Michael Voris

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Michael Voris, S.T.B. (b. 1961) is an American Roman Catholic journalist, polemicist, and apologist. He is the president and founder of St. Michael's Media, which creates short videos and full length digital television programs that appear on the website ChurchMilitant.tv (previously known as RealCatholicTV.com), which the Detroit Free Press has cited as becoming "increasingly popular around the world" and attracting "10 million views on YouTube".[1] Voris' work is "often strident in tone, criticizing leading political, cultural and Church figures"[2] and he has been criticized by some other Catholic leaders for his "blunt manner".[1]

Contents

Background

Voris attended the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1983 with a degree in Communications with a focus on history in politics. Voris also attended two years of seminary training at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York during the 1980s.[3] Between 1983 and 1986 Voris became a television anchor, producer and reporter for various CBS affiliates at New York, Albany, Duluth and Cheyenne.[4] In 1989 he became a news reporter and producer for a Fox affiliate in Detroit, where he won four Emmys for production between the years of 1992 and 1996.[4]

In 1997 he began operation of an independent television production company. Voris cites the death of his brother from a heart attack in 2003, followed by his mother dying from stomach cancer in 2004 as the events that moved him to go from being "a lukewarm, Catholic, someone who usually just went through the motions at church" to what has been characterized as an "aggressive global advocate for conservative Catholics...on a burning mission to save Catholicism and America by trying to warn the public about what he sees as a decline of morality in society."[1]

After being a guest speaker at several Roman Catholic parishes in Detroit and serving as a host on Michigan Catholic Radio network, in 2006 Voris started the digital television studio St. Michael’s Media in Ferndale, Michigan.[4] Voris's move into Roman Catholic video broadcasting was in response to the book and film The Da Vinci Code.[5] Voris had planned to make a one-hour TV program in order to refute the image of the Catholic Church put forward by Dan Brown's work. He came to believe "that the challenges facing the Catholic Church in the United States were much larger and more pernicious than a single blockbuster".[5] Voris withdrew much of his retirement fund, and with volunteers began his St. Michael's Media in Ferndale, Michigan.[5] With his background in secular broadcasting Voris felt he could provide a level of production that could compete with mainstream talk shows. He began hosting "The One True Faith" in 2006, and in 2007 he began hosting a Catholic talk radio show "News and Views Weekly".[5] Voris's work soon received an endorsement from then-Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke of the St. Louis.[5] By early 2008 Voris's programs expanded into markets from Ontario to the Philippines, and from California to New York.[5] On September 1, 2008 he partnered with RealCatholicTV.com, which is owned by Marc Brammer (a business developer for Moody's) who lives in South Bend, Indiana and is a member of Opus Dei.[1]

Some of the Catholic video segments/programs Voris has worked on include: "The Vortex", "The One True Faith", "Catholic Investigative Agency", "The Armor of God", and "Where did the Bible Come From?", among many others.

In 2009, Voris successfully completed a post-graduate program and while graduating Magna Cum Laude, received a STB degree from the Angelicum in Rome, Italy, via Sacred Heart Major Seminary.[4]

In conjunction with his media programs, Voris has traveled extensively, including video-recording and speaking in Nigeria, the Philippines, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, New Zealand, Australia, and England.

In addition to his media work Voris often speaks at retreats, conferences and parishes on various Catholic topics.

Honors

In 2011 Voris was inducted into the Knighthood of the Royal Order of St. Michael of the Wing, by the Royal House of Portugal.[4]

Controversies

Some critics of Voris within the Catholic Church (from Pennsylvania to Spain to Detroit"[1]) have said that "his remarks, at times, promote division and extremism".[1]

