The Download, one of Church Militant's Premium Programs
The title of this essay is meant to be a little provocative and designed to get your attention. It's a lesson that Michael Voris has taught me well, with his regular video instalments of The Vortex. (Thanks Michael.) It's a way of getting the reader's attention, so that you can fill them in on the real message within the article. Nevertheless, there is a certain degree of truth to the title.
While the Michigan Catholic news outlet isn't raising an "army" in a traditional sense, it does have quite a following, and while I don't have any access to their subscription list, I do personally know lot of subscribers, and a whole lot more who just access the free content.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me reveal two things about myself. First, I am a paying subscriber to Church Militant. It's the best $10/month subscription I've ever purchased, and quite and investment too. I watch their videos not only for news and commentary use, but I also access their tremendous archives of teaching and information videos as aids for homeschooling my children. There is a lot on their website which makes for good religious instruction. Second, I used to write some opinion articles for Church Militant some time back. I haven't done so recently, because of many other obligations (catechist certification, book writing, church founding, homeschooling, etc.) but it's really for no other reason at this time. I'm still pretty swamped, but after watching the treatment Church Militant has recently received from the mainstream press, I'm thinking about writing a few more articles for them, if they'll still have me. You see, I'm a person who stands by his friends. I don't run away when the weather gets bad.
I'll also tell you something else about me. Over the last couple years, I've gotten a number of emails and messages from some of my readers, who have some personal complaints or issues with Church Militant. That's fine. If you are one of those people, you're entitled to your opinion, and I'm not going to knock it. That is your right. I will say, however, that I am entitled to disagree with you, and that is my right. When it comes to Church Militant, I don't agree with every single story, and every single opinion they publish/broadcast. That too is my right, and it's yours as well. However, I'm a "big picture" kind of guy. In my evaluation of Church Militant, or any religious media outlet, I try to look at the big picture rather than the details. Is the big picture, meaning the overall message of the media, generally something that is orthodox and edifying to the faithful in Christ? That's my criteria. That's my mode of decision-making process. The truth is, there is not a single media outlet in the world (Catholic, Protestant or Secular) that I agree with 100%. Sorry, it just doesn't exist. That's because I'm an individual, I have my own mind, and I can think for myself. I don't need, nor do I want, somebody to tell me what to think about every single thing, on every issue, no matter how small. Not even the Magisterium of the Catholic Church does that! The Catholic Church recognises difference of opinion within the pale of orthodoxy. For example, two Catholic priests can have radically different viewpoints on social justice, but so long as neither one has deviated into heterodoxy (heresy), the two can simply agree to disagree, and the Church is fine with that. The same goes for laymen too. I don't agree with everything Church Militant says. I don't agree with everything EWTN says either. However, when I look at the big picture of both media outlets, I see that each has its own value in bringing something orthodox and efficacious to the Catholic faithful, each in its own unique way. Therefore, I support both on face value, even though I agree with neither 100%. As a Catholic, in good standing with the Church, I consider this a reasonable and mature way of handling various sources of Catholic news and information. I invite you to join me in this mature position, if you dare. Warning: It means you'll have to start thinking for yourself. I know that can be scary to some people, but I think it's necessary if you want to have an adult point of view.
When it comes to Church Militant, I am convinced that their overall "big picture" message is both orthodox and efficacious. Sometimes they miss the mark on a particular story, and they're not blind to this. They've admitted when they got it wrong in the past, or when they've overstated a position, and you know what? That's refreshing! How often do you see that in a news media outlet? of any kind? We need more of this kind of humility in the press, and yes, I said "humility" in reference to Church Militant. If you've never seen it, you haven't been watching.
Now, about this "army" they're raising. It's not an "army" in the traditional sense. Nobody is going to do any real "fighting" or anything like that. It's more of a collection of subscribers and readers who are satisfied that somebody in the Catholic press is FINALLY reporting on the issues they deem most important. As for "secret," well yes, it is somewhat secret, because you see, Church Militant (like any responsible company) doesn't voluntarily reveal its subscriber list. That's actually a good thing, because I'm sure that many of their subscribers don't want to be made public. I personally, don't care, because my life is pretty much an open book anyway, and that's by my own choice. I have my reasons for going public and I'm happy to do it. However, there are a lot of people who value their privacy, will remain anonymous, and this is what I want to talk about.
