It is more opinion and punditry than anything else, much like the Curt Jester blog but in video format.
2) There is honestly not much difference from what you and others do with Voris, the difference is he does so in VIDEO format with his own personal style born from his own human experience and passion. Are errors said or bad choices of words sometimes, certainly just as errors and bad choices of words have been exposed in the various apologists and associations you cited as well, whom I like by the way. Most of the errors at the end of the day are usually personal hypotheses, innocent flawed interpretation, or whatever.
3) I am afraid that you are accusing Voris of intentional malice for things that even Saints have done and you yourself have done in good clear conscience. The Saints also often spoke melodramatic and in apocalyptic style terms. Dont you read any of the medieval mystics?
You're still sidestepping the substance of what I am driving at. He's making extreme statements. They are untrue in the first place. Things are not nearly this bad as he makes out. It harms people's faith.
If he wants to make out that the remaining remnant is so tiny, then why doesn't he tell us who is in it? His followers cannot ultimately defend what he says, or interpret who in the world he is talking about.
Voris is neither a saint nor a mystic. Making these comparisons do not help your case. St. Francis built an entire order and revolutionized Christian monasticism. Many mystics did the same. There's no comparison at all.
It's not "orthodox" to trash the Novus Ordo Mass when Pope Benedict XVI specifically decreed in 2007 that both forms of the Latin rite were equally acceptable. That is not the Mind of the Church; sorry. People have to choose between his outlook and the pope's in this regard. Everyone knows what side I come down on when it is a question of John Doe vs. the Holy Father. If I wanted to dissent against the popes I'd still be a Protestant; I would have never entered the Church.
I saw that whole documentary on the mass. I do agree he went overboard in it and kind of offended my own sensibilities a bit. I see what you're saying and give you that, but I figure it is just bad insensitive choice of words driven by passion. I give him a pass on it and overlook it only because I can relate to coming across as rude and overly exaggerated when I don't mean it. For one thing, it is easier to be more careful and calculating in writing than in oral statements. I dont think he even waits that long to carefully edit, or ask for independent feedback, and then publish his videos. He probably posts them almost instantly. The mass destruction video was taped in live audience with no feedback from the audience nor did the priest he interviewed even say anything about his presentation.
Why wouldn't he retract it, then, if it went overboard? It gives his opinions! This is what he believes. I don't think it is simply a matter of sloppy language and going overboard; getting carried away or whatever.
His high testosterone ego would be offended to call very late attention to his mistake, lol. But, people have to bring it to his attention first of course.
You said it, not me. LOL Imagine if I had said that? ROFL
He does see the Extraordinary Form as superior and the Ordinary Form as inferior. I don't necessarily disagree with him. I think however the best of both should be syncretized into one as Pope Benedict wanted but couldn't.
The problem is that when he told a bishop that he often receives complaints of being too forceful the bishop beat his breast and said that the bishops have not been forceful enough. From then on he figured it was license to boil peoples' blood all he wants, lol. That bishop is the one shown on the website giving a complete blanket endorsement of everything he does.
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Further thoughts of mine on Voris and his views, drawn from statements of mine on Facebook threads:
Voris trashed the Novus Ordo; Pope Benedict did not; he made a perfectly acceptable analysis of the Mass and some of the problems of translation, implementation, liturgical mediocrity, etc. But what he stated as pope in 2007 is perfectly clear, and Voris seeming apathy about it, or outright rejection of it should be alarming to any orthodox Catholic. Here is what Voris stated about the Novus Ordo Mass in his video, Weapons of MASS Destruction:
We're talking about: is this authentic Catholic worship? Is this how Catholics worship God? Is this a break from the past, that's so violent, that you can't really say this is authentic Catholic worship, as we have understood it? Has the theology behind the Mass been so manipulated and twisted and deformed, that Catholics going to this Mass miss something of the theology, compared to talking about the traditional Latin Mass: the Tridentine Mass? . . . Has your faith been damaged, on the other hand? Yes. . . . We're talking about, is this authentic Catholic worship; is what's going on behind the scenes a possible detriment to your faith? . . . In short, the prayer, the public worship of the New Mass; the question is: is it more Protestant or more Catholic? That is a very, very key question. . . . The language used in the New Mass confuses nearly every aspect of the Mass: the idea of sacrifice; who's actually offering the sacrifice . . . with all of these confusions, the very nature of the faith itself is undermined. . . . the former theology is largely dismissed. . . . The question is, what is it substituted with? When that old theology, the Catholic theology is gone, something else is brought in.
What is the something else? In my paper critiquing this, I specifically contrast Voris with Summorum Pontificum from 2007.
If someone can persuade Michael Voris about the extremity of his bashing of the Mass, and excessively gloomy views, then potential problems ahead could be nipped in the bud and avoided. He could do a lot of good -- a lot more good -- if he straightened out these problems that I and other critics observe in his presentations.
I think he has a good heart and good intentions. I've seen other RadCathRs moderate their views and become more sensible. It's not too late at all for Voris to do the same.
