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Michael Voris: Being Catholic is about salvation, not accommodation

Francis Phillips relates Michael Voris’s take no prisoners approach to faith

By on Thursday, 25 August 2011

Michael Voris wielding his 'sword of truth'

Michael Voris wielding his 'sword of truth'

I was at Regent Hall, Oxford Street last night to hear Michael Voris speak about what it means to be Catholic. For those who did not see my last blog post about him, Michael founded St Michael’s Media, a Catholic TV station, in 2006 and RealCatholicTV.com, an on-line Catholic TV station, in 2008. All credit to Paul Smeaton, son of John Smeaton and a recent graduate, for arranging this talk.

It was very well attended; the “stalls” were packed, if not the “gallery”. But this was no theatrical event. It was a dedicated Catholic addressing his fellow believers and it was electrifying. Voris is no slouch when it comes to straight talking. He has been criticised for this in the past, for speaking as if he “has authority”. After all, he is only a layman, sounding off as if he were a bishop.

This is precisely Voris’ point: as a confirmed Catholic and “soldier of Christ” (remember that quaint phrase?) he sees it as his duty – and ours – to be an evangelist for the Faith. It is our responsibility and not to be sloughed off on the hierarchy – who may or may not be fulfilling their responsibilities. He told us in no uncertain terms, “You have a vital role to play: to work out your own salvation and to do everything possible for the salvation of others.”

He has no truck with the description “I am a Catholic”, said in the same way as one might say “I am an Irishman.” To be Catholic is who we are; the correct description should be “I am Catholic” and chuck away the indefinite article. This was heady stuff and several times he got loud applause. Voris is sometimes accused of being too full of himself – but I don’t think he cared a toss about the clapping. He was too on fire with his message; it is very simple: to be Catholic means to pay any price in order to love Christ with every fibre of one’s being and “to look at the world as a theatre of redemption.”

As if we didn’t hear it all around us, he reminded us that the words “accommodation”, “tolerance” and being “non-judgmental” are simply not stances that a Catholic can take. “The Faith is about salvation, not accommodation”, he reminded us. It’s not enough to have a private devotional life and leave the world to go hang; quoting the late great American Jesuit, Fr John Hardon, Voris told us, “If we are not about saving the world, then why are we Catholic?”

In one memorable anecdote, he related that, aged 14, he had served at a Mass in San Francisco celebrated by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. In the sacristy afterwards a young man had come up to him, telling him that he had written a book synthesising Eastern mysticism with the Western Church. “Get out!” roared the Archbishop. “The Catholic Faith is a gift from Almighty God and I will not have you polluting it! Get out!”

As I said, it was heady stuff. I left with the words “When you hear the truth you must either reject it or change your life” ringing in my ears. Why not check out Voris’ website?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697126564 Paul Halsall

    I don’t suppose this guy would have liked John Paul II hanging around with the Dalai Lama that much….

    (Is he wearing a wig, btw?  Would Jesus wear a wig?)

  • Anonymous

    I was there too. It was FANTASTIC. Francis relates the main thrust of his talk very well. One other point he made was to look at your life and what you spend some time doing. Pick something you enjoy and do regularly, and then give that up and devote that time to your own formation so that you can better go about the business of saving your own soul and others. Challenging . . . but imagine the results if we all did it?!

  • Annie

    I so wish I could have been there, it sounds great!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Kenny/500505255 Michael Kenny

    I’ve watched a few of this man’s videos – he is not ‘a crazy’ he ‘is crazy’

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Kenny/500505255 Michael Kenny

    I’ve watched a few of this man’s videos – he is not ‘a crazy’ he ‘is crazy’

  • Jez

    I was there. Britain gave us Newman, Chesterton, Belloc… and now it’s reduced to importing this? That has to be more damning of the state of the Church in England than anything Voris said. In fact, most of the speech was pretty banal. The most electrifying part was the nutter screaming about psychic powers from the gallery.

    On the plus side, a number of us left convinced that Voris’ fabulous hair is his own. The videos don’t do it justice.

  • Anonymous

    Michael Voris has gone down a storm this week on the web. The majority of the UK’s Catholic bloggers have given him much positive attention, with even some unlikely candidates actually praising him.

