Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Voris update

I've been given to understand that formally and canonically, the Archdiocese of Detroit is on firm ground in referencing Canon 216 of the Roman Catholic Church's current Code of Canon Law, which holds that “no undertaking is to claim the name 'Catholic'” without authorization. If Real Catholic TV dropped the word "Catholic" from its name, there would be no canonical ground for objecting to Voris' media presentations, no matter how people felt about their content.

Their content (as well as the opposition to it) is, of course, another matter with too many unknown quantities to hazard anything like a confident judgment at this point. Nevertheless, there are some obvious candidates for what might offend: Voris' bluntness -- for example, his willingness to directly call President Obama "evil" (because of Obama's support for abortion, courting of the homosexualist lobby, opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, and disregard for ethical positions of Catholic hospitals), or his ecumenically insensitive references to Protestantism as "heresy" (not even Belloc was willing to go that far in his book on The Great Heresies) or his willingness to call modern Judaism a "man-made religion" in the Catholic tradition of supersessionism (viewing the Church as the true spiritual Israel) -- views largely discarded in practice after Vatican II.

Some of you may remember my piece, "What's right and wrong with Michael Voris" (Musings, August 6, 2011), objecting to some all-too-superficial treatments of "Protestantism" without a nuanced appreciation of the significant differences between those traditions that may have at one time had valid (if illicit) orders, such as the Anglicans, and those that are so far removed from the sacramental tradition of the Church that they no longer even baptize or celebrate 'memorials' of the Lord's Supper, like the Quakers and membership of the Salvation Army. Further, Voris sometimes seems to lack an appreciation for the clear evidence of the life of the Holy Spirit and redemptively changed lives in some extra-ecclesial communions, such as those that produced the missionary movement of the former China Inland Mission and its yield of thousands of conversions to Christ, if not to the fullness of the Catholic Faith.

Still, I think it goes without saying that Voris' apostolate has an important place in the life of many faithful Catholics. His opposition to the "Catholicism-and-water" that prevails throughout the AmChurch world, with it's knee-jerk "we're-all-the-same-anyway" faux ecumenism, its all-too-easy accommodationism toward the culturally ascendant relativism in morals and all its "lies and falsehoods," is a breath of fresh realism for many Catholics. So, too, is Voris' appreciation of the invaluable treasures and resources that Catholic tradition has to offer.

While appreciating all of these positive features of Voris' apostolate, I see little problem with the technical canonical point that would prevent him from using the name "Catholic" without being granted permission from his local bishop. I see little problem, too, in admitting that it could be problematic to suppose that everything he says represents the official position of the Church, since some of his statements are simply too baldly unqualified. That, of course, is part of his popular appeal. His presentations often take the form of blistering jeremiads against hypocrisy and evil in high places. These are bound to offend; and those Catholic faithful, who have felt too long affronted by a discrepancy between word and deed among their leaders, quite likely feel at last a sense of vindication when this unrestrained Jeremiah stands up and calls it like he sees it, or, more-to-the-point, calls it like they see it.

The latest news, in any case, is that Real Catholic TV may be saved for the moment by a technicality of its own. According to CNA today:
... Voris maintains that Archbishop Vigneron is not the “competent ecclesiastical authority” over Real Catholic TV, which is owned by Indiana resident Marc Brammer.

“I don’t have ownership over the name of the organization. It’s not my organization. The headquarters are outside of the diocese,” Voris told LifeSiteNews in a Dec. 23 article. “It’s the wrong person, and the wrong outfit asking the wrong person the wrong question.”

Brammer told LifeSiteNews that “if all of a sudden now there’s this tussle over the use of the word 'Catholic,'” he would “deal with it through competent ecclesial authority.”


Nick said...

But wasn't it you that made (in a recent post) the insight that of all things a Bishop should stop his golf game and other asleep-at-the-wheel programs to call to mind Canon 216, where is mention of the National Catholic Reporter and other outrageous "Catholic" outlets that are given the green light? It seems clear to all that the primary motive is that RealCatholicTV is a bit 'too orthodox' and must be persecuted.

