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Catholic Priest Or Right-Wing Activist? is giving Rev. Michael Orsi a platform to spout right-wing talking points and anti-vaxxer attitudes that seem incongruous with the fact that he's supposed to be a Catholic minister.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/7/2022

Rev. Michael Orsi

It's not often you get a right-wing lecture against welfare from a Catholic priest, but that's what Rev. Michael Orsi served up in a Aug. 9 column headlined "Quit Misinterpreting Jesus: Free Food Isn’t Free."

Orsi began by recounting Jesus' miracle of the loaves and fishes, then deciding that Jesus leaving the scene rather than letting the crowd crown him king had a political intent: "Was this the Lord’s way of showing He didn’t want people to become dependent on government?" Unlikely, and Orsi knows it, going on to add: "Forgive me for letting my political predilections carry me away. Sometimes I just can’t help myself."

Of course, interpretation of Scripture should have nothing whatsoever to do with the reader's political predilections, but that didn't stop Orsi from sounding more like he was reciting Republican talking points instead of being a helpful interpreter. He decided to interpret Genesis as saying "We need to work, to develop ourselves, physically and intellectually, to gain a sense of virtue," then sounded even more like a Republican by rehashing how bad the Soviet Union was. Then came the lecture against welfare and even meaningful pandemic assistance from the government:

Now, to be sure, the lockdown hit plenty of people, and it hit them hard. Jobs were lost, businesses closed. And of course, there are those who would be incapable of supporting themselves, regardless of the pandemic. We have assistance programs for good reasons.

But there are plenty of other people who are perfectly capable of working — and who could readily find work at the many companies currently recruiting desperately — but who have gotten used to being taken care of by “Uncle Joe” in the White House.

Businesses all over the country are reporting unfilled positions. But people are responding to the perverse incentive to lay back on the stimulus checks. And so jobs go begging.

This has consequences. As it’s often been said, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” When you do nothing good, you’re likely to do something bad.

And so we’re seeing an increase in drug overdoses. People are dying as a direct result of these government checks and the excessive, unhealthy leisure that money has brought. With no meaningful way to spend their time, no sense that their survival and the welfare of their families depend on them, people are destroying themselves.

Nothing is free. There’s always a price to pay.

Government handouts are not a blessing. At best, they are a temporary expedient to address a short-term emergency need. But as an ongoing way to operate a society, they don’t work. And the proof of that has been seen everywhere. They’ve failed in Russia, in Cuba, in Venezuela. And the signs of failure are appearing here as well.

Meanwhile, in reality, Americans aren't lazy, and they have used the expanded unemployment benefits to hold out for better jobs with better pay. Orsi seems to think that Americans must accept whatever job is open, regardless of the pay, the danger (and exposure to coronavirus is very much a danger) or their suitability to the position.

Orsi further lectured that welfare is a failure "because they encourage us to act in that less-than-human way. And so we become less than human." He said nothing about the responsibility of employers to provide a safe, welcoming environment with pay that is commensurate with the risk involved.

Orsi's predilection to sound like a right-wing polemicist instead of the Catholic priest he is supposed to be continued in a July 15 column ridiculously headlined "Jesus Was Canceled Too":

Our society is coming to resemble the world through which Jesus walked in many uncomfortable ways. We have an intellectual elite, including educators, media, and literary types, whose “correct thinking” and “settled science” are every bit as rigid as how the Scribes and Pharisees interpreted the Torah.

We have our masters of industry and technology who are as singularly focused on protecting their business interests as the Priests and Levites guarded the prerogatives of the Temple.

We have politicians and their operatives who are as obsessed with enlarging their sphere of control and protecting their power as were the Roman occupiers of biblical Palestine.

We even have our equivalents to the Zealots in today’s various radical groups. Their devotion to transforming society is every bit as fanatical as that of those biblical revolutionaries.

Of course, he sees "cancel culture" as coming from the "progressive left," not from his fellow right-wingers.

