Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Dr. Peters overlooks

St. Raymond Penafort, patron of canonists

Evidently, there is a dispute between the Archdiocese of Detroit and Michael Voris/Real Catholic TV arising out of Mr. Voris's use of the term "Catholic" in his media company's name.  Mr. Voris holds himself out as a source of "doctrinally sound" Catholic catechesis.  You may read Mr. Voris's biography here.   

Dr. Edward Peters, who is a canon lawyer, notes that the dispute turns on a point of canon law.  According to Canon 216, the laity participate in the mission of the Church, and consequently have "the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings."  However, Canon 216 goes on to say that "no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’ without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority."  The competent ecclesiastical authority in this case, since Mr. Voris has substantial ties to Michigan, appears to be the Archbishop of Detroit.  Thus, in order for Mr. Voris to claim the name Catholic for his media company, he must obtain the consent of the Archbishop of Detroit. 

I believe Dr. Peters has overlooked a Canon which also applies to this dispute.  Canon 221 states that "[t]he Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the rights which they possess in the Church in the competent ecclesiastical forum according to the norm of law."   Canon 221 goes on to say "[i]f they are summoned to a trial by a competent authority, the Christian faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity" (emphasis mine).  A google search for "Catholic blog" yields almost 38 million hits.  A google search for "Catholic media" yields more than 38 million hits.  Undoubtedly, some of these are based in the Detroit Archdiocese.  If the only Catholic blog or Catholic media organization, out of what is surely a total of thousands, that the Detroit Archdiocese seeks to prohibit from claiming the name of "Catholic" is the one belonging to Mr. Voris, can the Detroit Archdiocese claim to be applying canon law with equity?

St. Raymond of Penafort, pray for us.

UPDATE: Read my response to Dr. Peters new post here.


  1. Perhaps the archdiocese is being selective here, but Canon 221 seems to refer to being summoned to trial. Is this the case with Michael Voris?

  2. Dear KenC,
    The archdiocese is certainly being selective. I have searched the website of the Archdiocese and found no reference to similar action against any other individual or organization.
    The archdiocese has informed Mr. Voris that he does not have authorization to use the term Catholic. As I read Canons 216 and 221, Mr. Voris has the right "to vindicate and defend" his promotion of apostolic action in a competent ecclesiastical forum. In that forum he would enjoy "the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity."
    Thank you for your comment.
    Inigo Hicks

  3. Michael Voris does not own the company, he works for the company - which is owned by someone from the Archdiocese of Ft. Wayne / South Bend. Michael Voris is not the one with "rights" in this case, but Marc Brammer who owns it, and lives in Indiana.

  4. Dear Anonymous,
    Then there are grounds for arguing that the Archdiocese of Detroit is not the "competent ecclesiastical authority" called for by Canon 216.
    Thank you for your comment,
    Inigo Hicks