The Core Folk Root EWTN –
Spreads It’s Own
To the Church Itself
THE CORE OF THE PROBLEM:
Eternal Word Television Network,
AND THE EVIL OF CONSERVATIVE RELIGIOUS MEDIA
Where and how did the massive anti-abortion heresy begin? The core, the originator and leader of the new heresy, has been lay Catholic organizations; like especially, EWTN/RN, “Eternal Word Television Network.” Especially, its radio branch, Eternal Word Radio. So suppose we look at that organization more closely.
There are many, many individuals in the world, who have been immensely destructive to the truth; who have originated one heresy or another. But the problem is not just individuals, but also the larger trends, organizations, they organize or follow. In particular, the problems we are looking at here, came from groups of people, like a) “Evangelicals.” And b) especially Protestant televangelists. Like Pat Robertson. These groups were largely responsible for setting the general, fatal pattern: a conservative, Republican Christianity, using a few simple phrases, repeated over and over, on radio and TV. Using simple propaganda techniques of hypnotic repetition (no doubt in part learned from, or inspired by, Ronald Reagan, who worked for Army propaganda in WW II), Republican conservatives attempted to re-program America, to despise “liberals,” and love “conservatives.” In the Christian version, we were taught to love the rather literal, fundamentalistic sense of Christianity that we learned as 5 year olds. But the bottom line was the same: we must vote Republican in every election.
At first, conservative evangelicalism, was purely a Protestant thing; originally, the Catholic Church was far too conservative, and focused just on one message defined by the Pope, to allow any such new message into its religion. But eventually – apparently, ironically, partially inspired by the Protestant vision – eventually c) Catholic nun, by the of “Mother Angelica,” began to copycat Pat Robertson’s Protestant model, within the Catholic Church. While it was, more than anyone, Mother Angelica who began turning d) her own radio station, into a full-time center for disseminating “conservative” messages; and especially, anti-abortion programming (/propaganda). Mother Angelica to be sure, added a rather uniquely Catholic aspect to it to be sure: she would speak about it over and over, speaking the same phrases over and over; with the same fervor that Catholics have for endlessly repetitive prayers. Like saying the rosary, a dozens times a day, Mother Angelica would repeat the key words and phrases of her anti-abortion conservative litany, a hundred times a day. And if she ever ran out of energy, Mother Angelica then e) also eventually recruited a wide number of assistants, staffmembers including talk show hosts, and adjunct guests, to do similar work. Like, on radio, the apologists Jimmy Akin, and especially, Karl Keating. As well as occasional guests, like Raymond Arroyo. And talk show hosts, like Johnnette Benkovic. So that soon enough, “Mother” had entire shows, devoted mostly to anti-abortionism; like the shows by Johnnette Benkovik and Fr. Edmund Sylvia. Aside from regular staffmembers, regular shows, Mother Angelica could also count on any number of lay friends and associates, to fill in her programming day, with pre-recorded anti-abortion messages; like, more recently, Sheila Liaugminas. And a hundred other occasional guests. Including f( many priests. Who were converted by Angelica and others, to her new church of holy anti-abortionism. Priests like Fr. Frank Pavone; and Fr. Ed Sylvia (and for a time, Fr. John Corapi). So that in effect, by 1995 or earlier, EWTN was a full-time outlet, broadcast station, for “conservative,” Republican Catholicism, and anti-abortionism.
At first, this rebellious nun had a tiny audience. But she persisted, armed with the notion that her conservative, anti-abortion message was the will of God. And eventually, after broadcasting her ideas for 20 years, she built up a grass roots base of millions of Catholic women, especially; and then some priests. Eventually, surprisingly, people took the rebellious nun seriously. In part, because she claimed to speak for God.
In part too, it was the radio and then TV network, that did it. By today, 2010, cumulatively, tens of millions of Catholics and others, have heard Mother’s Angelica’s network, EWTN/RN, at least once or twice. And once or twice was enough; because a) Mother Angelica always said the same things over and over again, like an endlessly repetitive prayer; like a rosary; like a new litany; the same as a hypnotist; or like an obsessive/compulsive. Mother Angelica delivered a simple message; and she stayed “on message,” as Republican media specialists would say. So that anyone who listened to her network for more than a few minutes, would hear her characteristic message: God says that abortion is bad; vote for the most anti-abortion candidate in every election. And t his message was far more effective than even the most repetitive commercials; because it was not only endlessly, hypnotically repeated; it was also presented as the voice of God, no less. So that people did not resist it; they felt compelled to believe it. They felt compelled to believe it, not only because it was presented as the word of the Church and of God; but also because it was presented by way of simple but effective media, propaganda techniques: like endless, hypnotic repetition. Which was extremely effective among Catholics. Including uneducated Catholics, who were used to the Kindergarten and Primary method of teaching and learning: teaching only simple lessons by way of endless repetition. But the method also appealed to slightly more sophisticated Catholic priests; who retain an attachment to endlessly, repeated prayers.
EWTN’s Pro Life message was particularly effective, though, because it was broadcast; send out over radio and TV and Internet, to millions of people. In our new media age in fact, even billions of ordinary people have been getting much of their news and culture from the media; and Protestants had been getting more and more of their religion from TV; from televangelists. By the time of Pat Robertson especially, hundreds of millions of people – indeed, the whole world – was increasingly getting its idea of Christianity, not from a supervised church or from the Vatican, or from priests. But from private, often unsupervised “lay” individuals, on radio, and TV. ( And later, the web.). From talking heads, “talking idols,” on the screen. But as it turns out, there has been a problem with this: even the most Christian media, we are finding here, have not been entirely reliable.
The new conservative networks, like Angelica, told people about problems and distortions in media – but twisted it slightly; conservative media spoke of this as a problem with everybody else’s network. The new conservative media, warned everyone constantly, of problems with “liberal media”; by which they meant, the major, more popular networks. The conservative networks, talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, constantly put down “liberal” and “mainstream media.” But unfortunately, many people failed to realize, that if there had ever been any liberal bias in mainstream media, many of the newer “conservative” and “Christian” and “Catholic” media, were a hundred times worse. Anyone with any understanding of fair and honest debate, of honest argumentation, should today be able to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and recognize dozens of sly and dishonest methods, techniques, sophistical false reasoning.
That in fact, has been the major source of the problem, of the new heresies, like “conservative” and “pro Life” Catholicism: the problem has been the inherent dishonesty, even manipulative techniques, by much of the media, both liberal and conservative. Using methods like endless, hypnotic repetition, and dishonest rhetoric, the media typically manipulate people into believing things that normally they would not – and should not – believe.
Talk Show Hosts, Etc.
Spearheading the new, dishonest media, were the talking heads: apologists and guests … but especially, the talk show hosts. These are the people whose voices the audience heard on the air, and believed. But these, the key persons we hear on the air, are usually a) not priests. The b) main voices, the talk show hosts, typically did not have any seminary training at all; or not enough. Some times, c) the talk show hosts and guests, did not even belong to the religion that they claimed to represent. Yet, scandalously, these untrained persons were nevertheless put on the radio, as the voice of God. For more than twenty years, they have presumed to speak as if they were the authentic and official spokespeople for the Church, and for God – even though they did not have adequate training; even though they were not priests; even though d) they had no official, written commission from the Church, or e) from God, to act as their spokesmen.
So who really, are these many people, that now act as our new false priests? Who are these religious talk show hosts, and guests, and apologists? And how serious an error is it, when they take over the Catholic church, or serve as its most prominent face or spokesmen? In fact, it is an extremely serious error. The fact is, most religious talk show hosts, like Jimmy Akin and Karl Keating, and Kresta, are not priests; therefore they lack the deep, full commitment of priests to the Church. Then too, these people therefore, are not as qualified as priests are; they typically have little or no serious seminary training. Nor do they have as deep a commitment to the Church, as a priest does. Then too, their real experience, and background, is often more in secular, lay jobs, media jobs. Therefore, these new false priests, tend to inevitably confuse and intermix their own political and social philosophy, with their already-vague ideas of their religion, remembered from their childhood. And if their confusions weren’t bad enough, then it gets much worse – as they then get on the air, present this unholy mix, as the authentic word of the Church, and of God. With nothing but their own (inadequate, “seared”) consciences, to rein them in.
