This is part four of a four-article series. Read the previous three parts here: Part one, Part two, and Part three.
Canon Law 751: “Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”
In my considered opinion, Michael Voris has committed public formal schism, repeatedly and severely: “schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” The following are examples of public acts that constitute the canonical and moral offense of formal schism.
In his Church Militant Statement on the Pope, Michael Voris claimed to know that the Roman Pontiff is in a state of sin, and that if he died in that state, the Pope would then go to Hell. The only state that could cause a baptized person to go to Hell is unrepentant actual mortal sin. Thus, Mr. Voris has put himself above the Roman Pontiff, to judge not only particular teachings or decisions, but his very soul.
“You, Holy Father, as every Catholic must do when in a state of sin, should accuse and judge yourself guilty…. You had better hope that this is not the state you die in, or you will be delivered over to the demons for an everlasting death of agony and torment in the unquenchable fire….”
To put yourself above the Pope, so much so that you judge and condemn his very soul, accusing him of unrepentant actual mortal sin, is to reject submission to the Roman Pontiff. Submission is acceptance in word and deed of the authority which the Pope has over you. To speak as if you have the authority to judge the Pope’s soul is the opposite of submission.
According to the teaching of Pope Boniface VIII, in Unam Sanctam, a teaching which is infallible as it was confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council, no one has the role to judge the Pope:
“7. Therefore, if the earthly power goes astray, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a lesser spiritual power goes astray, [it will be judged] by its superior; and truly, if the highest [power] goes astray, it will not be able to be judged by man, but by God alone. And so the Apostle testifies, ‘The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is judged by no one.’ [1 Corinthians 2:15]
8. But this authority, even though it may be given to a man, and may be exercised by a man, is not human, but rather divine [power], having been given by the divine mouth [of Christ] to Peter, and to him as well as to his successors, by [Christ] Himself, [that is, to him] whom He had disclosed to be the firm rock, just as the Lord said to Peter himself: ‘Whatever you shall bind,’ [Matthew 16:19] etc. Therefore, whoever resists this authority, such as it has been ordain by God, resists the ordination of God. [Romans 13:2] Otherwise, he would be proposing two principles to exist, as did Manichaeus, and this we judge to be false and heretical. For Moses testified that God created heaven and earth, not in the beginnings, but ‘in the beginning.’ [Genesis 1:1]
9. Moreover, that every human creature is to be subject to the Roman pontiff, we declare, we state, we define, and we pronounce to be entirely from the necessity of salvation.” [Latin]
By judging the soul of Pope Francis, Voris has violated this teaching, and has refused “to be subject to the Roman Pontiff”. You are not subject to someone whose soul you judge and condemn, as if that person were your inferior. For the “lesser spiritual power…will be judged by its superior.” And in the entire “Church Militant Statement on the Pope”, Michael Voris speaks as if he were superior to the Pope, judging his words, deeds, his mind and heart, and his soul.
Michael Voris has demanded the resignation of Pope Francis.
Voris: “as your last act in office, you should resign the papacy…. resign your office and give us back the Holy Church that we love and your sycophantic minions loathe…. After you have resigned….”
A faithful Catholic might opine that an ailing Pope should resign. There’s nothing wrong with that. But declaring that the Pope should resign because he is unfit and has supposedly committed many actual mortal sins is a rejection of submission to his authority. For you are speaking as if you have authority over him, instead of him over you.
Voris has also declared that Francis is not fit to be the Roman Pontiff.
Voris: “The men you have surrounded yourself with have no supernatural faith, for one with supernatural faith would tremble and drop dead of fright at the thought of being judged for what they — and now you — have done. A man who aids, abets, protects and promotes such wicked, sexually perverted and predatory men is not fit for the Chair of St. Peter — he is fit for far worse.”
Anyone who really believed such an accusation, as quoted above, could not also submit to that Pope as Teacher and Shepherd of his soul. For he states that Francis is “not fit for the Chair of Peter”.
Voris: “You are tearing the Body of Christ apart…. Your actions and omissions have left you unable to reign over the Church in any meaningful way. You have no credibility, no moral authority, not a shred of decency left…. Whatever pact of evil you may have created with one another, or rationalized, it will be your everlasting shame and agony….”
Michael Voris has declared that Francis has made a pact of evil, has no credibility, no moral authority, and not a shred of decency, that he is tearing the Body of Christ apart, and that he is unable to reign over the Church in any meaningful way. Those words imply that no one should submit to the authority of Pope Francis over doctrine and discipline, that no one should submit to the Pope as Teacher and Shepherd. It is a blatant public statement that Voris himself will not submit to Pope Francis as:
* Holy Father
* Supreme Head of the whole Church
* Father and Teacher of all Christians
* Supreme Pontiff
* True Vicar of Christ
* Supreme and Universal Pastor
* Ruler of Christ’s whole fold
* Supreme Judge of the faithful
* Successor to Saint Peter
* Supreme Teacher of the Universal Church
* Rock on which the Church is founded
* Pilot and Helmsman of the Ark of Salvation
In addition, Michael Voris has rejected the authority of the body of Bishops, by standing in judgment over them. Voris constantly speaks as if he himself were the Ruler of Christ’s whole fold and Supreme Judge and Teacher of the Church, for he judges Popes (Francis and Benedict were both accused by him) as well as every Cardinal and Bishop. A few Bishops he judges to be holy, but that is still him standing in judgment over every Bishop and Cardinal.
