“Conservative” Anti-Abortion Catholicism –
Is a Rebellious, Radical Revolt Inside the Church
In spite of their claims to be “conservative,” the new reproductive and anti-abortion theologies, were presented as traditional; but they were actually a radical new experiment in Catholicism. And it has been a radical new experiment that has not been turning out well; the Church has not been doing a good thing here. After a) failing to adequately note severe dangers, in advancing new doctrines; and b) failing to adequate examine relatively new issues like abortion, the Church has been lax, first in that it c) rashly went ahead, to issue rash new ideas on abortion, the embryo, as eternally valid theology, from God. Then, it d) erred in that it allowed many new kinds of people, non-priests on EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, etc., to further elaborate, and speak for the Church, on such issues. So that e) in the end, many new voices end up saying many things that now appear largely false, in the name of the Church, and of God. People were allowed to say that the Church itself, God himself, was ordering voters to always vote for the most anti-abortion candidates.
To be sure, f) elements of the Catholic Church more recently attempted – very ineffectively – to fix this outbreak of anti-abortionist heresy. By issuing c. 2004-7 a few statements condemning one “issue” Catholicism, and condemning any impractical, narrow – or as Pope Benedict XVI said, dis-“proportion”ate – focus just on “one issue.” But these casual efforts were not effective. Most anti-abortionists are not very intellectual; most of them never quite even realized, that these warnings from the Cardinals and the Pope, about some mysterious “one issue” Catholicism, might be talking about they, themselves; and their narrow advocacy of the single, one issue of abortion. Indeed, g) probably the Church leadership did not want to be too clear on this: because they themselves fear anti-abortionists, and their often violent reactions.
The Church therefore, has begun to back away from extreme anti-abortionism – but in a slow and ineffective way. Today, most Catholics do not know, that when the Cardinals and the Pope condemned “one issue” Catholicism, those remarks were directed largely at conservative anti-abortionists; and their fixation on just the “one issue” of abortion. Though this seemed clear enough, in the Pope’s 2004 memo, the Cardinals’ point was never made clearly and unequivocally enough, for ordinary Catholics to understand. SO that many have been able to simply ignore the Cardinals and the Pope; ignoring them, Relevant Radio for example in 2009/2010, continues to oppose the government’s attempt to get health care for the poor … because the bill contains a provision that might fund abortion. So that, just as the Cardinals foretold, the excessive protection of embryos, now blocks other important “issues” – like the protection of children and adults. And this will no doubt result in the premature deaths, of many poor and sick Americans; from lack of health care. From lack of attention to “other issues” than abortion; issues like taking care of the health of children and adults.
It is evident therefore, that much very real damage has been done to the public, by a lax Church. And by its laxity toward rabid anti-abortionists and war-mongers. So how can we all now begin to repair the damage already done, and prevent other damage in the future? In part, we might all try to begin to educate the public better on this issue. Our present book in fact, tries to do this. Here we will have been presenting to the public many different ethical arguments, against anti-abortionism; presenting an ethics based on science and logic and the Bible. But beyond logic, science, and the Bible, we might also note that much of the opposition to abortion, has come from specifically, Catholics. And so here we have been presenting, a pro-abortion ethics based in part on Church doctrines. For Catholics, who revere their Church leaders and saints, we have already mentioned saint Aquinas. We have also mentioned at least two or three Cardinals – and our current “Holy Father,” Pope Benedict XVI. We have shown that these, the real leaders of the Church, have chastised anti-abortionism; and even specifically, anti-abortion organizations like Mother Angelica’s EWTN/RN. (As Cardinal Mahony did; as we will see more clearly next).
The Real Problem:
The New “Catholic” “Conservative” Media
The problem started no doubt, in much in the same way that the molesting priests scandal began: because of laxity in the Church itself. Particularly, problem began when the Church itself was too lax, to liberal, in overseeing some of the new “conservative” “Catholic” lay and religious political/social organizations, and individuals, and their new doctrines and theologies. Many don’t know it, but for many years, the Church has had trouble getting enough priests and nuns, to staff its various religious organizations. For this reason, the Church has begun to accept a great number of non-priest or “lay” staff members; who are today increasingly found in and around the churches. But the problem is that the new lay staffers in churches, are not as well, fully trained (or “formed,” as they say), as priests. And worse, though they are not fully trained, they nevertheless have recently presumed – in media outlets like EWTN – to speak more and more for the Church, for the Pope, and for God himself. Even though the new lay staff is not adequately trained – or committed enough – to do that. Once priests dominated the primary message of the Church; and priests of course were extremely dedicated; priests even taking vows of “poverty, chastity, and obedience”; giving up all to follow the Church, exclusively and forever. While priests take years of seminary training too, to inform them on the ambiguities of theology. But in recent years, not so many people want to become priests or nuns. And therefore, these less-trained “lay” persons have more and more advisory roles in the Church (as in the days of Gay Liberation); while indeed, many lay persons are now presuming to present their (largely politically-influenced) ideas of Church doctrines, as the word of the Church, and of God. As the lay staff at EWTN/RN regularly does for example.
Today, many, many self-appointed but unofficial, non-priestly “Catholic” individuals, claim to speak for the Church on every issue. Like Sheila Liuagminas and Karl Keating (before but even after he became a deacon). And increasingly, these new self-appointed spokesmen for the Church, have banded together in larger organizations; like the hugely powerful media network, Eternal Word Television Network, EWTN; and especially in its radio branch, EWRN. But unfortunately, these new lay individuals, and their new organization, that are increasingly replacing priests – the religious talk show hosts; apologists; deacons; etc., on “Catholic” networks – are not as closely tied to the Church, as priests once were. Indeed, these new lay individuals and networks, are half secular. And very independent. And unfortunately, though these new “Catholic” spokespeople are widely confused with priests, by the public, and are widely accepted as authorities by the public, in point of fact these new half-priests (very much like the friars in France etc.), are a) not supported, authorized, by the Church as its official spokesmen. Indeed too, they are b) not as trained or as reliable as priests. And c) since these new lay persons are not all, trained priests, they are particularly inclined to uncritically confuse, intermix, secular political ideas. with religion. As if they were one and the same. So that for many years, we have been getting a false, confused mixture of elements of Catholicism, and elements of political philosophy, presented by many individuals and organizations, as the word of the Church. And as the word of God. (As Chris Ferrara warned).
Why has the Church allowed so many untrained and unreliable voices to appear to speak badly, it is name? In part, if is for the reason just noted: for some time, the relative size of the Catholic priesthood has been declining – because few young people want to become priests any more. And so, to make up the shortfall, a) the Church has allowed more and more non-priests, “lay” Catholics, to take many of the roles once occupied by more dedicated and better-trained men. And these new substitute priests, are a large part of the problem; many such people have become impatient with the real Church. And so have b) simply decided, on their own, to create their own new, hybrid, half-religious, half-official, “Catholic” organizations. Organizations that are not directly, run by priests. Organizations that are often not every directly, daily overseen by a priest with real spiritual and corporal authority over them. Organizations only remotely tied to or overseen by, a regional or “diocese” bishop. A bishop who does not listen to or approve, every word they say. Even as these new lay persons offer their words as the word of the Church, and of God.
At one time, the Church rigorously monitored every word that was issued in its name; every word spoken in the liturgy for example, have been combed over by two thousand years of Church theologians and church councils (like the Council of Nicene, for example). So that, until these new organizations, every single word that the public heard issued to a mass audience, in the name of God, was very, very, very carefully monitored and controlled. But the Church did not quite note that suddenly, this entire mechanism for approving and controlling the message uttered in its name to a “mass” audience, was suddenly … being abandoned, or gotten around. By the new lay Catholic, and their new media networks. By people who present merely their own opinion of “Catholic” doctrine, in informal language, as the word of God. All without bishops quite realizing that after all, these new mass speeches, have not been as carefully monitored or approved, as the Catholic message once was.
Today, there are many, many unauthorized individuals, who have appointed themselves illegitimately, as Church authorities, as official or reliable spokesmen or spokespersons (since many of them are women), of the Church. These individuals have banded together, to form new “Catholic” media, like EWTN/RN. And now they use the resources of Catholic media, to present their personal, private opinions and theology, as the voice of the Church. Even though they usually don’t have as much training as priests. And even though they are outside direct Church control; and feel free to intermix (or naturally confused) their own secular ideas, with valid Church teachings. And even though such persons, being lay persons who did not become priests or nuns, were seldom quite as dedicated to the Church, as priests and nuns are. So that today, we have a massively influential group of unreliable persons, who now present an unholy mix of their own unreliable opinion, on unreliable radio; as the sacred word of the Church. Or indeed ultimately, as the sacred word of God.
This has become a gross, evil situation; one which however, is unfortunately the rule, not the exception today, in the world of Catholicism today. For 30 years, these new individuals have been building in number and influence and power; forming new media networks like EWTN/RN, furthermore, to broadcast their false theology, to America and to the whole world. And unfortunately, these persons have had … an enormous effect. Influencing, deciding the vote in America, again and again, 1980-2007. With a false theology; a false idea or “image,” of God and Christ.
Who are these people? In part, they include relatively new job roles; like the growing number of Catholic “apologists.” Persons who attempt to defend or define Christianity, by way of logical, rational arguments, rather than defending them by way of traditional Christian theology. Today there are dozens, hundreds of these self-appointed lay spokespeople, for the Church. But since these apologists after all, are often not priests, and since they work by intermixing traditional theology with … their own logic, their own rhetoric, their arguments are … inevitably rather confused, mixed up, and unreliable. (No matter how much many readers like the more scholarly apologists, like C. S. Lewis, many scholars note that his theology however, was rarely if ever, entirely approved Catholicism. Nor was EWRN apologist Karl Keating either). While if the apologists who are the backbone of the new lay “Catholicism” were unreliable, the other new staffmembers were even worse: the new religious talk show hosts, were even less trained than apologists. And far more inclined to intermix their right-wing radio ideas from Rush Limbaugh, with Church theology. To form an awful, unholy mix. While then too, there are any number of other new “Catholic” interest groups and staffers to make it all so much wore; like Sheila Liaugminas. More untrained persons, who dominate EWRN as guests.
There are in fact, an increasing number of these half-religious, half-Catholic professions, individuals, out there today. In fact there are dozens, hunreds, perhaps thousands, of various “Catholic” individuals and organizations, that now present themselves as in effect, or are widely perceived to be, the authoritative voice of the Church. But their existence and popularity, is a scandal, and a travesty. The fact is that that these individuals, are not as fully trained by, or committed to, the Church, as priests once were. And because of this, as it turns out, huge theological and other abuses, have been created by many of these new, “lay” half-priests. Who unfortunately, thanks to their ideas being regularly disseminated by influential new media, increasingly dominate everyday religion.
What kind of job descriptions do they occupy? They include people like the new “apologists.” And religious “talk show hosts”. And “spokespersons” for various issue oriented organizations. And many appear as “guests” on their own new religious networks. But popular and as massively influential as they are, there is a huge problem with them. The problem is that though such individuals claim, implicitly, to represent the Church; they present fragmentary quotes from the Church, from the Pope, and use them to try to assure us all, that what they say is fully backed by the Roman Catholic Church; the Cardinals and the Pope. But the fact is, such individuals are a) usually not even ordinary priests; b) much less Bishops. Much less are they c) the Pope, speaking infallibly from the throne, or “ex cathedra.” Most are not even d) fully trained in good seminaries. Nor e) in spite of their own protestations to the contrary, are they even really as committed to the Church, as priests are. Nor f) are they effectively monitored or controlled in any direct way by the Church. Even as g) they freely intermix and confuse – or worse, more often, deliberately misrepresent – their own private political ideas, with the true doctrines of the Church and the Bible. While unfortunately, h) these laypersons, are increasingly, influencing even priests and bishops. With their false theology. Which more and more priests and bishops now accept, as the word of God.
That finally, is the heart of the problem, and the source of the “conservative” and anti-abortion heresies: the problem has been especially, these new presumptuous, half-trained, relatively unregulated “Catholic” media people, in particular. These people are not really fully “formed” or trained. So that as these new semi-priests, these new half- or even false priests, have begun to take over priestly roles, to create their own new priesthood, they unfortunately say and do, many wrong things. They misrepresent the Church, and God.
How can we and/or the Church fix this? Unfortunately, it is not easy. Since these new laypersons, are not priests, they are not as dedicated and committed to the Church … and its discipline. They are not, as priests once were, under the firm, direct, daily supervision and firm authority of a senior priest, or a bishop. Therefore, the Church’s traditional safeguards against such individuals straying away from firm correct doctrines, the Church’s usual mechanisms to keep spokesmen from generating false ideas and heresies, are simply, not there. Because these individuals are normally not priests, and are not therefore under daily, very direct Church control, not only does their message typically veer very strongly away from approved Church doctrine; but also, there is no simple direct way for the Church to rein them in. The fact is, most of the Church’s traditional training and disciplinary mechanisms, do not work; cannot be applied to them. So that these new persons freely improvise; and began making things up. They begin presenting their own confused mixture of traditional Church lore and their own political opinion, as the word of God. (Cf. Drew Mariani, of “Relevant Radio”; or Karl Keating, of EWTN). While the usual mechanisms for control of priests, do not apply here. And the usual mechanisms for controlling lay persons – noting their sins privately to them in the confessional? – technically, are far, far too vague and indirect. And powerless to control all this.
Over the past few years, therefore, there have grown up any number of these “lay,” half-Catholic, half-priestly social roles in society; like “apologist” and “religious talk show host,” who typically work for or appear on, new, half-religious half-political organizations; like Global Catholic Radio. These new fixtures of the media, unfortunately, have taken the public – and even the Church, we will show – largely unaware. The public, for example, is used to only well-trained priests, speaking authoritatively in the name of the God and Church. And so the public simply accepts these figures. While likewise, the Church is today used to trained, very faithful, very obedient, a-political priests, in similar roles; and therefore even much of the Church simply, uncritically accepts these new persons, as if they were indeed normal priests or authorities. While then too, a certain liberality or laxness in the modern Church, also contributes to a general cynicism about the verity of any doctrines at all; and a certain willingness to allow … the new para-priests, untutored lay Catholics, to present themselves as the voice of the Church and of God. Without any seminary training, or credentials. Even when such persons begin to even, advance new ideas, that do not seem to fully fit religious tradition.
This therefore, is the major source of a massive problem in religion today: the new lay staffers and guests, and their self-proclaimed “Catholic” organizations. Who appear today in countless places, before millions of people, as the voice of the Church – and ultimately, as the voice of God. Even though their message, their theology, was in fact never fully, formally authorized by the Church, at all. And even though – as we will be seeing here – their message veers regularly, past honest mistakes, into even deliberate heresies. Deliberate attempts to simply use the church, as a mask, a voicepiece, for their own political opinions. And no one is there to stop them. Even as they, because of their massive popularity and media exposure, become the new Popes, in the eyes of the public.
These new roles, these new organizations, replacing priests are in fact, an extremely serious problem for the Church, and for all Christians. Here we will find that they have been the major source, of the many new “one issue” heresies that have cropping up under the name “Catholic.” Advocacy organizations indeed, like 501 c 3’s, typically focus around one “issue”; and they are all prone, inevitably in fact, to the heresy of focusing too much on just “one issue” in life; while ignoring, slighting, other important things in life. (As does Fr. Frank Pavone’s “Priests for Life”; “life” being there, just the life of the embryo. Pavone mentioning abortion over all other issues, by a factor of at least one hundred to one. Or as almost always the primary issue).
This is the source of a massive problem in Catholicism today: the increasing number of new, half-trained, half-priestly “Catholic” organizations and individuals out there. Who are constantly speaking to millions, as if they were authoritative; speaking to millions, as if they are the official voice of the Church. But these organizations, are nowhere near as tied to the Church as priests once were. And so they often easily lapse into accidental and even deliberate heresies.
To some extent, it seems it was all foretold in the Bible; its warnings about the “traditions of men” taking over religion. In particular, these organizations, being half religious and half secular, typically intermix secular political opinions – especially Republican conservatism – with their Catholicism. Worse, since they are not as directly monitored as proper priests are, (especially with the help of rebellious priests too; like Fr. Frank Pavone), these organizations are becoming extremely powerful; they are becoming the new popes in the eyes of the public. So that now we have a new breed in effect, of false priests, false popes.
These new individuals and organizations, to be sure, appear, superficially, pious and loyal. Pious and loyal enough, that to date the Church has apparently not seen fit to shut them down. Or if it the Church has tried to shut them down, in any case, there has been no really effective mechanism in the Church itself, to stop them.
This then, is in large part, the origin of a great number of contemporary heresies; the “conservative” heresies that have been gradually infecting the Church itself over the last twenty or thirty years. The source of them, has been an increasing number of new lay people and organizations in the Catholic world; lay people and organizations that are not fully trained in good seminaries, or fully under the control of the Church. (Except very remotely, by way of the confessional booth; which is not effective enough; particularly if they simply, just don’t attend confession any more. Or by the mechanism of excommunication … which unfortunately, has not yet been applied in these cases as it should have been).
Such persons and organizations, we hugest here, have been the major source specifically, we note here, of the anti-abortion heresy. Today, there are more and more organizations and individuals, that are increasingly changing the religious picture in America and in the world. In particular, we have seen the development of a number of half-priestly social roles. In particular, we are concerned here, with new, half-priestly organizations like Global Catholic Radio; EWRN. And with the new, semi-priestly “apologists” and religious talk show hosts. Who are not priests, but lay persons. And such persons indeed, do not work directly for the Church, but working for or thru new media organizations; media networks that constantly represent themselves as “Catholic,” but which are in no way under really direct or effective supervision of the Church at all. Such organizations are not the official office of the Church that they present themselves as; instead, they are private, non profit organizations. Voicing not the true opinions of the Church, but their own conservative “take” or spin on the Church.
How have these new organizations and individuals, manage to replace the authority of the real Church? Their strategy includes many elements. One is a) maintaining legal independence from the Church; as independent non profits. While b) at the same time, attempting to appear as devout and pious and loyal as possible. In particular, they have c) like to constantly present priests on the air; and to d) quote parts of Church doctrine they back. To make it appear that the Church fully supports them.
