Then there is the other faction. Led by tambourine players, womyn priests, faithless nuns, heretical priests, and yes, even wayward Bishops. This is the group that pushes the touch-feely “Barney Catholicism”, the “I’m ok, you’re ok” philosophy. The “…lets all revel in our relativism and be happy cuz god, she loves us” philosophy.
Michael Voris, S.T.B. can be counted among the former group, a man whose uncompromising faithfulness to the true Magisterium of the Catholic Church has made him a marked man of sorts.
I had a chance to speak to Michael Friday evening from his studios in Ferndale Michigan just as he was walking off the set of Monday’s new “The Vortex”, one of the shows Michael produces and presents on Real Catholic TV. At 48, Voris, president and founder of St. Michael’s Media, is among the scores of Catholics who simply weren’t taught the true faith growing up.
Voris graduated from Notre Dame in 1983 with a degree in Communications and concentrated studies in history and politics. Equally impressive is his theological education. He not only trained as a young man in theology at the doctrinally-sound St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York, but in April of 2009, he received his Sacred Theology Baccalaureate (STB) from Sacred Heart Major Seminary/Angelicum in Rome, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
He then spent a number of years working as a CBS affiliate anchor, producer and reporter in various markets, and won multiple Emmy Awards for his work in broadcast news. Working in the secular media provided him with not only the technical knowledge to produce excellent television programming, but a profound grasp of the need to produce programs that leave the viewer improved spiritually rather than merely entertained.
On May 8, 2006, he opened St. Michael’s Media, a new state-of-the-art digital television studio, dedicated to the archangel who Scripture promises will lead the victorious battle against Satan at the end of time (Rev 12:07). Mr. Voris was booked to speak at Marywood University this weekend but was then unceremoniously cancelled. When the organizers found another venue, St. Paul’s school in Scranton, the Diocese of Scranton intervened and released the following:
The Diocese of Scranton has determined that Mr. Voris will not be allowed to speak in a Diocesan or parish facility. After these engagements were scheduled, the Diocese became aware of concerns about this individual’s views regarding other religious groups. In videos posted on the Internet, Mr. Voris makes comments that certainly can be interpreted as being insensitive to people of other faiths. The Catholic Church teaches us to respect all people, regardless of their faith tradition.
Although the Diocese shares Mr. Voris’ support of efforts to protect human life, his extreme positions on other faiths are not appropriate and therefore the Diocese cannot host him.
Which leads us to where we currently stand today – here is my interview with Michael Voris, S.T.B.
RT Hello Mr. Voris, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to address the people of the Diocese of Scranton.
MV Oh no problem it’s my pleasure. It’s good for everybody to have a clear understanding of everything.
RT Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. It’s been a week of ups and downs concerning your speaking engagement in the Diocese, first it was on and then off. What was your initial reaction when Marywood University decided to cancel you for good? Before the Diocese banned you, that is. How were you informed?
MV Marywood had cancelled me and then, how it was relayed to me by Paul (the organizer) was that Marywood said ok, then they cancelled it, then they said ok again, then it was permanently cancelled. If I have the structure correct there. The person who was keeping in touch with everything was Paul the organizer I haven’t received any kind of official notification or anything about anything from Marywood or the Diocese or anybody for that matter…
My initial reaction to the Marywood thing is that I went to Notre Dame and of course during the whole Obama fiasco appearing every time or people with an anti-catholic agenda or bad Catholics are invited to the Catholic Universities to speak we keep hearing “well what they say isn’t necessarily something we endorse, but in the name of academic freedom, we need to hear all sides of this, that and the other.” And I’ve always kind of thought that was a joke, that they don’t really mean. I don’t mean just Marywood, I mean anybody who subscribes to propping up someone who doesn’t believe in the faith or who will tear down the faith either directly or by their presence. I’ve never believed that this whole academic freedom thing was anything more than a smokescreen to get people up on a Catholic stage, in varying degrees of nuance, to try to destroy the faith. Weaken the faith, destroy it, present alternative views to it that are not Catholic in any sense. And I’ve seen with my own eyes, now this is the first time I’ve personally run into this kind of animus. It’s amazing to me that the same people who continually preach “no hate” and “tolerance” and all this are the very people who exercise this kind of thing.