Worse, religious show hosts, have been able to make this unholy mixture of secular and religious ideas, seem plausible, and even holy. Thanks especially, to their cousins, the Apologists and lawyers. Apologists and lawyers, like Karl Keating, are expert at presenting dishonest arguments, to try to make their bad points, appear more plausible. In particular, the way they work, they most common way they present dishonest arguments, is a) by quoting out of context, (just) the parts of Church doctrine that appear, just by themselves, to support their points. But what they do, is b) to neglecting to mention, any parts of Church doctrine that appeared to contradict them. Or they c) topspin those fragments, to make them seem to say what they don’t say. They commonly do this even with the Bible; antiabortionists quoting the parts that seem to call the embryo of Jesus a “child,” while leaving out the parts of the Bible that address an embryo more directly, as an “unformed substance” (Ps. 139). This is the way that talk show hosts typically misrepresent even the Bible; even though it is obviously dishonest; even though the Catechism warned that to really know what the Bible says, you need to read all of it, not just parts of it. Here in particular, secular/lay religious media people, are significantly inferior to priests, in the way they present the Bible. Though to be sure today, many priests have come to reflect EWTN’s stilted views.
The major problem with the new media, is that their key, or most visible, staffmembers are not good, honest priests; they are nowhere near good enough, to be presented as the voice of the Church, or of God. But unfortunately, because they are well trained or are very experiences in argumentation, these new media figures have been, unfortunately, massively influential. Between the media giant Pat Robertson, and the new Catholic apologists, lawyers, talk show hosts, and associated guests, and with at least two or three media networks on which to broadcast their message (CBN; TBN; EWTN), a simplistic but persuasive, Republican theology, was broadcast to the whole world, to tens, hundreds of millions. By 1980-1984 or so, conservative televangelists like Pat Robertson were a major force to be reckoned with. They were enough for example, to ensure the election of a anti-abortion conservative Republican, Ronald Reagan. While by 1982, Catholic anti-abortion radio and soon TV, had added its voice to the Republican Conservative Coalition, in effect; thus ensuring that a small but significant religious anti-abortion vote, would turn out from election to election. To elect one conservative Republican after another. Though to be sure, with about 19% of the voting population or less, they were never quite strong enough to elect their own religious candidates – like Pat Robertson in 1988; or Pat Buchanan; or in 2008, Huckabee (Gov. Arkansas?), and though they were never quite strong enough to get abortion outlawed, they did however turn countless votes over to the Republican Party; to elect one warlike Republican after another to office.
Religious talk show hosts and televangelists, were enormously influential. Even though they were not really priests or ministers, tens of millions followed them. In large part, they have been hugely popular, because they are so well organized, and systematic. Not only are a) they trained, experienced speakers, sophists; but b) then too, the fake debate format of the radio talk show, assured they were almost always better prepared than their on-air opponents. Typically, whenever a given subject is discussed on air, normally, only the station knows much in advance, what the topic will be. So that b) only the talk show host has an expert guest, to talk about that particular subject. So that c) only the talk show host and the network, is fairly well briefed on whatever topic it is that the show is covering; d) whereas his opponents, are just whatever person happens to be listening; usually not an expert in the topic. Then too, e) whenever the topic was abortion, the host himself had heard hundreds – if not thousands – of hours of anti-abortion arguments; so that the host himself was an expert on this issue at least. Then too, f) the debate is rigged; if a really able opponent calls up, usually the screener does not put them on. Or, if they go on, then if the opponent makes a good point, the network just hangs up on them; leaving the network host and guest, to say whatever they want, without any right of response. So that one of the major ways talk show hosts have been so effective, is the rigged debate, of the talk-show format. But of course, this format is inherently dishonest. And certainly is unworthy of being represented as “Christian.” No honest or good person, would do such a thing. So that it is a scandal that the Church allows such a thing to be presented in its name.
Talk shows and so forth, have done many dishonest and un-Christian things; but the public was never really warned about them, by the Church. Though of course, liberals did say much, their objections were of course, never fairly represented on the conservative networks. For many decades therefore, show hosts have been enormously influential. Though there was a temporary collapse of Republican/conservative domination, with the election of liberal Democrat Barack Obama, after that collapse in 2009, it was however suggested that only talk show host Rush Limbaugh remained; as perhaps the leading representative of the Republican Party. To be sure, we heard some jealous words contesting that assertion, from one Mr. Steele, who was then head of the Republican National Committee; and we heard much ridicule of this situation, and of Limbaugh. Yet Limbaugh remained enormously influential; but this time it is reported that he is making $50,000,000 – fifty millions dollars – per year. Telling poor people, not to tax the rich, and to go without health care for lack of that tax.
Why did anyone listen to this? In part, the conservative movement was successful, because of a peculiar talk radio demographic or audience. Radio was listened to by many different types of people to be sure; including liberals, who listen to NPR. But there was always an interesting audience there; of poor and working class people. People who were a) driving to work outdoors, who didn’t have time to watch TV; but who could listen to radios, for example. People b) who were just poor, and who couldn’t buy access to the Internet. Or who c) were just old fashioned, and wanted radio, not TV and Internet. Or people who d) don’t have many computer skills or linkups; people on the other side of the “digital divide.” There were enough of this group of people, that the Internet did not pass radio, to become the number 2 news medium, until 2009. Such people often don’t have Internet, because in part they can’t afford it; they have low-paying jobs; whereas radio today is still free of charge, broadcast. Or then too, many prefer radio, because they are simply old, and old fashioned; they don’t want to learn a new skill like web surfing. For all these different reasons, therefore, talk radio long reached, a naturally rather “conservative” demographic. It reached people who often did not have much education, “lowbrow” white males and at home females, who did not have much interest in liberal academic speculations; but who could only understand ideas they had heard repeated over and over again, since childhood. (While talk radio repeated simple ideas, endlessly. And it reached people who did not like “new” media like TVs, or Internet. Simple working people, or stay at home, non working moms. This radio demographic, turned out to be a “fruit”ful stomping ground or killing field, for conservative politicians. It was full of uneducated persons who wanted simple, strong answers; who did not like professors or liberals entertaining complicated hypothesis. And the Republican Party used this population; convincing them that the party that supported the banks and rich people, was somehow good for poor people; because it believed in old ideas too; that it shared somehow, their working class “values.” Though it is curious that the Rush Limbaugh that convinced the working class not to tax the rich to pay for health care for the poor, himself makes 50 million dollars a years. So that Rush Limbaugh’s alleged devotion to the working class, might be somewhat hypocritical; today he seems to be just another rich person, trying to escape taxes. And exploit the poor, by refusing to relieve their taxes, and refusing to give them adequate medical care. (Limbaugh presumably opposing tax hikes for the rich; and opposing universal health care, including for the poor, the 10 – 30 million who do not have health insurance, 2009/10).
The audience for Limbaugh, amazingly, do not really seem to understand that Limbaugh and others, are using them; are getting them to back positions against the interest of poor and working class workers; positions they would ordinarily not want to back. To do this, to pick up this demographic, the Republican party backed a label for themselves that would not obviously identify their party as the group that was backing all this: so they used the term “conservatives.” Then too, the conservative, Republican party seduced lower and lover-middle class whites, by using the old pattern of exploitation of their class by the rich, by businesses, rich industrialists, and investors: giving the people a simplistic theology, telling them they might suffer on earth, but would get rewards in heaven; channeling their anger, into patriotic support for killing competitors overseas. This was the old pattern; the new cons, c. 1979-2008 though, to oppose Democrats, and attempts to help the people more, were able to revive this old patter; neo cons working hard to convince modern workers, that this, the old pattern regarding the lower classes, was still good, and needed to be “conserved.”
