Editor’s Note: Earlier this week, Church Militant, the media apostolate run by Michael Voris, published an online article with the shocking headline, “Is the SSPX Sheltering a Sexual Predator?” The article accuses the leadership of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) – an international priestly society founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991) – of gross negligence (at best) and deliberate cover-up (at worst) in relation to one Fr. James McLucas, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York who was suspended from ministry due to accusations of sexual abuse (his name appears in a recently published archdiocesan list) and who has assisted the SSPX on occasion due to his interest in traditional doctrine and liturgy.
- Sspx Church Militant Response
- Church Militant On Sspx
- Sspx News Church Militant
- Sspx Church Militant Today
- Catholic News Agency
Needless to say, the accusatory article published by Church Militant has made considerable waves in the Catholic blogosphere, causing scandal and confusion as a result. The SSPX has responded with a press release (full text below) addressing several relevant points and ultimately reiterating the Society’s commitment “to protecting all minors and vulnerable adults and to cooperate fully with civil and ecclesiastical authorities.” Church Militant, in turn, has doubled down on its stance, publishing two additional articles on the subject to date (see here and here).
See full list on novusordowatch.org. Position on Canonical Status The position of Church Militant concerning the SSPX is that of the Holy Father, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, as expressed in the motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, issued.
As longtime Catholic Family News readers will recall, Michael Voris and his Church Militant organization have long since harbored a profoundly negative bias against the SSPX, routinely referring to the Society as “schismatic” and strongly warning Catholics not to attend Masses offered by SSPX priests – even going so far as to claim that Catholics “do not fulfill [their] Sunday and Holy Day obligations through regular, planned, premeditated attendance at SSPX Masses.” CFN’s longtime editor John Vennari (R.I.P.) produced excellent rebuttals to Voris’ attacks on the Society, as well as to attacks on CFN, The Remnant, Angelus Press, and other Traditionalist outlets dubbed “Reactionary Catholic Media” by Voris (see here and here).
Thus, it could be the case that Church Militant‘s recent accusatory articles are simply the latest manifestation of their long-standing campaign to defame and discredit the SSPX, an agenda that Catholic Family News continues to find both baffling and abhorrent.*****
Press Release Concerning Church Militant Article Regarding the SSPX
On July 23, 2019, Church Militant published an article entitled “Is the SSPX Sheltering a Sexual Predator?” by James Baresel. This misleading and slanderous report deserves clarification. Both charity and justice should be hallmarks of any Catholic.
The main accusation centers around Fr. James McLucas, a diocesan priest who occasionally helps the Society of Saint Pius X. While not a member of the SSPX, Fr. McLucas was named in the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report. Even though the information in the report was inaccurate, it has not stopped secular and Catholic outfits from labeling him a “sexual predator.” (For more on the broader question, please see: https://catholicherald.co.uk/magazine/the-trouble-with-lists-of-credibly-accused-priests/) As no civil or canonical proceedings have ever found Fr. McLucas guilty, nor has he ever been charged with any crime, these accusations are profoundly defamatory.
Fr. McLucas’ lawyer issued the following statement in 2018 when the recent accusations were first made:
While Father McLucas was not charged with any crime, the shocking and horrible accusations in the report – without published evidence, without trial, and without due process of law – will nevertheless blacken his reputation and destroy him in his profession.
Less than two weeks ago, Church Militant, quoting Pope Francis, used similar terms to defend Father Perrone against the Archdiocese of Detroit:
The right to defense: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation. (https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/msgr-bugarins-ignorance-damaged-fr-perrones-reputation)
The Role of Church Militant
In both situations, Church Militant assumes the place of a judge that only civil or religious authorities are entitled to.
Furthermore, Church Militant displays a double standard. Fr. Perrone and Fr. McLucas are both accused. Church Militant defends the one and attacks the other. They play the advocate for Fr. Perrone and the prosecutor for Fr. McLucas. The same principles they enunciate and hold sacred to defend Fr. Perrone, they trample on when it comes to Fr. McLucas.
