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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Church Militant's Behind the Spotlight Renews their Attack on the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming

Church Militant (CM) has a new video online called Behind the Spotlight about how they do their investigations. Below their video is this come-on:
Go behind the scenes to discover the daily grind of what it takes to produce the pre-eminent [my emphasis] Catholic investigative series.
Susan and I are beginning today our own in-depth review of Church Militant's docu-drama which we'll be examining over the next few weeks or months. I'm curious about the motivation for it, but my gut feeling is it's an infomercial puff piece to give the illusion that CM is the brave David going against the giant Goliath. Actually, they've described themselves that way in the past. It also allows them to refocus on the piece that they say garnered them one of the highest viewerships of any Spotlights they've done, Counterfeit Carmel.

At the three minute mark we read these words on the screen: "Each investigation requires courage and faith." Nothing about truth, but CM wants you to believe that goes without saying. Unfortunately, it doesn't. And one of the most egregious examples of their dishonesty was the implication that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was a homosexual because he was so "enamored" of a priest that he traveled to the U.S. to ordain him. Curious comment from a crackerjack investigator considering that the archbishop was the only one who could ordain the priest. But, sadly, that kind of filthy innuendo is common with Christine Niles.

I had to laugh when I saw that adjective "pre-eminent," which didn't surprise me. Church Militant postures as the number one Catholic group in the world exposing corruption in the Church. They have done everything they can to attack and defame other Catholic media groups like LifeSiteNews, Catholic Family News, The Remnant, EWTN, and individuals defending the faith like Michael Matt, Chris Ferrara, John-Henry Weston, Matt Gaspers, Taylor Marshall, Louis Verrecchio, Michael Parrott, etc., etc. ad nauseum.

Take their word for it; they are the only ones you can trust. Would Michael Voris, the spiritual guru pre-eminently qualified to lead "retreats" during the Easter Triduum, lie to you?


But the adjective "pre-eminent" is correct in other ways. CM is preeminent in passing off gossip, hearsay, innuendo, and bias as "investigation." Yes, they have revealed some real corruption that needed to be exposed, but in many cases they have relied on immature, narcissistic "whistleblowers" whose testimony is questionable at best. I'm not saying their whistleblowers are liars, but events can often be interpreted in different ways. Christine often leads her whistleblowers by the nose to get the video coverage that most incriminates the target of the moment. How hard does she look for dissenting voices once she latches onto a "scandal?" A nano-second?

In her interviews, Christine uses loaded language and leading questions. Instead of seeking truth with tough questions for the accuser and an obvious impartiality, she often embraces the language of the witness to magnify the negative image of a group she's investigating. "How long did this grooming go on?" she asks. One sees the same type of interviews on CNN and MSNBC. Shouldn't we expect better from a group parading and preening as the pre-eminent Catholic group in the world.

So Susan and I will be going "behind the spotlight" to address CM's modus operandi for developing their exposés some of which are as phony as three dollar bills. 

Let's look at the opening minutes of the hour long video.

It begins with a montage of clips. The very first links to their so-called investigation of the Wyoming Carmelites, Counterfeit Carmel, a sickening piece implying the monastery is a hotbed of perversion. Their "whistleblower" was a young man, Augustine, whose 40+ page "dossier" comes across as the whining of a coddled little boy who never had to do a lick of heavy manual work in his life. He was there for less than a month. One other short-timer who stayed less than two weeks supported his statement. Those are CM's witnesses against the monks.

But there are other men who spent many months and even years at the monastery who describe that time as the best of their lives. Here's one:

According to a source with a relative at the Carmel in Wyoming, CM has damaged the apostolate there. And obviously, CM is intent on continuing as they used this as the leading clip in their Behind the Spotlight and go into a longer segment on the monks at the end.

No surprise! Being Christine is never having to say you're sorry or to admit that perhaps you didn't dig deeply enough. She had her "whistleblower" who had a salacious story; that was enough for the crackerjack investigator to be motivated to destroy the Wyoming Carmel if she could. Not only that, but.... it was the most viewed Spotlight of all. Wow! Let's resurrect the story and see if we can get more hits!

Her sources were two, apparently immature, young men, one who spent less than a month at the monastery and the other two weeks. Examine for yourself their stories vs. other young men who spent considerably more time at the monastery. Was the criticism primarily based on aversion to hard manual labor and unrealistic expectations?