This neo con message was surprisingly effective, even among poor and small working and business people. Even some people who needed the better human, government services (like universal health care) that higher taxes would provide, were seduced into resisting “bigger government” and “higher taxes.” While the lower working and middle class easily resisted higher taxes for themselves … as well as, curiously, their bosses. In part because they never thought they way all the way through all these issues. Such persons were in fact hard to get to, to be sure; many of the conservative, Midwest poor and middle class, c. 1980, didn’t really have a TV, or were on the road all day in a truck, without access to TV; much less, Internet. (Access to and understanding of computers and Internet services, still elude the lower 1/3 of the population, the other side of the “digital divide,” to this very day, 2010). People who listen to the radio in this era, often don’t read much, or can’t get to the Internet. Many of them are too poor to get an education, or computer access. Many couldn’t really get higher education; it was too expensive, or their academic skills were not high enough. So the lower middle class, did not have much access to information and education; except the radio, and only maybe the TV. And by nature, many wanted not complex theories of professors, or ambiguous theologies; but instead, all they wanted was just a few simple, clear rules to follow in life. Things well known, and repeated over and over. Things like Religion. Or especially, literalistic, very simple, fundamentalist/evangelical religion. And ideas they had heard all their lives from neighbors, and in public high and jr. high school: the importance of work. And, neo-cons added, “capitalism.”
No doubt, there are many different kinds of people who listened to talk radio and Rush Limbaugh; but the working but uneducated lower middle class, was probably the audience most effected by conservative talk radio. This ready audience was already there, in 1981, for pro-business, pro-tradition politicians to reach/exploit. And for various reasons, the medium of radio in particular reached these people. To be sure, the influence of this “conservative” voting block – which often occupied by 19% of the population, including both working people and their conservative bosses too – finally began to decline, about one year before 2009. In part perhaps, elements of this voting block defected to vote for liberal Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, because after eight years, the conservative Republican administration of George Bush had run into some problems. It has allowed the destruction of the World Trade Center eight months into its own administration; it had begun a war with Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bin Laden and worldwide terrorism; but in eight years it had not fixed all that well enough; the war was still there eight years later. Bush had sworn that “one thing was true”: he would get Bin Laden. But Bin Laden was still there apparently, eight years later, making video tapes. Extraordinarily high gas prices were hurting less affluent people. Bush had also sworn to end “big government” and deficits; but actually added Homeland Security to government, and ran up the deficit even further. While finally, c. 2007/8, the banks began to collapse; and Bush and Congress “had” to give a trillion of our tax dollars – $1,000,000,000,000 – to the banks and car companies, in TARP, “The Bailout,” “The Stimulus.” To try to get the economy running again. So that by 2008, it seemed that the conservative program had failed disastrously; and so America was ready for a “change.” The perennial slogan, that became the slogan this year, of a liberal, black Democratic presidential candidate.
The economy tanked in 2008; and US was tired of war, after eight years. So there were many events, issues, that began to surface finally, in 2008; issues other than abortion and religious fundamentalism and love of the military and war. Then too, the media themselves suddenly changed; 2009 was the year when broadcast TV went digital. But more than that, it was the year that the Internet surpassed radio, as the second most popular medium for entertainment and news. So that suddenly, the influence of radio was perceived by advertisers, to be declining; while more advertisers were paying Internet providers instead, for “clicks”: clicks on their web advertisements, it seems. Then too, if power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely: by 2008, conservatives had been in power for 8 years continuously, totally in charge of both the presidency and congress … and no doubt they were getting complacent and arbitrary, and fat and spoiled. (Overweight indeed, became a major health issue at this time). But especially, Rush Limbaugh, was said to by now be making 50 million dollars a year. So that many “ditto-heads,” loyal listeners who normally just repeated the words of Rush Limbaugh (as they once repeated fictional character Archie Bunker), were beginning to take a second look. Today though, it is amazing that millions of poor and working and lower middle class people listen to a fat rich man like Rush Limbaugh, as he assures us today that poor people should not get free health care; that instead, we should have continuing tax breaks for millionaires.
Still, in spite of their recent relative decline, the sometimes questionable political ideas, talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, have already run America for many years; the “conservative” agenda, has been enormously influential. And when arch liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy died, the place he had occupied for decades, was won, amazingly, by a Republican, Mr. Brown. So that the old conservative coalition was not dead yet; especially as the public balked at the expense of health care.
Even if conservatism disappeared today – which seems unlikely – it will already have been enormously influential. Following the earlier radio- and the TV-evangelists like Billy Sunday and Billy Graham, Pat Robertson founded a conservative/religious media empire that is still there today, 2009/10. Rush Limbaugh too is still there – and has been enormously effective as essentially an evangelist for classic Capitalism. In spite of some decline in radio revenues, Limbaugh’s words remain enormously effective; his voice continues to be broadcast on huge media networks, to an audience of millions.
To be sure, there have been signs of weakness and corruption in conservatives. There have been sins and errors in our holiest talk show hosts, after all. Was “Rush” Limbaugh’s real name for example … or his drug nickname? (As in a stoned person saying, “Wow, what a rush!”) “Rush” they say, was addicted to a drug, oxycontyn (SP?). But more importantly, we have begun to suggest here that his attempt to recover ancient, primary “values,” to attack “liberals,” at times, focused too intently on after all, all-too-simple rules. No doubt, it is tempting to criticize liberal academics and their too-complicated ideas; but after all, “Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.” The simple answers of neo cons, seemed to have failed in 2008. But to be sure again, there is no guarantee that neo-conservatism will not return. So that there is still need to review their past sins and errors. Or especially, to review continuing problems with conservative media: radio and TV and Internet. Especially problems with religious conservative networks. Like especially, EWTN/RN.
Many evils have come from especially, religious and other conservative talk show hosts, on major networks. Conservative talk show hosts, have especially liked to use – and mis-use – the power, the format, of call-in radio shows. In this very popular type of show, a radio station announces a phone number; and invites listeners to call in with their comments and questions, on whatever topic the station announces. This kind of show format is extremely popular with many listeners. It is popular in part because it appears to allow many different points of view; appears to offer anyone at all a chance to call in, and get a real, fair debate. Any number of major national syndicated shows use this format, because it seems to offer fair debate – or offers the reassuring spectacle of their favorite talk show host, like Rush Limbaugh or Mike Medved, or Drew Mariani, apparently winning one apparent debate after another. Banishing, humiliating, one “liberal” rival after another.
But the conservative public desperately needs to know, that there has been a massive, hidden scandal or dishonesty in conservative call-in shows: conservative call-in shows, we can easily demonstrate, were rigged all along.
The conservative call-in talk-show format is usually not the free and open debate it appears to be. Actually, the “debate” is rigged, right from the start. As we noted above. First of all a) typically, only the network itself knows much in advance, what the topic is. Typically therefore, the talk show itself, has been preparing for the discussion, days in advance; whereas the listeners typically are not informed there will be a discussion on any specific subject, until the moment it appears on the air. Secondly, b) often the talk-show host has a guest with him, that is an expert in the subject under discussion; whereas those who call in, are usually not experts; they are whoever happens to be listening. While in any case, c) the call-screener on the show, can select out, anyone who seems too well-informed; the screener can simply drop any caller who seems to know too much, and who might give the show a real debate, a real contest. Then too, d) if a qualified person somehow gets on the air, then especially, the internal format of call-in shows themselves, is not fair to real debate. In that any opponent to the apologist or talk-show host, who starts to make points that are too good, too telling … can be silenced at any time. Specifically, whenever a caller begins to give the host too much trouble, to score too many points in the discussion … the network or the host, simply hits the “off” button. When a call-in listener begins to make his case too effectively … the talk show simply hangs up on him. He “cold mikes” him; he turns his voice off. With the off or “dump” button.