Speaking of Church Militant’s methodology, we must draw attention to this sentence: “SSPX priest Nicholas Stamos informed me by phone on July 18 that McLucas is still participating in the organization’s work.”
Fr. Nicholas Stamos wishes to make clear: he has never heard of, nor spoken to, the author of this article. He had one call from earlier in the summer, who apparently falsely said he was an old friend of Fr. McLucas, and that he wished to get in contact. Fr. Stamos directed him to a priory that Fr. McLucas sometimes visits. Neither Fr. Stamos nor anyone at the latter priory ever heard from Church Militant. Is this Catholic journalism?
Protection of All
The Society of Saint Pius X is committed to protecting all minors and vulnerable adults and to cooperate fully with civil and ecclesiastical authorities. In addition, we are committed to both helping victims as well as those that are accused. We do not unduly assume the role of judge and leave any investigation to the proper authorities.
From our internal policy on these matters:
Our commitment includes the protection of children (i.e. minors), and vulnerable adults from harm, and the protection of workers from false allegations…We provide individual care and counsel both for the abuse victim and his/her family…The accused is to be treated with dignity and respect. Clergy will seek opportunity to provide individual care and counsel both for the accused and his/her family until the investigation is completed.
Why the SSPX Exists
We stress that the Society of St. Pius X was founded by Archbishop Lefebvre to form and help Catholic priests. As our Statutes state, the central charism of the SSPX is the Catholic priesthood:
[The Society’s activities] include all the works necessary for the formation of priests and whatever pertains thereto, whether the candidates be destined to be members of the Society or not…
The second purpose of the Society is to assist priests in their sanctification by providing them with opportunities for retreats and recollections. The Society’s houses could be headquarters for priestly associations, for third orders, for periodicals and magazines dedicated to the sanctification of priests…
The Society will willingly come to the assistance of aged, infirm, and even unfaithful priests.
Faithful to her mission, rather than condemning and casting the first stone, the Society comes to the help of priests to restore their priesthood and sanctify themselves.
To Church Militant: we ask you retract this scandalous article. It is easy to contact us. If you are more concerned with the truth than clicks, you can still make reparation. We simply ask that you apply the same principles to your article about Fr. McLucas that you do to your articles about Fr. Perrone. In the meantime, for your readers–whatever they think of the SSPX–we hope this clarification shows which side maintains journalistic integrity, and more importantly, Catholic charity and justice.
US District Headquarters – July 24, 2019
Reprinted with permission from SSPX.org.Church MilitantClergy Sexual AbuseMichael VorisSSPX
Catholic Family News
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LifeSite News ^ December 4, 2020 John-Henry Westen
Posted on 12/04/2020 6:09:21 PM PST by ebb tide
LifeSite journalists have conducted dozens of interviews, acquired court documents and police records, spoken to victims, spoken to priests of the Society, and chronicled their findings meticulously.
December 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Dear LifeSite readers, we have received many responses regarding our initial coverage of allegations of sexual abuse within the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X. What has been most disturbing in all this is the reaction from Church Militant. We have been called “frauds” by Michael Voris, and this is particularly sad as I consider him a friend. I’ll address these concerns in this special episode.
Let me begin with the mission of LifeSite, which is to educate and to activate people to change the culture to the Truth – the Truth with a capital T – which is Jesus Christ.
We want every story, every video, every text to give glory to God. That being said, we live in a fallen world and thus have to report on many horrible things. Nevertheless the aim remains the same. And when we report on horrible things, it’s to shine light on evil to cast it out, and to purify Holy Mother Church to better help her in her mission of getting souls to heaven.
Now let’s get to our coverage of the SSPX abuse cases. First of all you should know how LifeSite got into this investigation in the first place. It was Michael Voris asking us to engage in it. At LifeSite we take all investigative journalism very seriously and so we had two reporters delving into the facts of the case for months. They conducted dozens of interviews, they acquired court documents, police records, spoke to victims, spoke to priests of the Society, and chronicled their findings meticulously. Honestly, they deserve great commendation for their work.