And so indeed, they have appeared to millions – and even to themselves – to be quite pious and loyal. And e) they have even presented themselves as “conservative”; which is taken by most to suggest that they are loyal to traditional, “conservative” Catholic ideas. But in point of fact, we will have been showing here that this new “conservatism,” as it termed itself, is anything but conservative, in many religious ways. Actually, the new conservatism is a radical, revolutionary mix of bits of Catholicism, with lots of Republican political philosophy. The f) new individuals and organizations were able to make this mix of intellectual oddities and heresies seem convincing, even to priests and bishop -; thanks to especially, countless arguments generated by legions of apologists. And thanks to massive media distribution of these arguments, by the new media.
In large part, our new false priests – Catholic talk show hosts, apologists, guests – have not been shut down by the Church to date, because they have been too clever. They have been able to disseminate their political opinions as the voice of the Church, because they successful avoided more extreme and direct criticism of the Church. Indeed, they have appeared very pious and loyal. Indeed, many of the new hybrid half-priests sincerely believed themselves, that they were loyal and pious. At least to their old, childhood idea of the Church: to a literal understanding of miracles; to the Latin Mass; and so forth. And a childhood idea that abortion was wrong. While they convinced themselves that any other aspects of the Church that appeared to contradict them, were not really the “real” Church. Thus they have been able to ignore the warnings of cardinals and the Pope; and to convince themselves, that they were however somehow still loyal to the Church. In part these new hosts themselves, were able to justify this, by thinking that they themselves were in fact, true, loyal, “real” Catholics; especially as opposed to the false “liberal,” “Cafeteria Catholics” we have seen, they said, since Vatican II. While these new rebellious half-priests also simply ignored – and even actively attacked – any bishop that seemed too liberal to them. As Mother Angelica attacked Cardinal Mahony. As we will see.
How was it that these new, half-priestly individuals could publicly, on the air, rebel against Bishops and Cardinals … and still protect themselves from charges of heresy? This they did, by hundreds of satanically clever devices. One of them, was that they never aired much of their opposition, on their network. Another was that they defended themselves, with countless clever sophistical arguments, generated by their apologists.
What sort of arguments have the new false priests used? Most of our own arguments here, are responses to many of their own false arguments against abortion. But in general, among the most common and effective devices that the new false priests have used – one that was no doubt particularly effective convincing the Church itself of its own pious loyalty – was the argument (and among many of them, the real sense and conviction) that they were not heretics, but were loyal, faithful, “conservatives.” Their sense was that the Church was being taken over by “liberals” who did not really believe and follow old-time religion; so that only they themselves, were really holding onto, conserving, the old ways, and real Catholicism.
The Church has been particularly complacent about these new organizations, even when they directly and on the air attacked Cardinals like Mahony, particularly because the Church itself was easily mislead, when EWTN/RN said in its defense in effect, it was loyally Catholic; and especially even, “conservative.” But in fact, we will be showing here that these new media outlets were a) not really fully “conservative,” in a religious sense. They were not “conservative” in that they followed the Cardinals and the Pope for example (obviously). Rather, they more b) conservative, in a political sense. That is to say, they were largely pro-military, nationalist/patriotic Republican. While in this way, finally, they were actually extremely radical and heretical; freely intermixing political philosophy with religion.
What About Priests on the Network?
Here we will find most of the fault for the new “conservative” heresies, lies with the lay staff: talk show hosts, apologists, guests. But there were, intermixed with the new lay priests, to be sure, e) some priests – and at least one nun. The founder and head, in fact, of EWTN/RN, was a nun: Mother Angelica. But here we find that even the priests and nuns in and around such organizations, were seduced by the lay people around them. And by the power – and independence from control – of the new media. So that eventually, even the priests and nuns that one might have thought would monitor and moderate the radical message of EWTN/RN, failed. Because in part, they let their independence, go to their heads. While many were taken in by the demonically clever arguments of apologist lawyers, like Karl Keating, attny.. So that finally, ordinary nuns and priests, were no match at all, for the seduction of the new media outlets.
Those nuns and priests on the network moreover, were often already somewhat influenced by secular ideas, even before they appeared on EWTN/RN. Thanks to the influence of the culture itself, 1964-79. To be sure, Mother Angelica for example, who founded and headed a major network, a) essentially claimed and believed herself to be a loyal and conservative Catholic. But the mere fact that she was founding a radio station and then media network, was not “conservative.” Especially when rumors are that she conflicted with Church officials over the founding of the station. And yet she did not stand down.
In support of herself, it was partially Pat Robertson, that began pushing the word “conservative.” But then later Mother Angelica on EWTN, that began pushing the word “conservatism” in Catholic religion too. A word that seems to have quieted, mollified many potential overseers. No one noticing that b) “conservative” was a word not found in the Bible. But c) was found very much in Republican politics. No one noticing either, that d) EWTN, c. 1998-2005, often attacked “liberals”; even though the Bible tells us to “be liberal” in helping the poor.
In large part, e) Mother Angelica and EWTN, were simply copying the language, the pattern being established by Protestant televangelist Pat Robertson. But f) there were problems with a Catholic following the independence of Protestants. Not the least of which was that Mother Angelica and EWTN, just as the Protestants had, ended up forming a schismatic new church, after all. In this case, the church of the holy embryo.
Mother Angelica and EWTN essentially followed Pat Robertson; trying to come up with a “Catholic” version of this Protestant “evangelical” model. But Angelic therefore ended up duplicating many of the same errors Pat had made, too: like uncritically intermixing and confusing, half-formed religious training, with Republican political ideas, with the traditions of men. Then too, Angelic never quite noticed that her model, after all, was Protestant, not Catholic. And so Mother Angelica soon reproduced in miniature, the Protestant Reformation: like Protestants, she asserted (or anyway practiced) much independence, in determining doctrine. Or maybe indeed, she thought that she had been given permission to follow the example of Protestant “evangelization”; since Pope John Paul II had supported “The New Evangelization.” Perhaps therefore, Mother Angelica thought this meant that Catholics could and should merge with Protestant tel-evangelists. And reproduce the odd mix, in Pat Robertson, of traditional simple, literal religion, with Republican ideas.
No one knows exactly what was in the mind of Mother Angelica. But in any case, the phrase “the New Evangelization,” was repeated many times a day on Mother Angelica’s new media network, EWTN/RN; EWTN saw itself as “answering John Paul II’s call for a new Evangelization.” Which EWRN seems to have mistaken, as a call to invent a “Catholic” version of Pat Robertson’s Republican televangelist shows and network, from the “700 Club,” to CBN, Christian Broadcast Network. Which to be sure had become fabulously successful, popular; by selling a “conservative” Christianity which was however, far too closely aligned with the Republican Party national platform. Or that reflected an all too simple – minded, literal sense of miracles, and God.
Using Pat Robertson as her model – or indeed, borrowing too on elements of liberalism, that would allow a “mere” woman like Mother Angelica to take the lead in Church matters, to speak prominently in the Church – Angelica used various phrases from the Church, as her alleged authorization, to begin introducing a significantly new, different message, in the name of the Catholic Church. A message that quoted constantly from the Church. But one that however, centered the Catholic Church, not the Trinity; not on the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Rather in effect, by her constant, radical, constantly repeated emphasis on a new subject, Mother Angelica created in effect her own rebellious Church: centered on a new entity, that was really of her own manufacture: centered on the holy Fetus, you might call it.
Thanks to the power of her new media network, along with its new lay staff, the rebellious nun, was soon able to field a whole new theology: one-issue antiabortionism. And the new spokespeople, were able to convince themselves, and millions of others, that their position was the authentic opinion of the Church itself, in Rome. EWTN insisted that the traditional, “conservative” sentiment against abortion, was fully authorized and supported by the church itself; to the degree that the Church was commanding us to vote for the most anti-abortion candidates, in every election.
Eventually to be sure, some people complained. And now and then, a cardinal or two attempted to intervene. But by 1997, Mother Angelica and EWTN, were big enough, to simply ignored or topspin, the chastisements of one cardinal after another. As we will show here, around 1997, Mother Angelica and EWTN conflicted directly and on the air, with Bishop, later Cardinal, Mahony (Cardinal of Los Angeles); Mother Angelica suggesting a) that she would not follow Mahony, if she was in his district or diocese (q.v. below). While b) she next ignored the criticism of “one issue” Catholicism by Cardinal McCarrick; c) even the criticism of dis “proportionate” anti-abortionism, by Cardinal Joe Ratzinger. Even d) after Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope, in 2005.
Amazingly, Mother Angelica and EWTN/RN, were rebelling – often even rather openly – against the Cardinals, and the Pope!
Clearly, any such rebellion against the cardinals, EWTN/RN, proved that the new network was not really “conservative” in the religious sense. Instead, obviously, it was pushing a radical “new conservative” political agenda. Which was moreover, forbidden to Christians; who are not allowed to intermix political philosophy, the “traditions of men,” with religion. Yet the increasing apostasy and heresies and disobedience of Mother Angelica and EWTN, was not apparent to most listeners. Thanks to having at least one trained lawyer (Karl Keating) nearby, and having many trained rhetoricians, sophistical speakers nearby on call, EWTN was by 1997, extremely sophisticated rhetorically. It first of all, a) barely presented its conflicts with Catholic authorities, on the air. So that most EWTN/RN listeners, were simply unaware that the network they were listening to, was increasingly, going up against many of the Bishops, the Cardinals, and eventually, against the Pope. (While indeed, Mahony was only a bishop; only made Cardinal later? And Card. Ratzinger was only a cardinal; not yet made pope). Instead, b) EWTN/RN continued to present its anti-abortion heresies, hundreds of times more often than it reported the Cardinals. While c) on the very few occasions, when it mentioned what might be conflicts with Cardinals Mahony, McCarrick, and Ratzinger, it top spun or “twist”ed them. It offered its own interpretation of Church doctrines; one that matched its own conservative ends. While in the meantime, the barrage of anti-abortion statements drowned out everything else; even the Cardinals. Even finally, the Pope.
And Mother Angelica and EWTN have been able, to this very date, to make their heresies stick; and even grow. The cleverness of its staff and apologists and guests, was more than enough to convincing arguments, defenses for itself; enough to ward of any final coup de grace, from any mere Bishop or Cardinal or Pope. While simultaneously laying down a giant power and support base; seeing that a hundred million Catholics worldwide, were hearing EWTN announce itself as the definitive voice of the Church; as it asked – and got – monetary support from the public. Because it asked in the name of the Church and of God.
Using a hundred of their own clever arguments by apologists and others; that the network was “conservative,” (arguments that however, our present book is designed to counter), and using the power of a new media network to broadcast their message further and further every day, the new media agencies, their new strategies and personnel, were extremely successful. The new half-religious, half-priestly organizations and individuals – like EWTN/RN, with its apologists and talk show hosts – were able to convince millions of Catholics, that they were not so much the “new,” but actually, the old, traditional, “real” Catholic Church. As opposed to “Cafeteria Catholics,” and “liberals.”
And among other things, the apparent piety and loyalty that many heard in phrases like the new “conservatism,” was enough to, apparently, quiet priests who might otherwise have asked questions. And indeed, many liberal priests had already begun to support embryo rights, as if it was just the next logical extension of minority rights (thus sliding one step too far, down the slippery slope that had already lead some to declare human rights for sperm cells). So that finally, there were even many formerly liberal priests who were willing to join this new “conservative” moment.
The new media were extremely influential; they were able to influence many Catholic votes; and to be decisive, in countless elections, c. 1980-2008. (The radio station that was to begin EWTN proper was formed only c. 1981-2; but lay Catholic apologists and others, had already laid the groundwork for Catholic and other anti-abortionism, well before the Reagan triumph of 1980). They were even more influential than their already-significant size would suggest. Though they are not large by commercial media standards, their influence was a hundred times stronger than other organizations their size; because they claimed to be the voice of the church, and of God himself. So that any good Catholic, would only have to hear their message one, just a single time, to often, believe and obey. And indeed, partially because of this, these networks were finally able to influence many, many priests. The massive resources (and seductions) of EWTN/RN, were able to convince many, many priests. So that more and more priests appeared on the network – and were in effect, tutored by it, seduced by it. More and more priests increasingly beginning to believe that its anti-abortion message was the authentic voice of the Church itself. Priests no longer bothering to read, in closer detail, the remarks to the contrary; by Cardinals McCarrick and Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI.
So by now, many priests were following EWTN/RN; and not the Pope. Or rather, they were following EWTN/RN, as it if WAS the Pope.
But now, finally, it is time for the Church itself, and many deceived Catholics, to realize, before it is too late, that these new “Catholic” media and their staffs and regulars, are not really the real voice of the Church. They are really, in effect, false popes. It is time to show the public in fact – and believing elements of the Church too –that though these new entities constantly claim – and perhaps even genuinely think – that they are following Church tradition, actually, they are simply, heretics. While those priests and even bishops who now follow EWTN/RN and anti-abortionism? Are likewise, false priests.
What was the cause of the heresy growing? There are many factors. But suppose we look at the primarily institutions at the center of it all, here: Eternal Word Television Network; and especially, its radio branch, Eternal Word Radio Network.
The Early Heresies of EWTN,
And its Rebellion Against Church Authority
From the start, apparently, there have been conflicts between EWTN/RN, and the Roman Catholic Church; with the bishops, Cardinals, and the Pope.
The first components of the future Catholic media network, EWTN, were established around 1981, by an allegedly, self-described “conservative” nun; Mother Angelica. When Mother Angelica started with a single radio station.
Mother Angelica called herself “conservative.” But in this era, note, “conservative” did not necessarily mean extreme loyalty to Church authority. In this era, there were still many Catholics who did not like the recent liturgical and theological reforms of Vatican II, c. 1963. Especially a) many did not like the discontinuance of the “Tridentine” mass; or the mass that was delivered in Latin. Conservatives did not like the new masses, delivered in English, the “Novus Ordo” and so forth. Then too, b) many did not like the new, seemingly more “liberal” (often pro-gay) theology espoused after Vatican II as well. And c) so “conservatives” in 1981, were often in effect, in subtle, simmering rebellion, against recent Church authority. Then too, d) conservatives in this time frame, were starting to make inroads into the media; to try to counteract “liberal media.” But this of course meant that conservatives were entering a new arena: new media; TV. Which was not quite “conservative” either.
The “new conservative” moment – the “neo-cons” as they came to be called – were therefore, ironically, not really conservative in many key ways. Particularly, conservative Catholics did not want to follow Church leadership rebellion at first. Their rebellion was e) subtle to be sure; in part it seems to have taken the form of subtle allusions to an “Eastern Rite,” (cf. Eastern Orthodoxy?) and so forth; which seemed to allow a Latin mass to be delivered even in the US? But especially the new Catholic conservatism took the form of f) explicit advocacy of “conservatism,” by name. Though again, this was not really adherence to the Church itself; it took the form of g) a constant, explicit, unrelenting attack on “liberals,” that clearly borrowed less from a Bible that told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor; and that borrowed less from the Church, than from the manner of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson (c. 1998-2005).
The new religious networks have presented themselves as being conservatively attached to the old ways, the old Church. But actually we will find, there have been huge problems with, heresies in, these allegedly pious and loyal networks. Especially, Eternal Word Television Network, presented itself as – and possibly even felt itself to be – absolutely loyal to the Church and God. Presenting itself as the voice of the Roman Catholic Church. But in fact, note now, g) EWTN is not an officially recognized voice of the Church. The official voice of the Church, is the Vatican; the body of doctrines called the “magisterium”; not EWTN. And indeed, there h) is no official document from the Vatican, proclaiming EWTN, as its official spokes-organization. Indeed, i) EWTN is just a private, probably non-profit organization, run largely by private individuals; a private organization, that just pretends to speak for the Church. So that j) EWTN constantly misrepresents itself, and its own authority. In reality, it has no real authority at all; it is a private non-profit organization, without official affiliation with the Church; one that moreover, we will see, has never presented an objective view of the Church, but only its conservative “take” or “twist” on the Church.
And so we have a problem. There are today any number of even “conservative” religious organizations, that present themselves as the voice of this or that church; and therefore ultimately, as the voice of God. And yet we will have been finding here, that they are no such thing. EWTN for example misrepresents itself, or allows itself to be mis-perceived, as the authoritative voice of the Roman Catholic Church; but it is no such thing. In fact, EWTN is a private organization. One staffed largely by “lay” persons. And one that is not officially authorized by the Vatican, as the voice of the Church, at all.
EWTN/RN furthermore, k) does not even present a balanced, full overview of what the Church says. Rather, it presents its own, personal, political, “conservative” take on, its politically-biased idea of, what the Church says. Or l) even what it thinks the Church ought to say.
In particular, m) EWTN/RN was founded in large part, to present a number of questionable mixed theological/political ideas; like especially, extreme anti-abortionism. From the very earliest days, EWTN founder Mother Angelica has doled out huge dollops of an extreme anti-abortionism – as if this credo was absolutely accepted by the Church. As if the embryo was a member of the Trinity. While in point of fact, we will have been showing here that the larger Church itself, never supported such an extreme, anti-abortionist theology, at all. Instead, we have already shown there that n) one of the foremost founding saints of the Church – St. Thomas Aquinas – issued remarks inconsistent with EWTN’s anti-abortion theology. Thomasism, Aquinas telling us that after all the very young embryo was not “formed” enough to have a spirit or soul. While indeed, o) Thomas was not “just” an ordinary saint; he was furthermore the saint made in effect the foremost theologian of the Church, in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. While indeed, p) Thomas was in turn, following the Bible itself; which told us that the embryo in the womb was merely a “formless substance” (Ps. 139). A q) Bible that consequently, even ultimately orders a priest to perform an abortion, (Num. 5.15-29). While recently r) Cardinal Ratzinger of the Vatican, told us that voting for pro-abortion candidates “can be permitted”; since there were other issues that were “proportionate”ly more important. A message s) confirmed by the highest-ranking Catholic in American, Cardinal McCarrick; who was head of the USCCB, when he confirmed that the Church was “not telling you how to vote”; that candidates that were good on one “issue” might not be so good on “other issues.” While t) the words of this last authority were to become more important … when Cardinal Ratzinger became our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
Among other authorities, least two other cardinals – one of whom is the current Pope – have attacked EWTN’s one “issue,” dis- “proportionate” anti-abortionism. So what should we now say about anti-abortionist organizations and individuals, like Sheila Liaugminas and EWTN/RN? And even anti-abortion priests, like Fr. Frank Pavone? The fact is, the Church at times has rebuked their theologial positions. And has even apparently rebuked specifically and by name, EWTN founder and (former) head, Mother Angelica; as u) when Cardinal Mahony confronted her, apparently.