One former novice, Nick, responded on the CM website to their Spotlight attack, Counterfeit Carmel. He was there for about four months discerning a vocation. He grew up poor doing manual labor and was also an Army infantry veteran, obviously a mature young man. His witness was powerful and compelling and obliterated Augustine's accusations. So what did CM do? A thing they never tolerate with their own "whistleblowers" -- they challenged his credibility. Either give us your full name and submit to our grilling or else you aren't credible. The prudent young man said he would, but with stipulations:
I’d give you my full name and you could interrogate me as much as you want but I would first want to sign some kind of agreement and I’d want you to retract a few things if you discovered that nothing was seriously wrong here....While CM is Catholic media, you are still media and I know how this thing works. I don’t lack courage but I’m not an idiot.

Smart man! And, needless to say, CM did not take up his challenge.

Here's one last video by a novice who entered the Carmel in April 2020 and spent about 18 months with the monks. His time there overlapped CM's "whistleblower," Augustine. He entered two weeks after Augustine, who left less than two weeks later. Let me repeat that CM's other source was there for two weeks as well. Wow! 

At the end of Behind the Spotlight, CM goes back where they started spending the last segment reiterating their attack on the monks in Wyoming. One of the most enlightening parts of the segment is their statistical analyst discussing how much viewer time they garnered with their hit piece. Christine is thrilled! "Twitter was exploding" with criticism of CM, she says, but most, she says, "are SSPX who have never watched any of this; they're just going on rumors." 

Now how do you know that, Christine? You're not only a crackerjack investigator but you are omniscient as well knowing the minds and motivations of your critics?

This statement itself is an assumption made to dismiss any criticism as a kneejerk response from a bunch of rad-trad (their disparaging term) know-nothings. In her back and forth with Voris, Christine makes broad statements implying that everything was confirmed. "Even the bishop confirmed it." Exactly what did the bishop confirm, Christine? We aren't told. 

The fact is that the bishop of Cheyenne, Bishop Steven Biegler, supports the monks who are all in good standing. Interestingly, Bishop Biegler is one of the few bishops ever praised by SNAP (Survivors Network of those abused by Priests) for his vigilance in holding sex abusers in the Church accountable. 

Bishop Biegler's most recent visit to the Carmelite monks was in May. Is it reasonable to believe that a bishop, active in defending victims against priestly sex abuse, would continue to support the Wyoming monks if they are the evil cult of perversion portrayed by CM? That hardly seems likely.

Bishop Steven Biegler visiting the Wyoming Carmelites in May 2022.
Can we expect a CM Spotlight casting Bishop Biegler as a pedo-enabler?

With regard to Christine's statement about their SSPX critics, I'm one of them. I openly acknowledge that I attend an SSPX chapel as well as my local diocesan parish. However, I do, in fact, watch CM's episodes, often multiple times, before I respond. I consider watching CM reparation for my sins, because their videos often disgust me with their propaganda techniques like using heart-wrenching stock photos, mood music, and video clips to manipulate the viewer's emotions.

I'm relatively new to the SSPX family, however. My affiliation began in 2020 when our diocese shut down our churches and the only option was the SSPX offering fairground Masses. They were in full compliance with the Virginia governor's mandate, so our bishop could have done the same thing. But like most in the U.S. he did not. When, months later, the  diocese reopened our churches again for Mass, my husband and I felt such great gratitude toward the sacrificial priests traveling five hours round trip to minister to us that we could not in good conscience just walk away. So we are among the "trads" despised by CM who, they say, are not the real lovers of tradition. Who are? Why CM of course. 

The final ten minutes or so of Behind the Spotlight reveals, in my opinion, the real purpose of their hit pieces -- analytics. How many clicks and views do these episodes get? How much money do they bring in? (They don't address that.) But it's obvious that scandal-mongering  gets a lot more attention than positive, faith-filled programming. 

Voris says to Christine enthusiastically, "These things [the scandal Spotlights] always go off the charts!" Wow! Go get 'em!

