Friday, 22 April 2016

Voris Is a Decent Old Bean Really

If it is true that people at the Archdiocese of New York are actively recruiting others to destroy journalist Michael Voris' reputation, then that is truly wicked.

Yes, I know that Michael Voris is not most of my readers' cup of tea. I know. (Update: And I've just been reminded of his swipe at the Pope Emeritus, which I simply cannot condone.) However, that is all the more reason to mention again that I met Michael in Rome, he went to lunch with a gang of my Rome friends and me and he paid the whole bill. He didn't have to do that, but he did. 

To be honest, when I found out that Voris was going to be the top speaker at Hilary White's "Rebel Catholic Blognic", I cried. That seems very funny now, but I had publicly pledged to go to Hilary's event, and when I heard her controversial guest was going to be there, I thought I'd be fired from the CR. I emailed my editor, I emailed my mentor, I wept and carried on. This must have been before I started reading the blogs of other Catholics who criticize bishops from a position of tradition and/or orthodoxy. At any rate, my editor and my mentor were interested but not really concerned. It takes a lot to shock a newspaper editor, come to think of it. (Having spoken to a bunch of editors after Michael Coren [cousin of Giles and Victoria, dear British readers] was innocently outed by Anglicans as a crypto-Anglican, I can attest that pretending you are still a Catholic and taking Catholic dollars after ceasing to be a Catholic does indeed blow the mind of a Catholic editor.)

So I went to Rome, and I met Michael Voris, and I noted that at lunch he wore a Notre Dame (Indiana) T-shirt and a big old cross worn on a rather short cord or chain and also that the restaurant owner loved him. Michael was loud and friendly and pronounced the food the best in Rome, and I suspect he ate all his Roman meals there, which may explain the devotion of the ristoratore.  I cannot remember what he said at the blognic although I remember being impressed by it. 

I'm not a regular reader/listener of the Vortex, but I can see its usefulness for the Church, especially the Church from the grassroots up. I have been down in the pews among the laity for most of my life (as an M.Div. candidate I was often up among the priests and "ministers"), and the fact that crowds of good and trusting Catholic men and women are fleeced by cadres of smug secret sexual revolutionaries does not thrill me. Small children sometimes put their pocket money in the collection basket, too. Slightly bigger children go to confession on Saturday afternoons and shyly confess their venial sins to men who, sometimes, have done the devil knows what on Friday night. 

If it just stopped at dirty deeds done dirt cheap, okay, hate the sin, love the sinner, but some of these guys try to justify their sin by preaching a new Gospel on Sunday mornings. One chap I'm thinking of, a priest who refused to read his bishop's letter about gay marriage legislation and thundered at his congregation about its homophobia instead, was rumoured (A) to have a girlfriend and (B) to have his hand in the till. Did he really? I doubt I'll ever know, but I do wonder about the role of complicity when trying to shift Catholic attitudes on sexuality. 

So now Voris and his sinful youth. Well, it's sad, but it's over, and Voris never tried to make it look better by twisting moral law. Apparently his mother offered her life for his return to the faith and shortly thereafter died of stomach cancer. That's a pretty big cross to carry. 

Meanwhile, as far as I know, Voris has never gone after Catholic laymen for their past sins. If I have this right, he goes after bishops and priests for poor leadership, scandalous bad example, and manipulating, robbing or otherwise abusing the faithful. Well, since it took the secular press to get things moving when it came to some bishops' absolutely appalling betrayal of us the laypeople, it seems right that Catholics ourselves have taken over. Given the sacred nature of the episcopate, it's a crying shame that we have to do it, but it sure looks like we do. I'm just incredibly grateful that both my dioceses (St. Andrews-Edinburgh and Toronto) have good bishops. (We will not speak of Cardinal O'Brien although I will say that he put up a good fight for traditional marriage, and I believe it was his fight for traditional marriage that led his ex-boyfriends and/or disgruntled priests to out him to the press. It was not hypocritical for Cardinal O'Brien to defend marriage. That was his job. )

Anyway, just in case anyone was wondering what I have to say about THE Catholic Blogging story du jour, that's it.  Well, that and here's a fine opportunity to illustrate that Catholics do not dislike men with homosexual inclinations per se but merely the sins that get them into such terrible trouble.

UPDATE: I thought of something else to say. Although Catholics who experience same sex attractions and identify as gay must have challenges I know nothing about--for one thing they are usually men--I wouldn't go so far as to agree with one gay Voris critic I have read today (no link for prudential reasons) that "straight people" don't understand how difficult it is to fall in love with someone and not be able to do anything about it, to see the beloved as both a source of joy and pain.

That is so not true. Not only do married Catholics "fall in love" outside their marriages, priests and nuns occasionally "fall in love" with members of the opposite sex, too. There's a whole lotta falling in love going on. Falling in and falling out, and if the vowed people are smart, they keep their mouths shut and suffer in silence.