Neither Eternal Word Television Network, nor any other anti-abortionist individual or network therefore, are the voice of the Church or God; they are simply, heretics. They are not the official voice of the Roman Catholic Church. They v) are at most private individuals, in largely private, political – not religious – organizations. They do not represent the Roman Catholic Church, or the Bible either; they w) present in fact, a biased – in fact heretical – view of the Church. (Father John Corapi presents the part of the Bible where the embryo of John “leapt” in womb in the annunciation; Relevant Radio replay, Jan. 13, 2010, 10:39 AM. That’s the whole word of the Bible, as Fr. Corapi reports. But he never mentions Ps. 139; or Numb. 5. From Corapi’s “Joyful Mysteries,” from the series, “The Power of the Rosary”; 888 800 7084? 862 5876).
To be sure, x) some priests, and remarks by priests and even Popes, appear on the network. But such appearances, we will see, present only brief misrepresentative snippets of Church doctrine. Their words, should not be taken as the full position of the Church. Nor should the appearances of priests and Vatican officials on the network, be taken as official or full and official endorsements of EWTN or anti-abortionism, by the Church. Or of anything that EWTN/RN says. Indeed, y) as we will be seeing here, EWTN has often been in subtle – and sometimes flagrant – rebellion against the Church. Especially, z) the regular staff of EWTN, typically avoid, reject, or attempt to “spin” doctor, “twist,” any elements of Church doctrine it perceived as “liberal.”
The staff and most common guests at EWTN/RN, might think of themselves as the true voice of the real Church. But in truth, they are looking at the Church through the lens of their own eyes. Specifically, through the lens of their own, “conservative” theological bias or ignorance. The fact is, though it presents itself as the voice of the Church, EWTN/RN has only presented its own private opinions of the Church; a “conservative,” rather anti-Vatican II, Republican view, of the Church.
EWTN/RN therefore has presented a biased view of the Church, as the voice of the Church and God. Even when those opinions, are often exactly opposite those of the Church itself. For this reason, we must note here that n spite of occasional apparent informal endorsements by Bishops and priests so forth, EWTN/RN has often been criticized by most priests – and especially by those with the greatest authority. Finally in fact, this network, and its bad idea of Catholic theology, was often criticized by at least two or three Cardinals; including the Pope, Benedict XVI.
So that EWTN/RN therefore, and its antiabortionist theology, must finally be declared to be simply, disobedient to the Church.
A Record Of EWTN/RN’s
Recent Rebellions Against the Church
EWTN/RN and its head and founder, Mother Angelica, have very often rebelled against the Church. Here’s a record of some of its more recent rebellions, the network’s defiance of Church authority, of Cardinals and the Pope:
1) # 95 A sullen rebelliousness against post Vatican II theology and “liberal”s in general, has characterized EWTN from the start of the network, around 1981. For some time EWTN however, did not directly attack cardinals by name; not until Sept. 4, 1997. When EWTN founder and head Mother Angelica, began to criticize one American bishop/cardinal – Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles – by name. Mahony had issued a guideline or directive for the “Feast of Our Lady of the Angels,” that Mother Angelica, founder and head of EWTN, didn’t like. Specifically, our not-so humble nun objected that the Cardinal’s directive did not seem to hold to a literal understanding of an important aspect of Catholicism: it did not in her opinion, believe in one of the fundamentals of conservative Catholicism, the (all but literal), “Real Presence” of Jesus or God, body and spirit, in the Eucharistic communion bread and wine. (In very simple, conservative Catholicism, the presence of Jesus in the communion wafer or piece of bread, is often taken quite literally; as meaning that the piece of bread is really, literally, physically changed into actual human flesh; the human flesh of Jesus. This was commonly believed by most ordinary Catholics – even though today’s Catechism holds the rather different, more complicated – though some would say sophistical, obscurantistic – theory of “transubstantiation.” Mother Angelica though, ignored “liberal” or intellectual/spiritual Catholicism; and she objected on the air it seems, to the Bishop/Cardinal Mahony. And his remarks on Jesus or the host. Mother Angelica finally stating – on the air; and rather flatly – that Bishop/Cardinal Mahony, was not respecting the Real Presence. Eventually this increasingly bold nun said that if she resided in the Cardinal’s (Los Angeles) diocese, she herself would not obey the Cardinal. While she rather directly added that in fact, no one in the Cardinal’s diocese should obey the bishop either:
“My obedience in that diocese would be zero. And I hope everyone else’s in that diocese would be zero” (Mother Angelica; c. Nov. 12, 1997, live show on EWTN/RN? As reported in the print press).
Publicly defying Bishop (or was he already Cardinal) Mahony, Mother Angelica and EWTN here all but began to urge listeners, to rebel against a Bishop, a Cardinal of the Church. This outburst by EWTN/RN’s founder and head, was properly seen by many, as a major, public rebellion against Church authority. Here, we see that Mother Angelica – founder and then-head EWTN – had a) severely, publicly rebuked a Bishop or Cardinal. And b) she had indicated that she herself would not follow him. While c) she had encouraging others not to follow the Cardinal, either. While, d) in effect, she had also called a Bishop/Cardinal – Mahony – a “heretic.” Since she had criticized him for not following proper doctrine. As she, a conservative nun, saw it.
These outrageous acts by a nun, of course, was soon fairly major news, in at least the Catholic world. The nun who had founded and still headed EWTN – and in effect, EWTN/RN itself – had on the air, just called one of the cardinal authorities of the Church, in effect, a heretic. As the Catholic press characterized it – and as Mahony himself apparently characterized it (National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 5, 1997? Or as reported by Mahony spokesman Father Cario, Jan. 30, 1998?).
When EWTN’s founder began rebelling against a Bishop or Cardinal, on the air, using EWTN as a platform for her defiance of church authority …? That was noticeable. And in a sense, this was properly seen as not just a rebellion against just an individual; against just Mahony. The fact is, Catholics are strongly commanded, as the core of their faith, to honor the Church, and to obey church authorities – like Bishops and Cardinals; including Mahony. So that finally, Mother Angelica’s rebellion was in effect, a rebellion against one of the main traditions of the Church. Indeed, it was a rebellion against the duty to show obedience to the Church. And to its chief authorities; like, say, the Bishops and Cardinals.
So that from this statement alone, Mother Angelica – and her media network, EWTN/RN – were in effect, “apostates” or heretics; rebels against the Church.
2) # 96 At this point, real Church authority began to move in of course. After EWTN launched itself into open rebellion against major elements of Church authority – against a Bishop/Cardinal, no less – events followed in rapid succession. First of course, the Cardinal asked Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN, for a formal apology.
3) # 97 Still, the authority-resisting nun, was not properly repentant to her superior: Angelica’s “apology” was widely characterized as “equivocal,” sophistical; as appearing on the surface to apologize, while deeper down, merely making still more accusations against the Cardinal. (See full text of her c. 1997 “apology” in …? Further summarized in “What the Cardinals Believe,” Internet source, Sept. 18, 2004. Whoever he said it to, Mahony in any case, it is said, saw the “nun’s critique” of him, “as heresy charge” against the Cardinal. As spokesman, Father Cario is reported to have said, Jan. 30, 1998. See National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 5, 1997, or as reported by spokesman Father Cario, Jan. 30, 1998?).
4) # 98 Things were moving quickly now. The founder and head of EWTN had openly rebelled against Church authority. She had severely criticized a Cardinal, and even accused him of heresy in effect. Furthermore Mother Angelica was actively encouraging others not to obey Church authority. Worse, when the Cardinal had demanded an apology, Mother Angelica’s public “apology” was widely (and accurately) reported to be “equivocal” at best; her “apology” did not really defer to the Cardinal, but instead it simply levied still more charges at him. So that in effect, the founder of EWTN herself – and in effect EWTN itself – could be accused of heresy or apostasy. They were openly differing with, and refusing to obey, breaking away from, the highest authorities of the Church.
5) # 99 Given all those and countless other offenses from EWTN, finally Cardinal Mahony – responded to Mother Angelica’s rebellion – which in effect amounted now, to heresy or apostasy; disobedience to a Bishop/Cardinal. As reported in the press, Bishop Cardinal Mahony apparently demanded that the founder and head of EWTN, be forced to resign. Mahony apparently even appealed to the Vatican itself on this matter.
6) # 100 The above, increasingly direct attacks on EWTN by real Church authority – by a Bishop and later Cardinal – should be the beginning of a growing suspicion even in the most loyal listeners, that there was something really wrong at some “Catholic” media like EWTN/RN. This is an impression verified by other press reports too. For that matter, note this especially: the Bishop/Cardinal in fact soon began issuing speeches that finally began to get at the central problem, were are noting here. Specifically, the press reported that Cardinal Mahony began giving speeches in the Vatican, suggesting that perhaps even various “Catholic” media organizations, like EWTN, were being used by persons without adequate training in theology. Were being used to a) present their own false views of theology and God. And b) to “assault the legitimate authority of the Church.” This Mahony reportedly began saying in front of various Vatican councils. (Including the Pontifical Council for Social communication; American Archbishop John Foley, then presiding?).
As Cardinal Mahony said:
“In some instances, those who have access to the public media, but have little or no competence in Catholic theology or doctrine, assault the legitimate authority of the Church” (Cardinal Mahony, c. 1999?).
“Catholic” media like EWTN/RN, might even genuinely think of themselves are true, “real” Catholics. But the fact is, in spite of a certain superficial piety, and in spite of constantly asserting the authority of Catholic Bishops, Cardinals, popes, doctrines, EWTN/RN has actually, it seems, been in continuous rebellion against the authority of the Church, on a number of issues. EWTN has been constantly conflicting not just with local priests, but also with Bishops; and eventually, with several Cardinals. While finally we will find that EWTN fought with the Pope himself; Benedict XVI.
In 1998 in any case, the rebellion of EWTN against Church authority, had proceeded finally to the point that Cardinal Mahony, around 1999 took the case against EWTN to the Vatican itself.
Crucially, Cardinal Mahony’s reported speeches before the Vatican, in part began to note part of the root of the problem here. Mahony began to note the danger of precisely the root problem with religious media organizations, like EWTN, that we are beginning to discuss here. The problem is this: in private Catholic media like EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, we hear the voices of private persons or non-priests (including even nuns), with bad or incomplete “theolo”gical training (inadequate Catechism, for lay persons; or inadequate priestly training or “formation,” for priests, in Catholic jargon). We hear persons with “little or no competence in Catholic theology or doctrine,” presenting their views, as if they were the authoritative voice of the Church.
It is worth looking at Mahony’s remark, twice. As Cardinal Mahony noted:
“In some instances, those who have access to the public media, but have little or no competence in Catholic theology or doctrine, assault the legitimate authority of the Church” (Cardinal Mahony, c. 1999?).
Here at last, a major authority within the Church – a Bishop and Cardinal, no less – was now perhaps beginning to note part of the core problem we are commenting on in this book: the cardinal was accusing various media – and perhaps the founder of EWTN; and therefore in effect EWTN itself – of many serious errors. In effect, the Cardinal may have been accusing EWTN and related media, of a) heresy. Or b) apostasy. Of c) advocating things not supported by Catholic theology. Of d) breaking out into open rebellion against, “assault” against, Church authorities, cardinals.
Here at last therefore, one of the real central authorities of the Church – a Cardinal – was beginning at last, to note a major problem with media. But in effect, even especially with self-professedly “Catholic” media outlets, with a “little” competence in Catholic theology. Here Mahony was taken by some at least, as noting the problem that we are noting here: thanks to these unauthorized new media, unauthorized or untrained Catholics who were not priests (including nuns?), were gaining huge access to the public. Worse, they were presenting themselves as the Church itself. While in actuality, they were really “assault”ing legitimate authority.
Mahony’s remarks might have been addressed to many different media; including allegedly “mainstream” media. But by this time, and given his problems with specifically EWTN, we would suggest that his remarks could also be applied to the new, larger “Catholic” media, like EWTN/RN. Who we have found here, are people without many qualifications in Catholic theology and doctrine, as Mahony said, clearly assaulting the real authority of the Church – like Mahony himself. This is indeed in any case, the root of the problem we are noting here with EWTN/RN: unqualified lay and even ordinary priests and nuns, issuing their private philosophies and misunderstandings, their false “theolog”ies, as the word of the Church.
It was indeed, a serious sin. It meant that ultimately, false theologies, false ideas of God, were being issued by unreliable Catholic media, as the word of the Church – and of God.
Cardinal Mahony therefore, was not taking this lightly; it is reported that around 1999 or so, he began complaining about this to the Vatican itself; speaking about this problem before several appropriate Vatican agencies. So that finally, here at last, the Vatican itself, one of the core authorities of the Church, was beginning to be told about what has become a major problem for Catholicism: the use of even allegedly pious, conservative “Catholic” networks, to actually further naïve theologies, and false ideas of Church doctrines. To assault the real authority of the Church. And we add, to further false theologies. Like anti-abortionism.
Mahony hit the nail on the head: the Church has been experiencing a new, major problem, with religious, “Catholic” media and individuals. Today more and more unqualified “Catholics” are advancing their own opinions, as the word of the Church. And unfortunately, their voices are amplified by the new “lay” media networks, like EWTN/RN. Where, just as Cardinal Mahony warned, relatively untrained persons – simple nuns, and as it turns out here, lay “apologists” and talk show and guests from various one-issue advocacy organizations – are increasingly using these new media, to support false doctrines, and a false “theology.” Though such “Catholic” media at first appeared to be loyal and true to authority, ultimately, organizations like EWTN/RN we are showing here, were actually, in continuous, subtle, rebellion against – or as Mahony said, “assault” against – many Church doctrines. Ultimately, these new individuals and organizations present not the Church itself, but – because they know or care little about real theology – they present only their own “twist” or “take” on what the Church said. Or what they think the Church should say, to back their own opinions. Thus these individuals and organizations, are almost never an actually honest, objective lens on what God really wants. Indeed we will finally conclude, specifically EWTN/RN’s rabid anti-abortionism, is in effect, a heresy. So that EWTN/RN is based on a subtle, veiled rebellion against the Church. While indeed at times, the veil drops; and above we see EWTN/RN exposed finally; Mother Angelica and EWTN engaged in open, flagrant rebellion against a Cardinal, like Mahony.
From the start, elements of the Church had no doubt had reservations about an ordinary nun, founding a radio station, and using it to broadcast her own ideas of the Church. Had all that been approved by the Church itself, in the earliest days, c. 1981? There are hints that Mother Angelica has problems with real authority, right from the start. Perhaps early on, the Church had rightly sensed problems with the new media – and even with “Catholic” media. With say, allowing an ordinary nun to speak over the airways for (or in Biblical language, “in”?) the Church. The Church should have been alert to future problems; it had previously had many earlier troubles with “evangelization” and televangelization. And rebellious priests and nuns. In the days of Martin Luther, and the Protestant Reformation for example.
Throughout history, we have often seen Catholic splinter groups that have often found themselves in increasing conflict with the Church. That began to drift into active heresy and apostasy against the Church. Here and now, we will show that EWTN/RN and the various antiabortionist groups in effect, long ago, began from the start to form a rebellious splinter, “schismatic” branch of the Church. Or indeed to form a cult. One centered not around the Church as described to us by cardinal authority; but instead, centered around its own personal ideas. Or at most, its own personal ideas about what Church doctrines mean. EWTN specifically, was centered first of all, around “conservatism.” But “conservative” is not a word found in the Bible itself at all; indeed, if there are any conservatives in the Bible, they are probably the Pharisees … who were not much admired by Jesus. “Conservative” was not from the Bible; it was actually from Rush Limbaugh, and the Conservative Coalition. Then too, the fact was too, that to be “conservative” meant opposing any aspect of even legitimate Church doctrine that could be perceived as “liberal.” To be “conservative” means unfortunately, opposing all too many elements of an adequate “theology”; to oppose say more spiritual or metaphorical reading of the Bible, for example.
There are problems in general, then, with a “conservative” network and theology therefore. But especially though, we will have been finding even more problems in this particular variety of conservatism. This cult-like, schismatic element of the Church, eventually centered especially around a cult object: the embryo. While it ignored or denied many other objects of concern.
All that was before and after Mother Angelica’s conflict with the Bishop though; for now we are focusing on a particular episode, in 1997 it seems, in which EWTN, headed by Mother Angelica, was openly defying Church authority on the issue of the Real Presence. Here, EWTN itself, was being openly critical of a Cardinal of the Church.
7) # 101 Clearly, EWTN was here rebelling against the Church. So that finally, this matter was taken to the Vatican itself. And though apparently we have not yet been publicly informed of the decision of the Vatican itself regarding this matter, finally it seems that Cardinal Mahony was apparently authorized to take drastic action. As we see next. Action against EWTN/RN however, was not effective.
Apparently, after Cardinal Mahony’s conflicts with Mother Angelica and EWTN, the word came down – by now, from the Vatican itself? – that EWTN might need monitoring, and chastisement. Since EWTN was headquartered near Birmingham Alabama (Irondale?), we might deduce that problems between the network and the Bishop of Alabama, were the result of all this. Mahony’s problems with EWTN were known to the Vatican it seems; and were increasingly becoming public; and no doubt alerted local Birmingham Bishop, David Foley. EWTN was in Bishop Foley’s diocese. But it is reported that at first, local Bishop David Foley (of Birmingham Alabama; not to be confused with Archbishop John Foley, former head of the Vatican’s Office of Social Communication) – refused to take action against EWTN. The local bishop no doubt, had long been in rather close association with the network – and Bishop Foley by now, had been somewhat drawn into EWTN’s influence no doubt. So indeed, it was reported (in part on EWTN?) that this local Bishop, had defended Angelica and the network.