I also find it kind of puzzling on the Marywood side of things, I’d like to ask somebody, what is it exactly that you’ve heard me say or anything on Real Catholic TV that would cause such a hate filled response on your part? For an academic community to refuse to let somebody speak is…if you’re going to play that game of academic freedom and let the whole spectrum of views be heard, it strikes me as extraordinarily hypocritical to say “…we want all views to be heard except this one over here because we don’t agree with it”. I guess my question would be how can they possibly call it anything other than hypocritical? And two, what exactly is it that you’ve heard me say that was so intolerable that you have to break your own code of academic freedom?
RT How did you react after the Diocesan statement banning you from speaking in any Diocesan or parish facility?
MV Well I think that’s extremely unfortunate that a Bishop of the Church would give the impression, whether it was him or his staff, that what I repeat of church teaching is somehow unfit for a Catholic to hear. There is an implication there that is very disturbing. VERY disturbing. Especially in light of the fact of this Sarah person (Benoraitis) that he gave permission to. You have to see everything in the big picture. If somebody is determined by the Bishop to be fit to talk to a Catholic group with all of this woman’s track record, and her clearly obvious Catholic animus and then to say that what she says is ok for a Catholic audience but what I say or what someone like me would say is not fit, then that’s very troubling in the soul to hear something like that.
RT What would you say to Bishop Bambera? Now I know that the actual Diocesan statement is very vague, it says “The Diocese of Scranton has determined” Who’s the “diocese” in this case? I made phone calls today to the Bishop’s office, to the communications office, and no one wants to talk about it. No one wants to take responsibility for it. Maybe you share my view, that whether he wrote it or not, that the buck stops with the Bishop. So what would you say to Bishop Bambera?
MV I’m not so sure it’s what I would say, it’s what I would ask. I would ask a series of questions, because the Bishop, or the Bishop’s staff, in the name of the Bishop, the Bishops staff undertook a number of steps which has lead to this series of events. I would say “Your Excellency, I am confused and I have a good number of questions for you. Because I and so many people in the Scranton area, from what I’m hearing, are very confused and a few answers would be helpful.”
The first question I would ask and would like an answer to is “Do you stand by the statement that was released by the Diocese in your name?”
Two is “If you stand by that statement, could you please explain it? Because it is so vague as to have no real meaning to it. It sounds personally demeaning to me. Coupled with the action of letting a pro abort lesbian talk on another campus but denying me to talk at this one, that seems to heighten the level of demeaning against me. So could you clear up in my mind why this is the case?
Number three, “What is it exactly that I’ve said, and when I say exactly, I mean EXACTLY what is it I have said that is so problematic that a pro abort lesbian gets to speak but I don’t?” I’m guessing it would be probably, we have, I don’t know, 300 hundreds hours maybe, that’s a relatively good guess, we have around 300 hours of recorded video of programs and talks and retreats and that sort of thing on our website that I have delivered the lions share of. How much of this 300 hours has whoever made this determination, actually watched? If there was something problematic in that, another question is, why didn’t someone from the Diocese simply pick up the phone and call me? We get emails and phone calls from people everyday. We get dozens and dozens and dozens of people, everything we say is out there in the world for anyone to see and watch. And they hear it and if they have a question they call us. Why can’t someone on your staff do that? Particularly in light of the fact that a decision has been made against the context of letting a pro abortion lesbian speak when I was being refused. Her whole body of work was known to the public, known to the Bishop, he wrote a document, saying he had expressed concerns, so her body of work was known to him personally. Was my body of work known to him personally? And if it is, how much of it is? If there is a question that arose, what was the question?
