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Attacks build up on the ‘Taliban’ and the ‘McCarthyites’ of the Catholic blogosphere

But all they want is to get the Church back for the faith

By on Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Michael Voris, of, and Fra Roderic Mary, of, might be described by the New York Times as 'Catholic Taliban'

Michael Voris, of, and Fra Roderic Mary, of, might be described by the New York Times as 'Catholic Taliban'

“Fr James Martin SJ,” the editor reported yesterday in his Morning Catholic must-reads, “says that ‘web-based McCarthyism’ is on the rise in the Catholic blogosphere.” What he means by web-based McCarthyism is what John L Allen (of the National Catholic Reporter) calls the “Catholic Taliban”.

Allen’s explanation of this term was recently spelled out to an audience at the University of Texas. It was necessary, Allen said, to strike “a balance between two extremes”. This is how he described these extremes:

“On the one extreme lies what my friend and colleague George Weigel correctly terms ‘Catholicism Lite’, meaning a watered-down, sold-out form of secularised religiosity, Catholic in name only. On the other is what I call ‘Taliban Catholicism’, meaning a distorted, angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate, condemn, and smash the TV sets of the modern world.

Some in the audience chuckled, but others weren’t so amused. One younger faculty member rose during the Q&A period to offer a thoughtful, and heartfelt, challenge:

“To say things with clarity is not to be the Catholic Taliban,” she said, adding that she found the phrase “profoundly offensive”.

“There are no suicide bombers in the Catholic Church,” she said, “but we have had an epidemic of Catholicism Lite for the last 30 years.” Younger Catholics, she insisted, should not be dismissed as fanatics simply because they seek “fidelity and clarity.”

Her remarks were met with applause, suggesting she had struck a chord…”

Well, quite. But it’s pretty clear that orthodox Catholic bloggers are coming under fire, on both sides of the Atlantic: remember the Tablet’s attack on Fr Finigan’s splendid – and massively successful – blog, the Hermeneutic of Continuity? The interesting thing is that one of the chief grounds for attacking these blogs is that they allegedly use extreme language: and this from critics who talk about McCarthyism and the Catholic Taliban.

This controversy was reported recently by the ultra-liberal New York Times, which is, of course, all in favour of Catholicism Lite.  The paper went for the “McCarthyism” line, with the headline “Catholic Bloggers Aim to Purge Dissenters”. “Pressure is on”, claimed the writer,  “to change the Roman Catholic Church in America, but it’s not coming from the usual liberal suspects. A new breed of theological conservatives has taken to blogs and YouTube to say the church isn’t Catholic enough. Enraged by dissent that they believe has gone unchecked for decades, and unafraid to say so in the starkest language, these activists are naming names and unsettling the church.” [my italics]

Singled out for special attention was, which, accused the paper, is “hunting for ‘traitorous’ nuns, priests or bishops throughout the American Church”. “We’re no more engaged in a witch hunt than a doctor excising a cancer is engaged in a witch hunt,” said Michael Voris of and St Michael’s Media. “We’re just shining a spotlight on people who are Catholics who do not live the faith.”

Well, that makes them sound like a pretty over the top bunch, so I thought I’d better have a look at these people, who when you get on to their website (you have to register, but it’s free) turn out to offer not a blog but a daily TV-style news bulletin. I had a look at yesterday’s bulletin, which was a sober, straight report of the following five news items, with no condemnation of anyone:

1) The story, also reported in Morning Catholic must-reads on this home page yesterday: the editor’s words were “Catholics in the Swiss city of Lucerne have created controversy after they distributed 3,000 condoms as part of an anti-Aids campaign”.

2) A bishop has discontinued a regular Mass celebrated for the last 15 years for homosexuals in San Antonio, Texas (which sounds just like the Soho Masses here), on the grounds that it was “sending conflicting messages about Catholic teaching”.

3) A Mgr Scully has died celebrating Mass; his bishop said it was how he would have wanted to go. This elicited the bulletin’s only comment: “God rest his soul.”

4) The conversion of Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, to Islam.

5) An attempt by a 16-year-old girl’s parents to force her to have an abortion was foiled after the girl got a court order, with the support of the child’s father, who also “did not want the baby killed”.