But thus, we suggest, EWTN’s rebellion against Church authority was merely growing and getting worse. Since in spite of censure from a Cardinal, EWTN had in effect, even influenced, seduced, even a local Bishop, to follow its rebellion against the Church. For a time.
This indeed, is the really threatening problem with organizations like EWTN; that they come to finally begin to change, seduce, the authorities, and the Church itself. Here we see that for a moment, even a Bishop – EWTN’s local bishop – had been seduced into following EWTN … and not the Church.
8) # 102 By this time however, EWTN and Bishop Foley were of course, taking on, rebelling against, real Catholic authority: a) Cardinal Mahony; and b) perhaps even the Vatican itself. So that soon enough, Bishop Foley begin to relent. Soon Bishop Foley began to publicly differ with Angelica and EWTN, on certain elements of the mass, and the liturgy. Foley for example finally forbade priests in his diocese from “celebrating Mass with their backs to the people”; in statements reported around Nov. 19, 1999. (Was this part of the “Eastern Rite” often spoken of in EWTN? The priest here facing the east, the altar? As practiced in the Orthodox world? But as discouraged in the new mass?). In any case the local bishop began trying, belatedly, to reign in some of the heresies and rebellions of EWTN/RN.
9) # 103 By 1999, major Church authorities were increasingly attacking EWTN/RN. And given all these (and many more) problems with the network, Cardinal Mahony we are told, finally asked for the resignation of the founder and head of EWTN, Mother Angelica (as reported in the press). In any case, around March 2000 AD, after many acts of open, public criticism of Cardinals and others, after many acts of active and open and even flagrant rebellion against Church authority, and after having been publicly censured by a Cardinal of the Church … Mother Angelica in fact they say, resigned. (As it is said; c. March 2000? Though perhaps she resigned from health problems; a stroke?). Finally, the head of EWTN/RN had resigned – after twenty years of conflict with the Church. With its hierarchy, its Cardinals … and ultimately, with the Pope himself. (Cf. to be sure, the award the Church gave her, in Oct. 2009?).
10) # 104 After decades of barely hidden rebellion against any theology in the Church that might be perceived as “liberal,” finally, by 1997/9, Mother Angelica and EWTN/RN, had finally broken out into a rebellion, that might be described as open, flagrant, “scandal”ous rebellion against Church authority. Publicly chastising one of the cardinal authorities of the Church. Such public rebellion is called “scandal”ous; and that gets special attention from the Church it seems, according to the Catechism. So that finally it seems, because of the gross and public rebellion of EWTN, the real Church began to take action, against this splinter Catholic cult. So that Mother Angelica resigned.
11) # 105 The resignation of Mother Angelica, many would have thought, should have brought it all to a head – and resolved it. The founder of EWTN/RN had resigned; and so, Church officials would probably have thought, that this was the end of the problem. But we will show now, that this was not the end of the problem, with EWTN/RN; not at all. You can still turn on the network today, and hear the same heresies, day in and day out.
The fact is, the rebellion of this network against key elements of Church doctrine, if anything has gotten much worse, since the time of Mother Angelica’s rebellion. The resignation of Mother Angelica, did not end our problems with EWTN/RN, at all. Chris Ferrara was to assert in his book, “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong,” that the departure of the nun, Mother Angelica just further removed the network out of direct Church control. Being without even a nun as its nominal head, left the network more than ever, in the hands of secular, lay, sectarian extremists. Especially we add here, not just “liberals” as Ferrara asserts; but radical anti-abortionists. Persons from both conservative and liberal orientations. But people with the same common goal for the moment: presenting the Church as centered around the issue of abortion. The holy embryo.
How much does Catholic talk radio direct our focus, just to abortion, instead of other issues? And how does it do it? In large part, Catholic talk radio constantly talks about abortion; getting its dominant message across, by endless repetition of this topic. Consider a quick content analysis, of just one random hour and a half, on Catholic radio (in this case, not EWRN, but from Dec. 4, 2009; “Relevant Radio,” Sean Herriott’s “Morning Air” show?). First, at 8:25 AM, Relevant Radio tells us that Pro Choice is bad. And regarding the Democratic President of the US, Obama, the guest speaker lets us know that it is the Democrats that are backing Pro Choice: “Obama, God bless him, is probably the most radical Pro-Choice politician there is” (as claimed by the guest, Christofani – SP? – of the “Dead Theologians Society,” on Relevant Radio network. As a way to honor St. Nickolaus, Dec. 4, 2009, 8:25 CST, 970 AM radio.) Next, not even ten minutes later, at 8:32 AM, the show again reminds us of the importance of abortion; of “protecting human life from conception” to natural death. Then, at 9:02 AM, the network runs an advertisement by PRI, Population Research Inst. – asking for funding against Obama’s Freedom of Choice Project. Apparently a reference to Pro Choice, pro abortion; and a slight on the Democratic president, Obama. Then, at 9:05 AM, the “Majella Society” runs an anti-abortion funding ad. Then at 9:32 AM, arch-anti-abortionist Sheila Liaugminas dramatically reads the first part of the Ratzinger memo, that denies communion to pro-abortion candidates. But she dishonestly, does not stress the other part of the Pope’s memo … that allows us to vote for pro-abortion candidates; Liaugminas instead assuring us that her (misrepresentative) excerpt is what the Church really says. Liaugminas never stressed the part of the memo, where the Pope said that voting for pro-abortion candidates, “can be permitted.” Then next, at 9:45 AM, another ad tells us that the present generation has been half destroyed by abortion. Then at 9:59 AM, the talk show host calls himself conservative it seems – but then to be sure stops barely short of backing the Conservative Bible Project, for dropping parts of the Bible that liberals like too much. At 10:07, Fr. John Corapi speaks about a destroyed America, which is a “caricature of Pro Choice.”
In this brief summary of the content of just an hour and a half of air time on Relevant Radio, note that the network stops barely short, of advocating simply ripping out of the Bible the “liberal” parts. But it never stops short, of taking out, minimizing the importance of, anything the Pope says that might support abortion. Arch anti-abortionist Sheila Liaugminas specifically, stressed the first part of the Pope’s 2004 memo, where the Pope allowed that some publicly pro-abortion candidates, might be excommunicated (but not nuns that publicly rebel against bishops?); but she does not stress the part where it says that voting for pro-choice candidates, “can be permitted.” This is an excellent example of how such networks continue to sell their false theology … by not mentioning the parts that do not support their message.
But even more, much becomes clear that, from the massive repetition of the subject of abortion. Note that in our single example, of just an hour and a half on Relevant Radio, that the main subject of the network, is really abortion: it is spoken of eight times, in a typical hour and a half of programming or on-air content (including commercials). In contrast, in this hour and a half of conservative radio content, the complete Trinity” as such, is probably not mentioned, not even once; “God” himself it seems, is barely mentioned. Abortion however is spoken of on eight separate occasions. So that finally we suggest that these “conservative” Catholic radio networks, are not really devoted to a whole new god: they are not really dedicated to God, but to the embryo. Functionally, structurally, judged by the number of references, the real god of Catholic talk radio, is not Jesus or God; it is Holy Fetus. The embryo. But since this is so, then clearly of course, the anti-abortionist movement is a heretical cult at best. It is not really the traditional Catholic Church, of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary; or God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here we have at best, a replacement: God the father, son, Holy Spirit, and embryo. Or even just: holy fetus.
This example, as it happens, is not from EWRN, but from another smaller network, called Relevant Radio. But the principles, the prominence of abortion is about the same. And the real message is the same: Fetus, not Jesus, is the main object of our attention. The embryo is our new god. While, by the way, the church of Fetus, makes it very, very clear, that Democrats are against their God; while Republicans are much better, at worshiping fetus.
Just reviewing a few radio networks today, reveals that whatever we might have hoped would come from a Cardinal’s attempts to control EWTN, nothing really happened. Clearly, a quick look at the content of a few networks, shows that the real problem with EWTN and related networks, has definitely not been fixed, by the Church or by anyone else.
12) # 106 For some time after the open 1997/2000 conflict between Cardinal Mahony and EWTN/RN, then after the resignation of Mother Angelica, the Church was rather passive, silent on this issue; no doubt it believed the issue has been resolved, with the resignation of Mother Angelica. And indeed, it seems that many various and even dramatic actions were taken by the Church, behind the scenes, to get Mother Angelica and EWTN under control. But in fact – as Chris Ferrara noted in his book and WEB site – that has not really happened. Since in part, as Ferrara said, with the departure of Mother Angelica, the organization was no longer even nominally headed officially by anyone who was themselves, under direct control of the Church at all. The organization is not headed by a nun, or a priest; it is a private non-profit organization, run more and more by secular or lay persons … with even less understanding of, or effective obedience to, the Church, and God. Even less than a rebellious nun.
No doubt, a) much of the Church mistakenly believes that anti-abortionism is obeying the Church. But our point here, is that it is not; especially not a one-issue anti-abortionism. So that the continuance of radical one-issue anti-abortionism, on Relevant Radio and EWTN/RN, is clear evidence that the various Catholic networks were barely phased by even the direct attack on and from, a full Cardinal of the Church; Cardinal Mahony.
Then too, b) the Church probably believes that whatever problems “Catholic” radio and TV might have, the presence of countless priests as frequent guests on the networks, will control them. But we have suggested that the reverse has taken place: whatever priests there are, that appear on these new networks, do not control them, but on the contrary, are actually influenced/ controlled by them. Priests appearing on these networks are subtly but constantly assaulted/”helped” by its apologists, alternately seduced and subtly bullied by the networks, into backing the network’s theology. These new networks have massive resources; they have countless apologists and guests (and for that matter, issue organizations), to feed priests the networks’ false, narrow theological arguments. These resources are strong enough, though, to successfully convince even priests that these doctrines are really what the Church itself really said. So that finally, far from priests controlling the network, the reverse is true; the network now increasingly, controls more and more priests. (As one of Sheila Liaugminas’ sons for example, Andrew, becomes a priest, May 2010).
Conservative anti-abortion networks like EWTN, were not significantly weakened at all, by their public rebellion against Cardinal Mahony; in fact they are now stronger than ever. For some time, more and more priests have accepted EWTN as their lord and master; and accept antiabortion theology has the center of their lives. So that the anti-abortion networks now control or over-influence, priests … and even Bishops. And even Archbishops like Archbishop Burke, of the Vatican court. Burke’s belligerent words, calling for the excommunication of politicians that supported abortion, were often quoted on EWTN. And eventually Burke himself it seems, was a live guest speaker, on that network. (See our section on priests gone wrong: Archbishop Burke, Ed. Sylvia, Frank Pavone). So that when Burke was appointed to the Vatican (to head one of the courts there), in effect, today anti-abortionist networks and stooges, are even making inroads, in the Vatican itself.
Many might have thought, incorrectly, that the open battle between Mother Angelica and Cardinal Mahony, and the resignation of Angelica, would have ended the rebelliousness of the new Catholic networks. But in fact, the really serious rebellion and heresy of these networks, has never stopped. Indeed, it has grown, and all but triumphed. Today in fact, we are hearing more and more of EWTN’s heretical, extremist, one-issue anti-abortionist views, coming out of the mouths of more and more priests and Bishops. So that in Oct. 2009 or so, Mother Angelica was actually given an award by the Church. While in about that same month, a local bishop – Bishop Tobin -chastised Rep. Kennedy ( Dem., R.I.), when Kennedy suggested that Health Care or other Christian and Democratic issues, might be a proportionately more important issue than abortion. (Refer to Sheila Liaugminas, crowing in Oct. 28 2009, on Relevant Radio, about this. See also Drew Mariani, a day or week or two later, with a guest … congratulating Drew on presenting only “part” of the interview between Bishop Tobin, and … Chris Matthews. A typical example, of how talk radio tell a lie, by telling only part of the truth).
Many might have thought that the problem of unsuitable voices speaking for the Church, has gone away. But far from that: today the illegitimate, false voices and theologies of EWTN/RN, are increasingly controlling the Church itself. Cardinal Mahony failed to fix the problem. And today, more and more priests and bishops, adopt the networks’ Pro Life Heresy. Never knowing they are following the wrong voice.
After Mother Angelica’s War With Cardinal Mahony:
Still More Conflicts Between the EWTN, and the Catholic Church
The a) public rebellion by Mother Angelica and EWTN against one of the cardinals of the Church, Cardinal Mahony, was a major example of EWTN’s deep disobedience to the Church and God. But it is by no means the only one. There have been countless minor – and several other major – conflicts between this “Catholic” network, and real Catholic authority. Especially b) notable we will have been seeing here in effect, has been the conflict between EWTN’s essentially one-issue anti-abortion stance, as outlined by Karl Keating, vs. the Church; vs. Cardinals McCarrick and Ratzinger of the USCCB and the Vatican, respectively; or EWTN’s rebellions against Pope Benedict XVI. Which is the main subject of our present book. But though we will return to that subject soon, for now c) we might also briefly review some other, general conflicts between the essential structure and existence of the network, and the Church.
The real problem with EWTN, stems in large part from this central problem: EWTN presents itself as the voice of the Church; but it has no official charter authorizing it as such, from the Church itself. Nor should it ever be granted one; since it has probably never been under the direct supervision of the church; or in line with all the Church’s teaching; and since it has constantly generated heresies against the Church. Even though it thinks of itself as dutifully loyal to the Church – even quite traditional, “conservative” in its loyalty – the network is anything but loyal to the church. Even in its alleged “conservatism,” particularly. Conservatism we noted, does not come from conservative loyalty to oldtime religion – as much as to the radical new political neo-“conservatism,” of conservative talk show hosts. Like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson. Who were partially conservative … but who were also inventing a “Neo-Con” position, after all.
Eternal Word Television Network – EWTN; including EWRN, Eternal Word Radio Network – was founded with a single radio station, around 1981, by a (relatively) simple nun; “Mother Angelica” as she chose to be known. As a simple nun and as a woman, Angelica at first seemed to many to be quite pious and loyal to the Church. And she spoke of a rather limited set of relatively simple Catholic issues. Indeed, Mother Angelica was a self-avowed, “conservative” (as properly noted in Wikipedia; and as reflected in EWTN/RN’s programming content and language, c. 1995-2005). Mother Angelica and her new network therefore, should not have caused much problem; surely, you would think, being a “conservative” even in the time of Mother Angelica, should have meant total “obedience” to church authority. But we will have been finding here that the many alleged conservatives at EWTN – like the founder of the network, Mother Angelica especially – have found themselves in continuous conflict with Church authority; with Cardinals, and Popes. Though superficially this network is obedient to the Church, the network has actually continually conflicted with the highest Church authority; particularly as it turns out, whenever the Church and its authorities did anything that might seem “liberal.” Even when those “liberal” doctrines it opposed, were very, very firmly imbedded in the heart of Catholic tradition.
Catholic radio’s attachment in fact, was never really a “conservative” attachment to the Church; but to then-famous political conservatives. Talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and especially conservative televangelist Pat Robertson, were the real inspiration of EWTN’s characteristic message; its continuous “conservative” attack on “liberals.” EWTN for many years, called itself “conservative,” and attacked any Church doctrine that appears “liberal.” Which it did especially until about 2006; until a call-in listener or two, noted problems with that message; noting that the Bible itself tells us to “be liberal,” and the Bible itself never mentions the word “conservative.” Clearly, the Radio network especially, was not influenced by the Bible; but more from its own childhood – and simplistic – ideas of Catholicism. Or even more, by fellow talk-show host or commentators, Rush Limbaugh, and his conservatism. The radio jocks EWRN radio network in particular, would resist any ideas that it perceived as “liberal” … even when they were presented by the very highest Church authorities. Even when presented by cardinals like Cardinal Mahoney. Indeed EWTN would resist any idea that appeared “liberal,” even when it was advanced by the Pope himself.
It therefore becomes clear that the “conservatism” of “conservative” “Catholic” networks, was not really from the Bible, or the Church; these networks were always following not God, but Rush Limbaugh, and Pat Robertson. Rush Limbaugh, not Jesus, was really the chief inspiration and god of EWTN.
13) # 107 To be sure, it was no doubt easy to merge many Rush Limbaugh ideas, with a kind of more authentic, residual, traditionalist Catholicism. There were many old traditions that EWTN seemed to back; like supporting more religion in schools and in public places; a literal interpretation of miracles; opposing gay rights; and so forth. For some time to be sure, there had been a “liberal” movement opposing many old ideas in the Church. And many Catholics in fact, resented recent, apparently “liberal” changes in the Church. Around 1963-4, “Vatican II” had furthered many new changes in the Church; like the abandonment of the old mass, said in Latin, to the local language or vernacular. And so to be sure, there was a “liberal” movement in the Church, that “Conservative” or traditional Catholics, might oppose. Until recently, many remembered and were attached to the old (“Tridentine”) or Latin mass, which was delivered in Latin, not English, for example. As opposed to the “Novos Ordo,” or the “New Order” mass (SP?). Many Catholics believed these old things were given to us by God – and should not be changed. Therefore indeed, there was room for a genuine attempt to conserve old-fashioned Catholicism. And yet to be sure, many of these things had been instituted by Church authority. So that any rebellion against many of them, was a rebellions against Church authority, and Vatican II.
But to be sure, we have been making the point that in another sense, if you are conservative, then after all, you obey Church tradition. But one of the main features of Catholicism, is a strong, top-down leadership; the Church continually stressing the authority of the Bishops, then Cardinals, then the Pope. The very core tradition of Catholicism as opposed to other Christian denominations in fact, is that Catholics are told strong, traditionally, to obey especially, the Pope. But these liberal changes note were approved, after all, by the Bishops and the Pope. So that a really “conservative” Catholic, should probably have followed the Church, the Pope. Even in their “liberal” moments.