Taking vows as a free adult person means honouring that vow more than falling in and out of love. Most men--and very possibly most women--are not monogamous by (fallen) nature. Faithful spouses set aside our natural inclinations to variety to honour God, each other and our families. We also, come to think of it, refuse to collude in the seduction of those weaker than us, e.g. unmarried people. When I hear or read the polyamorist's term "secondary partner", I shudder. And then there are the old, the crazy, and the Hunchback-of-Notre-Dame-style unattractive: they often fall in love, and they often find the beloved a source of joy and pain, and they are often terrified of making a sexual overture lest they lose something very precious.  So again, although I concede that I know almost squat about what it is to be homosexual, I refuse to concede that "straights" have no conception of eros being irrevocably tied to sin. Life sucks. It's a vale of tears for everyone. Count yourself lucky if you get three squares a day and have a roof over your head.

I don't think Voris' fans are going to turn on him, and in fact, I think his confession will excite a lot of sincere sympathy in people who previously didn't like him. (There are a few pseudonymous SSPX-supporters crowing, I see. Ugh.) However, if I were Michael, I think I'd  hate the "Oh, if only you were open to love, you are a victim" stuff. If the Church had said "No annulment for you", and I was alone and striving to live a life of dignity and chaste celibacy, I  know I would absolutely loathe the pity of the divorced-and-remarried. ("Listen, I know this priest, and he just says don't worry about it.")

Update 2: The Archdiocese of New York denies the allegations.


  1. The complaint I've heard most often from same-sex attracted people who favor same-sex marriage, and their supporters, is that it's hard to know that one will *never* have a chance to express sexual love licitly. Many add that gay people are the only group in this unfortunate situation.

    I can certainly see the force of this, but I wish more people of whatever views would realise and acknowledge that there are numerous physically or mentally handicapped people who who cannot engage in sexual relations licitly or at all, either through absolute incapacity or because they are too vulnerable. Having a close relative with a severe mental illness, this is much on my mind, and I get very angry when I hear people suggest that the denial of the sexual impulse makes one less than human somehow, or is a reason for pity or contempt.

    Alias Clio

  2. Thank you, Clio. I agree absolutely. The denial of sexual impulse is, as a matter of fact, very human. I don't know if other animals bother to deny theirs for prudential reasons or whatever, but chastity strikes me as very human.

  3. I will confess that I did not read your whole or the whole link (I have to go to work really soon), and I'll also confess that I don't really keep up with many Catholic bloggers because I find it so dispiriting.

    But if it is true that people have been demanding a full public confession of Voris' past sins, I am seriously angry. Seriously.

    He confessed it to a priest. He's not a hypocrite if he's denouncing sins that he used to commit, especially if he's no longer committing them. People need to get real and shut up.

  4. No, it's worse that that. The allegation is that people were about to release details of MV's past sins to the public.

  5. Yeh, I kinda hope now the Archdiocese of New York has denied the MV allegation (that they were going to smear him to discredit his attacks on shonky bishops), that MV releases his evidence to prove the NY Archdiocese were going to smear him.

    Not out of pettiness, but because if MV is correct, then staff and/or volunteers in the archdiocesan HQ were willing to engage in behaviour that should see them summarily fired.

    We don't need church staff (if MV is correct) behaving in such immoral and borderline illegal ways (illegal, cos it is dancing close to being blackmail of MV to back off his attacks on bishops).

    It is an interesting comparison between the Voris case and Cardinal O'Brien though, as (please correct if I am wrong on this) O'Brien was alleged to have had homosexual liasons with men in the past, but like Voris he had moved on from such behaviour and condemned gay marriage. Yet O'Brien was forced to retire, whereas no-one seems to be saying Voris should resign (and I don't think Voris should - sins confessed and all that).

    Southern Bloke.
    P.S. I'm assuming here that *if* Voris is correct and the archdiocese were going to smear him, that the archdiocese did not get such info from Voris' confessions! That would be a massive breach and I believe automatic excommunication for anyone involved. I assume that if true, the smear info would have come from past lovers or people who knew MV when he was openly in those relationships. But the burden really lies on the archdiocese to make clear that confessional sanctity has not been violated.

  6. Ah, the Cardinal O'Brien situation is a little more complicated than that: it has been alleged that he made advances to priests and even (it is alleged) a seminarian. When he made his confession it certainly sounded like his misconduct continued after he was a bishop and even after he was made a cardinal. I hope that is not true, but that's what he made it sound like. But actually he was retiring in a few months anyway.All that happened (from a career point of view) is that he didn't go to the Conclave, he didn't get his big retirement/birthday party, and he didn't get to retire to a small town in Scotland.

  7. Aaah, that corrects my poor understanding then! Thanks Mrs Mac!


  8. He doesn't sound a very nice person.

  9. Journalists don't have the luxury of "being nice." It's not a very manly attribute, either. I hope he's gentle with children and polite to women and generally kind to both, but when it comes to men of power.... Well, to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted is a journo's job.