Church Militant to shut down following $500,000 defamation lawsuit brought by priest

Michael Voris St. Michael's Media founder and CEO Michael Voris during an interview for local television news before the "Bishops Enough Is Enough" rally at the MECU Pavilion Nov.16, 2021, in Baltimore. | Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Church Militant, the controversial Catholic media outlet that has for years maintained a reputation for combative and antagonistic coverage of Catholic figures and issues, will cease operations next month following a $500,000 defamation judgment against it.

Boston-based law firm Todd & Weld said in a press release this week that Church Militant had “agreed to the entry of a judgment against it in the amount of $500,000” in a defamation lawsuit brought by Father Georges de Laire, the judicial vicar of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire.

The media outlet had run an article in 2019 titled “NH Vicar Changes Dogma Into Heresy,” one in which the author, canonist Marc Balestrieri, claimed to “have talked to a number of anonymous sources who allegedly made negative comments about Father de Laire both personally and professionally,” the law firm said.

De Laire brought suit against both Balestriei and Church Militant over the article. In the course of the lawsuit, both the writer and the outlet were “unable to identify a single source who said anything negative about Father de Laire,” Todd & Weld said.

The law firm said the article had been written in “an attempt to discredit Father de Laire” and the Diocese of Manchester.

Todd & Weld said in the press release that St. Michael’s Media, the parent company of Church Militant, “will cease all operations of Church Militant by the end of April 2024.”

Church Militant did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday regarding its reasons for shutting down. Asked for insight into the company’s decision, Howard Cooper — a founding partner of Todd & Weld — declined to speculate.

“Questions about Church Militant’s thinking will need to be answered by them,” he told CNA.

Late last year, Church Militant founder Michael Voris resigned over a “morality” violation, with Voris at the time alluding to “horrible ugly things” he had done, though he did not go into specifics at the time.

“I need to conquer these demons,” he said of his decision to resign. “The underlying cause of it has been too ugly for me to look at.”

The Washington Post reported last week that staffers had “complained that Voris had sent shirtless photos of himself to Church Militant staff and associates” prior to his resignation.

Voris founded St. Michael’s Media in 2006. The company launched Church Militant — originally titled Real Catholic TV — in 2008. 

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