In a July 23 column, Orsi managed to portraying critical race theory and questions of gender identity -- and, effectively, merely not being heterosexual -- as the work of Marxism:

The primary way in which Marxism operates is by co-opting, in a distorted manner, Judeo-Christian religious/political precepts. So, for instance, social justice is interpreted in the communist worldview not as human dignity, freedom, and equality before the law, but as redistribution of wealth, class warfare, and ongoing conflict between races and ethnic groups (as in critical race theory). These days, any aberrant forms of gender identity and sexual expression also seem to fall under the social justice label.

The religious root of this Marxist worldview is the assumption that humanity has nothing to do with the image and likeness of God, but rather is merely part of the material world. Therefore human beings can be reshaped in any way that suits current desires, attitudes, or expectations.

Orsi's Aug. 19 column appeased anti-vaxxer sentiments, arguing a right and duty to reject a COVID-19 vaccine because "It’s your body, and you have the right to refuse accepting any chemical substance to which you object morally, or which you fear might injure or even kill you," adding that "I have come to believe that there would be grounds for a faith challenge to an employer mandate." He went on to argue that "if the demands are reasonable, then they are appropriate, if only to ease any discomfort which others might feel at being in close proximity to an unvaccinated person," but then declared: "If you should find yourself under pressure to be vaccinated, I would suggest you contact the Pacific Justice Institute. Based in Sacramento, Calif. with other offices around the country, PJI could provide legal guidance and assistance in securing a religious exemption."

Orsi spent his Sept. 1 column trying to turn a right-wing rant about the less-than=smooth withdrawal into a call for "conversion":

Finally, what is the American Way at this point in our history? Surely not this.

Can we ever get back to some understanding of our country as place where there’s a commitment to the rule of law and the biblical principles on which it was founded, as well as loyalty to those who have sacrificed on our behalf, and (at the very least) an intention to treat people fairly?

Will we ever again be a land Superman would have recognized?

It would take a lot. We’ve got quite a bit of lost ground to recover. Two small indicators: a recent commentary in The New York Times proclaiming "a more secular America” and a newly appointed chief chaplain of Harvard University who is a self-identified atheist.

Think of it. Our secular nation with a Harvard atheist chief chaplain has just experienced one of the most shameful failures in its history.

What is left for us to do?

Well, we can do what we’ve always done in moments of crisis. We can pray. And that’s no small thing. It’s brought us through conflict and national self-doubt before.

Pray for those we’ve left behind. Pray for the tortured people of Afghanistan, who are now reliving the nightmare from which they thought they had awakened.

Pray for repentance and conversion — for our own personal sins, for the sins of our leaders, for the sins of the nation. In fact, declaring a national day of repentance and conversion might be a timely idea.

Shades of Joseph Farah! Orsi doesn't say if he will ask for repentance for his eagerness to use his religious pulpit as a political soapbox.

Leaning into anti-vaxxer attitudes

Orsi started a Sept. 14 column reflecting on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but eventually turned it into a rant that vaccine mandates are satanic:

In his recent address, Biden insisted that forcing people into vaccination “is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.”

But this is not true. The issue is precisely about personal freedom and choice, the freedom to choose what we will accept into our bodies, a freedom protected by the Constitution, a freedom acknowledged and defended by the Church.

The government does not own our bodies. They are given us by God to use in glorifying him. We are not to be coerced or pressured into compromising them.

Biden’s forced vaccine initiative contradicts this truth. As such, it’s a violation of human dignity. And no amount of syrupy, guilt-laden appeals to conscience, to protecting “people you love,” can mask the fact that it, too, is deception.

Such things are the work of the Father of Lies, the Prince of Darkness.

Yeah, he went there. How many people will die of COVID because of Orsi's extreme rhetoric?

Orsi served up a dangerously contradictory message -- and perpetuated his previously expressed anti-vaxxer notions -- in his Oct. 21 column, praising medical professionals who have worked through the COVID pandemic, then fearmongering about COVID vaccines and cheering doctors and nurses who refuse to get vaccinated:

“Following the science” has also brought us to an ironic situation where we’re under extreme pressure to accept vaccines whose effectiveness is highly questionable, and for which evidence is accumulating that they can be harmful.