I see the 'problem' with some sweeping claims at times, but these are minor in the overall scheme and I don't think people are misled by them. The main problem is that so many people are half-awake that any noise above a whisper is considered yelling.

Of all the problems our Bishops should be addressing, the fact that RCTV gets any of their 'disciplinary attention' is damning proof that there is more malicious intent than anything. RCTV has hosted various Cardinals and clerics who have supported the apostolate.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

The information in the last paragraph suggests to me that Ab Vigneron's apparatchiks are guilty of the same kind of ignorant and reckless behavior of which they accuse Voris.

It also suggests to me that their warning to Voris was meant more as a bullying tactic than as a serious threat -- which is perhaps why they didn't bother to do any fact checking prior to issuing it. On the other hand, no one ever went broke overestimating the incompetence of the modern Catholic diocese.

One might think that a leader of Vigneron's supposed mettle could find a better use of his time.

The Buffalo Bills used to have a tight end named Mark Brammer. You don't suppose . . . ?

J. said...

How is this anything but Phariseeism, plain and simple? The bishops are perfectly willing to learn and enforce canon law when it suits their needs, but then pretend it doesn't exist when outright heretics use the name "Catholic" to promote their perversions.

When will the bishops use canon law in the way it was meant to be used, to punish sinners and protect the faithful? Why use it to attack an organization that actually defends Catholic doctrine and refuse to use it against organizations that offend doctrine and tradition?

For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them.

Yes, it does seem like RealCatholicTV could be reasonably accused of violating Canon 216, but then, isn't every blog that uses the word "Catholic" in its name also in violation? And what about every "Catholic" magazine or newspaper? Are we to believe that they all "claim the name 'Catholic' [with] the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority"? It seems doubtful, and the targets that the bishops choose for enforcing this canon make their own motives highly suspect.

I cannot defend all of Voris's statements, and you're right to observe that his presentations often lack a basic level of nuance. But he is no more to be condemned for this than publications like the New Oxford Review, which you have defended more than once on this blog.

Preferably a diocesan representative could be assigned to lay organizations and "undertakings" to keep them from straying in doctrine, but that would require equal opportunity vetting of all such organizations, not just those who happen to point out the flaws of the country's bishops. It would also necessitate a legal system to handle abuses in cases of bishops shutting down organizations because of doctrinal gnats whilst swallowing the camels of flamboyantly heretical and immoral organizations. Without that, I don't see how this canon can be reasonably enforced.

What a poor state the Church is in, that laymen need to be protected from their bishops, when they should be protected by them.

But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Protestantism, in all it's various forms, is heretical. They are not in communion with the Pope, and their main doctrine of faith alone makes anyone who accepts it a heretic de facto. Voris is right to condemn it as heretical and Judaism is a man-made religion that has nothing to do with the Mosiac law. That view may have been discarded after Vatican II, but it wasn't discarded because it was wrong, it was discarded becase it didn't fit into the ecumania that gave us such nonsense like Assisi I, II, and III.

JFM said...

"They are not in communion with the Pope..."

This is the great modern canard, since people like Sister Johnson ARE in communion with the pope but are about as Christian as Barbara Walters. Rome has long since relented from defining much of anything (we don't want hurt feelings), so it means little to be in communion with the pope. Meanwhile, the SSPX affirms everything popes have always said until the last few decades of profound ambiguity, and they are not in communion with the Pope? Here's a test: read any literature from the SSPX, then go read Ratzinger's "Introduction to Christianity." Then tell me the substance of which one comes closer to being in communion with the constant magisterium of the Church. The current lack of communion is in large part due to the fact Rome is so weak on enunciating just what it means. Even the much ballyhooed "Preamble" is confidential. Since when is any statement of faith confidential?!

Anonymous said...

voris must be onto something if so many of his critics are offended by his 'bluntness and insensitivity to other religions" and other such words and phrases which have very little to do with his message.

Jim J. McCrea said...

I agree with the observations of many.

Voris, generally speaking, defends the truth in a very powerful way, but does have the problem of not always using the proper nuance.