Yes, instead of focusing on the recent annulment-gate tragedy, (which he cannot do, since the Pope himself issued the documents ), paying CMTV subscribers are now being treated to the wild theological and canonical opinions of their favorite reporter on an issue most of them couldn’t care less about. Indeed, Voris’ obsession with the SSPX has now led him to further lessen the credibility of his once promising enterprise by devoting an entire week-long series to disparaging the Traditional Priestly Society.
His first episode is ironically titled “Sadness” which is what most CMTV subscribers are undoubtedly feeling as their champion who once fought against modernists in the hierarchy is now wasting their time sharing his erroneous private opinions on the SSPX. Although useless in and of themselves, Voris’ errors do give a good opportunity to create summarized teaching points on the SSPX for the rest of us and to provide a reply to his disinformation as a matter of justice to the Society. Quotes from Voris’ first two Vortex broadcasts on the topic will be in red, followed by my commentary:
The problem is, despite all the good intentions and motives, groups like the SSPX are outside the Church, are not in full communion, as Pope Benedict has said.
Pope Benedict has never stated that the SSPX is “outside of the Church”, nor has any Pope.
In 2007, Pope Benedict stated the following regarding the Society, “It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.”
Cardinal Edward Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, May 3, 1994, stated:
"... Regarding your inquiry (March 25, 1994) I would point out at once that the Directory on Ecumenism is not concerned with the Society of St. Pius X. The situation of the members of this Society is an internal matter of the Catholic Church. The Society is not another Church or Ecclesial Community in the meaning used in the Directory…”
They have no legitmate exercise of ministry in the Church, are, in fact, in schism, as St. John Paul II declared on July 2, 1988.
Nope. A schism would place the Society outside of the Church, but as we just read, Pope Benedict said the SSPX situation is a matter of an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. In addition, even before the lifting of the excommunications, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, former Prefect of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, with cognizance over the Church’s relations with the Society at the time, stated repeatedly that the SSPX was not in schism. In 2005 he stated:
We are not dealing with a case of heresy. One cannot say in correct and exact terms that there is a schism. There is, in the act of ordaining bishops with out papal approval, a schismatic attitude. They are within the confines of the Church. The problem is just that there is a lack of a full, a more perfect—and as it was said during the meeting with Bishop Fellay—a more full communion, because communion exists.
We here at Church Militant have one concern here: Despite stupid claims that we are doing this for money, we are concerned about the souls of our fellow Catholics who go to confessions that are not valid, whose marriages are not valid, who are willingly receiving Holy Communion from priests who are in total disobedience to Our Blessed Lord's Vicar on earth.
Here we come to a comical contradiction in CMTV’s position. If the SSPX are truly schismatic, as CMTV maintains, then their confessions and marriages ARE valid, just as the confessions and marriages of the truly schismatic Orthodox are accepted as valid by Rome. Quite the conundrum for CMTV. Other anti-SSPX polemicists at least know they must concede that the SSPX is not in schism to even have a chance to argue SSPX marriages and confessions are invalid. Not CMTV though.
In fact, in a shocking development, even the king of the Neo-Catholics, Karl Keating felt compelled to call Voris to the carpet regarding the SSPX on his Facebook page. In a post entitled, “NOT A GOOD WAY TO START A SERIES ABOUT THE SSPX” Keating took a break from playing his mandolin to state the following:
…While much of what Voris said is accurate, much is not. I don’t know if he has time to rectify his errors before later episodes air, but it would be good if he could do so. His basic error—and the only one I’ll mention in this post—is to state that the SSPX, as an organization, is in schism. It isn’t, and the Vatican hasn’t claimed it is. …To the extent there was a schism, it was personal and on the part of the six bishops. The effects of their act did not automatically transfer to their followers, whether the priests and seminarians who are the formal members of the SSPX or the society’s lay followers, or to the SSPX as an organization. The SSPX is said by Rome to be in an irregular status within the Church, but it is not said to be in schism. It thus is incorrect to assert that the organization, its priests, or its followers are in schism. Michael Voris should amend his comments to make this clear. There is plenty of reason to criticize the SSPX, its current leaders, its founder, and some of its vocal advocates, but that criticism should be in the context of an accurate representation of the status of the organization. (There are other errors in today’s “Vortex,” but I don’t have time to dissect the whole episode.)
