Church Hipster TV

There is a good article by a traditionally minded layman about the problems with Michael Voris.  His inclination it to be sympathetic with Voris’ purpose and the substance of his ideas.  The gentlman’s problem is with Voris’ methods and lack of charity.

I would go a step further and say, that while he does not say it outright, he provides evidence in Voris’ own words of the kind of sectarianism that has concerned me for some time.

Here is Voris’ description of the “Church of Nice” which identifies, according to him, every parish in the world except the traditionalist ones:

the saccharine syrupy hand holding ultra-feminized altar girl protestant hymn singing social justice priest facing with his back to God staring at the people staring back at him Church – in short practically every parish in the western world.

And here is Voris’ description of the “Church of the New Hipster” (my term):

Traditional Catholicism is all the rage .. at least in England.  But that is the case all over the western world. It’s avant-garde .. trendy .. almost like a hipster to actually bow before God and receive His Body and Blood on your tongue.  It’s fashion forward for priests to be in cassocks and nuns in habits. Oh My. Imagine the shock all and horror bouncing off the walls of the Church of Nice. Unable to hold or inspire their own flagging parishes .. where are these other “nut job” Catholics coming from.

There are several problems with this dichotomy.  First, the statement that “practically every parish in the western world” fits his “Church of Nice” category is such an immense oversimplification and rash judgment that it beggars a response.  I understand what he is trying to say, but this is the problem with soundbite apologetics spit out by fast-talking salesmen.  There is no analysis, just propaganda at the expense of everyone who is not worthy to be sorted into the “good” bucket.

Secondly, since 1983 before I entered religious life, and then after within my own religious community, I have been able to experience orthodox teaching, priests who wear cassocks, religious who wear habits, communion on the tongue while kneeling, the use of Latin in the liturgy, the generous use of gregorian chant, large families, young people enthusiastic for the faith and all the other aspects of authentic Catholic life, that people like Voris pretend can only exist where the old liturgy and sympathy for the thought of the SSPX are embraced.  I know Voris’ little dichotomy to be patently false.

Thirdly, the movement toward the restoration of Catholic life (reform of the reform), just as the aggiornamento that came before it (reform), runs the risk of being reduced to a caricature of itself.  The conciliar reforms were sloganized, politicized and then parroted from the pulpit and chancellories.  On the part of the intelligentsia the “Spirit of Vatican II” was a philosophical aberration.  But then this was popularized by salesmen who spewed out extremely naive and silly applications that appealed to what people wanted to hear. Are we really going to make the mistake of pretending that we can reverse the trend by simply doing the same thing in the opposite direction?  What we don’t need are any more sloganeers and politicians in the Church.

I will most certainly grant that Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and its provisions have given the movement toward restoration a greater impetus, and has emboldened priests and bishops to shake off the malaise. Praise God.  But this narrow “us vs. them” narrative of the traditionalists is sheer sectarian propaganda.  It is not Catholic.

The temptation is very great to simply slough off any criticism of “restorationism.”  Such criticism is the new uncool in the circle of young and up-coming Catholics.  But we should not forget that our Universities were radicalized, not by true and sober scholarship, but by ideology in the hands of activists who used the idealism of youth to unleash a revolution on society.  Do we really want this to happen in reverse?

If you find yourself rubbing your hands together in glee at the sound of the beating drum of the new Catholic avant-garde, perhaps you ought to take a breather and remember that the Church does not win the way the world wins.  For years Joseph Ratzinger has criticized both extremes within the Church as relying to heavily on structure and externals. His warnings need to be heeded.  It they are not the new hipster propagandists will continue to reduce doctrinal formulations, the liturgy and Catholic culture to their mere symbolic value.

Really, the drum-beating and banner waving is not going to save the Church.  Only God and His Holy Mother will save the Church.

H/T Mark Shea

14 thoughts on “Church Hipster TV

  1. “Hipster Propagandists?”, “Sectarian Propaganda?” “Fast talking salesman?”

    Micheal Voris is our brother in Christ as well, so are his followers. This post does a good job and increasing divisions and arising passions against one another. I am sad to see it.

  2. Noah,

    I appreciate your criticism.

    Based on your concern about divisions within the Church, how would you assess Michael Voris’ following characterization of the work of practically every parish priest in the world?

    the saccharine syrupy hand holding ultra-feminized altar girl protestant hymn singing social justice priest facing with his back to God staring at the people staring back at him Church . . .

    Perhaps I could use less inflammatory language. My point is that that this type of critique, which constitutes a substantial part of Voris’ work, is not the function of an evangelist, catechist, theologian, apologist or pastor. It is the work of a propagandist with an agenda other than that of the Church. For that reason it does not belong to the universal mission of Roman Catholicism but to the limited interests of Church Militant TV Incorporated and the “followers” of Michael Voris. Perhaps you can think of better less offensive words than “propaganda” and “sectarian” and “salesman.” I can’t.