The Church Militant website is filled with constant attacks on innumerable Cardinals and Bishops. None of them are treated as if they have any real authority over Michael Voris and his organization. None are treated as if they speak with the authority of Christ in doctrine and discipline. A few Bishops are given complements, but only if they happen to teach what Michael Voris thinks is true. It is as if all Bishops are under the authority and judgment of Michael Voris. The few who Voris thinks are doing well, he praises. But even those Bishops are not treated as if they have true authority. Let any of them disagree with him on any point, and Voris will speak out against them.
Mr. Voris even went so far as to plagiarize from a Bishop:
An Example of Plagiarism by Michael Voris
The Bishops are so far beneath him that he can steal their words and judge their souls.
Voris has many times stated that Bishops and some other persons lack supernatural faith. This implies they also lack supernatural love and supernatural hope, and the state of grace, and that they will go to Hell if they do not repent. In this way, Michael Voris speaks as if he were God, judging even the souls of the Pope and many Cardinals and Bishops.
Now submission to the Roman Pontiff necessarily includes submission to the authority of the Holy See, which assists the Pope is exercising his authority. And it necessarily includes submission to the body of Bishops, who are led by the Roman Pontiff as they together teach and lead the faithful. For Christ did not choose only one Apostle, Peter, but Twelve Apostles (Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot). And the Bishops are the successors of the other Apostles; they teach and lead with the authority of Christ, under the authority of the Pope. Yet Voris frequently speaks as if he has the authority to judge or correct Cardinals and Bishops. All that they say and do is subjected to his harsh, ignorant, condescending judgment and utter condemnation, including his local ordinary.
There is no authority in the Church to which Michael Voris submits himself and his organization. Instead, he speaks as if he were the highest authority in the Church, judging all matters of doctrine and discipline, and severely condemning all that is contrary to his own understanding. Voris speaks as if he were above the entire Church. And that is entirely incompatible with the submission of faith to the Pope, to the body of Bishops, and to the Magisterium.
In what way is Michael Voris submissive to the Pope, the body of Bishops, or even the Magisterium? He only accepts those teachings of the Magisterium that he judges to be correct. If even the Pope says or does anything with which he disagrees, Voris judges and condemns.
This includes judging Pope Benedict and accusing him of sinning gravely by lying about an illness when he resigned, and by giving in to an alleged forced resignation.
Voris on the resignation of Pope Benedict: “Forget for a moment all the rumors that it was done for blackmail or financial threats or whatever; we may never know. What’s important is he did it. He surrendered to whatever forces he thought he could not resist.” [Benedict’s Fingerprints]
First Voris assets that Benedict did not really resign for health reasons. Then he claims that Benedict resigned due to “blackmail or financial threats or whatever”, meaning he was forced off the Chair of Peter. That implies that his resignation was invalid, which implies that the election of Pope Francis was invalid. Voris has not stated this conclusion, as far as I know. But his video on Benedict implies it, as a former Church Militant intern has also stated: Miles Ecclesiae. And that is just further evidence that Michael Voris does not accept the authority of Pope Francis over himself, not in matters of doctrine or discipline. Neither does he accept the authority of any Cardinal or Bishop. Instead, he speaks and acts as if all Church leaders were under his authority, and as if they have no authority over him.
Voris has demanded the resignation of his own local ordinary, Archbishop Vigneron. And he shows no deference or respect for Vigneron’s authority. Instead, he publishes many articles judging and severely criticizing the Archbishop, as if Voris were his superior.
I believe that every valid Pope, including Pope Francis, has the gift of truth and the gift of a never-failing faith, such that he can never commit apostasy, heresy, or schism and can never teach material heresy (not even inadvertently), due to the protection of the Holy Spirit and the prevenient grace of God.
Whosoever rejects the authority of Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, thereby rejects Christ himself. I will hold all such persons, who reject the authority of Pope Francis as a valid Pope, to be wicked schismatics, who have chosen the path to Hell by rejecting the Successor to Saint Peter, the Supreme Teacher of the Universal Church, the Rock on which the Church is founded, the Pilot and Helmsman of the Ark of Salvation. Their pride is openly displayed in that they presume to judge the Supreme Judge of the faithful and the Supreme Head of the whole Church. In an astounding combination of arrogance and ignorance, they assume that their understanding of doctrine and discipline cannot possibly err, and cannot ever be in need of guidance, teaching, and correction from the Father and Teacher of all Christians.
Whosoever commits formal schism suffers the immediate penalty of automatic excommunication, under both the eternal moral law and Canon Law. All such persons are unworthy to receive Communion and unworthy to receive any Sacrament, other than confession, if and only if they repent.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian
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