In fact, we're told that the Spotlight attacking the Wyoming monks was one of the most viewed of all according to the analytics. You can almost see Christine salivating over the results which showed over 100,000 views plus other social media interactions. Many viewers watched the entire episode. How many ended up contributing or signing up as premium subscribers? 

"That's fantastic!" says Christine to the analyst. "Those are the results we're looking for!" she gloats. Later while face-timing Augustine, the whistleblower, she says, "We had a really big reaction to the Spotlight, Counterfeit Carmel." And then she asks how he's doing.  That's what it's all about: clicks and views and raking in the dough. 

It made me shake my head. 

Christine sent both Susan and me an email with comments about the Behind the Spotlight piece saying how great she is. Now why would she do that? It seems like the behavior of a grade school kid saying, "See, see, see how great and important I am?"

Until I blocked her, Christine tagged me on almost all her Facebook posts.

Really, Christine? What's that all about?

And then, of course, there was the threat of a lawsuit against us which fizzled out. It was a clear attempt to shut us up. It's hard to shut up a pro-life rescuer who's been to jail and has been threatened with lawsuits before for speaking the truth. But bullying often works and one thing CM does really well is bully people. 

Why they ever bothered with us, though, is baffling.

Susan and I, unlike the pre-eminent and above reproach staff at CM, are nobodies.

I'm a mom and grandma whose life's work has been my family and the little ones in the womb waiting to be born. I love the faith and Holy Mother Church. My blog and website grew out of the dissent group, Call to Action, infiltrating the Diocese of Arlington almost thirty years ago. Several friends and I started Les Femmes to get them out of our parishes, which we did, and to suppress scandal in our diocese. 

We committed our work to the Blessed Mother, our editor-in-chief, and 12-star general. We get an infinitesimal fraction of the viewership and clicks garnered by CM. And we have virtually no money. If our bank account has enough to publish one or two more issues of the print newsletter and pay for the website domain, I'm content. That was my agreement with the Blessed Mother 27 years ago. As long as you provide enough money for us to pay the printing and postage for the newsletter, I'll keep sending it to all the priests in the diocese. She's kept us afloat for 27 years. 

As for clicks and views, which are so important to CM, consider this. Who gets the most? I suspect it's the porn industry. 

But, honestly, there's more than one way to do porn -- say with a bi-sexually oriented video game like the one Simon Rafe produced. (Where's the Spotlight on that, Christine?) There's also a kind of scandal porn where everything is approached in a salacious, biased, and exaggerated way, always putting the worst construction on everything. CM deserves a Pulitzer for that! 

There's little evidence that CM and their whistleblowers follow the admonition of St. Francis de Sales to put the best construction on the actions of others and the worst on their own. Is it at least possible that Augustine, for example, out of his own immaturity and past baggage, was misguided and mistaken in his interpretation of events at the monastery? He whines about having to work so much and feels misled because there's not enough prayer time. Obviously, other novices having longer affiliation with the monks disagree with Augustine's opinion. But Christine accepted everything he said uncritically. No hardball questions for her whistleblower. If it fits her desired narrative, she pounces on it.

If you want to read our series on Church Militant see the sidebar. There's plenty to cast doubt on the motives and honesty of CM! Susan and I have documented a number of their lies despite having no staff and no money. And I'm talking about outright lies that were easy to check. Frankly, I don't trust liars, especially liars who are puffed up with pride and narcissism. And I trust the very least liars who set a double standard holding themselves to different rules of accountability than others. That makes them not only liars, but hypocrites as well. 

Stay tuned for more.


Al Schroeder said...

This is most interesting coming off the heals of our little Trad crisis here in Chicago with the ICKSP. Excuse me while I get my tinfoil hat out of the closet. I find it interesting that at the same time Cupich and the Bergoglio are attacking the ecclesia Dei groups Church militant is attacking other traditional groups such as the SSPX and the Carmelite monks. Its almost like CM and the Vatican are working together to destroy whatever is left of the Traditional church. I wonder if there were any deals cut. Remember when Bergoglio first was first installed as pope thru his modernist cabal? Voris was one of his argent supporters and might well still be one in a more subdued form.