    Perhaps you could also find a way to convince Mr. Voris not to make such critiques as mine necessary.

  3. Father,

    I would assess his remarks as being a generalization that the audience that would listen to his show could find some truth in. I am sure that

    people like it for different reasons but as sons of Adam their is always the temptation to blame our own sinfulness unto the actions of another person or “I am not a Saint because my Pastor is a hippy” syndrome.

    I am not sure how substantial that part of his work is, it certainly is the part of his work that gets attention, most of the other content on his website does appear to be instructive. We do not know Mr. Voris “agenda” is because that would involve reading his heart.

    He does not have something that both you and I have, we are subject to obedience because of our vows.

    “There are persons so happily placed as to have religious superiors, who direct them to what is good only, and who are kind to them, as well as pious towards God. This is their happiness, and they must thank God for the gift; but it is their temptation too. At least they are under
    one of the two temptations just mentioned; good behaviour is, in their case, not only a matter of duty, but of interest. If they obey God, they gain praise from men as well as from Him; so that it is very difficult for them to know whether they do right for conscience’ sake, or for the world’s sake.” Blessed John Henry Newman, Parochial Sermons, Self-Denial the Test of Religious Earnestness

    People like Michael Voris because he is not part of the institutional Church, and many Catholics have been or at least feel that they been betrayed by he institutions. His website gets between 50-100,000 visitors a month of people going because they want to, not because they have to. I do not think it is a deception or a scheme when he reads a letter saying that ChurchMilitant helped someone come back and or better understand their faith. Nor, do I think he could run that organization without a lot of donations from people who feel like they are receiving a benefit
    from him.

    I don’t think that such a broad critique was necessary, rather I think your specific instruction IS necessary.

    “For where envying and contention is, there is inconstancy, and every evil work. But the wisdom, that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation.
    And the fruit of justice is sown in peace, to them that make peace.” James 3 16-18

    I do think that the people at ChurchMilitant Tv and his followers are people who are trying to do the right thing. All Christians are in need guidance and encouragment from others. If he is wrong about something, show it, if you feel that something is brought about by bitter zeal
    then teach against bitter zeal. Michael Voris is a person like us with feelings, it would hurt me if someone thought that I did evil when I intended good. It would also be wrong to condemn an entire persons long work because certain aspects were not good or I did not agree with.

    It seems to be very sectarian for the internet to be divided amongst for Voris or against Voris. Would anyone be so bold as to say Michael Voris has done no good and only harm? I don’t think he was being a propagandist when he praised the Franciscans of the Immaculata, or when he occasionally praises the institutional Church and the Pope. In the end we are judged on whether we were for Christ or against Christ and on our faithfulness to his commandments and fidelity to his grace. I see a condemnation in this post of Micheal Voris not of a sin.

    I do desire unity, starting with a unity of the heart. I do admit rather to look for good in what Michael Voris does, just like I think people should try to look for good in the institutional church.
    I doubt Mr. Voris will ever run into me and I also doubt that he will ever ask me for advice. I would have some for him but it would be to help him, not that anyone needs my help but that I like to help. Which I hope you will read my comments in a spirit of friendship not as a criticism of you.

    Thank you for reading.

  4. Father Angelo,

    I think that you should cease your citicisms of the “sectarian propagandists” only when the teaching and pastoral authority of the pope (especially in regard to VII – as the council is often the point of contention) is defended with at least the same vigor as the propagandists are defended. In my experience, there seem to be many good Catholics who are attracted to the militancy of guys like Voris and other traditionalists, but too few voices are highlighting the dangers of the margins. Great post. Keep up the good work.

  5. @Steve – you hit it exactly. I consider myself a traditionalist because I love the Latin Mass and other traditions of the Church, but I actually find those who claim to be traditionalists more dangerous than the left liberal leaning crowd. When someone says they’re for women priests or married priests or abortion, etc., you know exactly what you’re dealing with. But when someone promotes the Rosary, devotion to Mary, daily Mass, etc., it is much easier to get taken in because they seem to be so spiritually sound. You find yourself nodding in agreement with them and when they sneak in spiritual venom as Voris does, without even knowing it you’re in rebellion against the Magesterium. This is Satan at his worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) deception.

    That is why I wrote the post about Voris on my blog. I was one of his supporters, but when he started denigrating the entire Establishment (as he calls it) of the Church, I knew something was seriously wrong. Thank you for this post.

  6. CNS STory today sort of says it all: “Social media need to promote more logic, kindness and Christian witness than bluster, star-status and division, Pope Benedict XVI said.”