Global warming comments

In a video entitled "Global Warming Unmasked: The Hidden Agenda", Voris claims that "Catholic leaders must recognize global warming for what it is. It is a government power grab via population reduction. It is a pseudoscience and hyper-sensationalism. These things are being used to promote the global warming agenda, just as they were in the early 20th century eugenics movement…. In fact, global warming is the evolution, the natural evolution, of that early eugenics program."[6] Voris goes on (siding with historians that hold there was an influence of the American Eugenics program on Nazi Germany) saying "Hitler adopted the American eugenic ideals and implemented them throughout his Nazi regime. ...Hitler did not originate the idea of eugenics and creating superior Aryan race. It was indeed an American concept. He saw this happening in America, and went 'Ah-ha' and grabbed it and incorporated it into his whole Nazi philosophy."[6] Voris then appears to correlate Hitler's eugenics programs (which resulted in the Jewish Holocaust and other atrocities) to global warming, theories of overpopulation, and support of contraception and legalized abortion saying "What you have to understand is that the elite have now moved on to a sort of new updated version of this, a new technique. It's not eugenics anymore. Now it's called global warming. The elite need global warming in order to pursue their reduction in population goals."[6]

"Rabbinical Judaism" comments

In a video entitled simply "The Jews", Michael Voris claims, about the Jewish Faith in ancient times: “they had a Temple and offered sacrifice; the entire religion was focused on this one singular point.... Once however the Romans were done with their work, the Jews as the religion of the Covenant no longer existed.... No temple, no sacrifices, no priesthood, no Judaism. What replaced it in history is what has come down to us today: Rabbinical Judaism. This is not the Judaism of the Covenant. It is a man-made religion.”[7] He then went on to equate modern Judaism with Protestantism, labelling both religions originating with man.

Ban from Scranton Diocese

Using a press release issued by the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Diocese of Scranton issued this statement in response to a planned speaking engagement of Voris in that diocese:

"The Diocese of Scranton has determined that Mr. Voris will not be allowed to speak in a Diocesan or parish facility. After these engagements were scheduled, the Diocese became aware of concerns about this individual’s views regarding other religious groups. In videos posted on the Internet, Mr. Voris makes comments that certainly can be interpreted as being insensitive to people of other faiths. The Catholic Church teaches us to respect all people, regardless of their faith tradition."

"Although the Diocese shares Mr. Voris’ support of efforts to protect human life, his extreme positions on other faiths are not appropriate and therefore the Diocese cannot host him."[8]

"Catholic monarchy" comments

Voris had first come under intense criticism for the statement "The only way to run a country is by benevolent dictatorship, a Catholic monarch who protects his people from themselves and bestows on them what they need, not necessarily what they want."[1] Voris later apologized for these comments saying he misspoke but maintaining that his larger point "that a society needs strong morals in order to survive"[1] remained true. Voris holds that there has been a liberal shift in the Catholic Church, a post-1960s culture that has had negative influence over Catholics which he terms "Americanism".[1] He worries that many among the American Roman Catholic clerical hierarchy are "namby-pamby" when "muscular Catholicism that isn't afraid to encourage battle and sacrifice" is needed for the times.[1]

Scranton ban

In April 2011 Voris (who had intended to give a talk entitled "Living Catholicism Radically"[9]) was banned from speaking at Marywood University and any facilities owned by the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania.[1] This action was taken after complaints were made about Voris's statement about other religions.[1] In a letter to the talk's organizers (Paul and Kristen Ciaccia), the diocese declared that "it had been informed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Mr. Voris's home Archdiocese of Detroit that Voris had caused "a number of controversies" and "that his programs are not endorsed by his home archdiocese".[9] The diocese held that some of his statements "certainly can be interpreted as being insensitive to people of other faiths".[2] Voris ascribed this decision to "political correctness. Anything somebody takes offense at, whether it's true or not, seems to be out of bounds."[1] The speech was moved to the Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre, and the talk's organizers invited local Bishop Joseph Bambera to attend "to evaluate Mr. Voris's knowledge of the faith, free from opinions formed by others."[9] The bishop did not take up the offer. The Ciaccias said the ban "belies deeper inconsistencies in diocesan policy."[9] Voris spoke about the events in a video segment, noting the diocese allowed Sara Bendoraitis, the director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Resource Center at American University, to speak at the University of Scranton the previous spring.[9]

Knights of Columbus Leadership

One of Voris' videos was seen as controversial for criticizing the national leadership of the Knights of Columbus. He accused them of inaction towards politicians in their own ranks supporting legalized abortion and same sex marriage. Voris also held that the group was too concerned with fiscal matters to the neglect of Catholic orthodoxy.[2]