Wow! When even Karl Keating is coming to the SSPX’s defense against your tirades, you know you’ve jumped the Neo-Catholic shark.
In addition, Voris’ line about Catholics who are “willingly receiving Holy Communion from priests who are in total disobedience to Our Blessed Lord's Vicar on earth” is priceless. CMTV would ask Society faithful to cease receiving Communion from “disobedient” Society priests so they can instead receive Communion from their disobedient parish priest who is the reason they started assisting at Society Masses in the first place.
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CMTV's second video on the SSPX is entitled” Schismatics Before God.” Yes, if you can’t support your argument through the Church, simply say it is correct “before God!” Apparently CMTV has a direct line to the Almighty who has personally told them He sees the SSPX as schismatic, though His Church has not quite gotten around to it yet.
The Society of St. Pius X, a breakaway group established by a French Archbishop who died as an excommunicate, is in schism, and canon law makes it very clear.
Really? Canon law makes it “very clear?” Consider:
Professor Geringer, J.C.D. Canon lawyer at the University of Munich
During a radio interview on June 30, 1988:
With the episcopal consecrations, Archbishop Lefebvre was by no means creating a schism.
Cardinal Castillo Lara, J.C.D. President of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of Canon Law President of the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia
In the Italian newspaper La Republica on July 8, 1988:
The act of consecrating a bishop [without a papal mandate] is not in itself a schismatic act.
Count Neri Capponi, D.Cn.L., Ll.D D.CN.L.—Lateran (doctor of canon law) LL.D.—Florence (doctor of laws) Professor Emeritus of Canon Law at the University of Florence Accredited Advocate of the Apostolic Signatura (the highest ecclesiastical appeals tribunal) Accredited Advocate of the Holy Roman Rota (the highest ecclesiastical marriage tribunal)
The fact is that Archbishop Lefebvre simply said: 'I am creating bishops in order that my priestly order can continue. They do not take the place of other bishops. I am not creating a parallel church.' Therefore, this act was not, per se, schismatic.
Apparently it is only clear to CMTV.
Michael Voris then stunningly admits that “to date, there has been no formal declaration that the Society is in schism…” There you go. For all rational and sensible Catholics, this is the end of the story. But, not for Voris. In obsessively pursuing his white whale, Voris is amazingly willing to redefine the entire concept of schism by turning it into a Protestant matter of private judgment:
…schism is essentially a question of moral theology, not a legal question. Schism is not something that comes into being by a legal declaration.
When speaking of heresy, St. Alphonsus speaks of "heretics before God" — in other words, of someone who is a heretic but has not been legally declared so by a solemn judgment of the Church. The idea here is that the sin of heresy precedes the judgment of the Church that the man actually is a heretic. And even if the Church never got around in a particular case of judging some man, he would still be a heretic before God — and how God views it is all that matters at the end of the day.
The situation with schism is analogous. We could speak of "schismatics before God" — in other words, of people who are schismatic but have not been legally declared so by a solemn judgment of the Church. The sin of schism precedes the judgment of the Church, just as the evil of murder precedes the judgment of a court.
Unable to point to any official Church pronouncement that the SSPX is in schism, Voris now incredibly redefines schism to essentially mean “groups I think are in schism actually ARE in schism, even if Rome hasn’t figured it out yet.” At this point CMTV is losing credibility faster than the Titanic took on water.
Ironically, Voris is here usurping the Pope’s jurisdiction in this matter. He ignores the fact that no declaration has been made, ignores the many statements from Roman officials that the SSPX is not in schism, ignores the fact that Rome recognizes valid confessions and marriages in schismatic churches, and then declares to the world on his own authority (which is zero) that the SSPX is in schism.
So let’s review the definition of schism Voris cites in Canon 751, "refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or the communion of the members of the Church subject to him." Since, according to Voris, no formal declaration from Rome is needed to publicly call someone schismatic, let’s apply this definition to Voris and CMTV using their own logic.