The remainder of this essay is addressed to bishops, and I do sincerely hope more than a few read it. If you're a bishop, please pass it on to your brother bishops, because they're going to want to know this. Church Militant has a substantial number of Catholic clergy who subscribe to their website. This includes many priests and deacons. I suspect maybe even a bishop or two. Who are these clergy? Well, some of them are in your dioceses! You probably don't know who they are, and that is by their design, because they don't want you to know. Why? Maybe it's because they fear what your reaction will be. Maybe it's because they are afraid you might discipline them for subscribing to Church Militant. Whatever the reason, it doesn't just say something about them, it also says something about you. Are you open and fair with your clergy? Do you allow them to freely promote orthodoxy within your diocese? Are you more concerned about the truth of Jesus Christ, or the fear of offending people? These are rhetorical questions of course, but if your priests are afraid of what you might do to them for subscribing to Church Militant, then maybe it's time to put the message out that they have nothing to fear.
Here's another suggestion. Church Militant is a Catholic media organisation currently being attacked by the mainstream media (New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA Today, etc.) with statements that could easily be seen as libel, and are clearly more of a not-so-veiled attack on Catholic orthodoxy itself, rather than just as smear-job on one Catholic media outlet. I know that a few bishops, from around the world, have enjoyed the megaphone of having been interviewed by Church Militant. I wonder how many of those bishops, and their brother bishops, will come to their defence now that they're in need. The message of the mainstream Secular media is crystal clear. They're telling the public that you Catholic bishops don't support ANYTHING they say. Is that true? Am I to believe that some of you will gladly use Church Militant's vast media reach to get your own message out, but none of you will come to Church Militant's defence when the Secular press does a hatchet job on them? Is this how you would treat EWTN if they found themselves victims of a similar attack? I'm just curious here. I don't know the answer. It will be curious to learn, however, in the days ahead, how many of you are shepherds versus politicians. Do you come to the aid of your sheep when the wolves attack? Or do you just let them get eaten when its not politically advantageous for you to help? Again, I don't know the answer to this. These are rhetorical questions. I'm not expecting an answer.
I assert that what we are seeing right now, with this media slander against Church Militant, is just the beginning of something much bigger. We saw it come out in the presidential campaign last year with Wikileaks. Leftist operatives within the highest circles of the Democratic Party have a plan for the Catholic Church in the United States. It's called "divide and conquer." The whole point is to launch a "Catholic Spring" in which the laypeople, assisted by dissident clergy, will rise up in rebellion against Catholic teaching on sexual morality, most especially the Church's teachings on homosexuality, cohabitation, premarital sex and contraception. If successful, they can split the witness of the U.S. Catholic bishops, thus neutralising their influence on American politics. In order to accomplish this, they're going to have to systematically smear all outlets of Catholic orthodoxy in America. It looks like Church Militant, small but influential, is #1 on their chopping block. If successfully decapitated, I'm sure EWTN will be #2. Once EWTN has been neutralised, you bishops will be #3. I expect this will not only happen with some media scandal against the USCCB, but also you individually. They'll systematically take you down, one bishop at a time. You know how quickly the media can work. The lightning speed at which Church Militant has been smeared is shocking.
I think we are rapidly now entering the time when there is no more room for straddling the fence. Catholics are going to have to start choosing sides, and this is true for the clergy just as much as the laity. No one of us is perfect, certainly not Church Militant, and certainly not EWTN. If you're looking for perfect allies in this new culture war, you'll never find any. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. But if we don't hang together, we'll all soon hang separately. It's a word of warning from Benjamin Franklin that is just as applicable today.
Dear bishops, please heed this parable, once given to me as a young man, by a wise old Protestant...
There was, once upon a time, a little bird that flew south for the winter with his flock. But he was not as strong as the other birds, and sadly lagged behind. Eventually winter caught up with him before he could catch up to the flock, and he found himself in the middle of a blizzard. In time his tired little wings iced over, and he nosedived directly into a snowdrift. While under that snowdrift, his little beak chattered, his little body shivered, and he thought for sure he would die. That is, until a cow came along, stood right over him and pooped on his head. The little bird was furious. "Here I am," he thought, "about to freeze to death, and on top of it all, this big ugly cow poops all over me!" But as you know, poop, smelly and nasty as it is, is also warm, and it wasn't long before the little bird thawed out, and found himself in good health again. Overjoyed with the comfort of this new warmth, the smell no longer bothered him, and he began tweeting and chirping with delight. At that point, a cat walked by and happened to hear the song. He dug through the snow, then through the cow patty. He found the little bird, and ate him.
Now there are three morals to this parable. They are as follows...
- Those who poop on you, aren't necessarily your enemies.
- Those who dig you out of the poop, aren't necessarily your friends.
- And if you're warm and cosy where you're at, don't go singing about it!
Dear bishops, you are the bird. The blizzard and snow is the corruption and scandal within the Church right now. Church Militant is the cow. The cat represents your "friends" on the Secular Left.
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.
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