And that was it. Moderate in tone, simple, factual. Michael Voris certainly wants to expose people he thinks are disloyal to the Church, who he thinks “are hijacking the Church for their own ends”. Well: and why not? We know they exist, these people. You may think the tone of this quotation sounds a bit paranoid: but maybe there’s something to be paranoid about. 

  • SPQRatae

    As Gandhi said:

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    Looks like we are witnessing the last gasps of the 'spirit of Vatican II' liberals, as their arthritic grip on the Church finally starts to loosen.

  • Ratbag

    Amen, Amen, Amen!

  • MJCarroll

    I received this youtube link for the latest output today. It is their response to the above articles.

    If this is the direction that the Church is going in then it is about time and the Church can only prosper. This may be an American stand point but as the saying goes 'if America sneezes then Britain catches a cold' and it seems already that British Traditional bloggers are using these articles as a call to arms. As SPQRatae says, maybe this is the beginning of the end for the 'Vatican II liberals' who manipulated its meaning to the detriment of British Catholics.

  • W Oddie

    This link (to a comment piece by Michael Voris) gives a much better idea of RealCatholicTV than my article, which makes this outfit sound a bit bland. This is punchy and bold, but says no more than the truth. And if you take offence at it, the answer is not to insult it but to give your answer to it, if you have one. The fact is that there is no answer. Voris has got it dead right: this is a gifted communicator in action.

  • MJCarroll

    I whole heartedly agree!

  • Saunders9

    Michael Voris wants to take the Church back to a time before Vatican II. He opposes evolution; opposes modern biblical criticism; opposes any form of liberal economics, for example, the welfare state. I commented on this man's web sit I was personally insulted and told Fr Raymond E Brown who was a famous Bible scholar was a heretic, and hence, me by association. This man is a Taliban Catholic who needs to put dealt with by the Church. Unfortunately I doubt he will listen to his Bishop and I think Pope Benedict XVI would have a hard job because his mentality is fundamentalist. And what is strange to me is at a time when the Church is struggling to recruit priests he dropped out of the priesthood! If Michael Voris' Catholicism is the true Catholicism then I will leave the church. The man leaves a thoroughly bad taste in the mouth and yes he insulted me personally.

  • MJCarroll

    I really need to get on and do other things, but spotted this blog and thought it was relevant in the UK context of the argument. The 'Hermeneutic of Continuity?' is not alone in this country any more. There are other new blogs cropping up such as the one below.

    As a final point I have been watching a bit of RealCatholicTV every evening since you posted this article and I have to say that I am more and more impressed by Michael Voris. Let's have more of this sort of thing in this country. We need to hear it!

  • paul

    American style right-wing Christianity is the last thing the Church wants, apart from being entirely un-Christian in many respects a more radical approach is hardly going to slow the masses that have left the Church in the last 20 years and is unlikely to attract anyone new

    Your Real Catholic TV video host was amazingly arrogant, cocky and not willing to admit to the large unrest and unease among many Catholics – especially the youth on the stances the Church holds.

  • Pau;

    John Allen works for the “National Catholic Reporter” which is a heretical newspaper in the US. All Catholics are required to adhere to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” which is the only catechism from the Church Magisterium. The Reporter ignores the CCC exists because it takes so many positions opposite the Church – and the paper can not prove their positions. They support women priests, abortion, marriage for priests, Catholic politicians who give “Scandal” regarding gay marriage. etc. This is why he terms all those who follow the Pope and Church teaching as being “taliban”. (CCC Heresy #2089; Scandal #2284) Thank God for Michael Voris of Real Catholic TV.

  • Lightchop

    “The Catechism of the Catholic Church which I approved…..and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church’s Faith and of Catholic Doctrine , attested to or illimined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” – Pope John Paul II; imprimi potest by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger; copyright held by the Holy See.

    The Catholic Church is not a salad bar; we can not pick and choose what we want to believe.

    I highly recommend watching RealCatholicTV. They are loyal to the Pope, loyal to the teachings of the Church as stated in the CCC. This is not the case of the New York Times or heretical John Allen and the heretical Reporter. Allen should try reading the CCC sometime.