    The words ‘radical Catholic evangelicalism’ and ‘faithful orthodox’ have been bandied around this week. This has not just been a reference to Michael Voris but, of a slowly growing movement coming out of the Church which seems to equate to radically living Catholic traditions and beliefs whilst positively engaging with the modern world (with an emphasis on life issues and saving souls). In other words, doing exactly what we are supposed to do, but properly! It has nothing to do with left or right but, only to do with what is right and wrong.

    I think that Michael’s visit to London and the discussion that it has provoked has been a very good thing for the Catholic Church in this country.

    Thank you Michael Voris for standing up for the Church!

  • Anonymous

    Michael Voris has gone down a storm this week on the web. The majority of the UK’s Catholic bloggers have given him much positive attention, with even some unlikely candidates actually praising him.

    The words ‘radical Catholic evangelicalism’ and ‘faithful orthodox’ have been bandied around this week. This has not just been a reference to Michael Voris but, of a slowly growing movement coming out of the Church which seems to equate to radically living Catholic traditions and beliefs whilst positively engaging with the modern world (with an emphasis on life issues and saving souls). In other words, doing exactly what we are supposed to do, but properly! It has nothing to do with left or right but, only to do with what is right and wrong.

    I think that Michael’s visit to London and the discussion that it has provoked has been a very good thing for the Catholic Church in this country.

    Thank you Michael Voris for standing up for the Church!

  • Anonymous

    Jez, what did you find banal about the speech? Engage with the content, don’t just say malign him in the abstract. Ditto Michael Kenny, why do you think he’s crazy? He may be crazy for Christ, but perhaps it’s those of us who are less committed to salvation of our mortal soul and more concerned with temporal matters who are the crazy ones?

    I thought the way the lady in the gallery who started ranting was superb . . . her rant drowned out by the sound of prayer. And being the Catholic Church means nutters welcome too and to be treated with the dignity appropriate to a human.

  • http://profiles.google.com/tito.edwards Tito Edwards

    Michael Voris is a Warrior for Christ, a 21st Century Crusader and Slayer of the Defenders of the Culture of Death.

    Long live Michael Voris!

  • Semyon

    I must say I agree with Jez.  I didn’t hear anything in his speech I hadn’t heard before apart from the great story about Fulton Sheen.   There was a charming irony to hear a man proclaim ”There is only one true Church and that is the Catholic Church.  It may be politically incorrect to say that but it’s theologically spot on.” … from a Salvation Army lectern.

    If Mr Voris thinks it’s extraordinarily radical to recommend Pascendi Dominici Gregis to a bunch of people who had all made the effort to come to hear an explicitly conservative catholic commentator, I wonder how sharp the fellow really is.  Either that or he couldn’t be bothered to write a proper homily; oh yes, he’s not a priest.  This was stream of conscience protestantism imported straight from the USA.  Long may it stay there.

  • Parasum

    “As if we didn’t hear it all around us, he reminded us that the words
    “accommodation”, “tolerance” and being “non-judgmental” are simply not
    stances that a Catholic can take.”

    ## As any priest in the SSPX – a body not exactly famous for being full of weak-&-watery accomodators to the Zeitgist – could tell him, as he seems not to know: tolerance =///////= approval. The Church has tolerated many evils, to avoid the even greater disruptions that would come from not tolerating them. Tolerance of what one regrets, rejects, but cannot correct, makes life in society possible. In a plural society, one not presided over by Mister Voris’ longed-for “Catholic dictator” (which he then tried to correct in a later video to correct to “Catholic monarch”), Catholics have to be tolerant – it goes well with being patient and long-suffering; two virtues  recommended in the NT.

    Catholics can, & should be, “non-judgmental”, on many occasions – can’t he tell the difference between:

    1) the mental habit of not judging (which is a permanent disposition, because that is what habits are)

    &

    2) Not judging in particular cases, when one lacks either full knowledge of the details, or competence, or insight to do so ?

