Michael Voris and the work of Church Militant helped me on my path toward joining the Catholic Church. I found their work to be fascinating. Voris seemed to rail against the scandals of the Church with unrivaled indignation. He was rightfully outraged at the mishandled abuse cases and cover-ups. What I did not understand was why he continued to be Catholic.
Protestants who were scandalized by their denominations simply left and sought different churches. Voris stayed Catholic, even in his outrage. That demonstrated to me that the Catholic Faith was different. I came to understand that faithful Catholics are not Catholics because they like being Catholic, or because it’s the easiest choice, or because they like the Vatican. They are Catholic because they believe that to be so is to serve Christ in the best way possible because it is to join the Church that He founded and that the Holy Spirit guides. It is to practice the Christian Faith as it was supposed to be practiced and has been since the Apostolic Age.
Thus, I can’t help but find Voris’s recent resignation and his own public scandal to be somewhat painful. This is despite the fact that his resignation seems appropriate and probably should have happened much earlier, for he was not in a position to lead. Not long after I joined the Church, I stopped watching Church Militant, for it seemed to often get swept up in the very turmoil that will make Voris’s recovery harder—the hunt for the public destruction of others, with disregard for the truth, led by the excitement of the audience, the views, and the increased fame. The aggression shown by Church Militant to people merely accused (and sometimes falsely) of impropriety was sometimes…scandalous.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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A video in which Voris explained his decision to step away from public life to get the treatment that he needs showed a deeply troubled soul who is embroiled in a spiritual and physical battle. He needs our prayers. Unfortunately, stepping away from public life is clearer in theory than in reality. What does it mean exactly? Yes, he can stay off camera, but public commentary on his sins continues, and information about him will be available well into the future. He can’t now be a private figure in any meaningful sense.
Throughout most of human history, exposure and celebrity of this magnitude was impossible. The thousands of text messages, emails, and social media posts that will pop up on Voris’s phone are just part of being connected in the modern world. His connections serve to keep him trapped in a celebrity mindset, which in the very least will make it difficult to heal or grow.
Moreover, when a person is so public that his sins can be stories, that has to impact one’s likelihood of seeking help before a scandal strikes. We can pronounce that it shouldn’t, with righteous indignation, but that would be to deny what it is to be human. Few people will move toward the risk of public humiliation. Thus, such people remain in isolation, fearing a publicized fall from grace, into the pit of public flagellation without redemption.
Something similar happens among those with YouTube or TikTok channels. Performers, many of them young, attempt to promulgate an image of themselves that isn’t reflective of reality. In so doing, they isolate, lest others know of their humanity. Their ability to bridge the gap between reality and others’ perceptions becomes unclear. Fearing a fall, many take their own lives, immersed in that despair. This epoch seems so inhuman.
It’s a world that throws around terms like inclusivity and acceptance far more than the man of the past; yet in truth, it’s a world of neither forgiveness nor forgetfulness. “The internet is forever,” so the saying goes. Is that a good thing? It’s not just knowledge that’s being stored there.
In this culture that seems to applaud itself for being better than the primitive religious man, man himself is forgotten. One’s humanity is denied. It is assumed that he will neither change nor grow with age. Thus, each individual is judged perpetually by whatever remarks or actions reached the internet in his youngest years. They are who he is, so the world asserts. The rules of the heathen are strict and unforgiving, even as he proclaims tolerance.
The Christian perspective, supposedly harsher for its rules, acknowledges the growth of man, his fallen nature, and that his soul is always actively being contested for. We thus pray for the souls walking in darkness, and we celebrate their movements into the light. We forgive as we wish to be forgiven.
While we continue to fight against corruption in the Church, we should strive to avoid the unforgiving and aggressive hunts for destruction that Church Militant engaged in under Voris’s leadership. We champion the salvation of souls, and we don’t celebrate the pain of those who are struggling, or who have fallen. We acknowledge that public figures are men fighting their own battles too, neither perfect nor immune from temptation. They are our brothers, not our idols. So understood, we live and act as Catholics.