    The article continues: “Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told reporters during a briefing that the pope is asking everyone to take responsibility for creating a more humane culture online by being respectful, honest and contributing to the growth and wellbeing of individuals and society through social networks.

    Very often in new media ‘the more provocative I am, the more strident, the more extreme I am in my views, the more attention I get,’ he said. But, he said, the pope ‘is calling for the importance of the quiet voice of reason; we need moderation, reason and logic otherwise our debates are going nowhere.’

    Archbishop Claudio Celli, the council’s president, said even Catholic sites and forums can be plagued by an aggressive and divisive atmosphere.”

    Could they be subtly referring to the Vortex? Could they be talking about ME? Hmmmmm. In my laziness, it’s sometimes FASTER to say something quickly with ‘a bite’ than to spend some time really trying to be patient and charitable with another seeking (or non -seeking) soul.

    Good article, Father.

  7. Hey everyone,

    Thanks for the comments. I am glad to hear that the Vatican is exhorting those in the blogosphere to elevate the conversation. I know I need to hear it as much as anyone else.


    I am not sure what our vows have to do with the question we are discussing. That Michael Voris does not represent the Institutional Church seems to me to be more of a problem for him than an asset. For someone like me, who is inclined to be critical of him, it means he has no accountability. Sure that may be legitimate, and it may allow him to say things that most of the rest of us cannot get away with. But in addition it means he is not only free to criticize prelates that may objectively deserve it, but he may also undermine the relationship between the bishops and their flocks. He is able to do this while answering to no one but himself.

    I think the lesson you are trying to teach is more or less the same that I would like to make. The difference that you would like to see me tone down the my criticism of Michael Voris. I would like to see Michael Voris tone down his criticism of “practically every parish in the western world,” in addition to a long list of individuals and organizations that probably are not quite as baneful as he would make them out to be.

    Perhaps you might reread my post in the light of this, and then you should understand the problem as I see it better. Perhaps you might also appreciate why I am a bit confused by your concern over my language, when compared to that Voris uses on a regular basis (such as his statement quoted above) it is rather mild.

  8. Father,

    Eusebius of Caesarea, St Sulpicius (the Hagiographer of St Martin of Tours), St Bonaventura, also made broad generalization about the condition of the Church and society in their days. Their remarks were also very harsh and I do not doubt the sincerity and the honesty of these men.

    Perhaps you might look again at the remarks of Michael Voris in the light of other broad and harsh statements made by faithful Catholics in the past and give him the benefit of the doubt? Many have not seen what your eyes have seen, the Church Michael Voris described in that broadcast is easily found, but the places that are exceptions (Priests in Cassocks, Gregorian Chant, Homilies that preach on the commandments) to that rule must be sought out (in my own experience). How many people opened up their papers and read about more scandals just this week in the Church?

    “Full of spiritual venom (not your comment but a comment here by the original author)”, or “has an agenda”, or “is a propagandist” are very harsh words and cary insinuations of a Man having evil in his heart (something that our Lord has forbidden us to Judge). Michael Voris is not a public heretic, apostate, modernist, or homosexual sympathizer. I imagine you have not watched all of his videos (why should you) nor have seen the other content of his website, I think if you saw the breadth of his work maybe the criticism would not be as harsh as well.

    Don’t be confused about the criticism, I love you and I want your opinions on manhood, chivalry, Christopher West to be spread and help the Church and especially the young men in the Church. You are a Priest and a Franciscan bound under penalty of sin to a degree of perfection that neither Michael Voris or I am. I am not saying that their is not a line in the sand that should be drawn, I am suggesting that when the Institutional Church is in the embarrassing state it is a patience should be exercised when we hear criticism of it. No matter who rants a Priest can instruct the brethren unto greater holiness of life and renew the confidence of all.

    Last, If we both know the sensitiveness of the issue why infuriate a large part of the Catholic internet by calling one of their hero’s a “propagandist”. “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” 1 Cor 8:13 There is a crown for those who embrace the Holy Fathers exhortation to charity on the internet, Michael Voris may or may not take his, but I sincerely hope that you do.

    It was nice talking to you.

  9. Your words to Father: “You are a Priest and a Franciscan bound under penalty of sin to a degree of perfection that neither Michael Voris or I am.”

    We are ALL bound to a degree of perfection…”Be thou perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

  10. Noah,
    You have been commenting on Father’s MaryVitrix blog as early as February 2010. I wonder why you continue to read his material after all this time when you seem to take issue with it so often. Father Angelo has always been a defender of the Faith. He is a knight for the Immaculate. And if his sword should break defending Holy Mother Church there are many of us who will hand him another!

    ~a daughter of Mary

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