Why didn’t someone call? Why wouldn’t someone call and say ‘…hey, what’s going on here’? That’s troubling to me and it seems that a lot of people, at least from what I understand are running into this same thing. It seems like a decision is made without reference to the major players or the parties involved and a decision is simply made and then executed and formulated in a way so that no one is held accountable for it and no one is willing to talk about it. That tactic is troubling. So that’s what I would also ask the Bishop, “Are you aware that these types of tactics are being used in your name?”
Another thing that was personally troubling to me was the sense that what I had said was somehow characterized as being insensitive? I’m not sure what it said in that little section…
RT “In videos posted on the internet, Mr. Voris makes comments that certainly can be interpreted as being insensitive to people of other faiths.”
MV Well I could interpret that comment as being insensitive to me. Then should he therefore retract it? Interpretation is kind of "...beauty is in the eye of the beholder". I believe that Jesus saying to the Pharisees "Woe to you you brood of vipers, you hypocrites, how can you escape damnation?" I think that might be able to be interpreted as insensitive. I simply don’t buy that. I simply don’t buy that. Personally, I don’t believe this is a matter of people being insensitive to other faiths, they just don’t like the content of the message, and are using the way the message is said as the excuse to squelch the message and I firmly believe that.
Be cause now, all of these questions are out there. When someone delivers a statement, and someone says, ”…this is the way it is” that statement should be pretty clear. And there shouldn’t be people walking away with a lot of questions, except some little minor things. You shouldn’t release something and then cause a whole hornet’s nest of other questions and charges and counter charges and it doesn’t seem like a good way to run the candy store. Let’s put it that way.
RT Looking forward, do you have any future plans in the Diocese?
MV Yes, Paul and his wife are planning on doing something, I’m coming in next weekend. They’re just running around organizing that now.
RT Our talk would have been a bit different if you were still coming in tomorrow, so I wanted to go back to what I originally wanted to talk to you about and I’ll tie it in to the recent events. On a recent episode of The Vortex you spoke about the people having to take responsibility for carrying on the true faith since many of our Shepherds are incapable of doing it themselves. Now that you have experienced the Scranton style of shepherding, can you elaborate on that for the people of our Diocese?
MV Sure. I think it’s, again, I can’t vouch for how involved Bishop Bambera was, so I can’t speak directly to him as a man, but some functionary of his at the Scranton chancery made a decision about this talk on Church property. Whether he knows this or not, I would come back and ask these functionaries “Why do you think Catholics want to bring people in to speak?” That should sort of be a red flag for you. If they were being fed, they wouldn’t need to turn to outside sources to feed them. They should ask themselves the question “What is the attraction of Real Catholic TV?” Or for that matter, any of these other organizations and outfits that so many Catholics are turning to on the internet.
The usual channels for the distribution of the faith are becoming irrelevant to Catholics who actually care about learning the faith. That’s not my doing, that’s not your doing, that’s the doing of the people that have been responsible for those channels the last 30 or 40 years. They have used those channels to choke off the delivery of the Faith in an authentic, life-affirming, changing fashion. And because of that, people are now turning to other sources. It speaks a disturbance of the soul on the part of the people who do this, that they choke one off outlet, and they cut another one off at the knees. They want control of the message of the faith but what they have controlled is preventing people from finding out the true faith They have gotten a watered down version of the Faith. They present a type of a Faith or a version of the Faith or a flavor of the Faith, that really, really isn’t the Faith. It smacks of the Faith, it has a bit of the odor of the Faith, but that’s about it. And because of that, people who really want to know about the Faith turn to other sources.
In one sense, it’s kind of like Totalitarian regimes when they cut off one source of the truth people go and find other sources, they develop an underground press, you simply cannot conquer the innate desire within human beings to want to know the truth because that is the innate desire placed there by Almighty God. That’s what inspires people to move toward him and you cannot choke that off. Cannot defeat it. Half truths, false truths and that sort of stuff, you cannot expect that people are going to be remain content. It never happens, and it never will happen. Now you will kill off a lot of people’s spiritual life, but you won’t kill off everyone’s spiritual life.
And that seems to be the lesson the people that operate in this fashion simply have not learned.