If a talk show host on EWTN, doesn’t like your message, if your arguments are just a little too effective … then the host just hangs up on you. Leaving the host to get the last word. To make a point that appears unanswerable. Though it is not unanswerable intellectually, as it appears to many listeners; but only because … the opposition has simply been turned off, hung up on. (Then –e – later on, the show can select the parts of the whole event that most favor its own cause, and rebroadcast them too. Endlessly if it wants. Giving itself a hundred times more air time that the caller got). Against this kind of totally rigged game, against these odds, it would appear all but utterly impossible for any caller to win against conservative media. Staging their fake debates, Rush Limbaugh and his ilk – in Catholic radio, Karl Keating and Jimmy Akin – constantly gave the impression of winning constantly, time after time. Against every challenger. And to this very day, none of their listeners ever realized that after all, the game was rigged; the “debate” was faked. (In the early days; by now to be sure, a few hosts like Rush Limbaugh, are well-enough versed in their subject; and could almost win one or two honest debates, now and then. Though still, they rarely allow that). And so even Democracy was undermined. By fake debates.
Conservative talk radio has been an utterly rigged game for nearly 30 years – and amazingly, shockingly, even “Christian,” Global “Catholic” Radio, EWTN, religiously followed the same dishonest format, that had been set up by Rush Limbaugh and others. You would think or hope, that a religious network, representing God, a network run by a nun, would be far more honest. That a Catholic network would follow much, much higher standards of truth. But the truth is, religious radio has always been a compromise between following God and playing the political media game. Looking for the bigger audience.
Now though, it is finally time to sound the alarm, in the conservative camp itself. The fact is that, since the time of Rush Limbaugh, c. 1983/4 to the present, there has been a fundamental dishonesty and manipulation, in talk radio. In the way it has controlled discussion on various subjects like abortion. Earlier on, radio shows had been required by a federal law – the “Fairness Doctrine” – to present both sides of any controversial question. But that law was dropped – significantly, by conservative Republican Ronald Reagan – c. 1983 or so. The result of the federal government dropping the Fairness Doctrine – that required real, honest debate in the publicly-owned airways – has been that the public thought it was still getting fair and honest debate on the radio – when it was getting no such thing. The public had become used to the Fairness Doctrine, and to neutral news; they had come to trust their media. But suddenly the rules were changed, and the public did not really notice. The public still thought it was getting fair and honest debate on the radio; and it was taken in by new staged talk shows; that now merely mimicked the appearance of a fair debate. The public thought it was still being protected by the Fairness Doctrine in effect; just it was deceived. Rush Limbaugh’s entire early success many now say, is due to this misperception.
But now it is time to sound the alarm: most of the conservative call-in shows that have been offered since 1983, are not really fair, free debate, at all. In radio, c. 1984-2009, there has been a fundamental deception in talk radio; shows that mimic democracy and free debate, but that do not actually produce it. This should become a scandal far worse that the historic “Payola” and “Quiz Show” scandals: from start to finish, the “debate” on abortion for example, has been a dishonest, rigged game. Especially on “Catholic” media outlets like EWRN. (And good reason to think again, about the occasional usefulness of the “Fairness Doctrine.” A possibility raised fearfully by conservative talk radio, when Democrats re-took the Congress and the Presidency, in 2008).
Related to that, the public needs to know that even the “news” offered on such shows, is not really “fair and balanced” news at all. The problem is that most of the conservative public does not know that talk shows are not really news shows at all ; they are opinion shows. There are very high journalistic standards for accuracy in real news; but conservative hosts, and their media megaphone, do not follow them. Their ideas, their “facts,” are not fully substantiated, researched; their conclusions are polemical, exaggerated, and extremely dishonest. They editorialize. In the end, the public needs to know the difference between “opinion” journalism, and objective factual news. It needs to know that conservative talk shows specifically, offer “opinion,” not news.
This is a scandal, particularly when presented under the name of Catholicism, Christianity. Conservative a) networks editorialize – edit; insert their own opinions or agenda – continuously. Presenting their findings as “news” is simple dishonesty. It is therefore utterly shocking, that such things exist on allegedly religious networks, like EWTN; lying, dishonestly in general of course, is not Catholic, not really Christian. Indeed, it is clearly not really from God; who told us not to lie or cheat; not to “bear false witness.”
That such a thing should have been presented in the name of God himself, as absolutely true Christianity, is the greatest scandal of all. Religious, “Catholic” talk shows, scandalously, shared all the sins of talk radio in general … and continuously staged false and unfair debates. But this was just the first of a dozen major sins in religious talk shows. The b) major problem, was that most of the most popular religious hosts, were not priests. (By say 1998, lay hosts like Jimmy Akin, and Karl Keating, Attny., were the backbone of EWRN’s programming; neither was a priest). The major voices on EWRN were not priests; and therefore, their word was not even as definitive as an ordinary priest. And yet their words were being broadcast to millions, as the absolutely firm, voice of God. This is a massive scandal, that has not yet impacted the church and the Public.
The sin in religious media networks today, is in part that the major voices that presume to speak in the name of God to millions, to the whole world, are not priests; are not even honest. They present dishonest, sophistical arguments, in an essentially dishonest format: in the false debates, of rigged talk shows. That this should have been offered to millions as the word of God, is one of the great scandals, deceits, of our time. But there are many more such sins, in EWRN. Since the main voices on the air, were not as fully trained as seminary priests – much less, bishops – these radio stations, at best, made many factual and theological errors. Even c) worse, since the main speakers on the air, were not priests, they were not not only really as knowledgeable about Christianity; they were not as deeply dedicated to Christianity either; especially, to simple Christian virtues like honesty. In particular, d) religious talk show hosts did not mind continuously, with every breath, bending the facts, to suit especially, their political and social opinions, their philosophies. So that ultimately it was not the voice of God that often convinced the masses through EWTN; but what we heard more often were the most fallible opinions, “philosophies,” corrupt “traditions of man.” That spoke falsely, as the voice of God.
Eternal Word Television Network, Including
Eternal Word Radio Network:
The Cause of the Problem
111) # 143 There have been many causes of the new, conservative heresies. But the very, beating heart and primary cause of the anti-abortion heresy, has been especially, “conservative” media networks. And particularly, the source of the heresy, has been EWTN; “Eternal Word Television Network.” As noted above and elsewhere. Many of the sins and false doctrines of talk show hosts and apologists were partially formed within the support of this specific network; which worse, then broadcast those theological sins and errors, to millions of Christians. Falsely presenting mere opinions, as the word of God. Thus deceiving millions. In this particular paragraph, we will not say much of this – since this entire book really, is dedicated to addressing the sins of EWTN. As the major cause of a number of heresies.
112) # 144 Specifically therefore, Eternal Word Television Network has been the heart of a massive problem, a massive sin. But especially bad, has been EWTN’s radio branch. Which is sometimes called, EWRN: “Eternal Word Radio Network.” This was the branch of EWTN that was particularly and most directly infected by the fundamental dishonesties, of the rest of talk radio.
These two organizations – EWTN and EWRN – we usually refer to here collectively, both of them together, as they refer to themselves: as “EWTN.” To be sure though, the radio branch of Eternal Word Television Network, might sometimes be technically referred to as EWRN; with an “R” for “Radio.” And at times, this distinction is useful: particularly since the radio network, especially, seems even worse than the television branch. Probably because it is rather more under the influence of the rest of talk radio.
Whatever name they use to describe themselves, both of these two related organizations –EWTN and EWRN – are bad beyond belief. Both claim to be simply, loyally, piously presenting a traditional, “conservative” Christianity to the world. But these networks are never good or honest. First we will have been showing here that a) their “conservative” idea of anti-abortionism, we will have been showing here, was never really conservatively following established principles of the Roman Catholic Church. Rather b) than these networks following the bishops, instead, they were constantly egging the bishops on, to support the network and its radical positions. Even worse, c) these networks were not really following the Bible itself at all.