This is unprecedented. In the past, when some new vaccine or medication was seen to cause harm, it would be pulled from the market immediately.


Among those who are most hesitant about the vaccines — and most vocal in their skepticism — are medical professionals themselves. Numerous doctors are sacrificing hospital privileges over their refusals to be inoculated. Nurses are quitting their staff positions. We face an actual healthcare crisis because of it.

Many of these folks have gone on record with public statements, social media posts, and online videos warning about the vaccines. They’re making their case with frightening accounts of negative reactions, including heart damage, blood clotting, loss of physical capacities, and deaths, even among the young and otherwise healthy.

Suddenly, those who recently were hailed as heroes find themselves criticized and shunned, even mocked and belittled, by health agencies, hospitals, government officials, and the news media.

Perhaps worst of all, the general public — we who so often find ourselves as patients dependent on medical expertise — have been thrown into a state of utter confusion. The credibility of the entire healthcare profession has been seriously undermined.

Whose advise are we to trust, when there’s a multiplicity of conflicting claims and theories, when the recommendations and guidelines and official pronouncements of our purported authorities keep changing from day to day?

To whom can we turn when we need help and healing?

Orsi then lamented the "profoundly negative effect on the social and moral fabric of our country, on our sense of community, driving wedges between people, alienating friends and family members"-- but he quickly went conspiratorial, declaring that "it all feels highly contrived. It could very well be intentional — an element in some plan of those who seek to weaken our nation and diminish American influence in the world. And you can be sure there are plenty of such people, who are willing to do the devil’s work, who won’t “let a crisis go to waste,” as it’s been said. In fact, Satan is having a field day right now." It appears never to have occurred to Orsi that the people spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines are the ones doing the "devil's work" here.

Orsi concluded this column by serving up another contradictory message:

Make no mistake, this virus is real. It’s brought genuine tragedy. Colin Powell is only the latest high-profile example of the many folks who’ve died of COVID and its complications. I’ve known plenty of others.

Though I have received the vaccine myself, I take no personal position on its efficacy or safety. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so the feelings I express are based only on what I hear and read. I can’t offer definitive proof of my own, one way or the other.

I simply don’t know.

It does seem to me, however, that this pandemic is being exploited to achieve objectives that have very little to do with protecting public health — and much more to do with socialist-inspired ideological dreams.

Doctors, nurses, and others who are resisting the mad vaccine rush are doing an inestimable service in raising critical questions at this critical time. They’re forcing us to take a closer look at an increasingly desperate situation.

Once again they are proving themselves to be real heroes.
Orsi is trying to have it both ways -- admitting that "the virus is real" and that he got vaccinated while trying to take "no personal position on its efficacy or safety" and praising doctors and nurses who have fallen for conspiracy theories and endangering others and themselves by not getting vaccinated. But if Orsi is vaccinated, he has, in fact, taken a "personal position" on the issue, and he's acting irresponsibly and hypocritically by encouraging anti-vaxxer attitudes. He's trying to make "heroes" out of people who aren't heroes at all.

By remaining deliberately obtuse about the vaccines' safety and efficacy, Orsi is contributing to the exploitation of the pandemic -- not by "socialist-inspired ideological dreams" but by radical right-wing reactionaries who care even less about public health. That's a place no Catholic priest should choose to be, but that's exactly where Orsi is.

Orsi echoed this attitude in his Nov. 9 column, in which he huffed: "What we’ve always assumed to be basic rights have been seriously eroded. The issue of vaccine mandates is only the most visible area in which the assault on personal autonomy is taking place. At any time we could be called upon to defend ourselves, our families, or our beliefs."

Orsi is again being a right-wing activist, not a Catholic priest, pretending that public health doesn't matter and individual freedom trumps everything.

Politics-relgion mix continues

continued to mix politics into his religion in his Dec. 15 column, headlined "How Would John the Baptist View Wokeness?":

If ever there were a time that called out for John’s intercession, it’s today, an age that seems devoted to obscuring truth and promoting confusion. The indications are everywhere.

