Tackling Heresy

Further to my post about Michael Voris criticising Cardinal Tim Dolan here, an interesting discussion ensued, mostly on Twitter it has to be said.

Generally speaking, I am an admirer of Michael Voris as I am of anyone with strong Catholic credentials. Voris is 100% committed to Christ's Church on earth and is very vocal about it. His grasp of Catholic teaching and his faith is inspiring. Many people would say we need his vocal style, because our priests and bishops are not vocal enough. This is pretty much the claim that Voris levels against Cardinal Dolan.

As part of the discussion, Michael himself tweeted that silence has no influence

One thing I find about the internet is that a lot of people are either one thing or another thing, very clearly. I try not to be so rigid in terms of my defined stance because I am all too aware that I don't know everything. I do stand humbly before the Church and submit to her teaching. When individuals claim this or that interpretation of truth I always try and listen to the argument and tend to go with what makes the most sense to me. Therefore in this situation, I can see that Michael Voris is trying to do what he sees as being the right thing to do, based on his understanding of what the Church teaches. But here's the thing, does he know what kind of politics Cardinal Dolan is engaged in to achieve the same goals and aims as he himself would want to see achieved?

We have to have a dialogue, and that dialogue has to be reasoned, before we can even try to  convince others of a position against which they are fundamentally opposed, like abortion for example. Such debates are often rendered impotent by hyperbolic language. Whoever controls language, controls a debate, and we know that pro-abortionists try very hard to label pro-life advocates as "religious", "fundamentalists", etc.

So there are two clear camps on this. One that says the Catholic position should be to scream the outrage we all feel about abortion in the face of those who support it. The other camp says that we need to temper our language in order that the other side might listen to reasoned debate.

Whilst I admire the truth and courage of the first position, I think the only viable option is the second. Mostly this is because I believe in the reason of the Catholic position. I think our faith is consummately reasonable and makes absolute sense. I want other people to see how sensible it is, and so I am not afraid of having a discussion with them. I know if I rant and scream and do not weigh their position, they will equally dismiss my position. And everyone who supports abortion is not stupid, they are often extremely intelligent human beings who have reasoned to their position.

Marie is someone who I admire and respect, also someone who I learn a lot from. As part of the ensuing discussion she tweeted:

I always think carefully about what she says, but I can't help wondering what the approach she is advocating would achieve? Would it mean that abortion stopped in America? Or would it mean that Catholics were further marginalised? Perhaps that marginalisation doesn't matter and what actually matters is that we speak the truth with loud voices? I don't know. But I do consider that we are in with a better shout of sorting it out if we remain part of the debate.

The lovely Mary Clarkson had this to say:

Her comment seems to be at the other end of the debate, it speaks of judgement and that it is not our role to judge each other. Jackie Parkes explains this position really well in a recent blog post here. Should we be pointing fingers and constantly bickering about what is authentic? Or should we be doing our best to live our lives in the joy of the Gospel? Much of this resounds clearly with Pope Francis' recent words.

To counter that, should we not call out error then? Surely when we know there is a problem, we should speak out about it? This is where I depart from Mary's position I think. Take for example, Cardinal Lavada's recent clarifications regarding Tony Flannery. If Rome is saying his position is heretical, I think it's reasonable we should be able to denounce his position as contrary to authentic Church teaching.

It's tricky. We cannot see what is in people's hearts or know the truth of their motivation, so we should always, as the Catechism states, begin with charity (CCC 25).

Even giving that we should speak out against heretics, perhaps in extreme circumstances, I must say that I can think of lots of far more deserving individuals who might be questioned before Cardinal Dolan. I think this is even better expressed by Mark Shea here. Now I might express my concern here that Shea also seems quite acerbic in his criticism of Voris, but Voris is attacking Fr. Robert Barron, who it seems to me has done more to restore a proper understanding of the beauty and scope of the Catholic faith to the world than almost anyone else in my lifetime!

Watch Fr. Robert's video:

I have studied theology and the first thing one has to understand is that IT IS NOT DOCTRINE. In this video, Fr. Robert gives a wonderful conspectus of the Catholic tradition with regards to hell. He does not espouse doctrine, or contradict it. He explains how we have arrived at the teaching we hold. He is eminently reasonable in his articulation and it is his intellectual approach and simplicity of communication which means he is able to communicate complex theological ideas in a way most people can understand.

Are there no better targets for Michael Voris than Fr. Robert Barron or Cardial Dolan? I have to say, even if I had doubts about something these two said, I would have to pull myself up and say, am I really qualified to criticise them? I have to wonder, did Michael Voris go to Fr. Robert Barron and ask him to clarify his position? By attacking innocent Catholics in good standing and misrepresenting what they are saying, I conclude that Michael Voris, someone I admire and respect, and someone who speaks a lot of truth out of love of the Church, does serious harm to the faithful. It is easy to tear at people who are trying to do their best. Fr. Robert Barron and Cardinal Dolan are important figures, especially in the Church in America. Whilst it is essential we put our trust, not in individuals, but always in Christ, these two have been called by God to serve His Church. Vocal criticism serves what end? If it is questionable or spurious in any way, surely it can only serve the goals and aims of the enemy?