Ultimately though, the really grave sin of EWTN/RN, is the same sin committed by its apologists and talk show hosts: that it gave the impression that it is always the official, authorized voice of the Church. While in fact, it has no such status at all. EWTN is merely a private, (non-profit?) organization, run mostly by private, usually “lay” individuals. In spite of the presence of many priests as guests on the network, this lay staff, they say, now largely runs the organization the way they want to run it. In any case, the network has no formal, written charter from the Church itself, authorizing it as its official voice. Most of the main voices on the networks’ talk shows, were not even priests. So that EWTN often ended up saying things that were not well-informed; that were not really what a priest or the Church, would have wanted to say. Instead, what we most often heard on EWTN were not the fuller words of priests, or bishops; but rather, what was broadcast to millions has been an unholy mix of popular/lay political, “conservative” ideas; mixed with a very naive and simplistic idea of religion.
The EWTN/RN network presents itself as the voice of the Church. It a) often offers isolated quotes from the Church itself to be sure; and b) the network has many priests that appear on various shows. And the presence of its own stable of priests, gives the network an appearance of legitimacy, bolstering its implicit claims to be the definitive voice of the Church. This claim to be the voice of the Church and of God, is expressed in many ways: aside from having many priests speak on the network, and aside from quoting (misleadingly) from a few Church pronouncements, EWRN even c) calls itself “Global Catholic Radio,” on its current Web site. The radio network in particular also d) presents itself as “answering Pope John Paul II’s call for ‘new evangelization.’” While e) Karl Keating especially, presented his opinions on abortion, as being the Church’s own; “no one” he said, who did not follow them, could be said to be acting according to the established norms of the Church. (Q.v., above).
This network therefore, clearly presents itself as the authentic voice of the Catholic Church. However, its audience, those millions of elder Spanish and Irish Catholic ladies, and others, the millions who simply accept EWTN as the voice of the Church and of the Bishops, should not be so trusting and credulous. Millions naively accept a seriously-misleading impression. The fact is, EWTN is not the official voice of the Church. It has no really official tie to the Church at all. It is actually, a private organization, of private, ordinary individuals. Presumptuous persons who are merely voicing their own opinions, on what the Church says, or should say. Most of the staff on the network, were never appointed by the Church itself, as priests. Or to act as the Church’s official spokesmen. They are just ordinary persons, who have appointed themselves, as the voice of the Church and of God. Without adequate credentials; without any official charter or approval from the Church; without any real, formal authorization from the Vatican itself. To be sure, many have been mislead about the appearance of many priests and even occasionally a bishop, on the network; doesn’t that however, suggest that the network is really the voice of the Church? We would say here that now and then to be sure, even priests and even bishops, sometimes appear on the network; to make informal remarks. But we should be clear that a) the presence of priests on the network, does not constitute the Church’s formal, written endorsement of EWTN network. For that matter, b) nor does it constitute approval by the Church leadership, the Vatican, of every word uttered on air, either by either talk show hosts, or even by priests and bishops. The fact is, priests at times speak with the authority of Christ; but now and then too, even priests make mistakes . As the apostle St. James said, even the holiest people, even the apostles themselves – “we,” as St. James said – “make many mistakes” (James 3.2, RSV, The Holy Bible). Indeed, c) the Church often says that the only time any priest or bishop or Pope is “infallible,” is when he is the Pope himself; and only when, when speaking firmly, “ex Cathedra,” or formally, from the chair, as Pope. For that reason d) the many priests who speak far too loosely on EWTN, should be understand as having not presented authority, as not having acted “en persona Christi,” but to have been speaking all-too-fallibly. Or simply, to have committed the sin of appearing authoritative, as they were in fact speaking only fallibly and informally. At best. While indeed, it seems likely that no priests should be allowed on the network at all any more. Since their presence on this unholy mess, has become a scandal, misleading millions. (As we note in the end of our book here).
The people need to be told, over and over, that the Church itself does not formally recognize EWTN, or any other popular “Catholic” network, as its voice. The only official, major “broadcast” media outlet for the Church today, is probably the Vatican’s own web site, Vatican.va (or formerly, marginally, Vatican radio? Cf. the Pope’s general audience, on Wednesdays at the Vatican?).
EWTN therefore, is not honest; it is not good. It continually pretends to be what it is not; it pretends to define, to even lead, the voice of the Church and “the bishops.” But for that matter, the network not only does not lead the Church; it does not even follow the Church very loyally. Rather than obeying the Church and God, the network’s staff actually, really follows, just as much as God, Pat Robertson the flawed human being. And Rush Limbaugh. The network follows politics, men, even more than God. EWTN therefore first of all, misrepresents itself; it pretends to be God. When it is no such thing.
Where specifically, has the network fallen short? The network talk show hosts especially, and even the priests, are not fully-trained, authoritative bishops or cardinals. Thus, they do not present a full, balanced view of the Church. Specifically, in part because of their lack of authority, they are prone to insert their own opinions into what they say. Especially, on EWTN they present only a biased, right-wing, polemical, “conservative” take on, view of, opinion about, the Church. Talk show hosts – and now and then even priests – present on this network, only the part of what the Church says; the part that seems to agree with a “conservative” – right wing, nationalist/militarist Republican – philosophy. While the talk show hosts especially, attack whatever aspect of the Church that seems “liberal” to it. Talk show hosts insisting that parts of what the Church says that seem liberal, are not really “the Church” at all. Even when voiced by say, the Pope himself. So when, for example, the current Pope says voting for pro-abortion, Pro Choice politicians, “can be permitted”? EWTN simply cannot face, and does not report, that. Or on the rare occasions when this is spoken of, its apologists quickly “twist” and whitewash, spin-doctor, launder, all that.
These networks therefore, are bad, and dangerous. Millions of people have been fooled by them; by their false voice pretending to be the Church, and to be God. And so today, the public desperately needs to be warned by us, and indeed by the Church itself: that most of the key people on EWTN, the talk show hosts and apologists for example, most of those who present themselves as representatives of the Church, are not priests. Most of the people on EWTN in no way represent the Church at all. While even such priests as appear on the network, are often speaking all too casually, all too informally, all too fallibly. So that finally, the fact is that most of the major figures in such media, who claim to be telling us all what the Church and God thinks, are not fully reliable. More often than not, they are not even official representatives of any well-established church at all; most of the voices you hear on these networks, are not even priests. Still less are they are official spokesmen from the Vatican. They are simply private individuals, voicing their own execrable private opinions, about what they think the Church says. Or what they think the Church should say.
The people need to be warned, over and over: EWTN/RN is not part of the Church. It is a private, apparently non-profit organization; largely run by often private or “lay” individuals; that is, by persons who are not priests. EWTN/RN is in no way officially the voice of the Church; but is composed mostly of only private individuals, delivering their own – inevitably biased and false – opinion about the Church and its doctrines. Specifically, it is a medium with an agenda: it wants to make it appear that the Church supports a “conservative” philosophy. Or, if the Church does not already do that, this network wants to bend the rest of the Church to its will.
However, this network’s idea of the Church is very biased, politically. Most of EWTN’s most prominent staff, is not neutral; but is “conservative” – or in effect, Republican – in their politics … and religion. EWTN has often explicitly called itself “conservative”; and it has spent much air time attacking “liberal”s (c. 1997-2005). Though it says it is loyal to the Church – and perhaps even thinks of this position as being loyal to the Church – we are presenting much evidence here that the network has even from the very start, been in secret, continuous rebellion against much of the Church; especially post Vatican-II. The very word that the network used to describe itself – “conservative” – was in fact, not from the Bible itself. As we have noted here earlier, the Bible itself never used the word “conservative.” While, if anything, the Bible itself condemned the concept: when the New Testament condemned the conservative Pharisees and lawyers, for enforcing the letter of the law. Nor did the Bible itself, really condemn “liberal”s; on the contrary, the Bible told us to “be liberal” in giving help to the poor.