To touch on another topic, the institute of Christ king and the events of last weekend. There are a number of us who attend ICKSP oratory's on Truth Social. Sunday we were all surprised how nothing was said from the pulpit about what is happening in Chicago. Many of us were a little upset that they chose to tell us nothing and it was business as usual. Reading of translation of Epistle and Gospel, announcements (the usual, meeting of this, meeting of that, pick up raffel books, etc.) then sermon based on the Gospel. Regarding the persecution in Chicago it was zilch zero nada. Now I know why, Blase "Frank Nitti" Cupich, Big Franks enforcer gave the institute a deal they could not refuse, sign a paper stating that the Novus ordo is the only legit rite in the church and cease all traditional forms of worship. Thank God Canon Talerico refused to sign. I am sure the canon's are now agonizing on whatever course they need to take. I should not be surprised, I know these priests and they are young and dedicated. Our Canon Oconnor said he would never give up the Latin mass and would read it in peoples living rooms if he had to. I pray to St. John Vianny to protect them and give them courage to resist.

Lastly, open invitation to everyone to join us at Truth Social, there is a Traditional Catholic community growing over there. I only wish many trads would leave that sewer called Twitter and join us at truth. My name there is the same I sign in here with so if your over there look me up!

Tilcut Hassayampa said...

This post is the first I have heard of the Wyoming Carmelites, so I cannot provide an opinion.

After the multiple scandals and corruptions within the church, some of which have severely damaged myself and my family, my most tempting mortal sin is rage/wrath.

CM may not be lying, but their presentations are geared to producing a feeling of anger. Their presentations are Catholic rage porn. I no longer pay any attention to CM, for the good of my soul.

For me Pr0n hub is less an occasion of sin than Church Militant.

Okiepapist said...

On a related to CM basis, but not to these beloved Carmelites, Lauren Southern just posted a long talk about all the stuff in her life between becoming popular till now. She talks quite a bit about CM's newest ultra-Catholic Milo. It is worth your time. It explains why he is where he is and why it is the perfect fit.

James said...

Church Militant has dropped is mask with this assault on the Carmelite Monks in Wyoming. Their "Spotlight" was initially quite compelling but multiple viewings with a knowledge of monastic observance and Carmelite tradition deflated their calumny.
Yesterday I was fascinated to come across some of the men who have been in formation at the monastery. These men have discerned their vocation lies elsewhere abut have enthusiastically come to the defense of their former community. It says everything. It is very common when a postulant or novice withdraws from a community to hear bitterness. Not in this case.
The young gentleman who has rendered the scandalous accusations against the monks came across in the "Spotlight" segment as emotionally fragile, naïve and bitter -- even hysterical, as certainly does Ms. Niles. She is a poor act and has a kind of nastiness about her. The CM crew has an axe to grind and it reveals far more about them than the Carmelites of Wyoming. Then we can't ignore Mr. Voris, whose ambiguous sexuality is obviously fueling a campaign which can only be characterized as viscous and mendacious. There is an intervention required for the cast of characters at Church Militant. They have lost all credibility.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Okiepapist, I want to give you a grateful shout out for sending me to Lauren Southern's video. I never heard of her, but she seems like an incredible truth teller and what she had to say about Milo was shocking. Church Militant should do a Spotlight on their latest celebrity catch.

Anonymous said...

Got a link here from a friend. Excellent recap of much of what is happening at CM. I haven't gone back there in years. Had my reservations about them about 9-10 years ago on a totally different matter. He did a piece on the environmental movement and a group called Sea Shepherd. In my former, environment crusader days I was a member of that group, before returning to the Church.

The one thing very noticeable was that all of their "hundreds of hours of investigative reporting" produced nothing but lies, innuendo and no facts at all. Interesting how one who has been somewhere and knows the terrain, like all the young gentlemen who speak well of their time at the Carmelite, can diffuse the rhetoric and lies, but are not listened to because they go against the agenda.

So I'm familiar with the lack of facts and grand posturing that they do when they get a hold of something that they or their handlers need to attack.

Well done once again and thanks for not letting this go.


whitney said...

Beware of Lauren Southern, she is just another grifter of conservative inc. That's not even her real name

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks, Whitney,

It's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys these days. Do you have any details to back up your opinion. I'd like to do some research on her to see if she really is a truth-teller or is just a good actress.

whitney said...

I don't really. The details have kind of faded away I've been aware of her for years. I think it's enough that I told you to beware. You will probably notice things here on out