(RNS) — The founder of the controversial conservative Catholic website Church Militant has been asked to resign for breaching the group’s morality clause.
According to a press release published by Church Militant on Tuesday (Nov. 21), Michael Voris, who founded the group in 2006, has left the organization.
“Michael Voris has been asked to resign for breaching the Church Militant morality clause,” read the press release from the group, which is also known as St. Michael’s Media. “The board has accepted his resignation.”
The release described its former CEO’s departure as a “shock” but did not explain how Voris had violated the morality clause, saying only that the board “has chosen not to disclose Michael’s private matters to the public.”
The release added: “The apostolate will be praying for him, and kindly ask that you do the same.”
Neither Voris nor Church Militant immediately responded to requests for comment, but Voris posted a video addressing the situation on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday evening. Voris, visibly emotional, offered an apology but did not volunteer specific details about the reason for his departure.
“Sometimes it takes very horrible events, even at your own hand, in your life to surface certain things that need to be faced,” Voris said. “There are some very, very ugly truths from my past that I, for essentially 62 years, have avoided facing because … I wanted them resolved, but I understand that touching that pain is going to be a very horrible thing.”
Voris said he has thought about resigning multiple times this year.
“I need to conquer these demons,” he said, referring both to what he called “act-out demons” and “the underlying cause of it.”
The departure of its founder marks a major shift for the outlet, which has developed a reputation for controversy and stridently right-wing Catholic rhetoric. Church leaders have long rejected its message: In 2011, the Archdiocese of Detroit told the group to change its original name, “Real Catholic TV,” because it “lacked the authorization required under Church law to identify or promote itself as Catholic.”
More recently, the website has drawn criticism for calling then-Archbishop Wilton Gregory an “African queen,” which was widely condemned as both homophobic and racist. Gregory has since become a cardinal.
Church Militant has also emerged as a consistent critic of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, hosting a large protest in 2021 during the prelates’ annual gathering in Baltimore and calling on the U.S. government to cut funding for bishop-run programs that aid immigrants.
Through it all, Voris has been a central part of the group’s public persona. In addition to hosting a Church Militant web show known as “The Vortex,” Voris appeared regularly on Church Militant programs and spoke at Church Militant events. A vocal critic of LGBTQ rights campaigns, Voris revealed in 2016 that he had previously “lived a life of live-in relationships with homosexual men,” but now “abhor(s) all these sins” since his “reversion to the faith.”
He has drawn other controversial figures to his cause as well, such as far-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos, who, Voris has said, embraced conservative Catholicism and began identifying as “ex-gay” after an interview with the Church Militant founder. With Voris as his spiritual adviser, Yiannopoulos began appearing regularly on Church Militant’s website and emceed that year’s USCCB protest in Baltimore. He eventually parted ways with the group, but not before helping broker an interview Voris conducted last year with right-wing congresswoman and self-identifying Christian nationalist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
The Georgia lawmaker made headlines for telling Church Militant that Catholic bishops lending aid to immigrants was an example of “Satan controlling the church.”
“I don’t think the congresswoman went far enough, really,” Voris later told Religion News Service.