I've always said that if my choice was your usual Novus Ordo Mass (with all the abuses of the rubrics and silly things many of us despise) and a Tridentine Mass, I'd be at the latter in a second. I've been blessed to not have such a dilemma. Our parish offers a very reverent Novus Ordo Mass in English and Latin: an extremely rare occurrence. So I can worship as I most desire: reverent, traditional Novus Ordo, such as what Pope Benedict XVI was calling for. I think the Tridentine is very beautiful as well and it is almost always reverent.
If I didn't have my parish, I'd be at the Tridentine, most likely. Our parish (a merger of three parishes) offers that, too.
Voris makes many accurate and correct observations (credit where it is due). Even the Catholic Culture site (that rates Catholic web pages and endeavors), when cautioning readers about his site, acknowledged that, and so do I. I'm critiquing his extremist rhetoric, here it occurs, which is not always, and indeed, occurs only in a fairly small portion of his video talks.
Jay McNally, a friend and Catholic journalist, asked me:
I just did a search on your web site for "Dignity/Detroit" and can't find anything. Tell me, have you ever published so much as a sentence about Dignity in Detroit? If not, why not?
I don't follow "internal" Church issues of this sort; I basically stick to apologetics (no one can do everything). That's my calling, and I write about more than enough along those lines (very wide-ranging), so that I don't want to "spread myself too thin." What I do do, however, is write about underlying principles and premises of liberalism and modernism and how they are wrong and evil. I have a web page about liberalism, as I do about RadCathRism.
I think Voris has a valid point to some degree that these things aren't covered enough in the Catholic press. I fully agree that journalists in the Catholic world ought to expose scandals and so forth: as long as there is solid evidence for any given thing (so as not to fall into detraction and calumny). It should be done. These are valid and important issues and questions. But I think Voris is dreadfully wrong to make the sweeping charge that it is all because of money and cowardice that all these groups and people don't cover stuff like he does. There is a happy medium here between saying nothing and sometimes becoming extreme in language and pessimism, as Voris does.
The sex scandal illustrates my own personal approach. I have collected many articles by people who have followed and investigated it. If I personally have little or no knowledge about a particular thing, then I'll cite and link to people who do. I didn't try to hide anything. It was all upfront from the beginning (as could be proven with Internet Archive). I agree with all the outrage that has been expressed about bishops not doing something sooner. It was pathetic and heartbreaking. This is the fruit of allowing liberals and practicing sodomites to run rampant in the Church. Many in the Church bought into pop psychology.
Jay McNally again:
Dave, have you written about about Jane Schaberg at UDM [University of Detroit-Mercy], or about the recent disgraceful march into dissidence of Madonna University? All of these topics are perfectly within the scope of what you write about. I'd be eager to see any report you have that gives names of the specific professors -- especially the bishops and priests incardinated in Detroit -- attached to lies they teach. My bet is no you haven't published anything about any of this even though all of these are scandals are in your own backyard and you surely know quite a bit about them.
No; again, as explained above, I'm not a journalist, nor do I specialize in the Church's internal affairs. I don't deny that a lot of rotten things go on. Modernism is the greatest crisis in the history of the Church. I differ with Voris (and "traditionalists" and RadCathRs, generally) about how bad things are, the causes, and what to do about it.
I'm an "ideas" person, so I go after the underlying false principles. So, e.g., on my liberal page I attack the false premises of Joseph Fitzmyer and liberal Catholic historians who deny infallibility. Or I go after liturgical mediocrity and violations of the rubrics. I scathingly criticize Catholics who contracept or who vote for Obama.
What you call for is simply not my area and I don't pretend to know things I don't know, or spread myself too thin (just as you probably haven't written books about Luther and Calvin or edited quotations books of Aquinas, Augustine, Wesley, and Newman, or published 38 books, as I have). I know what my calling is and I stick to it. I agree that journalists and those who do write about internal affairs of the Church ought to cover these things: with the right attitude in terms of being faithful, obedient Catholics.
I don't know specifics about them because I don't follow this sort of stuff (I wasn't even familiar with the name of the professor you mentioned at UDM). I'm busy writing my books. No one person can do everything. Now, Jay, you do cover this stuff, so according to the common sense notion of "division of labor" you should write about it, because you know about it; send it to me, with lots of specifics and proven facts, and then I'll publish it (at least some; it can't take over my pages).
Deal? I'm happy to spread truth from you or any person who speaks it. But I won't countenance RadCathR garbage. Facts about modernist dissidents are fine; bashing the Church and Vatican II and the New Mass are not fine, and are wrong. I know where the line lies there. If you critique a specific person and their wrong ideas with facts, that is fair game. Saying, on the other hand, that it is because JPII was a liberal incompetent, or because of VII, or the New Mass, is RadCathR nonsense.
If something is pointed out (like this), I readily agree that it is wrong and scandalous. Voris goes too far: this is my point. Mixed in with much true analysis he takes the next step and starts making sweeping, prejudicial, uncharitable charges. He's directly attacking people's motives, and that's wrong. I wouldn't even treat a liberal dissident the way he has treated fellow orthodox Catholics. He can't read their hearts. He doesn't have that information of what motivates a Scott Hahn or Pat Madrid, or the folks at Catholic Answers or EWTN (or myself, by logical extension).
