How Michael Voris and his Supporters harm the Church

Michael Voris has decided to take a role teaching his fellow Catholics. In that role as a teacher, he is doing much harm to the souls of the faithful. And many Catholic bloggers, including Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, are committing the sin of cooperation with evil by promoting Voris as if he were a faithful teacher of Catholicism. At one point in time, Fr. Z. agreed to be a co-teacher with Voris on a Lenten Retreat on a cruise ship (but as I understand the situation, Fr. Z. ended up not going on the trip).

There is nothing wrong, per se, with a lay person choosing to engage in the lay apostolate of teaching the faith. The Second Vatican Council issued a Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem) which encourages the laity to spread the Gospel worldwide. However, the same document repeatedly speaks of the limits of this apostolate, according to the ability of each individual.

Michael Voris has an STB in theology. But this does not imply an ability to understand and teach theology. As I’ve explained in several previous posts, Voris’ teaching includes numerous doctrinal errors as well as outright heresy. See this summary of his doctrinal errors. He lacks the ability to understand theology, and so he is not fit to teach anyone.

On the other hand, Michael Voris is skilled in public speaking and in using audio/video for communication. In fact, he has a degree in communications and once ran “his own video production company producing TV commercials for large corporations”. He also worked for many years as a “television news reporter, anchor and producer.” (Source: Voris bio)

Michael Voris has made hundreds of videos purporting to teach Catholicism to the faithful. And yet he has no written works of theology at all. Voris has not written a single book or booklet of theology. I cannot even find a single comprehensive article on any topic in theology written by him. He presumes to teach Roman Catholic theology to many thousands of the faithful, but he is unable or unwilling to write theology. If he did so, his errors would be more easily exposed. If he presented a written theological argument to support his positions, his errors could be more easily refuted. But the vast majority of his video-theology contains no real theological arguments. And so I’ve reached the conclusion that Voris is unable to write coherent theology on any topic. He teaches theology, but is unable to write theology. That is not what you want in a teacher of theology.

So what we have in Voris is a heretic with a poor understanding of Roman Catholic theology, and who is unable to express his point of view with a written theological argument. But he has much skill in speaking and presenting his views. He is skillful at public speaking. He is skillful at convincing his audience to believe what he says. And yet the content of his teaching is gravely disordered. He is like Faustus of Mileve, whom St. Augustine said was “eloquent and clever” in teaching heresy [Reply to Faustus the Manichaean].

The result has been grave harm to many souls. And it’s going to get worse.

Sooner or later, a Pope or Council will teach a truth of the Faith that contradicts Voris’ own oversimplified, distorted, and yet thoroughly self-dogmatized understanding. I think that, in the near future, Pope Francis — a liberal but orthodox Teacher — will teach that atheists can be saved without converting to belief in God, or that non-Christians can be saved without converting to Christianity, or that the Jewish and Muslim faiths are true religions because they are based on the love of God and neighbor, or that women can be validly ordained as deacons, or some other orthodox but liberal point within Catholicism.

Then we will see which Catholic teachers are truly faithful to Christ and His Church, and which teachers are only faithful to their own socio-political bias and their own limited understanding and plentiful misunderstandings of the Faith.

When that day arrives, I fully expect Voris to respond to the teaching of Pope Francis just as he now responds whenever any Bishop or Bishops’ Conference teaches anything with which he disagrees. He will rail against the perceived error with his own unique combination of skillful words and grossly-distorted theology. And he will lead many souls away from the Church. And everyone who now promotes Voris as if he were a sound teacher of Catholic theology will be complicit in that grave evil, including Fr. Z.

Voris has garnered a large audience, comprised of conservative Catholics, by playing to the conservative bias of his audience. He hits each of the popular conservative talking points, and so he gathers many conservatives to himself. Fr. Z. supports Voris because he is a conservative.

It is a strange development in the Church, but many of Her members have decided that the Church is nothing other than their own particular socio-political subculture within Catholicism. This is true of some liberals, and some conservatives. They no longer consider the Pope and the Magisterium to be their Teacher. Though they loudly protest otherwise, it is apparent that their beliefs are taken from conservatism or liberalism, not from the Magisterium, not from our Lord Jesus Christ. These Catholics have become members of what is essentially the religious version of a political party. Whatsoever is perceived as part of their party platform, they accept. And any ideas perceived to be of the opposite party, they reject. There is no room for criticism, in this view, of members of the same party.

So no matter how many grave doctrinal errors Michael Voris teaches, and no matter how much harm he does to the souls of Christ’s flock, Fr. Z. will not object. He will continue to promote Voris to his readers, because Voris is a fellow conservative. It seems to me that Fr. Z. would rather watch thousands of the little lambs of Christ’s flock be led to slaughter, by the heresies of Voris, than criticize a fellow conservative. But when the subject of any liberal Catholic is raised, Fr. Z. is quick and sharp in his rebuke. Hypocrite! If he were truly concerned about souls, he would not spare fellow conservatives from the same type of correction as he measures out to liberals.

[2 Corinthians]
{6:14} Do not choose to bear the yoke with unbelievers. For how can justice be a participant with iniquity? Or how can the fellowship of light be a participant with darkness?

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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