There was an undeniable change in the relationship between ChurchMilitant.com and The Remnant and Catholic Family News in October 2013, precipitated by two specific videos produced by Remnant TV:
Prior to this, the relationships among all parties were mutually supportive and encouraging. It has been well documented that Michael Voris participated in the Roman Forum at Gardone, Italy in July 2012, spoke at the Catholic Identity Conference in September 2013, and even invited Michael Matt, Dr. John Rao and Christopher Ferrara to be guests on "Mic'd Up" on more than one occasion.
The Remnant TV videos were aired just under a month after Michael Voris' appearance at the Catholic Identity Conference in September 2013. Between the end of that conference and the airing of the Remnant TV videos, serious planning had begun for a conference to be hosted by ChurchMilitant.com in April 2014 that would include all the most prominent voices in the movement to renew and restore the Catholic faith along more traditional lines. Conference sites were evaluated, travel accommodations and logistics were discussed, and even a preliminary list of speakers was proposed, a list that included the editors of The Remnant, Catholic Family News and many of those who write for those publications.
Then the above Remnant TV videos aired and plans for the conference were quietly scuttled. Why?
Prior to the airing of those videos, it was generally understood that all parties who would have been involved with the proposed conference were traditional in their Catholic orientation. There was also a considerable amount of optimism that reconciliation of the SSPX with the Church was within reach, even imminent, as late as June 2012. The degree to which those optimistic hopes had been dashed by failure of the SSPX to respond formally to the Vatican offer in June 2012 only became more evident with Bp. Bernard Fellay's presentation at the Angelus Press Conference in early October 2013, and which was the subject of the first of the two Remnant TV videos above. This made us aware that The Remnant was not merely committed to a traditional renewal and restoration of the Catholic Faith but also very supportive of the SSPX as an acceptable Catholic response to the crisis in the Church. In other words, The Remnant's support for the SSPX was a matter both of principle and fact, ideology and implementation, faith and praxis. This represented an insight into The Remnant that was different from what we once thought. We now understood them to be enablers and facilitators of separation from communion with the Church under a banner of traditional Catholicism.
It is probable that the pontificate of Pope Francis was a contributing factor in all this. Under the pontificate of Pope Benedict, The Remnant's posture was that the Pope was an ally of tradition. Criticism of the Pope, if any, was mostly reserved and respectful. There were, of course, many criticisms of the state of the Church, but they were all compatible with a traditional understanding of the Faith.
It's not exactly a secret that Pope Francis has been a challenge to traditional Catholics and, by October 2013, eight months after his election, whatever honeymoon period Pope Francis may have enjoyed among traditionalists was over. This is evident in the second video above and, combined with the first, paint a picture of support for traditional Catholicism coupled with acceptance, if necessary, of separation from communion with the Church. That response is, to ChurchMilitant.com and all faithful Catholics, not a faithful Catholic response and must be rejected. The pontificate of Pope Francis has made visible what appears to have been present all along at The Remnant: a belief that one can be Catholic without submission to the universal and immediate jurisdiction of the Pope.
All plans for the conference were abandoned quietly. Since ChurchMilitant.com was responsible for organizing and hosting the conference and planning had barely started, no public announcement was made to those who may have been participants. But a clear change in our understanding of The Remnant and Catholic Family News had occurred and led inevitably to a change in our relationship, even if at the time they weren't aware of it. The roots of this change are in the public support and encouragement of the SSPX and the papal criticism this invites and facilitates.
All this would have remained quiet and out of public view had we not begun to receive emails from supporters and viewers asking for responses to articles in The Remnant and Catholic Family News, articles highly critical of Pope Francis, and wanting to know why we didn't do the same thing. We responded to those private emails, our responses were forwarded to others and came to the attention of The Remnant and Catholic Family News, and what had been intended to be private became very public and labeled as our "statement" on "papal criticism."
For the record, our standard response to inquiries about papal criticism can be read at here.
Our standard response to inquiries about the SSPX can be read here.