How does one "refute" a claim that entire classes of well-known Catholics have a rotten motivation of cowardice and putting money above truth? How does one disprove that this is the case? Basically, they have to do what Voris demands (which is unreasonable): talk about what he wants them to talk about. Otherwise, they are unscrupulous cowards with ill motivations. It's agree with Voris or you are a scoundrel . . . (so I must be one too, I guess).
That's absurd. He assumes from the outset what he is trying to "prove": that the only reason they don't do what he wants them to do, is nefarious motivation and lack of ethical principle. That's a cheap shot and atrocious debating (terrible logic), without question. It's also calumnious and slanderous.
If we were to believe Voris and his implication in one of his videos (that I critiqued elsewhere), Catholic Answers, Hahn, Madrid, Grodi, Ave Maria Radio, EWTN, and all the rest of what RadCathRs call "Neo-Catholicism" (Voris uses the term "establishment") are a bunch of cowards, and place filthy lucre and their own income above truth-telling and what is right for the Church.
Voris could have done this video by making the point that I agree with: Catholic journalists should cover these sorts of scandals much more than they do. I would have agreed with that; even "rah-rahed." But he had to take it to the next level (as he so often does) and start attacking many people's and groups' motivations.
If he'd omit the extreme, conspiratorial-type statements and rhetoric, I'd have little problem with him at all. It's those statements that I have critiqued in my (now) four blog papers about him.
It's a very plain ethical difference. If Voris had said the following, I would have agreed with him 100%:
"Many people in Catholic journalism ought to speak out more about problems in the Church, such as modernism and the gay agenda: do true, critical, investigative reporting."
But he didn't do that. Rather, he was sweeping, named names, and went after motives:
The establishment Catholic media is . . . composed of . . . lapdog careerists . . . protecting their own financial interests by painting a dubious picture of things being kind of okay in the Church. . . . In short, they won't tell you the truth, because they're too cowardly to pay the personal financial cost.
The first statement is true and doesn't attack individuals, groups, and motives. It's constructive criticism, and I agree 1000%. The second makes out that all these people and groups (that I'm quite associated with, myself) are ill-motivated, lack integrity, lie to themselves every day, live merely for money rather than truth and goodness. Vastly different . . . Why can't people see what I take to be utterly, absolutely obvious and undeniably wrong? I don't disagree with all that Voris says. Much of what he says is true: even most of it. I disagree with this stuff, that I cite.
Yet critiquing the more extreme statements (what I'm doing) somehow immediately gets interpreted as "disagreeing with everything Voris says" [which would be a ludicrous denial that modernism is a crisis], and then further morphs into "smearing" him and being motivated solely by wanting to personally "attack" him. One guy said I was "jealous" of him. It's ridiculous.
I'm passionate about this issue at hand, not because I desire to run Voris down, but because, to me, it is a crucial and elementary ethical principle at stake. The larger issue of "how bad is it in the Church?" is also in play, but mainly I was concerned with the personal attacks.
*** I think there is a happy medium. We as laypeople have every right to at least receive answers to sensible questions to bishops, as to why certain heterodox groups are allowed to function within the Church and are even funded. Bishops aren't gods: above all possible discussion or queries. When it comes to this sort of thing, I agree with what Jay was saying, and much of what Michael Voris said.
On the other hand, we need to also respect the office and grant the benefit of the doubt, in charity, to bishops. It should be somewhere in the middle. We don't just sit here like dummies, blindly accepting everything, no matter how seemingly dubious (the extreme of "obedience" and faithfulness). And we don't go crazy bashing everything on a daily basis, as RadCathRs do.
So as usual, I am sort of in the middle, looking for that "golden mean" . . . I am often sympathetic to many "traditionalist" concerns, but I criticize them when they go too far, and stress obedience to those in the hierarchy that God established in the Church.
Let's get some things straight:
1) I'm not against everything Michael Voris says; I agree with him on quite a bit, as I do with "traditionalists" and even sometimes with the RadCathRs.
2) I concentrated on one portion of a nine-minute video (maybe 30 seconds) where he attacked the motivations of large portions of the Catholic apologetics and "outreach" community: basically accusing them of being spineless, unscrupulous cowards who are in it just for the money. This is ethically indefensible. Perhaps some of them are that. But he doesn't know this. He can't read minds and hearts, and making sweeping judgments like this is not only outrageous but absurd as well.
3) I think bishops should be accountable, and should be asked "hard questions," and I have offered to Jay that he cross-post some of his hard-hitting critiques on my page.
I find myself in agreement with a lot of what Voris says (and he says it very well, I might add; he's very professional in the polish and style of his presentation; I never denied that). I was too harsh, in accusing him of "quasi-defectibility" in the past, but I still classify him as a RadCathR.
He trashes and bashes the Novus Ordo (as he has: make no mistake) and expresses at times a disdain for Vatican II and legitimate ecumenism, and definitely towards Protestants (these are all hallmarks of RadCathRism).