Once we started looking into the situation, we discovered a definite bias against the SSPX on the part of Church Militant which in our studied analysis has led to some problems with their investigation.
Church Militant’s headline on their first story covering abuse cases in the SSPX was titled, “SSPX: ‘Sympathetic to Perverts’”. Their lead reporter on the story Christine Niles has called the SSPX a “cult” and their CEO Michael Voris has, on Twitter, referred to the SSPX as a “Nazi pedophile cult.”
Let me be very up front about where LifeSite stands regarding the SSPX. We stand where the Catholic Church does on this question. Remember that Catholics are permitted to attend Masses at SSPX parishes, and thanks to Pope Francis, are able to have their confessions heard by SSPX priests and in 2017 the Vatican permitted the faithful to go have their marriages witnessed by SSPX priests. Likely one of the best summaries of this comes in a post by Fr. Z.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano recently gave his opinion on the SSPX. Writing in September to Catholic Family News, Archbishop Vigano said, “I consider Archbishop Lefebvre (founder of the SSPX) an exemplary confessor of the Faith, and I think that by now it is obvious that his denunciation of the Council and the modernist apostasy is more relevant than ever.”. The Archbishop commended the “hidden and often silent work” which “has been carried out by the Society of Saint Pius X” as deserving of “recognition for not having allowed the flame of Tradition to be extinguished at a moment in which celebrating the ancient Mass was considered subversive and a reason for excommunication.”
There is another heroic bishop who has expressed himself on this question – Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Bishop Schneider’s vantage point is important especially since he was asked by the Vatican to make an official visit to SSPX seminaries on behalf of the Holy See. He visited two SSPX seminaries in 2015 and shared his observations with the news service Adalente la Fe.
“To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition,” he said. Bishop Schneider noted “the SSPX believes, worship and conducts a moral life as it was demanded and recognized by the Supreme Magisterium and was observed universally in the Church during a centuries long period.” The bishop also notes that “the SSPX recognizes the legitimacy of the Pope and the diocesan bishops and prays for them publicly and recognizes also the validity of the sacraments according to the editio typica of the new liturgical books.”
His conclusion was “This should suffice for a canonical recognition of the SSPX on behalf of the Holy See.”
LifeSiteNews asked Bishop Schneider for his comment on investigations into sexual abuse by priests associated with the SSPX and in response he said:
Recently, one could observe that the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has been made from various sides a target of attacks in connection with cases of sexual abuse. The detection and transparent processing of cases of pedophilia should be done in a necessarily objective and thoroughgoing manner, irrespective of the persons or ecclesiastical communities concerned and without making any exceptions.
However, one could get the impression that the SPPX would be the only Catholic religious organization that had to respond to such accusations. It is difficult to simply dismiss the impression that some of the accusations were conducted in a biased manner.
If the SSPX is accused of failing to prevent and effectively manage cases of pedophilia on the part of its members, then for the sake of fairness, all dioceses around the world and all religious communities should as well be investigated, where in some cases one could find shortcomings maybe to the same or greater extent. Furthermore, it is part of fundamental justice and logic that religious communities or dioceses cannot be held responsible for the atrocities which their members or employees committed after they had been separated or dismissed from these communities. If one were to follow such logic, the Augustinian order, for example, would have to be held responsible for the anti-Semitic statements of Martin Luther, their former member. In coming to terms with atrocities committed by clerics, one should be guided only by truth and justice, without regard to the person.