World Youth Day

On July 26, 2011 the organizer of World Youth Day being held in Madrid, Spain announced that they had not approved the independent catechesis sessions being offered by Voris (who was covering the event for his digital television channel). The organizers announced that "Participants in the World Youth Day 2011 Cultural Program must be recognized and endorsed by the bishops and episcopal conferences of their respective countries."[2] Organizations that were selected "promote the authentic teaching and unity" and must have the proper endorsements.[2]

Voris' sessions were titled "No Bull in Madrid" and focused on addressing "tough issues concerning sexuality and morals facing Catholic youth today." [10] Voris stated he was puzzled why such a statement was released when "[w]e never said we were part of the official World Youth Day" [2] and noted that official approval was not necessary to present talks or do news reportage at WYD. He also indicated further puzzlement as to why the organization he represented (called RealCatholicTV.com at the time) was singled out when there were many other unapproved apostolates at WYD.[11] Voris also noted that no one was challenging any of the theological content in his catechesis, nor had any Church official ever challenged any of the content in any Catholic program he had ever been a part of.[2]

Voris said that the group had, with the support of a priest, attempted to be registered as an official participant, but was told "there was no space for new groups."[2]

Earlier that year, in February 2011, the archdiocesan director of communications Ned McGrath had told reporters "the Real Catholic TV enterprise had yet to present itself or receive approval of its apostolate and programming from the archdiocese."[2] When asked during the Madrid controversy in July what the relationship between his group and his local Archbishop was, Voris said he did not know. He stated that he had never been able to reach the Archbishop after personally making six attempts to schedule a meeting. Voris wondered if this was interference from the bureaucracy surrounding the Archbishop. Voris said he was willing to discuss the issue with organizers, but questioned if there wasn't "something else at work".[2]

While Voris was in Spain, Catholic News Agency (CNA) reporters discovered that the state of Michigan had dissolved the nonprofit corporation status of St. Michael's Media in 2009 due to a failure to file records with the state for two years. Officials at Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs referred confirmed the situation but referred questions whether the company was receiving donations claiming 501(c)3 status to the Michigan Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.[12] CNA reporters also discovered that Simon Rafe, the webmaster for St Michael's Media, had created some online fan fiction with sexually explicit themes. Voris stated that he had been unaware of the situation when confronted with the materials.[12]

In a later video response, Voris admitted that the error on the paperwork was entirely his fault. He stated that when St. Michael's Media was established they had a short-term helper who handled all the paperwork in regard to the state. When the worker departed, Voris added those responsibilities to his own. Voris admitted he had been ignorant of the need to file annual reports and was following Michigan’s processes to return to good standing, and would pay the fines (five dollars per year of failing to report).[11] Voris pointed out that while he had failed in regard to the state paperwork, the paperwork for St. Michael's Media to be a 501c organization was with the Internal Revenue Service (part of the Federal government) and which had always been up-to-date - assuring viewers that donations had always been tax deductible.[11]

Rafe removed the materials from the internet and apologized for "actions I took as a private individual".[13] St Michael's Media and RealCatholicTv.com curtailed Rafe's duties to only administrative and technical obligations, suspending his involvement in other areas which had included public speaking and hosting productions.[11]

In his response Voris claimed, "During my conversations with the Catholic News Agency it has been revealed to us, that they get all kinds of secret anonymous stories about either me personally or our work -- all trying to depict me, or our work, in a very bad light. The same is true with this story; it came through an anonymous source. The owners of the website RealCatholicTV.com are aware that because of some of what we talk about in various programs we have developed enemies in the Church, sad as that is, it is the reality. ...We are very aware that there are many people in the Church who have it out for us. We aren't playing victim, merely stating the reality that we confront almost daily and has now been confirmed for us by the Catholic News Agency. …We pray for unity in the Church but unity cannot come at the sacrifice of the Truth."[11]

Name controversy

After one of Voris' programs caused controversy when he stated "The only way to prevent a democracy from committing suicide is to limit the vote to faithful Catholics,"[1] he received increased scrutiny from the Archdiocese of Detroit. In December 2011, the Archdiocese publicly released two press releases holding that the digital station realcatholictv.com was not permitted to use the word "Catholic" within its name according to their reading of Canon Law.[1] Canon 216 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law which states, "Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name 'Catholic' without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority."[14]

