The Suit of Mr Voris

Image result for striped tieNot the one he wears. A legal thing. The organization usually known as Church Militant is suing the city of Baltimore for putting the clamp on its rally protesting the upcoming USCCB meeting in Baltimore.

I had seen an initial headline in my morning news feed about an outfit called St Michael’s Media. I did not realize the organization had been rebranded. I also read that Mr Voris’ outfit organized a similar rally during the USCCB meeting in 2018 at the height of the McCarrick/Viganò thing. The WaPo reported 300 people showed up for that one. I don’t know why this year’s effort would draw three times the number as mentioned three years ago. Perhaps that two of the Names enlisted for the event are one-time Breitbart figures. This from Newsweek:

An event advertisement touts speeches by former Donald Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and far-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos, who testified at Thursday’s hearing.

The city said Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagements attract counterprotesters and have led to violence and property damage. It also said Bannon “regularly calls for violence against government officials,” noting that Twitter banned his account last year after he called for beheading Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Yiannopoulos testified that he has adopted a softer, less caustic tone to his speeches in recent years and doubts any counterprotesters would show up at an event like the one that St. Michael’s wants to hold.

“The risk seems to me near zero,” said Yiannopoulos, now a paid columnist for St. Michael’s Media. “There’s no one coming to protest me these days, which is a great relief.”

Commentary:

  • I note that these speakers are Catholics, but they are more well-known for their exploits in political punditry. 
  • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with lay Catholics getting involved in politics. But when an event is promoted as a “prayer rally,” it can be a curious thing to outsiders to note headliners known less for their spirituality.
  • Questions from the protesters on the possible role of the US bishops in suggesting a permit pull. I guess that’s a good question, but nobody’s saying.
  • Mr Yiannopoulos expresses relief at a lack of protesters at his public events. So he seems to have no problem protesting other people. Hmm.
  • Unless you’re Fox News or a deep-pockets corporation, getting close to January 6th and persons thought to be behind it or even approving of it is a mostly toxic thing these days. I can see the appeal for a far-Right Catholic group though. Mr Bannon is a big name of sorts. 
  • It’s not really a Baltimore community group, so maybe there’s a question if out-of-towners should alight in city-owned property if there’s a hint that unpatriotic mischief is afoot. 

The approved 2018 event saw some social (and other) distancing from Mr Voris’ platform. SNAP and BishopAccountability “shied away from Church Militant in part because it does not routinely cover female victims of clergy sex abuse or go after conservative bishops who have allegedly abused. These groups want to keep the focus on goals like identifying abusers and creating policies and practices that require transparency and help victims.”

More from the WaPo:

Referring to Church Militant and other far-right websites like Breitbart and LifeSite that have taken up aspects of the cause, BishopAccountability co-director Anne Barrett Doyle said, “I see they perform a service to some extent in that they expose predatory bishops and predatory priests that mainstream press aren’t yet covering. But at the same time, because they have a different goal, their goal isn’t simple justice and accountability and transparency — there is a bias.” 

To be clear, bias is not a sin. Even bias that is political, and most people would see these Right-sided outlets as definitely that. If not strongly that. Church politics for sure. And the difficult arena of US secular politics? The planned speakers would certainly be a draw outside of Church circles. The bigger the clientele, the more money there is to be made: you can’t argue that point.

See the source imageI really wish there were a more clearly fair answer. I think life in community means a certain allegiance to promoting harmony in society and culture. Non-violent protesting can certainly accomplish this. Public disagreements can be constructive, if building for the future is the long-term desire. Calling for executions, less so.

Prayer rallies, whatever that means, would seem to be religious ground. But a political rally with prayer tacked in at the beginning and the end? That seems to lean way toward rally and less to the devotional. Mr Bannon leading a set of mysteries of the rosary? That one would be interesting, though I’ve never heard the man speak in public.

Does an extreme fringe in difficult political times merit a platform for their views? If so, are they obliged to abide by the law? Certainly. What about rules of courtesy and good conduct in public? I would think so. Should organizers of public events take responsibility for such things? Definitely.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Church News, Commentary, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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