The Catholic media world is abuzz with the news that Michael Voris and Church Militant parted ways earlier today, with the board of directors requesting and receiving the controversial Catholic pundit’s resignation for “breaching the Church Militant morality clause.” I don’t want to spend more time than necessary on this scandal, but there are a few things worth considering in light of this news.
First, here is an excerpt from Church Militant’s official statement this afternoon:
Michael Voris has been asked to resign for breaching the Church Militant morality clause. The board has accepted his resignation.
We understand this is a shock to you all, but our founder and former CEO is stepping aside and focusing on his personal health.
The Board of Directors has chosen not to disclose Michael’s private matters to the public. The apostolate will be praying for him, and we kindly ask you to do the same.
Later, Voris posted a 14-minute video statement to X in which he soberly discussed his dismissal, alluding to unspecified immoral actions and serious underlying causes that he needs to confront.
There are things I have to go away and address and work on. They are again, horrible, ugly things. I’m not going to share them. Nobody else’s business except mine. The consequences of me not dealing with those, obviously, are some people’s business and that’s what I’m making this video for — to be able to say that. First of all, for anybody who has been impacted in … any sort of negative way, you know you have my deepest heartfelt apologies. The most sincere. There’s nothing I can say to make it good. I can’t. So to the extent that I can say and be completely upfront about it, that is true.
Likewise, I have never — even in the midst of all of this — ever thought that the Catholic Church is not the one true faith. It’s established by the eternal logos, the Incarnate internal logos for our salvation. That remains absolutely firm set in me. I have never wavered from that, even in my past (you know my 30s). I suppose you could say, even though the midst of all that sin for years and years and years and years, I never didn’t think that. I’ve always believed that. I believe that now. I have never not believed that.
Later, longtime Church Militant journalist Christine Niles posted her own eight-minute video as well, in which she announced her own departure from Church Militant on November 10. Niles said early in the video, “If you are hoping that I’ll divulge private details about this ‘breach of the morality clause,’ that’s not happening.” She did, however, describe some changes she had seen in Voris recently:
There were lots of troubling things over the past year, but especially over the past several months, about the direction in which Church Militant was heading and some of the decisions that Voris was making, and quite frankly, his personality change. He is not the man that I came to work for in 2014. Quite frankly, the lack of prayer with the staff — and that is something that I will reveal, that Voris basically had not been praying with the staff for about two years — and that right there is a massive warning.
I remember when I first came to Church Militant, he was diligently leading us in morning and evening prayer, leading the daily Rosary, going to daily Mass. It was mandatory for all of us to be in morning and evening prayer, praying the Rosary. And like I said, he was leading all of that, and I was so very grateful. Just as the rest of the staff were grateful.
But somewhere along the line over the past several years, it just became less and less of a priority, to the point where we just basically never saw him. You never saw — he popped in, maybe for an hour or two hours to take care of business, shoot the Vortex, do various other things, and then he was gone.
If there is any lesson to be learned from this, it is that you can never stop praying. What does scripture say? The devil you know. You must be vigilant, because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We must be always vigilant in our prayer life. If we are not, we are lost. And this especially applies to people involved in public Catholic ministry. To say that I am heartbroken and furious is an understatement.
It is no secret that Where Peter Is and Church Militant are very far apart on many serious issues about the pope, the Church, and living the Catholic faith. For example, they have been defending Bishop Joseph Strickland following his removal as bishop of Tyler this month, whereas we see it as a necessary move. They have been extremely critical of Pope Francis and those who support his vision for the Church, including Cardinals Joseph Tobin and Blase Cupich. They have been openly political and have, at various times, supported conspiracy theories and false narratives against the pope.
Perhaps most damaging of all has been Voris’s incessant over-the-top attacks against LGBT people and his absolute intolerance of even the mildest sign of welcoming or acceptance towards them. He regularly and indiscriminately tossed around rumors about the sexuality of bishops and priests without proof. I will never forget the disgusting slur he threw at my own bishop (who is Black): “African Queen.” He encouraged his viewers to harass Fr. James Martin, call speaking venues to get his talks cancelled, and cause bishops to mistrust him. He casually referred to Fr. Martin and others as “homo-heretics.” Lord knows how many people were driven by this rhetoric away from the Church, let alone the number of Catholics who were convinced by him that this is acceptable behavior.
We certainly have to pray for Michael Voris. We also have to understand the immense harm he did to so many and to the Church. Voris’s rhetoric has undoubtedly led many Catholics to fear LGBT people and has fostered an unwillingness to even consider ways the Church can act with basic human decency towards members of the LGBT community. The old adage “hurt people hurt people” seems to apply here.
That said, there have been times where Church Militant made a positive contribution. I commend Christine Niles on her investigative journalism in recent years on clerical sex abuse, particularly in communities outside the public spotlight. It is not an easy story to cover. Throughout this time, radical traditionalists have heaped scorn and harassment on her and her family for the work she has done to expose a culture of sexual abuse in the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
I should also point out that — if you can believe it — in our surreal, postmodern, fractured Church, many far-right radical traditionalists see Church Militant as too mainstream and too deferential to the pope. They are clearly not fans of Pope Francis, but because they don’t question the legitimacy of Francis’s papacy, they oppose break-off groups like the SSPX, and they are not afraid to investigate abuse cases within the traditionalist milieu, many radical traditionalists see them as liberals and modernists. As reactionary and offensive as Church Militant seems to mainstream Catholics, there is an even darker and more sinister underbelly to the traditionalist movement.
Finally, and I think we can partly glean this from Christine Niles’s video, there is no doubt that many of the employees of Church Militant are sincere Catholics and well-meaning people. Obviously much of what their organization promotes is abhorrent, and they have surely been misled about plenty of things. But that doesn’t mean that many of them don’t have good hearts. Certainly I was surprised and thankful to receive a beautiful bouquet from them after my health scare earlier this year.
We should keep Michael Voris and all who are associated with Church Militant in our prayers. We should never forget that all of us are broken and wounded by sin, ignorance, trauma, and past hurts. That said, I personally know several people whose lives have been harmed directly by Voris and his former organization. I have heard about many more. He leaves in his wake countless cases of detraction and calumny for which he has never apologized. We should pray for those he hurt, and do whatever we can to assist them in their healing. We should also pray for the day that Michael Voris sincerely and humbly asks them for their forgiveness.