The press release stated, "The Archdiocese has informed Mr. Voris and Real Catholic TV, RealCatholicTV.com, that it does not regard them as being authorized to use the word 'Catholic' to identify or promote their public activities...The Church encourages the Christian faithful to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings but, nevertheless, prohibits any such undertaking from claiming the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority."[15]

Because Voris is the owner of St. Michael's media, and is contracted with RealCatholicTV's owner Marc Brammer who lives in South Bend Indiana (which is under the authority of Bishop Kevin Rhoades), a question of jurisdiction under canon law arose.[15] Brammer noted he has received a letter from the Archdiocese of Detroit acknowledging him as the owner of the website and its name. He responded to the letter by requesting a meeting but got no response.[15] Brammer has personally met with Bishop Rhoades, who has reassured him that he has no problem with the name RealCatholicTV.com. Voris also held that he had made seven attempts to set up a meeting with the Archbishop on the matter and had been rebuffed or ignored on each occasion.[15] When asked by reporters if the diocese Marc Brammer lives in has any problems with RealCatholicTV Fr. Mark Gurtner, Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana responded, "No, as far as I know there is nothing."[16] Gurtner went on, stating that speaking as a canon lawyer (and not speaking on behalf of the diocese) it was his opinion that as the owner of the website lived in Indiana, that they had jurisdiction over the matter rather than Detroit.[16] In response the archdiocese of Detroit cited its own canon lawyer Ed Peters (a professor at the local Sacred Heart Major Seminary) who maintained that Detroit was on "firm ground" in its actions concerning Voris.[16]

When asked by reporters if the Archdiocese had ever pursued anyone else for using the term "Catholic" without its permission, Ned McGrath, its Director of Communications admitted that he could not recall any other similar incident in his twenty years working for the Detroit Archdiocese.[16]

Voris stated that he felt that the situation had to do with staffers assisting in running the Archdiocese, and not with the Archbishop himself. He said that on many occasions in the past (before teaming with RealCatholicTV.com) talks or television appearances and programs he was to give on local Catholic media had been cancelled due to the efforts of the Archdiocese's staff. "They have waged a quiet war since the very first time we set foot into the public realm."[15]

Reporters noted that while neither Voris nor Brammer had succeeded in scheduling a meeting with Archbishop Allen Vigneron, during this same period the bishop did meet (on February 1, 2011) with a local liberal Catholic group called "Elephants in the Living Room" (which advocates expanding the Roman Catholic priesthood to women and challenges the Papacy's position forbidding contraception).[15] Reporters also noted that supporters of Voris ask why the Archdiocese takes no similar action against the Jesuit University of Detroit Mercy which calls itself "a Catholic university" when it "has proposed abortion agencies as career opportunities for students; had links to pro-abortion groups on its website; retained a renowned pro-abortion, pro-same-sex 'marriage' nun on its Board of Trustees; held an annual event called 'sexapalooza' with activities such as 'safe sex games', sex-tac-toe; and has professors that put stickers on their office doors indicating their support for abortion,"[15] all of which are directly opposed by official Catholic teaching.

In an episode of "The Vortex" coinciding with a June 12, 2012 move to a new studio building, Voris announced that the digital television company would be switching to a new name with a new website "ChurchMilitant.tv". Voris stated that this name was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI's May 22, 2012 Papal greeting to Cardinals[17] when he said "Today the word ecclesia militans [Church Militant] is somewhat out of fashion, but in reality we can understand ever better that it is true, that it bears truth in itself. ...Saint Augustine said that the whole of history is a struggle between two loves: love of oneself to contempt of God; love of God to contempt of self, in martyrdom. We are in this struggle..."[18]