So how and why have so many followed EWTN, instead of God? In part it is because ultimately, EWTN – gives a very convincing but misleading impression of itself. It has presented itself continuously, implicitly, as the voice of the Church and of God. And its claims have been widely, naively believed, by many loyal, uneducated Catholics. Catholics who can’t get to a real church, or who can’t really figure out how to use computers to get on the Internet, have listened to this network, on the radio and cable TV, sometimes as their sole source of information on religious subjects. Therefore, they have mal “formed” by EWTN. The audience has been particularly vulnerable to being mislead, because the talk show hosts on EWTN and related media networks, give every impression that the network is the official voice of the Church. For example, it often even delivers ritual prayers, very much like those delivered in Church, by priests. On one EWTN copycat organization, Relevant Radio, Drew Mariani like others on EWTN, delivers a repetitive prayer, called the “Chaplet of Divine Mercy.” Which sounds like the very prayer delivered in real churches, while communion is served. Implying that Drew Mariani’s show, is the same as communion. In a real church. (Or even that the talk show host, is the host or body of Christ? Or some other host is offered. Note the otherwise-more balanced Fr. Kubicki, the local priest of Relevant Radio, on Jan. 28, 2010, 12:28 PM, noon, speculating on the similarity of the embryo, to the Eucharist and host; as an “innocent” being sacrificed, etc.. Here again we see a new Church or cult appearing: one offering the embryo, not Christ, as its Lord and host).
Tens of millions of people, the whole world, have listened to these new media churches, and have followed them; millions of followed Pat Robertson’s CBN, and the Catholic version of that, EWTN. But that has not been a good thing: the people now desperately need to be warned, repeatedly: these new media churches are false, fake churches. Especially, they are actually fronts for political philosophies. Pat Robertson and EWTN’s theology, are largely based on the Republican Party platform; their “conservative” attack on “liberals” is not only not found in the Bible, but the concept is actually opposed by the holy book itself. Pat Robertson is not the authentic voice of God; while in the “Catholic” sphere, EWTN and related “Catholic” organizations, are not same as a real Catholic Church. The millions who follow Pat Robertson and EWTN as if they were the voice of the Church, are undoubtedly among the “deceived” people that the Bible warned about. As the Bible warned, millions are following a false church; a false idea of God; a False Christ.
Unfortunately, until today, the false religion of conservative religious media, has utterly triumphed. The radio, TV, and now Internet empire of Pat Robertson, and of Eternal Word Television Network, has assets totaling at least a billion dollars (at last estimate of Robertson’s funds). But neither of these organizations has a real church behind it; neither is really fully responsible to any recognized, major denomination. So that these two organizations, amount to the two worst and most powerful of the many usurpers of real church authorities today. And their message is not only not reflective of any well-organized and serious theology or church; they are often dangerously, criminally, heretically wrong. And even, finally, evil.
With the huge growth of “conservative” religious media therefore, like CBN and EWTN, and Relevant Radio therefore, there is an increasingly, very, very serious problem in our churches, and in the whole world. Today, more and more people are being guided in their religion, by unsupervised, unauthorized voices. By false voices, claiming to be the voice of this or that church; or ultimately, claiming to be the voice of God. But this finally is a situation that the Bible itself warned about, long ago. Centuries ago a) the Bible continually warned about various “false” things in nearly every aspect of religion; like “false prophets” and bad priests. Who claimed to speak for God, but who were “deceived”; or who were themselves deceptive, “false” persons. These false religious leaders were found in the past … but Jesus himself also warned that many false leaders would come after Jesus himself, too; some of them even in the “name” of Christ, crying “Lord, Lord.” Some time after the Bible itself, c. 1515 AD, b) Protestantism asserted that even the Catholic Church itself, was false and wrong. While c) Catholicism argued in turn that it was Protestants who were false. The Church suggesting that Protestants – and other “evangelicals” who claimed to speak for the Lord – were simply, unauthorized heretics; false prophets.
There have long been countless warnings of false things in religion; even in Christianity therefore. It is surprising therefore, that the public – and even the Church itself – was taken in. By d) more recently, the message of many TV preachers, “televangelists.” Who were often shown to be false, or hopelessly simplistic and superficial. But somehow, the public and the Church – perhaps in a new liberal age – forgot the dangers of false preachers. So that today, once again, it is time to warn everyone about it, again.
Today, it is time to warn the public, and the Church. That televangelists and talk show hosts, are unreliable. That in particular, talk show hosts, web site chiefs, tend to be untrained individuals; who therefore inevitably intermix and confuse their own subjective, secular political opinions, with the real sayings of the Church and of God. This has always been the case with the media. And it will probably always be thus. But it means that a significant evil has been done: through the WWW, World Wide Web, a false “conservative” theology, has (as foretold?) been broadcast to the whole earth, the whole world. And effectively, it has taken over the world too.
Perhaps after all, this was what the Bible foretold. From ancient times, from the Bible itself, there have been many, many warnings, about private “evangelicals,” or self-proclaimed voice-pieces, “teachers,” from God. These warnings began even before Biblical warnings about “false prophets,” who speak falsely in the name of God. More recently, e) in the Rush Limbaugh era, there were many warnings about false religion in the “liberal media.” But here and now however, it is time to now issue some urgent warnings about g) new, false religious voices today – not in the “liberal” media, but especially in “conservative,” “religious” Radio, TV, Internet programming.
113) # 145 Religious broadcasters have been the major part of the problem; the source of many heresies in our own time. So that in effect, the problem has been a) religious televangelists. Looking back, it is clear that the source of many heresies, has been televangelists – who are often relatively untrained persons, getting on the media, and appealing to huge numbers of people, by demagogic means. Appealing especially to the audience’s simpler, baser aspects, their anti-intellectualism, their sentimentality, their fixation on the physical side of life, over the intellectual/spiritual. Such televangelists are often not major bishops in an accepted Church; so that there is no controlling voice there, to restrain their naïve and often exploitative theologies. Among the offenders here, are Protestants like Pat Robertson. (Along with the recently-deceased Rev. Jerry Falwell, and still living Pat Buchanan). In contrast though, there was until recently, relatively less evangelicalism in the Catholic world. In part because the Roman Catholic Church often mistrusted the relative independence of evangelicals in general; indeed, the Roman Catholic Church fought countless, actual wars, with Protestants, over precisely this issue: allowing voices other than the Pope himself, to speak to the masses, as the voice of God, was very tightly controlled by the Catholic Church. Even Catholic priests, were severely constrained, in what they were allowed to say, even in Church; the liturgy was very, very tightly controlled. All because, after all, the Church well knew that many people, even priests, “make many mistakes,” even when talking about God. Therefore, the Church traditionally put severe limits, on just exactly who was allowed to “evangelize,” or speak about God to the masses. And if the Church recently seemed to some to relax those constraints – calling for “a new evangelization” – we find here that however, that the Church should never had allowed itself to appear to be granting so much freedom for non-priests and even priests; for them to speak or “evangelize” in major media, before audiences of millions, without adequate controls and supervision.
The problem in fact, has been in part, not just televangelism; especially, Pat Robertson. But the problem is the deeper root, Evangelicalism itself. (Incidentally, for a writer on the importance of real intelligence, see Dr. Kevin Vost’s book, Unearthing Your Ten Talents, rightly emphasizing the mind and intelligence; presented 1: 30 PM, Relevant Radio, Feb. 2/2010). The problem is that Evangelicalism is largely based around the idea almost any private individual, can and must accept “the great commission” by Jesus. That not just priests and ministers, but almost any individual can and must, go out and preach about God – anyone can begin “evangelize – to everyone. But as it turns out, the Church itself traditionally opposed the idea of just anyone and everyone “evangelizing.” And the Church opposed widespread evangelization, for some often, rather good reasons. (As Father Baron manages to say, 2:00 PM on Relevant Radio, Jan. 2, 2010).
a) The first problem with the whole concept of evangelization, is that not everyone is necessarily qualified to be a teacher of religion. The apostle St. James in fact warned long ago, that not everyone should go out and teach religion; because “we all make many mistakes”:
“Not may of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways” (James 3.1-2 NIV).
“For we all make many mistakes” (RSV).
“Are all teachers?” (1 Corin. 12.29 RSV).
