Updated: Archdiocese of Detroit vs. Voris/RealCatholicTV

by Steve Ray on January 3, 2012

January 20 Update

Update by Dr. Ed Peters responding to “help defuse some of the more distracting chatter floating around out there. He addresses two further issues:
1) The Archdiocese of Detroit, some claim, does not have jurisdiction over Voris/RCTV;
Why not shut down a lot of others using the word “Catholic” out there?

Read the latest here.

Further clarifications HERE

Another update HERE


The Archdiocese of Detroit has ruled that Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV is not allowed to describe his ministry using the word “Catholic.” You can read the article in LifeSiteNews.

My friend and canon lawyer Dr. Ed Peters weighs in on the decision of the Archdiocese of Detroit and the resulting hubbub.

Dr. Peters begins: “The first thing to understand about the dispute between the Archdiocese of Detroit and Michael Voris and/or RealCatholicTV is that the dispute turns essentially on canon law. As a canonical dispute, it will not be decided by seeing who musters more or louder supporters in the blogosphere; it will be decided by recognizing what Church law says about such matters and then abiding by that finding.

“With this being firmly understood, however, we may still use the dispute to set out some aspects of Church discipline for those wishing to understand such things better. I comment here not as an advisor to the AOD, but as an established observer on public canonical issues, and I reiterate what is noted to the right of every ILOTL post, namely, that this blog represents my opinions only…

For the rest, click here.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Marty January 4, 2012 at 8:53 AM

So why hasn’t the Catholic Women Priests website been shut down? Why are so many “catholic” schools and colleges not been stripped of using Catholic in front of thier name? It seems that liberal bias has penetrated the Church and is causing the secular disease to spread
Don’t we need an antidote of conservative Catholic teaching? Me thinks they protest much! If it smells, there may be something fishy about.


Paul Prtimavera January 4, 2012 at 1:53 PM

One wonder is the Independent Old Catholic Church may continue to use the word “Catholic”, or if Anglicans and Episcopalians have to stop using the word “Catholic” when they recite the Nicene or Apostles’ Creeds.


Wow, these folks believe in women priests and contraception, and yet they use the word “Catholic.” Is the AOD speaking out against that? Or against Catholics for Choice? Nope. Instead, uber-orthodox Voris is cited. Well, when there is inconsistency like this that gives rise to questions as to motives, then speaking out is a duty, not a protest.

Jim January 5, 2012 at 10:02 AM

I have yet to hear anyone proove or really even defend against the alligations RCTV has made against individuals. This seems odd to me at best. I also have never known Voris to comment negetive against the Church, Pope or magesterium. The vortex has an abrasive tone but it does seem to draw attention to wounds that need dressing. This attempt to remove the Catholic name on the surface seems to validate some of RCTV,s comments, but more information needs to surface. Of coarse I will always side with the decision of the Church. I trust God will help resolve this for the building up of his Church. Gods will be done!

Michael H. Smith January 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM

I am no lawyer, canon or any other, yet I understand how canon law does not apply to non-Catholics. It is not like the Church can copyright the name “Catholic” to prevent non-Catholics from using it. By insisting you are a Catholic, or that the organization you create is Catholic—implying you are in good standing, you place yourself under canon law. Having said that, when a bishop silences and individual or suppresses a Catholic organisation upon which many of the faithful rely, said bishop evidently not caring about how much harm he is doing to, say, the pro-life cause, as in the case of Fr. Pavone, or the communicating of faithful orthodoxy against error (caused mainly by the majority of the bishops themselves) then one must question the prudential wisdom of canon law that gives bishops near-absolute power when, indeed, as St. Athanasius said, “the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of [so many] bishops!”

Lionel Andrades January 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

The Archdiocese of Detroit also opposed Real Catholic TV.com’s understanding of other religions and Christian communities. Vorris affirms the dogma outside the church there is no salvation.The case is similar to that of apologist Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International (CAI). His former bishop asked him to remove the name Catholic from CAI. Robert was also being opposed by the Jewish Left while his bishop was unable to say in public that Jews need to convert into the Church for salvation.
Robert Sungenis’ bishop was Bishop Kevin Rhoades who is now the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, USA. This is the diocese where Marc Brammar the owner of Real Catholic TV.com lives. Brammer has written to the bishop a few times and received no reply.
Wikipedia and other hit media have reported that Sungenis had been criticized by the his bishop, Kevin Rhoades and was asked to remove the name Catholic.
Michael Vorris has indicated that the pressure on the Archdiocese of Detroit has come also from outside the diocese. He seemed to be indicating the same non Catholic opponents of Sungenis.
Would the Archdiocese also not accept the conclusion of the following report on the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mike Jarman January 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM

I’ve been an attorney for almost 30 years and studied cannon law in college. Since your “friend and canon lawyer Dr. Ed Peters” won’t accept comments on his current opinions surrounding these issues, I guess I’ll have to have my say here. First, cannon 216 is clear even to non-lawyers. Whether lay ministeries that use the term “Catholic” ever follow its precepts is unclear, and Dr. Peters doesn’t address this. Okay, it’s his blog, still no argument from me. Frankly, I find the jurisdictional issue irrelevant and have no problem with him dismissing it out of hand. Again, so far so good.

However, Dr. Peters is an intelligent man and certainly cannot be unaware that the AoD has rarely (if ever) invoked the Bishop’s authority under cannon 216. (Its spokesman said as much in the recent LifeSite News article.) For Dr. Peters to suggest that AoD’s critics are trying to substitute their values and priorities for that of the local ordinary in this matter is silly. The point is selective enforcement. In this case, enforcement is not merely selective but, apparently, exclusive. That begs the question: why this particular organization?

The other point which Dr. Peters, again being an intelligent man, clearly must understand is that any enforcement of a rule must be accompanied by some notion of how the offending party can come back into compliance. Does AoD even have a procedure that RealCatholicTV could avail itself of to obtain the bishop’s approval going forward?

No one can criticize Dr. Peter’s statement of the law, and I have no interest in arguing whether +Vigneron can or should be enforcing it based on jurisdiction. However, Dr. Peters’ analysis thus far fails the “first year associate” test for a useful legal memo. Namely, “what does all this mean in the real world”? I don’t think this failure is unintentional on his part. In order to answer these questions, he’d have to address the selective enforcement and opportunity for compliance issues in a meaningful way. He apparently does not want to do this, perhaps due to some conflict-of-interest?

Grant January 14, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Lionel Andrades writes, “The case is similar to that of apologist Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International (CAI). His former bishop asked him to remove the name Catholic from CAI. Robert was also being opposed by the Jewish Left while his bishop was unable to say in public that Jews need to convert into the Church for salvation.”

Lionel, this is a lie and you need to stop spreading it. The views that people (including Bishop Rhoades) tried to stop Robert Sungenis from pushing were the ones you can read about here:




Grant January 14, 2012 at 1:22 AM

To Lionel Andrades, continued:

Slow down and read. You have no justification or right to imply that Bishop Rhoades is a heretic. It’s amazing that someone actually has to tell a self-styled super-Catholic something so basic.

Here are some articles, with statements from Bishop Rhoades, showing plainly that he’s orthodox on this issue. They also show what happened with Sungenis and that the conflict wasn’t about whether or not Jews are saved by Christ and the Church like everyone else.




One of the articles states that you were the person who attacked Bishop Rhoades on Sungenis’ behalf by emailing the priests of Harrisburg, basically accusing the bishop of being a heretic. All you did was stir up more tension and animosity with that stunt. Until you gain some humility and common sense, you might want to consider holding off on assuming the role of “super-teacher” and “Guardian of the Truth” [TM).

Grant January 20, 2012 at 5:10 PM

To Mike Jarman,

I think Mark Shea has a common-sense answer to your question at his blog.


Mike Jarman January 22, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Grant, thanks for the reference. Obviously, most folks think highly of Mark Shea, and I certainly value his opinion. (Also, somewhat unrelated, I know +Rhoades and he is the archetype of an orthodox bishop, IMHO.) Perhaps Mark’s column answers the “selective enforcement” issue, although I’m hard pressed to find the actual circumstances he cites in the St. Michael’s Media materials I’ve reviewed over the years. More to the point, however, Dr. Peters’ latest statements come much closer to addressing the basic legal issues I’ve raised than anything he’s written in the past. Basically, he seems to be saying that AoD doesn’t much care for the editorial decisions made by RCTV, and there would have to be some changes in their editorial approach for the AoD to approve RCTV’s use of “Catholic” in the name. If that’s the case, the intelligent thing for all concerned would be to settle the matter with some editorial guidelines, assuming those guidelines are not a subterfuge for outright censorship of RCTV’s criticism of the leadership of the Church – something that is not subject to legitimate censorship (at least by those who have a conflict-of-interest because they might be the ones being criticized). In any event, it seems as Dr. Peters is making a good effort at addressing the issues that underly the dispute, and I’m glad he’s chosen to do that.

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