    Voris seems incapable of realising that life is not all black and white – a lot of it is grey, and the slash-and-burn approach he seems to favour (& to think is alone Catholic ?) ignores virtues such as prudence & mercy & shows no understanding that people cannot be dealt with in this wholesale way. One day, like the rest of us, he will badly need the compassion and mercy he seems to be very kreen to deny to others. “The measure you mete out to others, will be the measure you receive”. The merciless & nuance-free Catholicism he seems to espouse may be suited to MV – it does not follow that it is suitable to anyone else.

  • Parasum

    “…and Slayer of the Defenders of the Culture of Death.”

    So *that’s* what the sword is for ! Sir Voris the Heretic-Slayer sallies forth, seeking whom he may – not devour, perhaps, but – give a “thwack !” with his trusty weapon. Yes indeed.

    Earth to Voris: the DP for heresy has been discontinued, as of over 200 years ago. Sorry. 
     

  • Anonymous

    I was not at the talk, but mostly positive reactions it seems.. I have watched quite a few of his videos, some are superb, some a little harsh. I have yet to make my mind up on him.

  • Michael McManus

     Send him back to his padded cell , Where does the church get these nut cases from, Last week you had the pope talking about being a christian, Hes leader of a church that does not follow whats written in the bible, So how can he even be classed as a christian  

  • Anonymous

    How ironic, you judge Mr Voris for being judgemental.

    If you had been at the talk (you obviously were not) you would known that he never singled anyone out for ‘judging’. It would be really helpful if you had all the facts before you PUBLICLY make your judgement/condemnation of him.

  • Hadenoughalready

    Michael Voris is a daily addiction for me.  Pray I have the strength to put into action what he says so clearly

  • Me

    You get a fuller sense of the man in his long presentations and talks. I particularly recommend his two-part presentations during WYD in Madrid:

    http://www.realcatholictv.com/free/index.php?vidID=wrld-2011-08-17&ssnID=173

    You may have to sign up for a free account to gain access.

    Here, you see a man full of love for the young people in his audience, trying to inspire them to live heroic and saintly lives. He is intelligent, eloquent, and on fire with apostolic zeal.

  • Me

    He has never ignored the virtues of prudence and mercy, and I’m sorry you come away with this mistaken impression.

    It’s worth watching his hour-long interview with Michael Coren:

    http://www.realcatholictv.com/free/index.php?vidID=vort-2011-02-07-a

  • Anonymous

    Michael is a breath of fresh air in the midst of the fog of liberal cowardice from the Catholic Hierarchy. The latter have made tolerance into a virtue. The Church is in serious need of weeding out those who lack the intestinal fortitude to defend our One True Church.      

  • Parasum

    I wasn’t at the talk. But there are plenty of videos of him on Youtube; I even referred to a couple of them. As for the alleged irony: there is none – there is a place for making judgements (as my post explained in some detail) :) FWIW, the criticisms I made are probably much  milder than those here – but judge (that word again !) for yourself:

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/in-criticism-of-michael-voris/

  • Parasum

    Thanks for the link :)  He has a rather good video on gay Catholics (it’s much more sympathetic than a lot of the stuff on the Net):

    but to set against that, are videos like “Affirmative Orthodoxy – Whatever!”:

    which is perhaps not a model of prudence or of fairness to those whom he is criticising. His approach seems to be a form of “muscular Catholicism”: IOW, drive ahead, ignore grey areas, & don’t bother with listening to what other people have to say. Other Catholics have been less polite than I have – & is it really wise to polarise people ? St. Paul has a lot to say about how Jesus makes those who were enemies, of each other & God, members of the same Church, & about how He reconciles people – St.Paul’s emphasis isn’t perhaps as satisfying as that of Voris, but it is far more constructive, & required far more effort, than the aggressive approach that MV seems to prefer. If my impression is mistaken, it’s based on his own videos.

    Dialogue may be very tiresome in the eyes of those with his approach, but as long Catholics are part of a world which contains people who have beliefs of a different kind, to go full steam ahead over the prostrate bodies of the armies of darkness is not really on. 

  • Basil Loft@ss

    If you think Voris is bad try listening to the “accomodating” Fr. Robert Barron of “Word on Fire” fame. His film reviews are bordeline ridiculous and reveal a total denial of what has happened to the USA since the 1960′s (the reviews are not just bad they are an insult). It is this VERY denial that has brought about the collapse of the Faith in the United States and the West in general since that decade.