The main problem with just anyone and everyone, preaching or “evangelizing” – or “teaching” – about God, as it turns out, is that most untrained people are not really qualified to do that. They do not have enough religious “knowledge.” When just anyone and everyone presumes to go out and teach others about God, often, they simply say many uninformed and false things. Ultimately untrained persons go out and “teach” uninformed doctrines and mistaken ideas. To be sure, even the highest priests, bishops, Popes, even the first apostles and saints, make mistakes: “For we all make many mistakes.” As it turns out though, untrained persons, those without “knowledge” of many religious matters, often make many more mistakes than others.
b) It is doubly surprising that the Roman Catholic Church should encourage a “new evangelization” – that it should have disseminated the phrase that is the constant mantra on Catholic talk radio. Because indeed, opposition to just anyone speaking for God, was the major conflict that the Church had, with Protestantism. Historically it was the essence of the Protestant rebellion against the Church, that Protestants asserted that anyone, not just the Pope, could speak for God. It was claimed by Protestants that when Jesus went out and told his disciples to “preach to all nations,” that was what they called “the great commission”; it was they claimed, an authorization for not just the Pope and for priests, but for almost anyone who read their Bible, to preach to others; in this case, even a Protestant minister, who was not approved by the Church or by the Pope. But of course, the Church said that such an idea as the Great Commission, was a heresy; that Jesus only meant for his disciples to preach. Or the descendants of the disciples: the Apostles, like Peter and his alleged successors; the Pope, etc.. The Church said over and over, that not just anyone was authorized to speak for God; but primarily, in our own time, just the pope. Everyone else was said to be presumptuous, or even evil.
The apostle and saint James hinted that untrained and other people, often make many mistakes in what they say; even when they preach or talk about God. For this and other reasons, the fact is, the Church itself has always asserted that there are limits, on who is qualified to go out and teach in the name of God. The “Great Commission” is not really intended for everyone; “are all teachers,” Paul asked. But this therefore, would be a limitation and constraint of evangelism. Indeed, it is curious that the Church should have begun to toy with the phrase, the “new evangelization.” Because widespread evangelicalism violates the Bible warning: that “not many of you should become teachers … since we all make many mistakes” (James). It also reminds us as well of countless warnings, about false religious leaders, priests, prophets, with “deceived” hearts and minds and false spirits, misleading many Christians. The fact is, may people make mistakes in what they say about God. Therefore, not everyone should preach, or evangelize, the Bible itself often suggested.
c) What kinds of mistakes therefore, do many evangelicals especially make? The fundamental error is described under many different topics, many different words, in the Bible. But one, is that evangelicalism encourages everyday people to presume. To presume to preach to others … without making sure first they themselves know what they are talking about. Without first making sure that the “spirit” they speak from, is really from God; and is not a false spirit from the devil himself, posing as God.
d) More specifically, the most common mistake we here find in evangelicals, is precisely the very common kind of error, that we have been noting here in talk show hosts. The major problem is this: many evangelicals are not bishops, or are not priests speaking authorized words. Thus, as noted above, most of them are inadequately trained in religion; lacking “knowledge” of the Bible and the Church. But evangelicals, feeling compelled, commissioned, to tell everyone how to live anyway, are particularly prone to just … winging it. To making things up. Especially, untrained evangelicals and teachers, soon begin mixing religion deliberately or accidentally, with their own philosophical, political opinions.
e) Evangelicals are particularly prone to mixing their political opinions with religion, because of the inherent flaw, the fatal mis-emphasis, in their core concept of “evangelizing”: evangelization, puts the emphasis on “evangelization,” on merely speaking. Speaking to, teaching, others. But unfortunate it so far has not put any emphasis on “knowledge.” In effect, people are encouraged to speak – even before they know what they are talking about. Before they have really good, seminary training. In effect, the new evangelization encourages ignorant loud-mouths to speak. (As ironically, Drew Mariani loudly says 2:27, Jan. 2, 2010, Relevant Radio, with regard to Protestants, Anglicans. Drew never noticing that he himself is the new Catholic version of this).
f) Because it puts the emphasis on talking, and not on knowing what you are talking about, it should not be surprising that it was primarily Evangelists like Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, Dr. James Dobson, made many, many mistakes. These televangelists were themselves, often not educated in religion, Christianity, sufficiently. So that they themselves, did not really know what they were talking about. In particular, they began preaching in a sort of uneducated, populist, demagogic mode; appealing to base instincts. Which they could get away with, reaching on the radio, to an uneducated public. (Catholic Deacon Sivers cites in effect the Great Commission favored by Protestants; as he says “Go and make disciples,” Feb. 2/2/2010. Taking the Great commission himself, Relevant Radio 2:35 PM. But is a deacon enough to define God?). Uneducated evangelists – or evangelists from other disciplines, like law, and psychology (Robertson and Dobson, respectively) – went on the air delivering their simplistic and substantially false theologies, to an even less sophisticated audience. And they got away with teaching many things that no theology professor – or no good, informed person – would ever approve.
Unfortunately, the “new evangelization” was taken by every self-important loudmouth as his “authority” to say what he felt like – and to create many new heresies, in front of a gullible audience of millions of Protestants and Catholics; who blindly trusted and believed and followed. While in particular, we have seen, these untutored persons – or persons with training in other fields that religion – began to intermix, confuse, Christianity with the “traditions of men.” With the traditions that they learned in law school and graduate school and so forth; they began to confused and intermix ideas from the Bible, with political ideas. Like especially, Republicanism and political conservatism; things not really from the Bible at all. Trained in nothing, or in things other than religion, the new evangelists often just ad-libbed what they said came from God. Often they just added their own thoughts and biases, into their theology; asserting their own perceptions were the words of God. Though we now found most often, that not only were their ideas not from the Bible; not only were they their own philosophy; but often, what they presented were often just the words of the Republican Party Platform. Not the words of God. Pat Robertson constantly condemned “liberals”; but the Bible told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor.
g) It was because of the frequency of mistakes and countess heresies, that early on, the Church began insisting that its own priests learn a standard body of knowledge, and submit to saying only things approved by Rome. While persecuting heretics.
h) It was precisely because of this kind of common error in unapproved religious teachers – uninformed persons, mixing things from Christianity, with their own ideas – that the Catholic Church said, in its war with Protestants, that the alleged great evangelical commission from Jesus – to “go out and preach to … all nations” – was meant to apply only to the apostles, and/or the successors especially of St. Peter: the Popes.
g) Before the “new evangelization” was perceived (falsely? Read the fine print) as handing authority over to any presumptuous self-important talk show host that wanted to take it, the Church had severely restricted just exactly who was authorized to speak for the Church and for God. And we are seeing here, that many of those restrictions were there for very, very good reasons. While those restrictions should apply not just to non-Catholics, but to lay Catholics too. Because in fact, when everyday EWTN and other lay Catholics (and even ordinary nuns and priests) began “evangelizing,” they also began in effect, repeating the very same sins and errors that the Church had claimed it found in Protestantism. When every Catholic man on the street, like Drew Mariani of Philadelphia, or any talk show host or apologist, felt authorized to make up or deduce his own idea of Catholicism, in effect, they inevitably began to … create their own, different church. Exactly like – ironically but predictably – their Protestant inspiration, after all. Even as the Catholic “new evangelization”ists still condemned Protestants for being too independent and unauthorized, they themselves ironically, were committing precisely the very same sin themselves. As Jesus predicted; those who judge others, fail to see the beam in their own eye. As Paul added: those who accuse others of things, are often found guilty of the very same thing themselves. (By the phenomenon of “projection,” onto the “other”?). Ironically, the new Catholic televangelists re-create the very sins they condemned in Protestants. When EWTN Catholics felt authorized to put non-priests on the air, they inevitably mixed in their own ignorant ideas, and began their own idea of a church. When they began a Church based on the concern for embryos, in effect, they acted rather exactly like early Protestants, founding their own idea of God. And founding finally, an apostate, heretical splinter sect or church. In this case we have examined particularly here, since Catholics centered especially around the idea of opposing Abortion and protecting the Fetus, we might well call its new church, here, the “Apostate Church of Holy Fetus.” (The actual word “fetus” or embryo is used in many Bible translations, by the way).