On the other hand, this coming to terms with the past must not be used to unleash additional personal antipathies against a certain Church superior or against a certain religious community. Emotional neutrality is necessary for a fair judgment. The Word of God should be the guiding principle here: “If you are angry, do not sin!” (Eph. 4:26) and “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)
Getting back to our own story, I’ll be fully transparent. I attend a Novus Ordo parish, with no local Latin Mass parish within several hours of my home. When I travel I’m able to attend Latin Mass, and I nearly always do so with the Fraternity of St. Peter. Some of our staff attend the Novus Ordo. Others attend diocescan Traditional Latin Masses, others Fraternity of St. Peter Latin Masses, and still some attend SSPX Masses.
Our main investigator Stephen Kokx has no axe to grind with the SSPX. He himself attends SSPX Masses. But he is by no means what an op-ed at Church Militant charges – an SSPX “mole in LifeSiteNews.” Stephen has done excellent work for us at LifeSite and is a true gift to our mission. Everyone who knows him, knows him to be fair, objective, and truth-seeking. In college, he was a liberal who voted for John Kerry and Barack Obama. He came to an authentic Catholic faith 7 years ago at the age of 27 after spending many years in the spiritual wilderness.
One of the most outlandish claims against LifeSite’s reporting is that Church Militant says their sources said “Kokx had been ‘harassing’ victims with his questioning, impugning their integrity and calling into question their veracity.” Church Militant reporter Christine Niles says “Church Militant was shown his line of questioning, and we agree.”
We reviewed his questions and they are not out of line. It is obviously difficult to ask questions of abuse victims and reporters must do so with care, but we must also try to ascertain the facts as there is ample evidence that at times accusers have given false testimony.
And finally, I wanted to address the situation with Michael Voris and Christine Niles personally. I consider you both friends. We have prayed together and conversed about the difficulties afflicting the Church and the world. I admire your tenacity and your bravery, your professional look and feel in that amazing studio of yours, and your teaching of the faith especially in its difficult aspects.
I do believe we can respectfully challenge one another even when we believe there is error in our brother’s approach. But such disagreements should not involve ad hominem attacks, name-calling, and disparaging one another. From my perspective we are all trying to fight the same fight: the fight for Truth, the fight for Christ against Satan and all his pomps and works.
Sspx Church Militant ResponseKEYWORDS:christineniles; churchmilitant; churchmilquetoast; homovoris; liars; lifesitenews; michaelvoris; naziniles; sspx
Life Site and Church Militant don’t need to be fighting at this time. Of course, satan has other things in mind.
Their lead reporter on the story Christine Niles has called the SSPX a “cult” and their CEO Michael Voris has, on Twitter, referred to the SSPX as a “Nazi pedophile cult.”
Both Nazi Niles and Muscle Mary Michael are revolting.
Both Voris and Nazi Niles need to knock the chips of their shoulders.
But I hear their sugar daddy demands otherwise.
Church Militant On Sspx
Please take this as an honest request. Who is the sugar daddy? I always trust your posts. If you can answer
Terry Carroll. He’s vehemently agains the SSPX.
I love the Society; I’ll never support CM again.
John Fitzpatrick Mola
Thanks. I forget about him. He’s another nut.
Terry Carroll, October 27, 2014.
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Pope Francis Touts Universal Basic Income (Catholic economist slams idea as 'radical innovation in Church teaching') Church Militant 11-25-20
Church Militant blows in the wind; something Michael Voris should be familiar with.
Will look into it. Thank you.
I agree. We need to remain as united as possible. Church Militant is a magnificent force for good, and I’m saying that as a committed Calvinist.
Voris has finally come around on the Francis issue. I wouldn’t be hard on him.
Sspx News Church Militant
Sspx Church Militant Today
Catholic News Agency
I agree. We need to remain as united as possible. Church Militant is a magnificent force for good, and I’m saying that as a committed Calvinist.
FWIW—many of Calvin’s positions, especially as articulated by Calvin and not necessarily as elaborated on by his followers, are either Catholic Dogma or permissible to hold. Some of the permissible to hold positions are historically minority positions, but that does not make them less permissible.
While I am a committed Catholic myself, I tend to a fairly traditional Dominican position in disputed areas, and there is a huge resonance with much of Calvin in some of these.
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