Surely a good, “conservative” Catholic would follow one of the main principles of Catholicism: obedience to the Pope. Indeed, an almost total, blind obedience to the Pope and/or the Church, was constantly (if slightly erroneously) asserted on EWTN itself to be the essence of being Catholic: following the Pope, and not our own ideas, our own desires, was constantly advocated by the daily homilies, on EWTN, of Fr. John Corapi. The essence of being Catholic, we were constantly told, was following almost whatever the Church and Pope said authoritatively; every word. Instead of picking and choosing which sayings we will follow, like (on Catholic radio stations, the constantly reviled) “Cafeteria Catholics.” But in the end, EWTN talk show hosts and guests, were one and the same as the very Cafeteria Catholics they constantly condemned: they themselves followed only the “conservative” side of the Church; while they flagrantly disobeyed, chose not to pick up or obey, any parts of Church doctrine – even the commands of Popes – that seemed “liberal” to them.
The new mass, by the way, delivered in English (or sometimes Spanish) in America, was in fact useful by the way; by making the mass more understandable to the people. While then too, the trend in Theology itself clearly, has for some time been toward more open/liberal understandings of Christianity. And that trend has often been validated by most (if not all) Bishops, Popes. So that the “conservatism” of some Catholics, eventually ends up contradicting, going against, many, many Bishops, Cardinals, Popes. Which is ironically, not really conserving one of the main traditions of the Church at all: obedience to authority
14) # 108 As mentioned above, the “conservatism” of say, EWRN, comes really, therefore, not from following real Church traditions, like loyalty to Church leadership. Rather, it comes from another source. The word “conservative” is never mentioned in the Bible; it all came from … the general culture. Especially, the term “conservatism and the attack on “liberals,” came from Rush-Limbaugh. A self-proclaimed “conservative,” in increasingly explicit political opposition to, as he himself constantly called them, political “liberal”s. And in opposition to the liberal party in America; the Democratic Party.
It was not the Bible, or the Church, that really inspired EWTN. But rather, the Rush Limbaugh attack on “liberals.” While in contrast we will see, the Bible itself actually told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor; “with liberality.”
Here therefore, is the obvious, real source of much of EWTN’s philosophy: not the Bible, or the Church, or God; but secular political demagogues. Including especially, Rush Limbaugh.
The fact is, EWTN has never been conservative, in the sense of simple, conservative loyalty to the Church. Eternal Word Television Network was founded around 1980/81, by a (relatively) simple nun; “Mother Angelica” as she came to be known. As a non-priest, as a simple nun and as a woman, Angelica at first, seemed quite pious and loyal to the Church; and spoke of a rather limited set of relatively simple Catholic issues. And to be sure, Mother Angelica was a self-avowed, “conservative” (as properly noted in Wikipedia; and as reflected in EWTN/RN’ programming content). And surely, you would think, being a “conservative” even in the time of Mother Angelica, should have meant total “obedience” to church authority; even when authorities change things slightly. But we will find here, that alleged conservatives at EWTN – like the founder of the network, Mother Angelica – have found themselves in continuous conflict with Church authority; with Cardinals, and Popes. Though superficially it is obedient to the Church, the network has actually, continually, conflicted with the highest Church authority; particularly as it turns out, whenever the Church and its authorities did anything that might seem “liberal.”
To be sure, EWTN’s occasional naïve, childlike stress on all-but-total, blind obedience to the Church and the Pope, was worth disobeying; it has always been partially wrong, in itself. Even the Church itself acknowledges that the Pope can make errors, when he is not speaking officially, “ex Cathedra,” or from the throne. But if so, then after all, another major EWTN doctrine, is false; what they often claimed, is not really what the Church says. While then too, the network should not have been hypocritical; simultaneously telling everyone else to follow the Pope religiously … while it did not do so, itself. (Related to this in fact, EWTN needs to, surprisingly, adopt a rather “liberal” idea: the notion that sometimes our highest authorities, even Popes, are wrong. But if we don’t follow the Pope, then we should be grounded in something else just as firm; like the Bible, or science. Not in the political philosophy of the month).
15) # 109 No doubt many people follow the Pope far, far too slavishly; and never develop independent judgment. So that indeed, many people should follow the Pope rather less. But if EWTN adopts this liberal idea, then after all … it has no right to condemn liberals. Nor “Cafeteria Catholics.” Since it is one, itself. It is not following the Pope as slavishly at it told others to do; it is picking and choosing what it chooses to follow, the same as the very “Cafeteria Catholics” it condemns.
Some have argued that EWTN was really liberal, in many ways (as does Chris Ferrara). We agree in some respects. For example, when EWTN rejected command after another, from one Cardinal after another, when it basically rejected the Pope’s 2004 memo, EWTN could not be called “conservative” along the major axis of Catholicism: it was no longer following the Pope. (No doubt EWTN staff members think they can resolve this, simply by confessing this as a sin; admitting in the confessional booth, failing to follow the Pope. And then, after confessing, forget about it. But here, the sin remains. The network is trapped every day, repeating a contradiction or inconsistency or hypocrisy. It repeats a hypocrisy that misleads millions. In that it at once, demands total loyalty to the Church and Pope; especially in the homilies of arch-loyalist/militarist, John Corapi, but also in countless other pronouncements. And it is trapped in inconsistency and hypocrisy: it constantly condemns “Cafeteria Catholics” that pick and choose only some rules to follow. But then, the minute a Cardinal or Pope says something EWTN does not agree with … it “chooses” after all, not follow or obey. Suddenly, after a lifetime of “conservative” Catholicism, EWNT abandons that principle, and adopts a very, very liberal idea: it asserts that after all, we don’t always have to follow the Pope; because the Pope is often wrong.)
What therefore should we say about EWTN/RN? There is not much good to say about it; not much function to it; except perhaps, to serve as an example, from its mistakes. Time after time, the network has been involved in hypocrisy and deceit and heresy. In very great sins indeed. In sins that have not been really, fully repented; in false ideas that indeed, were not repented, but broadcast and spread, to millions of others. And especially the network repeating its many false ideas, to millions of people, was its greatest sin.
The Bible itself had warned that those who teach others, should monitor themselves carefully: “Not many of you should become teachers,” St. James rightly said: because “we all make many mistakes.” And when a teacher errs, his mistake is worse than other people; since he has probably taught his mistake to many others; misleading not just himself, but even millions of others.
Overall EWTN itself, though, has always been deeply immersed, in the sin of hypocrisy. It was never really able to be truly, consistently “conservative,” in the sense of conservatively following what the Pope had said. EWTN clearly did not follow the Pope as closely as it often claimed, when the Pope in his 2004 memo, said that voting for Pro Choice politicians, “can be permitted.” Nor did EWTN staffers, follow the Church when it called for us to be genuinely repentant, when confessing sins. Nor did they really follow the Bible.
To be sure, it has been the (somewhat) original contribution or attempt, by EWTN/RN (and some Republican operatives no doubt), to begin to finally try to put together, two slightly different “conservatism”s; to try to find an harmonious blend of a) religious traditionalism, and b) secular/political conservatism. To help form a new “Conservative Coalition.” Or maybe, to form a new Catholic conservatism; one that borrowed from, spoke to, many elements of society, both secular and religious. But its attempt was never quite well conceived or carried out. Adopting its political ideas from Rush Limbaugh, has meant that this movement, this network, has never been truly, fully, traditionally religious, Catholic, or even Christian. While a religious conservatism that did not really honor the Bible, presents special problems too.
Especially we should note here and now, that such a “conservatism” as EWTN’s is ironically, not conservative at all. Instead, it is in many formerly hidden and strange ways, too Liberal. Especially, a really “conservative,” obedient and loyal Catholic, would obey the central principle of conservative Catholicism … and simply, loyally, obediently, follow Catholic leadership. But EWTN did not do that. When Catholic leadership began to say something it didn’t like, it very liberally began to pick and choose which doctrines of the church it would follow; the same as the “Cafeteria Catholics,” the liberals, did.
16) # 110 In many ways in fact, EWTN is ironically, itself, extremely, radically, and destructively liberal (just as Chris Ferrara claimed). Among other ways just noted: although allegedly a conservative, a) EWTN founder Mother Angelica after all, was note, a woman. A woman trying to find a role speaking prominently in the Church. But the existence of a woman, broadcasting her own theology and opinions, in the name of the Church, over the new media, was, in her era, a very liberal act. It was in her era that liberals – not conservatives – had begun to speak of the power of “women” and “women’s rights.” That had begun to speak of giving women more power and authority even in churches. And so when Mother Angelica began attempting to assume a position of authority in the Church, she went against much of Catholic tradition, in yet another way: Catholic tradition had normally followed cultural tradition, and the Bible. While that tradition has long been highly patriarchal. And had long barred women from being priests. Or from speaking prominently, in (or for?) a church. (Borrowing from Paul; 1 Tim. 2.11 ff; 1 Corin. 14.34. And John 2.4).
Ironically, Mother and her message therefore once again, much less conservative than they seemed. It was undoubtedly in part out of some sense of Women’s Liberation, the Feminist Revolution – this new, very liberal sense of the importance of women – that Mother Angelica was finally so bold – and liberal – as to begin as a woman, to found a Catholic radio and TV network.
Then too by the way, b) founding a major private “Catholic” radio network, once with some independence from Rome, was yet another radically new, liberal innovation in Catholicism. Previously, there had been many large Protestant networks; and a few very small Catholic ones. But there really had been no major Catholic networks in operation before this. Not like EWTN/RN.
Mother Angelica in fact was quite liberal in many ways; while indeed c) her basing her network so completely around an anti-abortion message (especially one never supported by the Bible itself), was yet another radically liberal – and in this case, mistaken – idea.
While then too again, d) when Mother Angelica started telling off some Bishops, Cardinals, and ignoring the Pope, that was extremely liberal.
In many, many ways therefore, Mother Angelica therefore was not a conservative, but was a flaming liberal revolutionary. And the Church did not know what do to with her. The Church did not know what problems might arise with the new media, and how to adequately control or refine them.
In particular, the fact that Mother Angelica was a woman, trying to enter a male culture, has been major part of the problem. The main voice behind anti-abortionism, is the voice of lay persons, half-priests, that want to use religion, as a front, for their own social/political philosophies. And in the case of Mother herself, her revulsion to abortion came in part from a native or common sense among women, and mothers, of the importance of the embryo, in the womb. (See “folk sentiments,” above.) Anyone who listens to Mother Angelica’s own speeches on abortion, on EWRN, can hear in them, a simple “motherly” concern of many women, for a potential child in her womb. Though she was a nun, “Mother” Angelica often spoke of the embryo, essentially, with the typical air of one woman counseling with another, about her child; or the future child in her womb. Which was partly a conservative impulse, in that it was deep, and to some extent, native. But it specifically was an impulse that, after all, came from women. And allowing their voice, women’s impulses, as a religious authority, is essentially a new, liberal act.
Proposing new ideas is probably good; but we should always be aware that often new experiments in life, fail. Some new ideas are good; some are not. So that, as we allow new aspects of women’s voices to come to the fore, we desperately need to “pick and choose” among them. Because their ideas are not well or fully formed yet; and they will often have many bad things, bugs in them, that need to be worked out, before we follow them religiously. Briefly, when it comes to new ideas, we need to decide which of these new voices from women, are good – and which are not. Which ones might be accepted more or less as they are … and which need to be refined.
In the case of anti-abortionism, we would partially validate a typical “woman”ly sentiment in favor or her embryo. On the other hand, the gross sentimentality of Angelica, from the ‘heart,” regarding the embryo, is not as acceptable as Mother Angelica thought. Since after all, the Bible warned, even the “heart” is often “deceived,” deceptive. Therefore, even a feeling of “love” for a child, can be wrong, perverted. (As we see in pedophilic priests, for example. And excessive love for an embryo).
It is no accident that many of the most prominent voices in the religious Pro Life movement, are women: Sheila Liaugminas, Johnnette Benkovic, Mother Angelica. To some extent, they are speaking out of a partially native sentiment of the heart. But at the same time, there are problems with giving those impulses, a balanced and informed expression and formulation No doubt there are many authentic, good things in even ancient traditional women’s culture, that need to be acknowledged. But perhaps there are bad things, too; that need to be refined. Just as there were in patriarchal culture.
In any case, the prominence of a female voice, in anti-abortionism, is not really conservative. In a sense, that voice is conservative, in that women speak from a love of the child; even a common sense of love for the embryo in the womb. But after all, it may be that woman have not yet fully understood their own impulses; and have not yet given them fully accurate and stable expression.
Just for women to speak so prominently in the Church – and with a substantially new issue, or an attempt at a new formulation of an old issue – was again, not conservative, but was revolutionary. The Roman Catholic Church traditionally allowed women some role, as nuns and so forth; but the Church itself in particular, has always put very, very severe restrictions on what women can contribute to the Church. While women speaking first hand in the church about abortion and children, was something nuns had not really been able to do effectively; since nuns were required to be chaste.
In any case though, to this very day, there have been severe limits on the voice of women in the Church. Especially, women are still not allowed to be priests. While the command that women are not to “speak” or have a strong voice in the Church, comes in large part, it was commonly claimed, from the Bible itself. St. Paul for example, tells us it is an “abomination,” or unseemly, or a “disgrace,” or “shameful,” for a woman to speak in a Church. St. Paul told us that it is indeed a “disgrace” for a woman to speak in the Church. Or for a woman to have authority over a man.
It would be amusing, and dramatically point up their liberalism, to quote the following parts of the Bible, to women anti-abortionists:
“Women should keep silence in the churches…. It is shameful [“a disgrace” RSV] for a woman to speak in church” (1 Corin. 14.34-35 RSV).
“I permit no woman to teach” (1 Tim. 2.12).
“God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Did the word of God originate with you?” (I Corin. 14. 33-36 NIV).
For that matter, there are sayings by Jesus himself and others, that some feel contradict even the Church’s provisional love for one woman, Mary, the mother of Jesus:
“O woman, what have you to do with me?” (John 2.4 NRSV).
“Women rule over you!” (1 Es. 4.22, Isa. 3.12, 19.16; etc; Jer. 51.30, Prov. 31.3; Dan. 11.37, 1 Pet. 3.7, etc..).
There are a few strong women in the Bible; Esther for example. But overall, there was historically, from the early days of the Church (if not in earlier cultures), a rather firm exclusion of women’s voices in religion, in the Church. To this day, women are not allowed to become priests in the Catholic Church. Though there are nuns, and a few women saints, the Church has been rather overwhelmingly, indeed, patriarchal. Even the Virgin Mary, while revered, was allowed only a dozen or so lines in the Gospels; and was devoted mainly to being obedient and long-suffering.
Efforts by feminists to reform all this, can find some small examples in tradition. But overall, any thoroughgoing feminization of culture, or masculinization of women (to coin a word?), will be a revolution, that goes against the predominant outline of Western culture, c. 1,000 BC to 2000 AD. Without opposing or supporting any such effort here, we will say however that the increasing importance of women is in any case, not “conservative” in the sense of preserving or reflecting, conservatively, the prevailing direction of western culture of say, the last two or three thousand years. Though women have always played an important role in culture, it was for some time, thought to be subordinate; the Feminist Revolution is there indeed, a revolution. A very significant change. So that to the extent that many women – like Sheila Liaugminas, Johnnette Benkovic, Mother Angelica and others – publicly back anti-abortionism (as they do continually, on EWTN and Relevant Radio, etc.), and to the extent that they – as they do – present themselves as prominent voices in and for the Church, these women are adamantly not actually the “conservative” Catholics they pretend to be. Indeed, by the very act of being women, speaking prominently in the Church, they are actually opposing yet another Catholic Tradition.
When women like Mother Angelica, or Sheila Liaugminas speak prominently in the Church, against abortion, this is from an impulse which is partially very liberal. In some ways to be sure, it seems inevitable that many women should have feelings for embryos; this was in some ways a relatively “natural,” conservative impulse. But even there, our feelings are in part directed by, molded by, refined by, culture. So that we cannot be quite sure what is “natural” or finally good here. Not without much investigation. So that no one should have simply settled in with a few dogmatic preconceptions, and asserted that to be natural reality, or sacred reality either. Even nature, even natural law, is known not by asserting our ancient ideas are natural, but rather by scientific natural science, investigating it.
In any case though, to allow such “life style experiments” as Feminism, especially in the Church, was not conservative, but was – and is – an extremely radical life style experiment. It is therefore extremely ironic – and hypocritical – for so many anti-abortion women. to appear as “conservative”s following Catholic “Tradition.” The fact is, in many ways they are anything but conservative and traditional. Indeed, they are rebelling against core Church traditions. The presence of women, speaking prominently for God and the Church, on a “conservative” network, is oxymoronic. A self-contradiction. A bit of hypocrisy – and deceit.
111) # 111 How liberal is EWTN, really? In addition to the liberality of women on the network, for that matter, many liberal male priests appear on this “conservative” network.
Anti-abortionism especially attracts a certain kind of liberal; a liberal who wants to extend liberal ideas of “human rights” radically; to defend not just minorities, but also the embryo too. (Though as noted above, there are problems with that argument; which uses a false analogy, follows the slippery slope, etc.).
Surprisingly therefore, one of the main criticisms of Catholic “conservatism,” is that it does not present itself fairly or accurately. Many elements of EWTN for example, are not conservative at all. Its defense of the embryo as human, is a revolutionary opinion of women; and now we add, uses a very liberal definition of “human.”
These many rebellions against traditional ideas, are anything but conservative.
112) # 112 Confirming the idea that EWTN is not truly, fully conservative, recent critics of the network, like Ferrara, are indeed accusing the network of being extremely liberal, in other ways too. Or better said, as even more than liberal: as being even, radical. As being a radical departure from the real, core Catholic Traditions. In part because many liberal priests do appear on the network – and voice many other rather obviously liberal ideas. We don’t have time and space here though, to repeat the many other liberal ideas on the network. For a book on that subject, see Ferrara’s recent book, “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong.” But among others: a strong ecumenism at times (if not consistently); deciding to ignore saints like St. Aquinas; allowing women to have a greater voice; and so forth.
