EWTN: What Happened to Mother Angelica's Catholic Militancy?

November 2006

Mother Angelica founded the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) some 25 years ago. But at the end of 2001, she suffered two strokes and she was no longer able to appear on EWTN. Since then we've heard complaints that something has gone wrong with EWTN.

Mother Angelica was a strong woman, and we've heard that she liked to surround herself with weak men (but we can't confirm that). We seldom watch TV, but we do like to view EWTN, and we've noticed that something has been amiss of late.

Mother tangled with Roger Cardinal Mahony and Bishop David Foley of the Diocese of Birmingham (by the way, Mother was right). Without her, EWTN no longer challenges cardinals or bishops. Has Mother's Catholic militancy vanished? In Christopher Ferrara's book, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong (Good Counsel Publications, 2006; 800-954-8737; www.networkgone­wrong.com), he tackled this problem. Ferrara is a Catholic attorney, and he says that EWTN was once a "sign of hope for Catholic restoration." He acknowledges that there are "good elements in its programming," but he says EWTN is falling more and more into neo-Modernism.

Ferrara relies on William J. Peterson, a retired medical doctor who was employed at EWTN's Viewer Services Department from October 2001 until February 2004. Two months after Peterson was employed, Mother Angelica left the airwaves for good. According to Ferrara, Peterson noticed that "the management of the network fell completely into the hands of its more liberal and ‘ecumenically'-minded lay directors..." (of course, "more liberal" can be a relative term). Peterson says: "I had seen the watering down of the Faith...." Peterson noted that certain of Mother's old encore broadcasts were censored -- too militant, apparently. This is certainly shocking.

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New Oxford Notes: November 2006

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This article can be best answered with the question, "compared to what?" EWTN is a beacon of light in the sewer of modern television. Most clerics and Catholic hierarchy are completely unwilling to instruct the laity in the Faith. EWTN is constantly teaching. Compared to what exists in our wimpy Church and in society at large-God has blessed us with EWTN! Posted by: bob@bobschicken.com
November 02, 2006 09:45 AM EST
I support EWTN and in fact, have it on my television 24 hours a day, even when I sleep. I am a monthly contributor also. If it were not for EWTN, I frankly would not have a television in my home. It is an oasis in a desert of electronic garbage and worldly distractions. It is the only vehicle left for any semblance of orthodoxy for the average person in the pew frankly.

Like you however, I have noticed some slight changes. Too much Scott Hahn selling his books and tapes and other insights frankly although he is a good writer and his work, The Lamb's Supper, perhaps destined to be a classic. But I would much rather see an hour or even more of Dr. Tim Gray doing studies of the four Gospels (he is fantastic) than some of the other programs like Dr. Hahn's.

Let me cut to the chase on the issue at hand in your article - the 'modernization' of EWTN. Mother Angelica totally trusted in Jesus - totally. Her trust was rewarded most apparently by the miraculous Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the establishment of the Poor Clare's of Perpetual Adoration and a male community of Franciscan Friars. The book by Raymond Arroyo - the biography of Mother - details these miraculous happenings. I highly recommend it for anyone and for gift-giving as well. It is a book about hope and trust, and yes, a lot of intestinal fortitude (guts) on the part of woman who would not take no for an answer because Jesus was paramount in her life.

Whether or not EWTN has become liberal, semi-modern or whatever is not the issue. Recall the phrase, "If it is of God, it will succeed; if it is of man, it cannot succeed." Obviously, God richly blessed the establishment of the Shrine honoring Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament and the subsequent Monastery, Network, and MFVAs. If EWTN wavers from the original plans of God, one could safely assume that God could withdraw His blessings and it would fail miserably.

Man has to learn, as I try everyday, to get himself out of the way and let God work. Cooperate with His will and grace in your life and it will be fine, not easy, just fine. Deacon Bill is an aweseome man and was there when they laid the first stone. He in fact, paid the earlier salaries of the employees and mortgaged his own home to help Mother. They were pioneers in the work of the Lord. They believed and they trusted. Deacon Bill is a Saint as is Mother.

