Michael Voris, the vociferous critic of the Catholic hierarchy whose stated goal is to “save the Church” from corrupt and ineffective leadership, has gotten his comeuppance.
Like Joseph McCarthy, who in the 1950s whipped Americans into a frenzy of anti-communist fear and propaganda with his warnings about “a Red under every bed,” Voris has rallied his conservative Catholic followers with warnings about homosexual infiltration into seminaries, parishes, even the highest ranks of Catholic Church leadership. In so doing, he has smeared the reputations of good and faithful priests and bishops.
Last week, however, Voris–apparently spurred by fears that the Archdiocese of New York was planning to “smear” his reputation by reporting his past sins in the media–delivered a candid admission of his own failures. On “The Vortex,” in a video which is available at his ChurchMilitant website, Voris confessed:
As you probably know, the apostolate has been somewhat silent this week publicly. That’s because a situation has developed that I must fill you in on. It involves the sins of my past life all committed prior to my reversion to the Catholic faith. We have on very good authority from various sources that the New York archdiocese is collecting and preparing to quietly filter out details of my past life with the aim of publicly discrediting me, this apostolate and the work here.
I have never made a secret that my life prior to my reversion was extremely sinful. I have said many times — in public — that I was in a state of mortal sin, and had I died, I would have been damned. I also revealed these sins were of a sexual nature and that they occurred over a prolonged period of time. I did not reveal the specific nature or details of the sins, because when I returned home to the Church, I did not think that a full public confession of details was necessary in order to start proclaiming the great mercy of God.
Perhaps that was a wrong assessment. I don’t seriously know. Perhaps along these years I should have been revealing of greater detail. That, I now think so, but more on that in a moment.
Whatever the matter, I will now reveal that for most of my years in my thirties, confused about my own sexuality, I lived a life of live-in relationships with homosexual men. From the outside, I lived the lifestyle and contributed to scandal in addition to the sexual sins. On the inside, I was deeply conflicted about all of it. In a large portion of my twenties, I also had frequent sexual liaisons with both adult men and adult women.
These are the sins of my past life in this area which are all now publicly admitted and owned by me. That was before my reversion to the Faith.
Since my reversion, I abhor all these sins, especially in the world of the many many other sins I have committed having nothing to do with sexuality. I gave in to deep pains from my youth by seeking solace in lust, and in the process, surrendered my masculinity.
Well now…. First, my condolences to Michael Voris, that he felt it necessary to expose this deeply personal chapter in his life to public scrutiny. As a committed Catholic who has pledged to remain chaste, I’m sure Michael is embarrassed by the past sins which have, until now, been relegated to the back closet of his daily awareness.
And second, I need to note that his insinuations against the Archdiocese of New York have been vehemently refuted by the Archdiocese. The Catholic Herald contacted the Archdiocese for a statement, and received a response which they published on April 22:
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York told the Catholic Herald: “It is absolutely, 100 per cent untrue that the archdiocese was collecting and preparing to release anything concerning him personally or his website.”
Do I think Michael Voris was lying? No.
Do I think he was wrong? Yes.
I believe that Michael Voris truly believed that the New York Archdiocese was “out to get him,” just as he truly believes that homosexuality is running rampant in America’s seminaries and among the hierarchy. But I believe he is wrong.
I also believe–in fact, I KNOW from personal experience–that Michael has been wrong before.
In 2011, I was among 150 bloggers invited by the Vatican to attend the first-ever Vatican Blogfest, a one-day gathering at the offices of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The event itself was presented in six languages concurrently; and there were other, off-site gatherings for Catholic writers as well. When the official Blogfest ended, I wandered the streets of Rome, eventually finding my way to one of those independently organized and advertised events in a Rome pub.
But I was too late! The planned addresses were over, but there, sitting alone at a table, was Michael Voris. I introduced myself, and we chatted for more than an hour. Since I had told him I was from Detroit, he recounted some stories about events that had happened in the Archdiocese, and how his attempt to bring his “Church Militant” program to the airwaves had been thwarted by officials there.
I listened respectfully; but what Voris didn’t know (and what I didn’t tell him) was that I had firsthand information about the story, I had worked for Catholic radio, and I had discussed it with someone who was personally involved in the decision. I knew from my own experience that there was no hidden agenda, no dastardly attempt to dissuade the Archbishop or the radio station; there were other factors on which I will not elaborate here.
But this is what’s really important: Michael’s narrative of a mean-spirited anti-Voris campaign was simply not true. He believed it, but it was a story of his own making.
Back in 2014, I wrote about another, related assault by Michael Voris on the leadership of the Catholic Church. On my old Patheos blog, I wrote an article titled “A CORRECTION to Michael Voris’ Slanderous Post re. Sacred Heart Seminary.” In it, I wrote:
Voris is a frequent critic of the Catholic Church he professes to love. A common theme of his apostolate is that homosexuals have infiltrated the Church, even at the highest levels. His other concerns have ranged from opposition to those within the Church who believe that Catholics must confront global warming, to what he called a failure on the part of the Knights of Columbus leadership to discipline members who support abortion or same-sex marriage, among other issues.
Even the name of Voris’ organization hints at his negative attitude toward the Catholic Church in America: Originally called “Real Catholic TV,” the name was changed to “Church Militant” after the Archdiocese of Detroit required that he stop using the word “Catholic” in the corporate title. The Archdiocese explained that Canon 216 of the Code of Canon Law stipulates,
“No undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’ without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.”
I believe that Michael Voris sincerely believes he is helping to strengthen the Catholic faithful; but rather than approaching an issue with prayerful encouragement and gentle admonishment, Voris takes a sledgehammer to his perceived opponent. There is a potential for great damage when he confronts brothers in the Church like the proverbial bull in a china shop. There is no question that he is a man of faith; my prayer is that he might also be a man of discernment.
You can read the rest of that article here.
SO NOW WHAT?
Here’s what I want to see emerging as a result of this unfortunate self-inflicted character assassination by Voris:
- I pray that God will rain his Mercy on Michael Voris during this Year of Mercy, showering him with grace and awareness of His tender love.
- I pray that Michael’s readers and viewers, rather than being discouraged or turned away by this revelation, will show the same Mercy, and will graciously overlook and then forget the sins of the man who has sought to lead them to Christ.
- But this most of all: I pray that Michael Voris himself, bathed in the Mercy of God and of others, will find it in his heart to show Mercy toward all those who labor in Christ’s vineyard. May this experience lead him to greater humility, and inspire in him a love for those in authority who, despite their personal sins and shortcomings, carry on the best they can. May he speak the Truth, but may he find that Truth in clay pots as well as in silver bowls. May he discern God’s will in charity, pointing to the good in all of us, forgiving and showing mercy for their weaknesses.
Michael Voris’ organization, Church Militant, has a wide audience; and with this great gift comes great responsibility. May they use a little more honey, a little less vinegar.