Sins against the eighth commandment are legion. Slander and detraction are serious issues. Which brings me to Church Militant (CM) and its reporting on the SSPX -- again.
Michael Voris recently reviled the SSPX as a "cult" on a CM Twitter thread implying that anyone who attends or defends the SSPX is a "cult" member. He used two examples to support his statement -- Let me repeat that. He mentioned TWO!!! comments left on the Twitter feed and went on to cast aspersions on every single member of the SSPX. But not only the SSPX, the entire Latin Mass community. He implied, based on TWO comments, that everyone who attends the Latin Mass is self-righteous and thinks they are "superior and Holy." And of course, many of CM's followers piled on. Omigosh, those TLM supporters are evil and "spiritually diseased."
Here's what Voris tweeted:
Note first of all that Voris labels the SSPX a "cult." The implication is that all the thousands who belong to or defend the SSPX are like the followers of Jim Jones, cult members.
Then he goes on to give TWO examples of nasty tweets, one using a vulgar term for Christine Niles, saying the comments are a "reason" for Francis to deep six the Latin Mass (TLM). Since the SSPX says the same Latin Mass as the FSSP and the Canons Regular of numerous orders, that was a pretty inflammatory statement. And really -- TWO! comments out of an estimated 25,000 who attend the SSPX chapels, not to mention another 75,000 who attend other TLM parishes!
I have two trolls who visit my blog frequently, one almost daily, to leave vile comments (which I don't post). One is an NO Catholic who says she used to be a traditionalist. Her nasty comments don't make me assume all NO Catholics are like her. Nor do I label every diocesan priest as a sex abuser because of the statistically small number of priests who are. I attend the NO almost every weekday and most of the priests who say those Masses seem to be seriously committed to doing God's will and bringing others to Christ. I'm grateful for them and would never lump them in with the abusers.
Church Militant should be embarrassed and take down the Twitter thread immediately. I thank Mundabor for his post that pointed me there since I bolted from Twitter months ago. Everything he said about the tweet is spot on! Here's a bit:
...if Christine Niles is insulted by people who are really fed up with her and her sanctimonious wannabe crusade against the SSPX I for myself tend to side with the insulting party, not the insulted one; because for me, being the one who insulted first does not make the guy on the right side of the discussion wrong, but merely intemperate.
...Really, Twitter gets out the worst of everybody at lightning speed....How can it be that Niles and Voris don’t know this?
Mind, the two of them are journalists, that is: professionals of communication. The (in most cases, I am sure) devout Catholics who engage with them generally aren’t. I understand the occasional slip from a non-professional more than the deliberated exploitation of it from the professional.
Therefore, to take some “SSPX loyalist” who loses his patience and is likely having a bad day and take it is an example of the SSPX values and aims is profoundly disingenuous and, in fact, dishonest. It is bad enough from the side of Niles, it is even worse from the side of Voris, who then uses a single episode to tarnish all the followers and supporters of the SSPX as “cult members” . [Read Mundabor's entire post here - if you care enough. Internecine warfare gets pretty tiresome after awhile.]
The Church definitely has a sex abuse problem. The Vatican has a problem. Every diocese has a problem. Every religious order has a problem. Look for dissent and you will probably find homosexuality and other sexual sins associated with it. They go together. That's not to say you won't find sexual predators among the orthodox. In my own diocese a number of homosexual priests hid behind orthodoxy before they were exposed.
Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Every parent who discovers their child has been abused, no matter who the abuser is -- priest, bishop, teacher, coach, etc. should report it to police for a criminal investigation, charges, and a trial. But some of what passes for "investigation" at CM is laughable!
I watched Niles' interview with Jassy Jasac with regard to Fr. Pierre Duverger. Jasac told Niles that Fr. Duverger advised her to confront her abuser and TALK TO HER PARENTS! Does that sound like the advice of someone "grooming" her? Did Niles follow up on that? Did she ask if she talked to her parents? Did she ask what their reaction was? No! Those questions wouldn't support the narrative of the evil SSPX priest "grooming" the poor child of the "Me Too" generation.
And what kind of investigator starts her interview with acceptance of the accusation as fact ("This grooming that took place with you...") and then goes on to accept every single word of the accuser as gospel truth and an accurate interpretation of what happened without question? How much of Niles other reporting shows the same sloppy (and biased) approach?
We've seen false accusations from women many times: Anita Hill, Christine Blasey-Ford, the woman who falsely accused three members of the Duke lacrosse team of rape. False accusations are not rare. In fact, studies done by the Air Force, Purdue, and other institutions in the 1980s and 1990s showed that 40-60% of rape accusations were false. And their definition of a "false accusation" was stringent. The accusers had to recant! Here are 36 cases of false accusations including the notorious accusation by Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade (Norma McCorvey) that gave us abortion on demand.
We all need to be careful to avoid the sins of calumny, detraction, and slander. Those making accusations need to be questioned carefully. Do they have an axe to grind? Have they interpreted events accurately? Is there solid evidence to back up their claims: eye witnesses, text messages, emails? Is the person credible? Is there a blue dress?
We all have a right to our good name!
Note in the video above, that exaggeration is one of the sins of detraction. Should we slander every diocesan priest and bishop because of the small percentage of diocesan priests and bishops (which, nevertheless, is in the thousands) who abused children? Should we slander every member of the SSPX community for the sins of the few?
Exaggeration is exactly what Voris and Niles did in their tweet. It certainly doesn't add to their credibility.