    The only way the decline will be stopped is by a change in the political climate external to the life of the Church. This change will be brought about by either a second American revolution or a third World War. Either way blood will be spilt and my money is on the latter.

    The Church has attempted suicide since Vatican II and we now find ourselves in a similar situation to that of a soccer team struggling at the foot of the premiership. No longer in control of its own destiny, it finds itself praying that that results of other games will go its way.

  • Nat_ons

    Thank the good Lord that the crazy are not excluded from i) heaven, ii) being right, or iii) witnessing to Christ. Would that more of our apostolic oversight, the bishops, were a tad more ‘crazy’ in this evangelical and inspired sense .. rather than in their own form of insane inanity. Yes, Mr Voris is enthused – even hyper-enthused – a sad state for the rest of us to cope with, yet such craziness is the art of mission: in this case a divine one (and hence in need of careful fostering by a generous, trustworthy and committed episcopate .. until one develops, well the Vortex must swell as goes it own blasting, rocking, rolling way: crazy, man, crazy, crazy news!)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AIMQ3DOMNKRAI5KYMAVZ2NZMLA Carlos

    He makes a lot of people uncomfortable because he takes his faith seriously.He isn’t perfect,but who is? Catholicism is dying a slow death without enough people like him.He may not get it right all the time,but you who say he is getting it wrong…why don’t YOU tell off the abortionists,gays and secualrists in the correct manner according to you? God bless Michael for at least trying. I’ve started going to mass again these last few months after watching some of his videos so I can tell you from experience he ain’t all bad,at least no worse than the rest of us.

  • Jamesfindlayson

    Yes, and Pope Benedict XVI is an anti-pope, and everyone’s a Modernist except Fr Tin Finigan and Fr ‘Zee’…

  • Jamesfindlayson

    Rereading your post, I have 2 tips:
    1 If you’re NOT a sedevacantist, don’t make your post look like you are
    2 If you are, just say, ‘I’m a sedevacantist’, and don’t waste any more words… :)

  • Anonymous

    I watch his daily videos (the Vortex) on a regular basis and a lot of what the guy says does make sense to me. His fight is against the wishiwashiness within the Catholic church. Wishiwashiness which causes confusion, uncertainty, fustration and to a certain extent division.

  • Me

    I’m sure the Jews of his day thought John the Baptist was utterly crazy–walking around in a camel shirt thunderously preaching repentance.

    I’m not comparing Voris to John the Baptist, but only saying that sometimes we need a loud and clear voice to shake us out of our complacency and light a fire under us.

  • Me

    His Vortex videos are short, pithy, and deliberately provocative. He doesn’t have time to be nuanced. It’s better to listen to his unscripted hour-long talks, where you see a man on fire with saving souls, and genuinely full of *love*–yes, love–for souls.

    You can see both his talks in Madrid here:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/RealCatholicTV?feature=mhee#p/u/15/WwLrvpsMhvE

    http://www.youtube.com/user/RealCatholicTV?feature=mhee#p/u/14/a05Mxbdxs84

    You can also see his apologetics series here, which offers the basics of the Catholic faith to those still learning:

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=michael+voris+one+true+faith&aq=f

  • Me

    That’s an unkind rumor. His hair is all his own.

  • Basil Loft@ss

    1) If you are troll I suggest you try harder.
    2) Are your trying to be witty?

  • Basil Loft@ss

    I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

  • liberaltraditionalist

    It’s a good point you make at the end of yoiur post: the style betrays the (secular)political stance. You often get it on EWTN: it is culturally American and  predominately neoconservative right down to attacks on universal healthcare, with the assumption the audience shares that stance.

  • Bandos Orc

    Don’t judge Michael simply because of his Vortex videos. The Vortex is used to eradicate corruption and double standards in the Church. Join up on http://www.realcatholictv.com and see many of his excellent materials.

  • Joe Q

     The Council of Trent infallibly said in the VII session in canon IV, “If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema (excommunicated).” http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct07.html