What's in a name? Controversial media company pressured to stop calling itself 'Catholic'

By Scott Alessi| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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Following a dispute with the Archdiocese of Detroit, controversial personality Michael Voris will be changing the name of his media company from Real Catholic TV to Church Militant.TV, featuring the new tagline "Catholics are born for combat."

Voris has gained a reputation for being far on the right side of the political spectrum, and as he tells reporter Kristen Hannum in our July cover story on attacks against social justice, Catholicism for him is all about saving one's own soul, not working for the common good. His organization has seen its share of controversy and after Voris took it upon himself to show up at last year's World Youth Day in Madrid, the event officially distanced itself from Voris and made clear that they in no way endorsed his presence or the workshops he was offering.

The Archdiocese of Detroit, where Voris produces his web-based programming, has for some time been saying that "Real Catholic TV" was not really Catholic. They exercised their right under canon law to tell Voris he wasn't authorized to use the word "Catholic" in his name and, after a dispute about the archdiocese's authority due to the fact that the group's owner of record actually lives in Indiana, ChurchMilitant.TV was born.

On the one hand, it is refreshing to see the church apply its criticism of groups calling themselves "Catholic" more evenly across the political spectrum. But this, along with the news last week that the Vatican had purchased the .catholic domain and would determine which websites could use it, makes you wonder if the number of "Catholic" ministries will be greatly reduced in the future.

Whether or not that happens, groups of individual Catholics ranging from Voris' organization to Voice of the Faithful, and anyone in between, will always have their critics within the Catholic Church. Despite being an official publication of the Claretian Missionaries, we get our fair share of detractors claiming we shouldn't be called "Catholic" either.

I heard the same criticism while working for diocesan newspapers--which are directly under the authority of the local bishop--and often received complaints about stories being "not Catholic" even when they came from Catholic News Service, which is a division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Even things deemed "Catholic" by the official leaders of the church don't get a free pass--in other words, you can never please all of the Catholics all of the time.

I may not really be a fan of Voris, nor do I agree with his understanding of Catholicism, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he isn't Catholic or shouldn't be a part of the church. And even though the Detroit archdiocese wants to avoid confusion between what Voris is preaching and their own ministry, they aren't telling him to close up shop or to move out of their geographical boundaries. The newly christened "Church Militant" will keep marching on, whether we like it or not.