The good news first: Michael Voris, founder of The Vortex, RealCatholicTV.com and the Catholic Investigative Agency (CIA) is coming to London. Those who were not able to attend the Catholic bloggers’ conference in Rome earlier this year will now have the opportunity to meet him and listen to him. The talk will be on “Living the Catholic Faith Radically”, the date is August 24, the time is 7pm, the cost is £5, payable at the door or by Paypal, and the venue is Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London W1C 2DJ. This initiative has been arranged by Paul Smeaton, son of John Smeaton of SPUC, and the email address for enquiries is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So what is the bad news? The bad news is what Michael Voris will talk about: the decline of the Church in the west and what we Catholics need to do to halt and reverse this decline. His message, as those who watch RealCatholicTV.com will know, is very simple: if we Catholics are not prepared to live our faith radically ie be 100 per cent faithful to all the Church’s teachings and not pick or choose the bits we are comfortable with – we cannot call ourselves Catholic.
Some of his critics would argue that Voris is too judgmental of his fellow Catholics, laity and hierarchy alike. He takes this on the chin, with the counter-punch that for too long there has not been enough serious talk by the Church’s pastors about the gravity of sin and the reality of judgment – and that is why the Church is in a mess today. He maintains that charity is truth and that it is not charitable to avoid the truth when others’ souls are imperilled by our silence. He has harsh words for those he calls “professional Catholics”, who accept the Church’s teaching without deeply believing them, and who have simply forgotten the mission of the Church.
By his own admission, Voris was once a lapsed Catholic. What brought him back were the prayers of his mother as she lay dying of cancer. They proved a powerful wake-up call and he has been trying to wake up his fellow Catholics ever since.
The themes of The Vortex, his short, punchy YouTube presentations, available for free, are not the sort to attract cafeteria Catholics: they often include a mention of Hell; they name indolent or heretical members of the hierarchy; they often discuss the evils of contraception – “evil in its intent and in its execution” – and the other moral disasters it has led to, such as widespread abortion, divorce and the acceptance of other forms of recreational sex, such as same-sex relationships. Indeed, whatever peaceable accommodation Catholics have made with the world you can be sure that Michael Voris has taken a crusading stand against it.
Some traditionalists don’t like him because he doesn’t make a wholesale return to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass his single issue. He is entirely respectful of the traditional Latin Mass, but follows the Church in maintaining there is one rite, under two forms; both are permitted and Catholics are free to choose. But he does emphasise that reverence needs to be recovered in the New Rite and that “kneeling and on the tongue is the preferred method of reception of the Host in the universal Church”.
Others don’t like Voris’s style, “the way he waves his pesky pencil” as a friend put it to me, or the confident way he declares that The Vortex is “where lies and falsehoods are trapped and exposed”. He is too brash, too American, too in your face, too preachy, too un-PC. For me he simply answers the question: why be a Catholic? His sturdy response is: “Because the Catholic Church is the only hope against evil – as that is its God-given mission.”