Voris stated "In this current climate in which the Church finds herself...the environment that exists both outside and inside some quarters, many quarters within the Church - there is an environment, an odor of indifference and lukewarmness that is snuffing out the light of faith in so many Catholics; they have succumbed to the cultural religious malaise that sucks the life out of their souls."[18] He went on, saying that Catholics must know the faith in order to "join the battle" engaging in "Spiritual combat, immortal warfare".[18] Citing Pope Leo XIII's comment that "[Catholics] are born for combat", Voris said Catholics are an army and "When an army loses its fighting spirit, when it takes its eye off the objective it will lose the war...[this is] a call to arms for Catholics to wake up and fight - for the true, the good, and the beautiful."[18]

In a January 2, 2013 video Voris announced that the program previously referred to as "CIA: Catholic Investigative Agency", which was mentioned in the controversy over the use of the word "Catholic"[19] was being renamed to "FBI: Faith Based Investigation".[20]

Personal life

Voris has never been married, and is reported to work "up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week" on creating presentations for St. Michael's Media.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Niraj Warikoo (February 13, 2012). "Views on provocative Real Catholic TV station anger Detroit archdiocese and others". Detroit Free Press. http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120213/NEWS05/202130357/Views-on-provocative-Real-Catholic-TV-station-anger-Detroit-archdiocese-and-others.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kevin J. Jones (July 26, 2011). "World Youth Day organizers say Michael Voris catechesis not approved". Madrid, Spain. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/world-youth-day-organizers-say-michael-voris-catechesis-not-approved/.
  3. ^ "St. Michael's Media - Meet the Staff". http://www.theonetruefaith.tv/index.php?nav=01&content=18.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Biography of Michael Voris". http://www.realcatholictv.com/about/bio.php. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Emmy Award-Winning Broadcaster Leads Catholic Media Company". Catholic PRWire. March 31, 2008. http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=4636. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Global Warming Unmasked: The Hidden Agenda". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMFAhW_ZmV8.
  7. ^ "The Jews". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY1GG0dyU9Y.
  8. ^ "Statement Regarding Michael Voris". http://www.dioceseofscranton.org/2011/04/07/statement-regarding-michael-voris/.
  9. ^ a b c d e Laura Legere (April 13, 2011). "Unbowed, conservative Catholic speaker will speak at Wilkes-Barre hotel". http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/unbowed-conservative-catholic-speaker-will-speak-at-wilkes-barre-hotel-1.1131822#ixzz1quxThZzL.
  10. ^ "Official Response to CNA Article". http://defend-us-in-battle.blogspot.com/2011/07/michael-voris-responds-to-wyd-statement.html/.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Official Response to CNA Article". http://www.realcatholictv.com/response/.
  12. ^ a b Benjamin Mann (August 17, 2011). "RealCatholicTV's Voris had 'no idea' about internal problems". Catholic News Agency. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/realcatholictvs-voris-had-no-idea-about-internal-problems/.
  13. ^ Simon Rafe (August 18, 2011). "Apology & Explanation". http://proverbs-27-17.blogspot.com/2011/08/explanation.html. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  14. ^ "The first thing to understand about the AOD vs. Voris/RCTV dispute". January 3, 2012. http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/the-first-thing-to-understand-about-the-aod-vs-vorisrctv-dispute/.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g John-Henry Westen (December 23, 2011). "Archdiocese of Detroit asks Michael Voris to stop using the name 'Catholic'". Detroit, Michigan: LifeSiteNews.com. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archdiocese-of-detroit-asks-michael-voris-to-stop-using-the-name-catholic/.
  16. ^ a b c d John-Henry Westen (January 9, 2012). "Archdiocesan canon lawyers differ on asking RealCatholicTV.com to drop ‘Catholic’ name". LifeSiteNews.com. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archdiocesan-canon-lawyers-differ-on-asking-realcatholictvcom-to-drop-cath.
  17. ^ Pope Benedict XVI (May 22, 2012). "Papal Greeting to Cardinals". http://www.zenit.org/article-34824?l=english.
  18. ^ a b c d Michael Voris (June 12, 2012). New Beginnings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3cebbpN-d0&feature=player_embedded.
  19. ^ "A few more things to keep in mind about the AOD and Voris/RCTV". January 5, 2012. http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/a-few-more-things-to-keep-in-mind-about-the-aod-and-vorisrctv/.
  20. ^ Michael Voris. "New Year of Faith". ChurchMilitantTV. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67gBEnh2z4g.