I recently read an article about law school admissions that described how one New York law school asks its applicants to specify their genders, choosing from among 13 different designations. Mind you, this is an institution that trains attorneys, a profession supposedly dedicated to identifying truth and clarifying facts.

In the spirit of “wokeness” prevalent in higher education right now, the school has apparently abandoned reason, moving beyond the simple, observable reality that God made human beings either male or female.


But it’s on display in more than just sports, and involves more than just sex and gender. Virtually all academic subjects have been infected with the spirit of “wokeness.”

By now, everybody has heard of how critical race theory is being applied to history, literary analysis, and the rest of the humanities. But even scholarly fields thought of as fact-based are yielding to ideological interpretation.

Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as “woke” mathematics. The idea is that schools ought not to insist that everybody achieve the same result when working through a mathematical calculation.


Such “woke” nonsense would be laughable, except that it’s harmful. In particular, it’s harmful to young people, whose minds are no longer being trained to reason, to assemble and analyze facts, and to arrive at logical conclusions — to live their lives competently.

It seems Orsi would rather that young people be trained to hate anyone different from them.

Orsi served up more of the same in a Jan. 5 column headlined "Channel the Wise Men to Fight Secular Tyranny":

Shamefully, the dominant class in our own country seems to have embraced the idea that it can demand everyone’s loyalty and direct everyone’s thinking.

Consider the censorship of religious ideas and moral opinions taking place on social media. In case you’re not aware, Christian writers are being “cancelled” left and right.

Add to that government edicts — issued in the name of public health — to restrict worship services and faith-related events, as well as efforts to circumvent religious reservations about mandated vaccinations.

And don’t forget the pressure being exerted on pastors against upholding the traditional understanding of sex, and defending moral standards of behavior. That pressure is often expressed in direct or implied threats about removal of church tax-exempt status.

Such things are happening more and more, and they have practical consequences.


Religion invites us to focus on the transcendent. And in the eyes of worldly rulers, nothing must transcend their assumed position of all-knowing leadership.

They’ve been highly successful in persuading people to accept their assumptions. Religious influence has declined markedly, as polling numbers demonstrate.

It could also be argued that the desire of religious figures like Orsi to cloak their politics behind religion is another reason religious influence is declining, as well as drawing calls to withdraw the tax-exempt status of churches.

Reflecting more of his anti-vaxxer attitudes, Orsi actually equated wanting to follow the science on COVID to following a pagan religion -- which was followed by a paranoid depiction of it as a tenet of the "New World Order" right-wingers like to warn us about:

Others search the Internet for new versions of ancient pagan religions with which to identify themselves, and give meaning to their lives. Some actually take part in shamanistic rituals, or embrace the cultic practices of the ancient Druids.

This reflects a basic emotional need of human beings for the transcendent, for some kind of “higher knowledge.” And you don’t have to experience the solstice sunrise at Stonehenge to observe it.

At the everyday level, you can see it in the devotion to “following the science” that’s become an obsession of the pandemic. On a more exotic plane, it’s expressed in the growing fascination with so-called “trans-humanism,” or with psychology-based “religions” such as Scientology.


There are rich and powerful people who see increasing the secularist character of society as conducive to their vision of extending monopolies, introducing new currencies, and tightening centralized control over the flow of wealth.

This vision is referred to by several terms, including the “Great Reset” and the “New World Order.” And it’s being promoted by many elements: the tech firms, the media, the sports and entertainment companies, the banks and financial institutions, the pharmaceutical giants.

(There’s good reason to assume that mandates, quarantines, vaccination passports, and other concepts to emerge from the pandemic are being exploited as means to advance this vision. That makes sense, since they bring our lives more thoroughly under official scrutiny.)

It’s obvious that all of this involves extensive coordination.

What can maintain such a high level of control? Who can direct it?

Is there a Herod of our day? Is there a central entity totally obsessed with raw power — and thus willing to distort the reality God has created — working diligently to overwhelm traditional Faith with a tsunami of secular influences?

A Catholic priest who spouts anti-vaxxerism and far-right conspiracy theories should not -- and cannot -- be treated as a serious religious or leadership figure. CNS clearly believes otherwise.

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