113) # 113 Many complaints though, can be made about EWTN – even in liberal terms. In that even many elements of its liberalism are often partially, false and inconsistent. Especially, its false debates.
Part of the foundation of modern democracy, is liberally allowing freedom of speech … and allowing many voices to be heard in the public arena. Democracy indeed is based on this liberal virtue; especially on allowing fair, free, and open debate. And as a matter of fact, conservative talk radio, seems to have some residual respect for debate, in that it takes the trouble to at least, mimic it. But it does not actually finally, produce fair debate at all.
Basically, the conservative talk shows that fill radio today, are call-in shows. The basic format, is that a topic is announced by the talk show host, by often a guest that is expert on that subject; then they announce a number over the air, for people to call in, and talk to/debate the host and guest, on that topic. But to be sure, though this gives the appearance of a debate, it is anything but a fair and honest debate. First a) normally the audience does not know in advance, what the topic is going to be; while the host and guest of course, do know. Then b) rarely does the audience have an expert on the particular topic; while the host has his guest. Then too, c) if by chance, a would-be caller is too smart or too informed on the topic, and sounds like he or she might win the debate with the host, he or she was often simply not allowed on the air, by the call-screener. Or d) if a caller unexpectedly gets too good on the air, he or she is simply hung up on, for example. While finally, e) since the radio show controls the format of the show, and air time, the host and his guest, always get the last word; so that they appear to always make a literally unanswerable point. And so the audience gets the impression, that its favorite conservative station has once again, won a fair “debate.” But of course, it was a stacked deck all along; and finally, the station’s last point is “unanswerable” because, after all, the other member of the debate was cut off; cold-miked. (See our remarks on the false “debate” in talk radio, elsewhere). So that the average conservative call-in show “debate,” is actually, a rigged game; a scandal worse than the Payola scandal.
In conclusion to this section, on some “liberal” aspects of antiabortionism? At first to be sure, the founding of a Catholic radio – and then TV – station, and network, would seem to be wholly good, new thing. You would think that a new, self-proclaimed “Catholic” network, would result in some honest debate, and hopefully the spreading of Catholicism over the new media, and around the world. And as for these unregulated voices getting out of hand and dishonest? You would have thought that when the new Catholic talk networks announce themselves as “conservative,” their conservatism would protect them from abandoning fundamental, conservative virtues, like honesty, and free and open debate. And you would think that a self-avowed “conservatism” would prevent these new agencies from getting too far afield, and espousing any “strange new doctrines.” But as it actually turned out, these new media were an innovative new development in many, many ways; and they were not therefore entirely conservative. Instead, they involved many new innovations – like the prominence of women in religion; the development of a “Catholic” voice not directly run by the Church; the intermixing of religious and secular ideas; the development of some questionable new, “neo-con” theologies. All these were not just liberal, but radically liberal, new, innovations. And like all new experiments, for every successful experiment, there will have been many individual experiments that will have failed. SO that indeed, there have been some huge problems with these radical new media. Just as Cardinal Mahony, then Cardinals Ratzinger and McCarrick, began to note.
Especially, we will have been seeing here, there were problems a) even with talk radio’s “conservative” philosophy. And specifically, with b) its “conservative” Pro-Life anti-abortionism. As it turns out, these doctrines were not really conservative at all. Not in the sense, say, of following church traditions, saints. They were not conservative, say, in the sense of dutifully obeying the Cardinals and the Pope. Rather instead, Mother Angelica for example broke many traditions, by being a nun, a woman, who decided to speak up very prominently in the Church, even above men like the Cardinals and the Pope. Developing her own new doctrines, and firmly announcing them as the word of God; while even denouncing Cardinals on her new network.
Those many who thought they were following “conservative”s here were mistaken. Actually, they were following people who were quite Liberal. And worse, who were liberally developing their own very questionable ideas of what the Church was, or should be – and then announcing it firmly as the word of God, against which there was, allegedly, no appeal. While networks like EWTN/RN were big enough, well-staffed enough, to get away with this, for 28 years and counting.
“Voter’s Guide for Concerned Catholics,”
The Real Church Authorities – Bishops, Cardinals, Popes –
Oppose Karl Keating’s, EWRN’s
Radical Stand Against Abortion
Past Efforts by the Church to Fix This,
The assertions of Pro-Lifers, anti-abortionists, contain any number of massive sins and heresies. Especially, it seems clear, the radical anti-abortionism of EWTN/RN is not consistent with much of Catholic Tradition. Though today you can find more and more Bishops opposing abortion, on the other hand, some of the most esteemed authorities in the Church – like the current Pope – had earlier made statements that would allow abortion; or allow us to vote for pro-abortion candidates. Pope Benedict himself said that voting for pro-abortion candidates, “can be permitted” (Card. Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” 2004 memo; as reaffirmed later, c. 2007, by ret. Card. McCarrick). Finally therefore, we will have to conclude that the Pro Life theology is questionable at best; or better, that antiabortionism should in fact be now simply called today, a heresy.
Key authorities in the Church, we have shown, have tried to counter EWTN’s heresies and rebellions. In part because of its support for several heresies, EWTN remember, was often under attack by the Church itself. First, around 1997, at least one Cardinal – Mahony – began to attack the founder of the network, Mother Angelica, for her rebelliousness, and for some of her policies. But then, more pointedly, around 2004, another major cardinals of the Church – Cardinal Ratzinger of the Vatican, who was in 2005 to become the Pope – indirectly attacked EWTN’s main, anti-abortion theology. When the future Pope attacked radical, dis- “proportionate,” one issue anti-abortionism. Finally, around 2007 and other dates, the attack on EWTN/RN was re-affirmed by Cardinal McCarrick; head of the USCCB, and therefore probably the ranking active Catholic official in the US. As McCarrick affirmed that the Catholic Church was not telling anyone how to vote; and that we should look at many “issue”es when voting; not just one issue.
Aside from three cardinals and then a pope attacking EWTN and its dis “proprortionate,” one issue anti-abortionism, there was opposition from the Church to, especially and specifically, a major EWTN speaker, Karl Keating. And especially to Keating’s “Voting Guide for Concerned Catholics.” Karl Keating was a regular guest on EWTN; his Catholic Answers live show, was on the network frequently. It was an apologetics call in show; but among the many doctrines it had to defend constantly, was its own radical anti-abortionism. Eventually, Karl Keating – who was an apologist and an attorney – was motivated, to put the new doctrine of anti-abortionism, into writing; in his “Voters’ Guide.” Which insisted that Catholics were required to vote for the most anti-abortion candidate in every election.
Karl Keating’s Voting Guide, was constantly promoted throughout EWRN; while Karl Keating had in effect a regular show on the network, called “Catholic Answers Live”; a show devoted to Catholic “apologetics,” but which in his half hour or hour or so, Keating often defended “Catholic” anti-abortionism especially. And eventually, he decided to produce a written summary of his position; called a “Voting Guide for Concerned Catholics” (or something similar). This guide to voting, insisted (in at least one or more of its many rewrites), that the Church had not only said that abortion was wrong, but that it was so wrong, that we were being commanded by the Church, not to vote for pro-abortion candidates. While, since the main anti-abortion party, was the Republican Party, this meant finally that Karl Keating, attny., was telling us or implying, that the Church and God were commanding us to vote, most often, for the Republican Party. (As outlined here, earlier).
Keating’s radical anti-abortionism, was constantly presented on Eternal Word Radio Network, as the word of the Church itself; and therefore, of God himself. But Keating’s voting guide, soon came under fire. First, many ordinary Catholics, and then priests, disagreed with its summary of Catholic doctrine. And they particularly objected to it being presented as absolute authority, just before the time of either the 2000 or 2004 presidential election.
When EWTN began urging conservatives to put EWNT/Catholic Answer’s voting guide in churches, we will note here, finally many Catholics began to at last notice – and object to – EWTN’s presumptuousness. The fact is – as some began to point out at last – EWTN was not the official voice of the Church; and some of its views of some doctrines, were not in fact, entirely correct. Indeed, there was a howl of public protest to EWTN and its antiabortionism at last. While indeed, putting its own tracts in the churches themselves, precipitated the conflict; and finally inspired some Catholics to call for the Vatican itself to finally clarify the matter of voting for pro-abortion candidates. So that all this finally resulted in Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 memo; which seems specifically designed, to counter Keating’s guide. (As probably it was; Ratzinger’s guide appeared, right after Keating’s guide started a controversy; indeed at that time, Catholics on both sides of the issue began calling for a definitive word on the subject from the Vatican itself; while Joe Ratzinger was the official in charge of precisely, such matters of “Doctrine”; as head of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith”).
Finally, at long last, putting EWRN’s views into print, and then inserting them into the vestibules of the churches, while (implicitly) calling for Catholics to vote Republican, brought EWTN’s questionable theologies, into the spotlight.
The controversial subject in EWTN/Keating’s guide (and then, in Card. Ratzinger’s memo), was the question of abortion. First the question was a) whether Catholic politicians who publicly supported abortion, should be denied communion. But also, it concerned b) the question of whether Catholics could vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Keating constantly implied (and perhaps even in some versions of his Guide, simply said?), that the Church was ordering Catholics to always vote for the most anti-abortion candidate. Keating asserted on the air and to some extent in some versions of his Guide it seems, that we were being commanded by God, to always make the abortion issue, first and foremost, in every election; as a “non-negotiable.” But then, when some Catholics at last began to protest and the narrow mono-mania of this approach, Cardinal Joe Ratzinger, the future Pope, came to conclusions that were often exactly the opposite of Keating. Karl Keating had asserted that the Church was saying that no Catholic could vote for a pro-abortion candidate. But Cardinal Ratzinger of the Vatican – the Cardinal whose job it was to determine what true doctrine was; the cardinal who was soon to become Pope Benedict – begged to differ with Karl Keating in effect. The Cardinal and future Pope Benedict determined that as a matter of fact, Catholics could vote for pro-abortion candidates; in the presence of “proportionate” reasons. Cardinal Ratzinger concluding in a footnote to his memo, that voting for pro-abortion candidates, “can be permitted.” In effect the Pope disagreed with Karl Keating. Though of course, we never heard this clearly on EWTN, for from Karl Keating himself.
Karl Keating’s anti-abortion position, and then his “Voting Guide,” had been supported over and over on the air, constantly, by EWRN. Keating and his theology, his doctrines on Catholic voting, were mentioned, even promoted, many times a day, especially in the months before a major election. Keating’s’ views were promoted in part by Karl Keating himself; but his position was also seconded by many, many hosts and guests. Indeed, especially Keating’s early formulations of anti-abortionism, had been the distinctive feature of EWTN for many years. So that by 2004, many millions of Catholics had already heard the views of anti-abortionism. And the Voting Guide. And most of them accepted it all, exactly as it was presented on EWTN: as the definitive word of the Church. And therefore, as the word of God. Karl Keating and EWTN, constantly told everyone, that the Church and God were ordering us to vote Pro Life. But then suddenly, in 2004, the Vatican itself, begged to differ.
By 2004, Keating and EWRN’s anti-abortionist ideas, had been extremely influential. No doubt in fact, they had long since changed the vote of millions of people. No doubt in fact, we suggest here that earlier anti-abortion ideas, had been determining the course of America, from 1980 on. But now suddenly, some were at last noticing, that there was just one little problem: what Pro Lifer’s had claimed, the Pope was saying, was simply false. The fact is, the Vatican itself – and the future Pope – were telling Keating and EWTN, that they were simply, wrong. So that Keating and EWTN had taught the world a false doctrine. And had deceived the whole world; had taken the world in a wrong direction.
Keating and EWTN had influenced millions of votes. But as it turns out, everyone voted, based on a false idea of the Church and of God.
This story, of course, has never been adequately told on EWTN. Of course; EWTN does not fairly or honestly, adequately report any doctrine that it does not like; that does not fit its agenda. If anyone calls in to object to its one-sided presentations, it hangs up; or topspins doctrine till it fits what EWTN likes. So that when the Cardinals and finally even the Pope himself voiced objections to EWTN and especially to its anti-abortion message, the network seldom reported it; and never stressed it very much. Though the statements of the Cardinals and the Pope were mentioned now and then (particularly when callers mentioned it), the network however, continued to drown out those words, by mentioning their own anti-abortionism, a hundred, a thousand times, more often. (The great danger in repetitious prayers: self hypnotism). If the network’s news agency at times reported problems, those brief news announcements were soon drowned out, by the endless, hypnotic repetition of its own anti-abortionist theology.
EWTN was not what it pretended to be. It was not an objective reporter of the Church or of the news; it was an issue-advocacy organization. The network tells Catholics, only one side of the story: its own. Therefore, EWTN’s many millions of listeners (millions at least, have been reached at least once, with its message), have never really heard, of EWTN’s conflicts with three Cardinals, and the Pope. EWTN’s listeners particularly, were furthermore, often not really reading Catholic doctrines widely; not did their local church deliver many homilies on political topics, like voting. So that unfortunately, most EWTN listeners, most Catholics, got most of their information on voting, mainly from this network. Since the individual churches, their homilies, don’t usually address politics at all, or address many topics in death (Catholic services putting the stress on endless repetition of basic sacraments, not on sermons), most Catholics even today, follow EWTN, their only source of information on such things. And since the network never really told them this, most Catholics are absolutely unaware, that three Cardinals and the Pope, were warning that in effect, the network was wrong about such things as abortion.
Consider the sins among the rest of the staff, of Raymond Arroyo, News Director of EWTN. Who never really adequately reported what the Church is really saying; or when the Church disagrees with EWTN especially. Raymond is author of a fawning puff piece book, on his superior, Mother Angelica, Raymond apparently is not a priest, but a graduate of a communications program at NYU. His allegiance is clearly not to the truth. And often he is found deliberately opposing Archbishops and so forth. For example, Raymond Arroyo criticizes Cardinal McCarrick himself; for he claims, withholding the 2004 “letter”/memo from Card. Ratzinger, on voting. Arroyo – as is typical of these dishonest writer and talking heads – asserts incorrectly, that had this memo been released, it would have affected the election more. Because, as he asserts incorrectly, the letter clearly speaks against Abortion. But here as usual, Raymond quotes misleading parts of the text; he does not quote the end of the text, where the future pope tells us that voting for pro-abortion candidates, “can be permitted.” (Arroyo: EWTN site, “Seen and Unseen”; Aug. 31, 2009). While then too, there is no evidence as of this writing, that the memo was withheld by McCarrick; it was indeed first reported, in 2004; in a leaked version that was accompanied by the explanation that the memo had been classified as “confidential,” probably by the Vatican itself; the Pope himself. So that not only is Raymond Arroyo, News Director of EWTN, going against another Cardinal, Cardinal McCarrick; he is criticizing the Pope himself. But that in fact, is typical of Raymond. The Church is just not conservative enough for Ray: on his 8/28/09 show World Over Live, 19:20 minutes into the show, he once again, criticized the Church itself: “why hasn’t the Church taken action,” he says, when the Church does not persecute liberal Catholics as rigorously as Raymond would like. In this episode, Raymond criticizes Ted Kennedy, Democratic liberal, for backing abortion; even though, “notwithstanding,” his “other accomplishments”; including assisting “labor rights,” the “poor,” “health,” and minorities; and passing more that 300 bills in a 46-year career devoted in fact, largely to the poor. Doing many massive Christian works. Yet Raymond Arroyo fixates on the minor sin of supporting abortion, as allegedly cancelling out all the other good he did. Because Raymond, after all, like many of the Catholics he himself has created, is a one-issue obsessive; there is only one issue that Raymond cares about. And anyone who does not agree, should be doomed to excommunication, and hell. His political bias is illustrated further, as he goes on to attack Archbishop Sheehan of Santa Fe New Mexico; for daring to suggest, over and above Raymond’s bishops, that Obama should had spoken at Notre Dame (a Catholic-founded college; but to spin this, it is one that is however, not following conservative Catholic principles as rigorously as Raymond would enforce them). And for saying that most of the bishops agreed with him; except for a bullying few. Raymond and EWTN news room’s political bias, their rebellion against ranking Catholic leaders – like most of the Archbishops, Cardinals, and the Pope – here appears again and again; as in his next show; after attacking Democrat Ted Kennedy, he then next hosts a Ronald Reagan staffer; no doubt with fawning approval. In show after show, 90% of the time, this News Director at EWTN “happens” to favor the issues of Republicans over even the most socially-responsible Democrats, who have helped the lives of millions of the poor and sick. (Possibly because he regards abortion as an issue that trumps all others; but see our arguments here, even against the assertion that you cannot do a small evil in the service of a greater good). While Raymond attacks Cardinals and Archbishops regularly. When they do not agree with him.
This network therefore, does anything but accurately report the news; especially of course, negative news about itself. Most Catholics have heard a dozen triumphant self-congratulating pieces, adds for EWTN on the network, itself; every day for 30 years. A thousand flattering references to EWTN. But to this very day, few will have caught the very, very few times, that the network honestly, without spin, mentioned the many complaints the Church had about EWTN. Listeners have heard fawning, flattering quotes continually; they have never really heard the story of Mother Angelica’s rebellion against Cardinal Mahony; not about the Cardinals and the Pope rejecting the Network’s one issue anti-abortionism. Especially they have not heard anything but a twisted, spin-doctored version of Cardinal Mahoney’s criticisms of the network’s theology; indeed, the Cardinal is constantly disobeyed and demonized, by the network. Any Cardinal who says anything that is too “liberal” for EWTN, is not the “real” Church, EWTN feels. Even if the person who voices that forbidden opinion, happens to be a Cardinal, or even the Pope himself. Even as Raymond and others constantly enjoin us to dutifully follow our religious leaders.
The truth about the Church and life therefore, is never told on EWTN. But now it is time at last, for the public to be told about the darker, heretical side of EWTN. And say, of “The Voter’s Guide for Concerned Catholics.” At the start of our book, we outlined some of the main ideas of anti-abortionism. While here and now we will outline specifically, the many practical ways that the churches themselves, fought against EWTN, Keating. Or specifically, the Voters’ Guide.