First, Voris refuses to submit to the Roman Pontiff regarding whether the SSPX are in schism and whether their confessions and marriages are valid. Instead of keeping silence on such grave issues until the Holy Father has come out with official declarations on the matter, Voris and CMTV have usurped the role of Peter as their own by broadcasting their private opinions in these matters as objective fact, thereby daring to limit and bind the pope to their own private judgment on a matter the Supreme Pontiff has full freedom to act. As Voris himself says, “…remember, my fellow Catholics, only the Pope has the final authority to rule on jurisdictional matters in the Church; remember the keys — both of them, spiritual and jurisdictional.” Indeed.
Furthermore, Voris and CMTV have openly ridiculed and criticized various cardinals, bishops, and priests urging their listeners and readers to resist these churchmen. In addition, Voris and CMTV have directed Catholics to have nothing to do with SSPX chapels while Pope Benedict XVI described the SSPX as being “in the heart of the Church.” As such, Voris and CMTV have refused communion with and encouraged refusal of communion with the members of the Church (bishops, cardinals, priests, SSPX faithful) subject to the Roman Pontiff.
Thus, we have no choice but to declare that both Voris and CMTV are in an objective state of schism, though the schism has not yet been formally declared.
Does Voris' reasoning above regarding "heretics before God" sound familiar? If so, it is because it is the exact same reasoning sedevacantists use to claim there hasn’t been a pope since 1958. This excellent Remnant article by Robert Siscoe, Sedevacantism and the Manifest Heretic, explains the flaws in this approach in detail. For sedevacantists have long been using Voris’ new approach to schism as applied to heresy. They publicly proclaim that Popes John XXIII through Francis have all been undeclared, though “objective”, heretics before God, and thus have all lost their offices (as manifest heretics cannot be popes).
What is Voris’ argument against the sedevacantists now that he has opened the Pandora's Box of private interpretation of schism in order to slay the SSPX? He can only argue that those popes were/are not “objective” heretics. But the word “objective” here is all a ruse.
Until there is a definite formal notification from some authority, that a person or organization is “outside the Church” no individual Catholic can publicly state, as a matter of fact, that they are. As much as I would love to go around publicly excommunicating Hans Kung, Cardinal Kasper, etc. or declaring them heretics “in the eyes of God,” and therefore "outside the Church" I have no such authority. The most I can do is point out whether I think specific statements of these men are heretical and draw this to the attention of the ecclesiastical authorities. This is precisely the crisis in the Church.
The Church since John XXIII has refused to properly sanction heterodox clerics and bishops. This has resulted in a state where we have what Dr. Von Hildebrand called a “5th column” of heterodox bishops and priests operating freely within the confines of the official Church. This is precisely why many Catholic faithful have fled to the SSPX where they can be assured of sound doctrine and Catholic teaching amidst the chaotic mix of truth and error now found in the “Conciliar Church.”
The danger in Voris’ newfound argument, trying to get around the lack of a formal declaration of schism from the Church, is that he makes the matter worse. Just as the Protestants did, Voris takes it upon himself, under the guise of some “objective moral question” to make a private judgment (just him and his Code of Canon Law) and then declare his judgment as fact to the public. The sedevacantists do the same thing with the pope. They treat the matter of whether we have a pope as one of private judgment (just me and my pre-Vatican II moral theology textbooks), call their subjective conclusion “objective” and “obvious” and expect other Catholics to accept it.
The next thing you know, CMTV supporters will be declaring all sorts of bishops and priests “heretics before God.” And if they do that, what is to stop them from recognizing Pope Francis as one as well? Then, irony of all ironies, you will have Voris and CMTV, who have long railed against The Remnant, CFN, and the SSPX for criticizing the Pope, fearing it may lead readers to sedevacantism, unwittingly encouraging their own readers to sedevacantism by re-defining schism.
And all of this just so Voris, like Captain Ahab, can finally slay his white whale, the SSPX.
Speaking of Captain Ahab, I don't think anyone can do his famous line towards Moby Dick justice better than Catholic actor Ricardo Montalban. In fact, I think the following scene sums up Voris’ attitude perfectly as he sees the SSPX slowly escaping into “full communion” while CMTV begins to implode: