Traditionalist Catholic website Church Militant to close following defamation settlement

Michael Voris, 62, is president and founder of Saint Michael's Media which operates as a news website in Michigan under the officially-registered name of Church Militant.
Michael Voris, 62, is president and founder of Saint Michael's Media which operates as a news website in Michigan under the officially-registered name of Church Militant. | YouTube/The Atlantic

Church Militant, a prominent conservative Catholic news website, is slated to close down permanently by the end of April following the settlement of a defamation lawsuit.

St. Michael’s Media, the parent company of Church Militant, recently settled litigation with Father Georges de Laire, the Judicial Vicar of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire.

As part of the litigation, the conservative media organization had to pay $500,000 to the priest and is slated to close down at the end of April, according to The Associated Press.

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Church Militant was founded in 2006 and originally known as Real Catholic TV until the Catholic Church demanded that the name be changed to show that it wasn't associated with the Catholic Church.

In 2019, the Church Militant published a series of stories attacking de Laire over his enforcement of a Catholic Church decree against an organization that wanted to present itself as an official Catholic entity.

De Laire filed a lawsuit against Church Militant and its founder, Gary Michael Voris, in February 2021, with a federal judge rejecting a request to dismiss the case in April of that year.

Suzanne Elovecky, one of the attorneys representing de Laire, told the National Catholic Reporter back in 2021 that the decision to bring legal action was made "for the sake of accountability and truth telling, which Fr. de Laire viewed as important for him and the community at large."

Last November, Voris officially resigned as the head of Church Militant for having reportedly broken the organization’s “morality clause,” though the specific action wasn't revealed.

“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 in a video posted to X at the time.

“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.”

For its part, Church Militant posted an apology to de Laire last week, explaining that they have also “resolved Father de Laire’s defamation lawsuit through a financial payment to him.”

“SMM and Church Militant regret that the article was not properly vetted. It was later revealed that Mr. Balestrieri could not substantiate his claims regarding Father de Laire with any credible sources,” said the site.

“Further, Mr. Balestrieri did not disclose to SMM his active involvement in a canonical dispute in which he was representing a client and Father de Laire was representing the Church at the time he wrote the article, which would have raised questions about the motive behind the anonymous allegations in the article prior to its publication.”

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