Central to the antiabortion movement, was Karl Keating’s “Voting Guide for Concerned Catholics.” It was once central document, to EWRN’s constant intimations, that the Church itself, God himself, were commanding us all to vote for the most anti-abortion candidate in every election. Or, since the most anti-abortion party was the Republican party, in effect EWTN and Karl Keating were telling Catholics that God said we must vote for the Republican Party in almost every election.
But did God really order us to vote Republican? We will have spent most of this present book in effect, noting problems with Keating’s point of view, in theological terms. But after noting a hundred theological and rational problems his radical anti-abortionism, we might add here and now a summary of the practical, active opposition that Keating and his doctrine got from Catholics, and from the institutions of the Church.
114) # 114 First and foremost, note that Karl Keating’s Voting Guide was a) never officially endorsed, adopted, by the Roman Catholic Church (as of today, 2009). Indeed, we are finding here in detail, that b) it could never be officially accepted by the Church itself, as its own voice. Because there are many things in the guide that rebel against real Church doctrine.
115) # 115 The Voting Guide was never officially endorsed by the Church. So that, when it was first circulated widely, (especially around the time of the 2004 elections?), and when Catholics were encouraged to put this guide into their own churches, it is not surprising that there were objections in the individual churches, to the Guide. When he began to insert his written tracts into the church vestibules or entryways, Karl Keating/EWTN’s voting guide, began to attract the attention of more literate Catholics. Who soon rightly objected to what EWTN/Keating were saying. Indeed, the Guide was resisted by the many real, official organs of the Church. At the lowest level, first of all, it was not allowed in many churches, by many individual priests.
116) # 116 In fact soon after the Guide showed up in a few churches, Catholic, diocese lawyers in some states, got an injunction against its distribution (in California and Wisconsin?; according to Wikipedia).
117) # 117 And soon Keating and his Guide at last, were widely criticized in the religious and other presses. Though somehow, apparently, EWTN/RN itself – the network – to be sure though, escaped criticism. (As a misplaced professional courtesy? Or because the rest of the press mistakenly thought EWTN had some official status?)
Putting his cult’s credo into written words, and then physically inserting them into churches, anti-abortionism, Karl Keating’s “Voters’ Guide,” had at last come to the attention of more literate Catholics. And many of these Catholics, began to see and resist anti-abortionism, at last. First at level of individual churches. Then dioceses.
118) # 118 Finally, the furor caused by this anti-abortionist tract, by the attempted distribution of this heretical tract in everyday churches, probably in part inspired more serious statements by real Catholic leadership. In effect, EWTN and Karl Keating and earlier versions of the anti-abortionism, of the Guide, were criticized by authorities like Cardinal McCarrick, head of the USCCB. When Cardinal McCarrick condemned “one-issue” Catholicism, that in effect, meant anti-abortionism.
If a few renegade priests or Bishops had supported the Guide, or anti-abortionism, Cardinal McCarrick in effect, outweighed, outranked, any and all renegade Bishops and priests. As he uttered what was to be for some time, the definitive word within the Church. When he said that the Church was concerned with many issues and injustices; and not just “one issue.” And when he said the Church was:
“Not telling people how to vote”;
“One issue may be primary, but there are many issues that need to be considered”;
In effect, the perhaps highest-ranking active Cardinal in the U.S., was disagreeing with Karl Keating. Cardinal McCarrick was telling Catholics that a) the Church was not telling people how to vote.” While in any case, b) people needed to be aware that voting just on the basis of a candidate’s stance on abortion, was not right. Because there are many important issues in life, that should be considered when voting. Therefore the Cardinal began to suggest that we might not necessarily be committed to voting for the most anti-abortion candidate at all. Indeed, c) since …
“People who are with us on one issue” may be “against us on many other issues” (Cath. News Service, April. 27, 2004; reaffirmed by McCarrick after retirement, as antagonistically noted by Catholic Insight, Dec. 07 issue).
Life is complex. And political candidates who seem to be “good” on issues like abortion, might be bad on other important issues. So that Cardinal McCarrick was telling the people (in to be sure, equivocal language at times), that we might after all, vote for pro-abortion candidates. If the candidates supported other important issues. A principle that in turn was supported by other very high Catholic authorities, we will see.
119) # 119 Being criticized by Cardinal McCarrick, was nothing small, at all. McCarrick was not “just” an ordinary Cardinal; he was at about this time, head of the USCCB; the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Which was the coordinating agency for all U.S. Bishops. Thus finally, the antiabortionist doctrines of EWTN and Karl Keating among others, were being denounced by not “just” a cardinal, the superior of many Bishops; but indeed, they were being criticized by the head of all American bishops and cardinals. In effect in fact, EWRN, and Keating, and his voting guide, and anti-abortionism, were being denounced … by the head of the Catholic Church in America.
120) # 120 Furthermore, the USCCB is the organizing body for all U.S. bishops. So in effect, a criticism from the USCCB, was no small criticism: some might say that in effect, EWTN and its one-issue anti-abortionism were essentially being criticized, by all obedient American Bishops. Most of whom, by the way, signed many pronouncements of that organization; including, it is said, one by McCarrick or others, speaking against one-issue anti-abortionism. (To be sure, after signing, a few bishops later dissented on the air. But earlier they had unanimously supported such resolutions, and signed off on them, some say. In any case, any dissenting Bishops – Archbishops Burke, and Chaput especially? – now should be examined carefully, to see if they are heretics. They appeared often on EWTN, supporting EWTN’s one-issue anti- abortionism – even after Cardinals Ratzinger, and then Card. McCarrick and the USCCB, had condemned that position. Thus those bishops who did not support this, are going against two or three Cardinals. Including the current Pope; as we note in our many references elsewhere to his 2004 memo).
Overall, it now seems clear that the real authority of the Church was not supporting EWTN/RN, or Karl Keating, or his Voter’s Guide, or any very strong anti-abortion stance. In throwing EWTN’s anti-abortionist tract out of churches, in criticizing dis “proportionate,” “one issue” Catholicism, the Church was actually was in effect, condemning anti-abortionism. It was firmly condemning the view which had in effect had said that abortion was the one issue, or main issue, that outweighed all the others, in elections.
121) # 121 As further indication of its disapproval of EWTN, in a more positive move – but still against EWTN/Keating, it seems – the USCCB apparently issued its own, rival, corrective voting guide. To in effect, counter EWTN and Keating. [See “Faithful Citizenship” or “Faithful Discipleship” guides, etc., Jan. 5, 2001 etc.???]. Furthermore, the first version of USCCB’s guide was originally, significantly different than Keating’s Guide. (To be sure, since the first guide, it seems that rabid anti-abortion Catholics seem to have since, been successful in inserting phrases into the guide, or eliciting phrases from church officials. So that it seems that many persons on at least the USCCB web site, have even the USCCB currently parroting anti-abortionist heresies. So that interested parties have made sure that the anti-abortion heresy was finally successfully implanted, into the Church itself; notably the USCCB web site and voter’s guide. But one might hope that such things will be corrected soon. Since we not find any such rabid anti-abortionism to be a heresy).
122) # 122 Finally topping off the growing criticism of anti-abortionism by the Church itself, of utmost importance was the definitive if indirect confrontation of EWTN and anti-abortionism, by Cardinal Ratzinger. As often mentioned here already, it was Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” issued in 2004, that was to form a key part of the Church’s main attack on EWTN, Karl Keating, and/or their heretical Pro Life, antiabortion doctrine. This memo was spoken of here, at length, earlier. Here and now we will merely add that in effect, Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo was among other things, a veiled objection to specifically, EWTN/Karl Keating’s Voting Guide. Whose main ideas (and early drafts?) had just become especially prominent, in these days before the Nov. 2004 election. Indeed, it may be that Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 memo was in direct response, to concerned Catholics asking for a definitive word from the Vatican on voting, just before the Nov. 2004 presidential election. In which many Catholics were perturbed to try to choose between a Catholic, Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, who backed abortion. Vs. a “War President,” George Bush, Republican; who opposed abortion, but who was not Catholic; and who did not seem strong on “other issues” like avoiding unnecessary wars, and environmental problems.
Cardinal Joe Ratzinger’s memo, in the form that it was made available to us in 2004, is extremely important; it is one of the most definitive documents to date, on the main, distinctive issue of EWTN/RN: of Pro Life politics; of antiabortionism. And it is perhaps the most important bit of writing, to make it clear that Church authority, the Cardinals and the Pope, do not support Karl Keating and EWTN. Ratzinger’s memo is extremely important in outlining the Church’s opposition to specifically, their radical one-issue stand against abortion. Ratzinger said, in this initially-confidential but then partially-circulated memo to the Bishops, that though to be sure, abortion was bad, and though abortion might seem even worse than many types of say, capital punishment, and worse than say, just wars, still, a) abortion was not the supreme and only issue that we should consider, while voting. Indeed, finally, b) Cardinal Ratzinger told us specifically, explicitly, that we can vote for pro-abortion political candidates. Voting for pro-abortion candidates, the Vatican and the eventual Pope said, “can be permitted.” Voting for pro-abortion candidates …
“Can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.” (Private memo, partially reported around July 3, 2004, in L’Espresso; found also in “Priests for Life” web site. Or better, look it up on the web, in: Catholic Culture, “Culture,” “Library,” “Pope Benedict XVI,” June 2004, “Worthiness”).
To be sure, more fully, Ratzinger was also confirming that c) abortion was bad. And d) that any Catholics that voted for a pro-abortion candidate, with the specific end of supporting abortion (rather than voting for him for his stand on other issues), would have sinned, and be unworthy to receive communion. (Which became a major issue in the Sen. Gary Hart candidacy c. 1988?). Indeed, the memo even e) rashly tells us that prominently pro-abortion political candidates “may” be excommunicated. But still finally, f) here Ratzinger – and in effect, the Vatican – told us that there are many, many different, important things in life. Some “proportionate”ly more important than others. Indeed, many “proportionate”ly more important than specifically the topic of the 2004 memo: abortion. And in light of those other issues, we can be permitted to vote, even for a pro-abortion candidate. If the candidate stands for one of the other issues, that are “proportionately” more important than abortion.
Here the concept of “proportion”ality is a key, definitive concept:
“A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. [But] When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.” (First publicly reported in L’Espresso, around July 3, 2004? Text here found on line, in Catholic Culture: “Catholic Culture”; “culture” “library”; “Pope Benedict XVI”; “June 2004”; “Worthiness to Receive …” Cf. 2008/9 version?).
This 2004 memo from Cardinal Ratzinger was to become particularly important, definitive, when Cardinal Ratzinger became our current “Holy Father,” Pope Benedict XVI. So all Catholics should note that it allows us to vote for pro-abortion candidates, if they are good on other issues, other “reasons.”
This is an important document. At the time that Ratzinger issued this statement, the Cardinal was a) not just a Cardinal; but was also b) an extremely high official, in the Vatican itself; the real core of Catholic authority. In fact, Ratzinger was c) head of the “Congregation” [of Office] “for the Doctrine of Faith”; the Vatican agency whose job it was, to pronounce precisely on doctrinal matters. Like the status of anti-abortionist doctrines. While furthermore, this document was to become even more important, when d) Cardinal Ratzinger became our current “Holy Father,” the Pope, Benedict XVI, in 2004.
Here then at last, is a rather definitive word not just from talk show hosts, but from the real authority of the Church: the Vatican, and the Pope himself. Significantly, here at last real Catholic authority – not just talk show hosts, but a very, very high Catholic authority; the Vatican itself – was looking at the issue of abortion. And amazingly, it was telling us that EWTN/RN’s or any very firm anti-abortionism, was wrong. Was dis “proportionate.” Here, against EWTN, the Pope himself was telling us that that actually, we can vote for pro-abortion candidates
123) # 123 Thus by 2004, EWRN/Keating’s radical anti-abortionism was now under attack – by the most elevated, core elements of Church authority. Indeed, it was now under attack by the Vatican itself. Specifically, anti-abortionism was now being refuted, attacked, by the agency of the Vatican whose job it was to deal specifically with matters of doctrine: the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
124) # 124 So from that point on, EWTN and Karl Keating – and all anti-abortionists – were now more obviously than ever, rebelling against the Vatican.
125) # 125 And soon EWTN’s conflict with the real Catholic authority, became even worse. As it turned out, the very same Cardinal Ratzinger, that it had written the memo above, was soon to become … our current “Holy Father,” the current Pope: in 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. So that by now finally, EWTN, and Karl Keating, and essentially all anti-abortionists, were in direct rebellion against the Pope himself. As they are to this very day, it seems.
126) # 126 Did the Church really mean to be so firmly against anti-abortionism? The Church’s complaints against EWTN and its doctrine, were repeated and expanded for example, in the 2008 election. By Bishop Steib of Memphis. Bishop Steib of Memphis USA, repeated Ratzinger’s 2004 memo in effect; Steib confirming that even if some political ideas (like abortion?) were deemed “unacceptable” by some, still, politicians that hold them, they can be voted for. If there are other “morally grave” (read: “proportionate”) reasons, other issues, that are more important. As Bishop Steib affirms here:
“There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons” (text in National Catholic Reporter, 21 Oct, 2008).
Once again to be sure, a Bishop was perhaps calling some issues even “unacceptable.” At the same time though, surprisingly, he was affirming the position of the Pope: that we could after all, vote even for a candidate who held an “unacceptable” position. If there were “other morally grave reasons.”
Here therefore, yet another major official within the Church – yet another Bishop; Bishop Steib of Memphis – was affirming once again, the message of the Vatican, and of Joe Ratzinger, our current Pope. Here, Bishop Steib affirmed once again in effect, that EWTN’s firm Pro-Life stand, was incorrect. Concentration so much on just one issue or “position” was wrong, the Bishop affirmed once again. Like so many authorities before him, the Bishop affirmed that we can vote for candidates that support one bad issue, if there are (read: “proportionately”) “other morally grave reasons.” So for example, if a Democratic candidate supports abortion, but also stands for other good issues, like caring for the environment, or assisting Health Care, then we can vote for such a Democratic candidate.
By 2008 therefore, two or three cardinals, and the Pope, and then a few bishops like Steib, had rather explicitly rebuked Karl Keating, and EWTN, and their anti-abortionism. But clearly, organizations like EWTN have simply, easily, ignored or defied Steib. Just as it ignored Ps. 139; St. Aquinas; three Cardinals; and the Pope. Or the network and its associates, simply continually topspun or “twist”ed or “whitewash”ed what the Church had actually said. By using arguments … which are now however, refuted in our present book.
127) # 127 Since that time, countless other bishops have also continued to support the “one-issue” objection. Like say, (Arch?) Bishop Listecki. (Of Wisconsin?; on Relevant Radio, Nov. 16, 2009.)
Such pro-abortion comments to be sure, are now and then even aired on anti-abortion networks like Relevant Radio. But to be sure, all such statements are originally partially veiled; most Catholics don’t’ realize that the main subject of objections to “one issue” Catholicism, the thing that bishops and cardinals and popes are objecting to, is especially, one-issue Pro Life antiabortionism. (Though that meaning is clear from the Pope’s 2004 memo for example). While then too, agencies like Relevant Radio, mention such things once or twice on news reports … but then quickly drown out the occasional bishop’s objection to anti-abortionism, with a hundred times more air time devoted to objections to Abortion. So that, while the Church itself constantly objects to anti-abortionism, the public – who listens not to Popes directly, but to more entertaining radio and TV; to EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio – never hears this. Never hears the Pope. Or for that matter, rarely hears God.
128) # 128 Finally though, those more literate, prudent persons, who listen for debate on both sides of any given question, will have by now heard so many high-level objections to Karl Keating, EWTN/RN, and to their anti-abortionism – to the anti-abortion “Catholicism” that contradicts Bishops, Cardinals, Popes – that finally, the position of Karl Keating, and EWTN, of antiabortionism, is a public scandal. And as this scandal becomes more and more notorious, the Church itself should of course, step in to fix it. (The Church disliking “scandals”; Catechism entries 2282 – 2489; see also the scandal caused by priests sexually molesting children).
We should all be scandalized of course, by EWTN/RN and associates. Scandalized that a false theology should have been massively disseminated worldwide for so long; and accepted by so many. Scandalized that a false theology, a false picture of God, ruled American elections, and the world, for so long. While for that matter, the Church of course, dislikes what it calls “public scandals.” And there are special constraints and penalties, that the Church applies, to those people or organizations that can be said to cause a scandal, like the scandal caused by Keating, EWTN, and other anti-abortionists like Fr. Frank Pavone.
Not long ago, Pro Life anti-abortionists, and their increasingly obvious rebellion against Church authority, began to at last, increasingly public scandals. In particular, Karl Keating’s Voters’ Guide, made antiabortionism a public scandal, from about 2004. That was the moment that the extremes of antiabortionism radio showed up in print, in printed tracts. From that time especially, many churchgoers began criticizing antiabortionism. Indeed, the Catholic and then the general press began criticizing especially, Karl Keating, and his anti-abortionist “Voter’s Guide For Concerned Catholics.” (See Nat. Catholic Reporter articles … and mainstream press articles, critical of Karl Keating’s Voter’s Guide. Lampooning it with their own “Voter’s Guide for Unconcerned Catholics,” or some such).
Not only the popular or secular press, but also the religious Catholic press too have therefore, have eventually come to comment now and then, on the absurd contradictions of Karl Keating, EWTN, and “Catholic” anti-abortionism. Not only newspapers, and articles, but also even some books like our own here, are now coming out today. Noting the many awful things the anti-abortion movement is doing. Or even noting problems with EWTN specifically. One example, is Attny. Chris Ferrara’s book, entitled “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong.” Criticizing the network’s more liberal aspects.
Ultimately, the “Catholic” media network, EWNT/RN, and radical anti-abortionism, have become increasingly well known – and they are not so well liked as one might have thought. Indeed, they often become “a public scandal.” A phrase that has a special formal significance, by the way, for the Catechism: causing public scandal, by Catholics publicly advocating things not in accordance with Church doctrine, is a situation which it especially condemns; indeed, the Catechism even excommunicates, those who cause such scandals. Those Catholics who publicly oppose the Church, and its true doctrines, add to their heresy, by the wide publicity of their rebellion. (Cat. 2284-88; 2272?). Though in the past, excommunication was applied to those who publicly supported abortion, it should now be better applied, to those who too adamantly opposed it.
Karl Keating’s voting guide, and EWTN and anti-abortionism, have now and then already become a public scandal; as they advocate actions, a false theology, that endangers and ends, the lives of others. And they have been scandalous too, in opposing so many bishops … and then cardinals, the Vatican, the saints, and the Pope. So what finally should be done? It is doubtful that any small, pastoral chastisements of EWTN will be effective; not when EWTN and others have already disobeyed three cardinals and the Pope. But finally their status as a “scandal,” should serve to trigger really drastic, really dramatic, effective action, from the Church, at last. Against this heretical splinter, embryo cult.
With their increasingly well known or notorious, flagrant rebellion against the Church, their rebellion against the cardinals, their disobedience of the Pope, antiabortionists are now in a situation which normally triggers in fact, excommunication of the offenders. So that soon in effect, bishops and cardinals should soon inform prominent Pro Life anti-abortionists, that they should reconsider whether they should present themselves to communion. Antiabortionists, having prominently, publicly, continuously, openly supported a false and physically fatal doctrine, while publicly disobeying saints, Cardinals, and the Pope, have committed a severe offense. One which finally can only be remedied by dramatic, public action by the Church, against offenders; by a) the church more firmly calling one-issue antiabortionism a heresy. And by b) the Church beginning not even just private, but public, excommunication, of prominent Pro Life supporters.
Karl Keating’s voter’s guide therefore, is a good example of some of the ways anti-abortionism has conflicted with the Catholic Church. While we will have also noted elsewhere, his apparent conflicts with the government, with the IRS. Allegedly, according to Wikipedia (2009), Keating himself admitted problems with the IRS. Probably because his organization and shows, like Catholic Answers Live, advocated a political party, or attempted to influence pending legislation, his shows appear to have violated rules for non-profit organizations (501 c3 ’s). So that Keating eventually came out with a slightly different organization and non-profit rating. Though those who listen to his shows carefully, might still find possible violations.
So that Keating’s anti-abortionism, which largely defined the anti-abortion movement from around 1995-2005, may currently be in trouble with both the Church – and the government too.
Karl Keating’s Problems with the IRS
129) # 129 Around the time of the 2004 election in particular, many Democrats began to question whether EWTN/RN was actually a religious organization at all. Increasingly, the Church itself was renouncing Keating. While EWTN/RN’s constant advocacy of Republicans over Democrats, were no doubt leading many to think that perhaps not just Catholic Answers, but EWTN itself, was less a religious organization, than a front for politics; for the conservative or right wing, of the Republican Party. Especially when the Pope himself spoke against one-issue anti-abortionism in 2004, many began asking whether EWTN and Catholic Answers, were really dutifully Catholic. Specifically, many might have begun to ask whether these organizations deserved the exemption from taxes, granted to religious, non-political organizations. And indeed, somewhere around this time, c. 1999-2001 or thereabouts, major EWTN/RN contributor, attny. Karl Keating – and his organization, which seems to have appeared often on EWTN; “Catholic Answers” (since renamed?) – was allegedly, according to Keating’s own testimony, investigated by the IRS. For perhaps, faking the appearance of a religious organization, while actually pursuing its own, political ends. Or, in legal terms, it was apparently investigated for potentially violating his organization’s religious or 501 c 3 tax-exempt status. (See Keating’s own remarks, quoted in: “Karl Keating,” Wikipedia. Keating eventually changing the name of the organization slightly; and shifting it to a 501 c 4?).
By 2005 or so therefore, we now had therefore, not just the Vatican and the Cardinals and many ordinary Americans – but also now finally, even the U.S. government – beginning to become suspicious of EWTN/RN. Specifically, they were becoming suspicious of its self-proclaimed status, as the voice of the Church and Truth and God. Looking more carefully at what the Bible and the Church had really said, by 2005, increasingly, many were now becoming suspicious of the networks that had continually presented themselves as Catholic religious organizations, and as the voice of the Church – even as they rebelled openly against the Cardinals, and the Pope. Indeed, looking more carefully at the message from conservative, anti-abortion networks, we find here that they presented a message that does not come from the Bible, but far more from the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party platform. And for that reason indeed, it seems that Karl Keating’s Catholic Answers Live show, which appeared about once a week on EWTN (c. 1995-2004), was soon being investigated by the IRS, for indeed, being more of a political organization, than a religious one.
Becomes “Conservative,” or Right-Wing Radio
Here we will have been showing over and over, by a hundred different arguments, that indeed, conservative antiabortionism, is not really from the Bible at all. And probably it greatly exaggerated the anti-abortion stance that the Church ultimately should support. But if the Pro Life movement, in spite of its own protestations, is not really following the Bible, or even the Church, the Cardinals – then who after all, is the antiabortion movement really following? The fact is, anti-abortion organizations were not really following God; but were following certain trends in the media; especially, Radio.
By 2000 AD or so, a few Catholics and other on-air callers to the network, had begun to warn that EWTN network for example, was continually delivering opinions, language – like the attack on “liberals” – that did not seem to come from the Church itself; or from the Bible. Now and then a few random callers managed to get past the call screeners to even note on the air, on EWTN call-in shows, that the attack on “liberals” by Pat Robertson’s CBN, and then EWTN, was not quite right. That while Pat Robertson used the word “liberal” as a bad word, in fact the Bible itself used it as a good word; the Bible told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor. So that was becoming increasingly evident by 2004 or so, that many of the ideas, the language, the Theology and doctrine of conservatives and antiabortionism, did not come from the Bible, or God. But instead, from the Republican Party. Which among other things, called their tax-exempt “religious” or nonprofit status into question. But which also of course, raised a red flag, to all true religious believers.
Who or what, was really driving the antiabortion organizations then? No doubt to be sure, there was much genuine – if simplistic – religious sentiment in these organizations. But these organizations after all, were presenting themselves in large part, on Radio. And here the medium itself, had a certain growing tradition and influence. In this Rush-Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck era, most of the very prominent radio talk show hosts, were self-avowed “Conservatives.” Who normally supported, usually, the more conservative political entity: the Republican Party. From about 1982 to present, most of the most prominent talk-show hosts in Radio land, included self-proclaimed “conservatives” like Rush Limbaugh; Bill Bennett (formerly Reagan’s Secretary of Education); Denis Prager; Mike Medved; Laura Ingram; Fr. John Corapi; later Shaun Hannity; Bill O’Reilley; Doc Savage; Glenn Beck. In this era, many educated liberals, were moving over to listen to TV and the internet; while radio was left to the poorer and less educated persons, who could not quite handle or afford or take to, the Internet, or computers. Radio was the territory of people who – as they began to say around 2008, were on the wrong side of “the digital divide.” Who were stuck with old media, for various reasons. This audience was already traditional/ “conservative,” even in the older, traditional medium that it listened to: Radio. And so in retrospect, it now seems all-but inevitable, that this audience would have been found, by new conservatives, as its prime hunting ground. Especially when the old, former radio announcer, Republican president Ronald Regan dropped the “Fairness Doctrine”; the governmental regulation that had demanded that the radio, the media present fair and equal debate, presentation of both sides of controversial issues. It was right after the fair debate law was dropped by the Republican president, c. 1982 or so, that conservatives like Rush Limbaugh began to dominate radio. By offering what falsely appeared to be just more fair debates, between conservatives and liberals, on the new conservative talk shows. But these new figures were actually no longer under any legal obligation to present real debate any more. So these figures were able to present fake, rigged debates. “Debates” in which screeners decided which voices would be allowed to call in; in which the conservative talk show host could cold-mike, cut off, hand up on his opponent, any time he wanted to. And thanks to these rigged debates, conservatives managed to appear to be far more persuasive then they actually were. So that within a few years, Radio was taken over by superpatriotic conservatives, attacking liberals. But while it presented itself as “the truth,” it had become a biased, partisan, fake debate; it had become what you might call, Right Wing, or Unreliable Radio.
By 1984, talk radio in general had begun to swing to the right side of the political dial; to pro-military, superpatriotic, conservative. If radio in the 1960’s (c. 1965-80) had been the voice of Rock and Roll, and therefore the voice of the hippies and the alternative liberal left, by the 80’s, that suddenly reversed. When former Army propagandist (“This is the Army”) and radio announcer Ronald Reagan at the helm, the “Fairness Doctrine” was quietly dropped. And radio was gradually taken over by conservative, populist polemicists, like Rush Limbaugh especially. Radio had become the voice of the … “conservatives,” or the right wing. The conservative, patriotic, nationalist-militarist or pro-military wing, of the already-conservative Republican Party.
From the beginning of Rush Limbaugh, around 1983/4, to about 1990 or so, talk radio developed into what could be called, overwhelmingly, “Right Wing Radio,” in point of fact. With the rare, minority exception of the mildly liberal but mostly educational NPR (National Public Radio) network, the medium of radio was by 1990 or so, overwhelming dominated by self-proclaimed “conservatives,” attacking “liberals.” Attacking them in call-in, or fake “debate,” formats. And this was the environment, into which the nun, Mother Angelica, and her tiny Catholic radio network, were thrust.
Finally, we will show, it was no doubt inevitable, that Mother Angelica’s first, mostly radio network, would be largely molded by the radio environment around it. And that Mother Angelica’s “Catholic” network, would end up following not God; but would instead, begin following the new, conservative, primitive radio gods or idols. So that by 1994 or so, the chief message of Eternal Word Radio Network, as expressed by its Rush-Limbaugh wanna-be radio jockeys, was to constantly support “conservative” Catholicism; and to revile “liberals” at few dozen times a day. Never mind that the Bible itself told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor. Never mind that the word “conservative” does not appear much in the Bible, if at all. A “Conservative” philosophy was soon to become a major, distinctive message of EWTN/RN and Catholic Answers. But the problem is, that it does not quite appear to be truly, from God himself. For example, the word “conservative” does not appear much if at all, in the Bible. Or in Catholic doctrine either. Rather, this word seems to have come from the writings of Republicans, and from the new radio talk show hosts. Like Rush Limbaugh especially. So that soon, Mother Angelica was following not God, but Rush Limbaugh.
From our comparison here of what was said on air, by Mother Angelica and EWTN and Catholic Answers, versus what the Bible and the Church said, it now appears clear that the network, the antiabortion movement, was not really following the Bible, or the Church, or God, at all. Instead, Mother Angelica and the anti-abortionists have been following their own “primitive radio gods” as they were once called; they were following the new media idols, like Rush Limbaugh. And other representatives of the extreme, conservative, right wing of the Republican Party.
Surprisingly, few people suspected this apparently innocent and holy nun, of any such thing. Perhaps Mother Angelica did not know herself. Indeed, it was not until after the efforts of a few determined call-in listeners, and others, it was not until about 2004 or so, that few Catholics had come to suspect that these allegedly, simply religious, Catholic organizations, might have been influenced far more than they thought, by sources outside religion. That they were increasingly, not really speaking just from the Church, or God. But were speaking just as much from and for, a particular political party: the Republican Party.
To suggest that EWTN and especially EWRN – the radio branch – were just a front, or a stooge, for the conservative, superpatriotic wing of the Republican Party, might seem to be a slight overstatement. Since many people on the staff of these organizations, seem to be quite pious; and to really believe they were following God. But in fact, a structural analysis of the content of EWTN/RN, suggests that structurally, deep down, the network was really following Rush Limbaugh as much as God. Even the most casual media, content analysis of the daily message of the network, from the time-period say of 1995-2000, would show that without openly claiming to support, explicitly and by name, “the Republican Party,” in actual fact though, the network consistently demonstrated a structural bias for republicans. For one thing, it a) without mentioning the word “Republican” much, it however, consistently backed Republican candidates and politicians, over Democrats, and their issues, by a factor of at least twenty or thirty or a hundred, to one. While b) at the same time, the network presented itself over and over as “conservative” and as c) opposed to “liberals.” Code words which anyone could easily translate: the Republican Party being widely known to be more conservative; the Democratic party more liberal. While the networks strong support for anti-abortionism, specifically, put it in line with the Republican Party.
It is strange that the IRS did not look not just at “Catholic Answers,” but also at its major carrier, EWTN/RN. No doubt to be sure, EWTN/RN network claims that it is a religious, non-profit organization. One that advocates just “issues,” not political parties or candidates. But to be sure, the network needs to claim this, to be in compliance with IRS rules for non-profit, religious, issue-oriented networks, as opposed to party campaign organizations. No doubt, EWTN undoubtedly claims that it merely speaks about religion, and Catholic issues; that it backs “issues,” not candidates. Not any particular political party. EWTN would therefore, probably claim that it just “happens,” coincidentally, that its stand on the issues, just happens inevitably, overwhelmingly, to favor the issues and positions of the Republican Party. This is what the network needs to say, to maintain its tax-exempt status. As a religious, issue-oriented organization, rather than say, a taxable political campaign organ. Still, many began to question the religious, tax exempt status of at least one of its major shows: Keating’s “Catholic Answers.” While, since this show was regularly on Eternal Word Radio Network, c. 1997-2004, EWTN itself seems guilty of whatever Catholic Answers was guilty of too. While we confirm here, that the general language of the network, overall – for example, EWRN’s advocacy of “conservatism,” its attack on “liberals” – was clearly, not from religion, the Church, or from the Bible. But was indeed, from the Republican Party platform. Or indeed, from talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh. Who overall mostly supported the Republican Party, and George Bush I and II, against the Liberals. And against the Democratic Party. (Rush Limbaugh and others did finally drop the party and Bush II; but not until Bush became a lame duck, or could not run again, in 2007/8).
There are many signs and proofs therefore, that EWRN and its major contributor Karl Keating, and his originally-entitled show “Catholic Answers Live,” were not really sincerely or fully religions. Indeed, Karl Keating himself we will note, was not a priest, but was a lawyer. And though Keating seems to have attempted to be genuinely pious – he eventually became a deacon some claim – his thinking seems to have been consciously or unconsciously colored, by his legal training. And by the social/political philosophy around talk radio.
So that finally, an honest and accurate person, would have to say that these many various “religious” organizations, were really, in some very significant measure, not authentically religious at all; but were really, deeper down, political advocacy organizations. And of course, this became especially clear to many people, when Karl Keating and the radio network, began to tell us how to vote in elections. With Karl Keating’s “Voter’s Guide.”
Given the growing suspicion that these organizations were not really fully religious, but were indeed, subtly but decisively political, and aimed at determining countless elections, finally, around 2004 AD or so the Internal Revenue Service apparently began to question Karl Keating ,at least. If not, surprisingly, EWRN? The IRS apparently began to ask whether such EWTN affiliates and shows – like Karl Keating’s Catholic Answers Live – were really religious, and not political, organizations. To be sure, it seems likely that the IRS backed off charging EWTN itself; probably because the IRS wished to avoid freedom of religion issues. Though we suggest here that arguably, EWTN’s case – that it was a religion, following specifically the Roman Catholic Church may not hold up entirely – when we consider the countless times the network crossed the cardinals, and the Pope. Given the network’s most characteristic message – its constantly self-proclaimed “conservatism,” its constant attacks on “liberals” and on Democratic political candidates and officeholders – many are coming to feel that, whatever it thought or said it was, the radio network especially, long ago became simply a religious front, a mask, a stooge, for the right wing of the Republican Party.
Was anti-abortionism simply a stooge for the Republican Party? That will be for others to determine. Our approach here has been only secondarily, to present evidence of (the many) ties to the Republican Party. But main effort here has been simply to prove the negative case: that anti-abortionist organizations like EWTN were not in any case, not really truly religious; they were not following the Bible, or the Church, or God, that they claimed to follow. Here, our main effort has been devoted to theology; looking carefully at the many arguments that anti-abortionists advanced; and then comparing them to what the Bible, the Church, really said. But the results of our investigation, would certainly support any IRS allegation … that anti-abortionist organizations like EWRN especially, were not firmly backed by religious arguments at all. That they were not entitled to special protection from tax laws, therefore.
Our major concern here though, is not anti-abortionism’s tax status; but its righteousness before God. Our own investigations here, into the theology of these various antiabortionist organizations, ultimately proves that these organizations increasingly followed not God or religion, but instead, they were following what the Bible called the “traditions of man.” They are really following not religion, but lay or secular political philosophies, like “conservatism.” EWRN in particular – the radio network – was never really just a truly loyal, obedient religious or holy organization, at all. It was probably not even really a good nonprofit organization either; centered on neutral “issues.” Instead, it was always a rather heretical branch of the Catholic Church, which was centered on a private socio-political philosophy. It was centered on “conservatism,” the non-religious philosophy of antiabortionism, and the Republican Party. EWTN and other antiabortionist organizations and individuals, were never the good loyal Catholics they thought they were; especially, their narrow one-issue anti-abortion theology, did not really obey the Church, or the biblical God that it claimed to follow.
Our major concern here to be sure, is not primarily with the tax-exempt status of EWTN/RN. But while that tax status is not our major concern here, we would have to say that finally, to be sure, many have thought that not just Catholic Answers, but also EWRN, and EWTN, were not entitled to the special tax exemption given to religious or non-profit organizations. We have shown here, that EWRN was never really following the rules of the Church; the rules of the saints, canon law, the cardinals, the Pope. And it has apparently already been established or suggested by the IRS, that at least one major show on EWRN – Karl Keating’s Catholic Answers – was political enough, that it was violating the tax laws of the US government. It seems likely that the allegedly patriotic and “conservative” movement, was often violating the tax laws of the United States of America. Particularly, anti-abortion groups like EWTN/RN. Because in the end, they were centered not about God, but on politics. A political philosophy: “conservatism,” and antiabortionism. Which are not in the Bible at all; and are not religious or Christian at all. If anything, they are opposed by the Bible itself; and by God, himself.
In the language of the Bible, anti-abortionism is one of the “traditions of men”; not of God.