Saturday, March 2, 2024

Church Militant To Shut Down - Vortex Has Spun Its Course

Church Militant shutting down: A victory for truth and justice

Church Militant, a notorious far-right Catholic media outlet, has announced that it will shut down by the end of April 2024, following a $500,000 defamation lawsuit brought by a priest from New Hampshire. This is a welcome development for all those who value truth, justice and civility in the Catholic Church and society. However, it is sad news for those on the far-right who enjoy controversies, conspiracy theories and airing out the dirty laundry of others, so to speak. 

The lawsuit was filed by Father Georges de Laire, the judicial vicar of the Diocese of Manchester, who was falsely accused by Church Militant of changing dogma into heresy in an article published in January 2019. The article, written by canon lawyer Marc Balestrieri, claimed to have anonymous sources who made negative comments about Father de Laire's personal and professional conduct. However, neither Balestrieri nor Church Militant could produce any evidence to back up their allegations, and they failed to properly vet the article before publishing it.  Balestrieri never showed up to defend himself in the case nor for the disposition.  

The article was part of a campaign to discredit Father de Laire and the Diocese of Manchester, who were involved in a canonical dispute with the Saint Benedict Center, a radical group that adheres to the heretical doctrine of "no salvation outside the Church". Balestrieri was representing the Saint Benedict Center in the dispute, and he used his article to raise funds for his legal work. The Diocese of Manchester had warned the Saint Benedict Center that their position was contrary to Vatican teaching and had forbidden them from calling themselves Catholic or participating in Catholic activities.

Father de Laire sued Balestrieri and Church Militant for defamation, and after a lengthy legal process, he won the case. Church Militant agreed to pay $500,000 and apologize to Father de Laire for their part in causing him distress and damage. They also announced that they will cease all operations of Church Militant by the end of April 2024.

This is not the first time that Church Militant has been involved in controversy or scandal. The media outlet, founded by Michael Voris in 2006, has been known for its aggressive and divisive coverage of Catholic issues, often attacking bishops, priests, religious orders, lay movements and other Catholics who do not share their extreme views. They have also been accused of promoting conspiracy theories, spreading misinformation, fostering hatred and inciting violence.

In November 2021, Voris resigned from his position as CEO of St. Michael's Media, the parent company of Church Militant, after admitting that he had violated their morality clause by sending shirtless photos of himself to staff and associates. The photos were discovered on the outlet's cloud-storage account and caused outrage among Church Militant's supporters (see: Sacerdotus: Michael Voris Caught in Vortex Spin).

The closure of Church Militant is a victory for truth and justice, as well as for the dignity and reputation of Father de Laire and other Catholics who have been slandered or harassed by them. It is also an opportunity for healing and reconciliation within the Church, which needs more dialogue and respect among its members, especially in these challenging times. We hope that this case will serve as a lesson for other media outlets and individuals who may be tempted to use their platforms to spread lies, hatred or division.


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References:

- Church Militant to shut down following $500,000 defamation lawsuit brought by priest | Catholic News Agency

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256981/church-militant-to-shut-down-following-500-dollars-000-cents-defamation-penalty-against-new-hampshire-priest

- Church Militant plans to cease publication in April - Religion News Service

https://religionnews.com/2024/03/01/report-church-militant-loses-defamation-suit/

- Baltimore reaches proposed settlement with Church Militant over protest permit

https://www.baltimoresun.com/2024/03/01/baltimore-church-militant-settlement/

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/256981/church-militant-to-shut-down-following-500-dollars-000-cents-defamation-penalty-against-new-hampshire-priest

https://www.ncronline.org/news/right-wing-catholic-outlet-church-militant-close-april

https://www.baltimoresun.com/2024/03/01/baltimore-church-militant-settlement/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/style/media/2024/02/24/michael-voris-church-militant-shirtless-selfies/

https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/smm-apology-to-fr-georges-de-laire


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