Whilst I value and admire his contribution, I would suggest, in love, that Michael Voris might consider re-adjusting his sights on occasion.


  1. Hi,

    There is a confusion between the objective act of sin and the person who is sinning. Objectively, we always have a right to call sin sin, such as same-sex-marriage, and sodomy, which is one of the sins which cries out to God for vengeance according to the OT and the CCC. As to balance, I find it odd that people honestly believe there can be dialogue with evil. Satan is not into dialogue but taking as many people down to hell with him in misery forever out of pure spite.

    And, Christ Himself, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity called the religious leaders of the day "white-washed sepulchers" . He, at first, tried to dialogue with the evil leaders of the day, and when they did not listen to Him and did not repent, Christ attacked them directly.

    I am living in America and I can assure you that many Catholics are not living their Faith in the true sense of the word. Abortion is the scourge of this nation. And, to believe that people do not go to hell for this is naive.

    In addition, the laity must continued to teach the truth of all the great evils of the day. If not, as baptized brothers and sisters, like Cain saying to God "Am I my brother's keeper?"

    Perhaps some of us see with the mind of Christ, Who, be assured, would not be dialoguing at this time, at this state of the moral death of the West.

    Two more small points in the form of questions: are Catholics afraid to confront evil and falsehood for what it is? And, two, are some Catholics still not clear that the war we are waging is one of the unseen demons of the air and not merely people? We are in a war, whether people want to admit it or not and war is not comfortable.

  2. Sorry about one more thing. Father Barron is basing his argument on von Balthasar, who I studied for seven years for the doctoral thesis I abandoned when I finally woke up to that theologians serious errors. If a person cannot see the errors, there are problems. It may be ok for popes to read and study him but to base teaching on vB which contradicts even Our Lord creates confusion.

    Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity warned us of hell and called Judas the son of perdition.

    And, all and I mean all, the Doctors of the Church believed in hell and that people went there.

    One cannot skim over this faulty thinking of Father Barron's, based on vB.

  3. Mark,

    I appreciate your point of view. We must understand that Catholicism is under attack from all sides. We are indeed in an intense spiritual war. A war based on Truth.

    So many have forgotten we are the Church Militant. We need to speak truth in love always. We need to engage and defeat the powers of darkness not negotiate with them. This is done with Truth always not negotiated truth. Often dialogue in today's society compromises truth.

    I also saw Fr. Barron's thoughts on hell. I instinctively knew it was erroneous. Christ himself warms us of the perils of Hell. He said himself the path is narrow and few will follow it. We owe it out of love to call our brothers and sisters away from perdition with Truth.

    I may be mistaken but I believe canon law states a bishops first and foremost responsibility is to teach the truth of the faith. (Even before the sacraments) Not negotiate it or water it down through "dialogue". Isn't that part if the reason we have gotten to this point anyway? I am 52, in that time I can not count more than once that I have heard the truth on contraception or same-sex marriage from the pulpit. This is a grave problem. The a Truth said in Love draws souls to it.

    I personally find hope in Christ's words. "They will hate you because of Me." We will be hated from our position. We must detach ourselves from the personal need to be loved. With God at the center of our lives it is His Love we should rely on.

    Love without Truth is not Truth at all.

    Sorry for the rant. I know souls are being lost and so many sit around and wonder "what do we do, what do we do?"

    The answer is as Christ and his apostles taught us is speak the bold Truth of Our Father in heaven in every part of our lives with love and Charity. (In my humble opinion.)

    Peace of Christ To You

    Jay Toups

  4. There is a difference between objective criticism of error and personal attack. Michael Voris never personally attacks Fr. Barron (regardless of how grossly Shea mischaracterizes Voris in his silly article), but objectively critiques Fr. Barron's erroneous personal opinion that there is a "reasonable hope" that hell is empty of human souls. As supertradmum points out, this notion is taken from Hans Urs von Balthasar, who in turn adopted it from protestant theologian Karl Barth.

    Did you know that Fr. Barron also denies a literal Adam and Eve?

    Voris doesn't save his critiques only for Cdl Dolan or Fr. Barron--he has had plenty to say about liberals and progressives who are harming the Church. But it is precisely because of Fr. Barron's popularity and influence and seeming orthodoxy that people refuse to criticize him, and therefore he needs to be called out when he promotes error. The liberals and progressives are obviously harming the Church; Fr. Barron--who slips in a little poison with his otherwise orthodox commentary--is less obvious, and still as dangerous.


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