I, as many others I have read and had discussions with, believe that we as a species are on the verge of something big - perhaps, the Warning as prophesied at Garabandal and in other places. The world has denegrated into a moral tailspin and with cloning, same-sex marriages and abortion topping the list, only God can straighten out what man has done. God will not tolerate man stepping into the creation business nor will He tolerate constant blasphemies such as are being levied against Him daily and publicly. EWTN for many if their only voice in the world, a voice of hope and a Catholic information highway leading them to the Light of Christ. Don't be too harsh of EWTN and its management. Pray for them; contribute to the network and let's see what God thinks before we are ready to pull their plug. Think about this - the cable operators follow the wishes of their subscribers and if, God forbid, if EWTN went off the air, how many souls could be lost for all eternity as these operators respond to the worldly audiences and put another MTV or worse in EWTN's place.

Posted by: Metroform
November 02, 2006 06:53 AM EST
In the Washington DC area EWTN on Cox Cable has been moved to channel 161. I guess thats better than 959. The seculars are pushing religion out and strangely their revenues also.

God does not give Wisdom to the corrupt.
Posted by: paulc37
November 02, 2006 07:52 AM EST
I don't recall Ferrara ever being a supporter of EWTN, even when Mother Angelica was more of a presence. He has considered ETWN a large part of the problem, which was echoed in The Great Facade: neo-Catholics who rubber stamp terrible things in the Church.

So it looks to be a rather clear attempt to pry people away from EWTN with Mother Angelica as the crow bar. Everyone knows how many people love Mother.

But it may help to remember that he also has complained bitterly against critics of men like Gerry Matatics, a well-known convert, men who believed Matatics was going off the deep end into extremism. Matatics is a sede-vacantist now. What does Ferrara think of this and is he going to write a book about it?

And what of Ferrara's chapter on the nefarious Jewish influence at EWTN (Chapter 10)? It seems to echo the work of his colleague Robert Sungenis, even calling Jewish converts "Judaizers" as Sungenis began doing some time ago. I documented some of the problems in that regard at www.sungenisandthejews.com.

There may well be things to criticize at EWTN but Ferrara does not strike me as one to give a fair and balanced presentation that should be taken at face value.

Posted by: Michael Forrest
November 02, 2006 02:34 PM EST
I have noticed some subtle changes in EWTN since Mother Angelica retired. However, I find the accusation that she "surrounded herself with weak men" to be ludicrous. Mother is strong enough and holy enough, I believe, to recognize and indeed, nurture, strong faith from both men and women. Posted by: Caroline
November 17, 2006 05:47 PM EST
I am concerned that EWTN is airing mostly old programs, three to five or more years old. Mother Angelica Classics are an operating part of the schedule, but programming has seemed to move more to older programs in general and numerous encores. Even the Christmas Special with Raymond Arroyo was last years not a current one. Something appears to be amiss. I have a feeling that since Mother left the network things have indeed taken another turn, a new direction. I also feel that the trips to various states by EWTN cost a small fortune that included travel, meals and lodging for the Friars, Nuns and staff. Perhaps it broke the budget and they cannot afford new programs. Something's different, way different to be sure. I still watch the network and still believe it is the only reason to have a television. But the Hahn infomercials continue and have actually increased. Using valuable air time to sell his books and 'study center' is not good stewardship of doners funds. I have stopped donating until I see some radical changes. I donate to other charities instead. January, 2007 program previews show old programming for the most part again and the current Mass shows many empty pews. I pray for EWTN for it is about the only Catholic island in shark-infested waters of relativism and Catholic confusion in these our times. Posted by: Metroform
December 29, 2006 09:17 AM EST
I too have noticed the lack of militancy since Mother left. Cowards! Posted by: gespin3549
May 22, 2008 11:23 AM EDT
HOW DO YOU SPELL COWARD IN LATIN?????????? Posted by: dinipoo98@charter.net
May 22, 2008 12:28 PM EDT
I am a fan and contributer to EWTN. It is on in my house a lot. Considering the difficulty in finding quality material on TV and in particular, finding Catholic material, I would caution NOR to consider carefully what is said about EWTN. If EWTN is drifting from orthodox catholicism, then it should be reported with evidence, not inuendo or someone's opinion.
Who is Christopher Ferrara? What is neo modernism relative to true Catholic teaching. What role does the local bishop have with EWTN or it's programming? It is the bishop's responsibility to let us know if EWTN is or is not providing authentic programming to it's audience. If it is not, I will refrain from contributing. If it is and NOR, Christopher Ferrara et al put out info that causes some to no longer listen or contribute, then perhaps it is they we should no longer listen to or contribute to.
There is too much bad info and anti-everything propaganda available in the "news" today and very little news - facts that are true, accurate and there for the reader/listener to determine what it means.
Posted by: awunsch
May 22, 2008 07:40 PM EDT
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