Ironically but predictably – we should have known – when Mother Angelica began copycatting Protestant tel-“evangelists,” like Pat Robertson, she ended up replicating or re producing the very error that the Church had often explicitly accused Protestant evangelicals of: she produced an unauthorized, false, splinter theology. Finally, evangelists like Mother Angelic and her countless conservative anti-abortionist allies, produced in fact, a heretical schismatic, apostate sect. Or cult: the cult of the embryo.
h) Because of the many evils that have resulted from it, it would be a good time today, for the Church itself to re-evaluate, the “new evangelization.” For the Church to go back, and read the fine print, the caveats, on “Pope John Paul II’s call for a ‘New Evangelization.’” Did this Pope really mean to entirely drop the old reservations about letting unqualified persons speak for the Church? No doubt, a closer reading of the original documents authorizing a new evangelization – in John Paul II and slightly earlier? – will show many warnings and caveats; warning about the mis-use of this concept, by the media. (Originally for example, the call for a new evangelizations, often seems to have been specifically addressed, specifically to those lay persons who teach the Catechism; not just anyone. Later documents on the place of the media, of “social communication,” had many warnings and qualifications, too. Q.v.. (If Cardinal McCarrick assured us that the Church is “not telling you how to vote,” Drew Mariani, Catholic talk show host, does tell us; if not Feb. 2 2010, then a month or so earlier; when he urged his listeners to call their congressmen and senators, when he set up a link, to influence ongoing legislation on the abortion provision of the Health Care bill; violating not only the orders of the Cardinals, but also the rules for non-profit organizations?).
114) # 146 Worsening this nexus of sins and evils in many “evangelists” and the religious media that they use, was the massive magnification, amplification, broadcasting of these new false voices, of these new false, evil angels. When these evangelists made mistakes, these were not just individuals making a small error in private conversation: these were not just evangelists, but “televangelists.” Their errors are broadcast to millions, as the word of God. By the (relatively, historically) new 20th century media. So that one of the problems is not just evangelism, but especially, televangelism.
First, there came radio. Then TV. It was especially when television caught on, when speaking pictures, speaking media and Hollywood “idols” appeared, that the problem with false voices became chronic. That incompetent demagogues, were able to capture the public; with their false ideas of God. The new talking pictures, the new talking idols on TV (idols that talk, as foretold in the Bible?) – the new “televangelists” – were dramatic enough, broadcast widely enough, to allow rather superficial people, to send their image and ideas worldwide, and to capture the attention of the whole (uneducated) world. After the invention of the new media, no one needed the close reasoning of print any more, to be widely disseminated; on radio, a dramatic voice that spoke to the lower emotions of resentment and so forth – or later on TV, a pretty face, a dramatic image – was enough to convince millions. (See Billy Graham’s early photographs; he had a decidedly, strikingly Greek-statue look). Or, if Pat Robertson is not a pretty face, the new audio-visual medium, also allowed the most fatuous of speeches, to seem bigger than life. Even more importantly, the new medium allowed that message to be repeated endlessly, religiously, day after day, in almost every single home in America. And in many segments of society, before sophisticated media criticism and study caught on, many people were unduly influenced.
It was apparently inevitable; for centuries, mankind had dreamed of somehow reproducing accurate, realistic pictures of life; that reproduced exactly what our eyes saw, and that ultimately seemed to move and talk. And once that technology was developed, with moving pictures, certain abuses of that technology were all but inevitable. It was inevitable that the medium of moving pictures, would be used to reach, of course, the illiterate, who could not read very well. And that this accessible medium would begin speaking powerfully, to and for, the first half of the bell curve. Still, it is, again somewhat surprising that the sin, the error of populist evangelicalism – and then, demagogic televangelism – crept into the Catholic church, beginning around 1981. Since the Church itself, had long prominently advanced an argument against evangelization in general.
As we noted in our section of evangelization in general, a) traditionally, from the days around 1052, when the Eastern Church – and then c. 1530, when the Protestants – broke away from the Church, the Roman Catholic Church itself had often spoken specifically, repeatedly, adamantly, against the core concept in evangelicalism. Because the concept was used to justify people not following the Pope; especially it was used to justify new Protestant ministers breaking away from Catholicism. To counter this, the Church claimed over and over again, that when Jesus told his disciples to “go and preach to all nations,” (or even to “make disciples of all men”?), Jesus had intended that saying, that commission to teach or proselytize, just for the very highest apostles, disciples like Peter; and their successors, the Popes (by “Apostolic Succession,” from St. Peter). Jesus, the Church often claimed, had intended to restrict who was authorized to speak or “evangelize” for him. And there b) is no doubt the Church was serious about traditional claim: the Church and/or Catholics, actually fought many literal, actual, bloody wars with Protestants, to defend this attempt to limit the Great Commission; to defend the Church as sole authority for God. To defend the Church’s assertion that not just anyone, was authorized to preach or “evangelize” in the name of God. But only followers of the Pope. Not Orthodox Christians in Eastern Europe; not Protestants.
But to be sure, the essence of the Protestant argument for splitting away from the Church was, to be sure, to assert that the Pope and the Church often also made many mistakes. (Particularly on issues like the importance of “faith” vs. “works” and so forth; the Church allowing the impression that you could get an “indulgence” of sins, and buy your way into Heaven, by giving the Church lots of money, gifts, works). And so the Protestants decided to suggest that non priests, Protestant ministers, could read the Bible, and come up with their own, better understanding of God. And then, furthermore they said, these non-Catholics, could go and preach to whoever they wanted: non priests, non Popes, could “go and” speak to or preach to – or as Protestants said, “evangelize” – “all nations.”
Protestants felt that the Catholic Church often made many mistakes; and that therefore, there had to be something in the Bible, that would suggest that even Christians could often be wrong; and that would allow new branches, new ministers, to appear. And among the parts of the Bible that were taken to do that, was what came to be called the great commission from Jesus: for many go “go and evangelize to all nations.” Therefore, the whole idea of a widespread “evangelization,” was from the Protestants, not from the Catholics. It was Protestants, not Catholics that stood very, very strongly for “evangelization.” This idea in fact, became so central, that many Protestants eventually came to call themselves, “Evangelists.” A term that caught on especially, c. 1984 ff.. While evangelization had been a bad word, a symbol for rebellion, among Catholics.
Indeed, the Protestant embrace of some independence from central religious authority, from the Pope, triumphed in many nations in Europe, and in America. England established its own, Anglican church. As Protestantism broke away from Catholicism and the Pope; largely citing the “Great Commission” to evangelize, as one major biblical justification for this move.
The whole stress on “evangelization” therefore, was very, very Protestant – and very anti-Catholic, for many centuries. But it had some positive effects; it allowed some innovation in Christianity at last. Indeed, the greater latitude given to Protestants, allowed them to deal with new technologies in a more flexible and creative way. So when the (historically speaking, “new”) media like radio and the TV came along, and ministers began televangelizing on radio and TV (and eventually, after about 1990 or so, the Internet), at first, it was overwhelmingly, Protestants, not Catholics, who took to the new medium. A medium which seemed to even require, some independence; to let a single individual to speak rather informally, to millions.
So it is surprising that the Roman Church should eventually allow “a new evangelization”; and even worse, radio- and televangelism. The Church had usually been traditionally, very, very strongly against evangelism; which took advantage of some distance from central Church authority, all too often. And it was not Catholics, but Protestants, that embraced the new media. But eventually to be sure, for a time, the Church began to experiment – far more cautiously than Protestants – with certain kinds of televangelism. For a short time, it (barely) tolerated it, if at least a Bishop – like Bishop Fulton Sheen – made regular broadcasts (c. 1950-60). But after all, a) the Church was only allowing not lay people, or even priests, but only a Bishop to speak to the people on the air. While b) for that matter, the experiment was not all that successful; Bishop Sheen had a very peculiar, rather Freudian theology, at times. Perhaps this is the reason that c) Bishop Sheen was never promoted to the position of Cardinal of New York; the position finally held by his rival, Cardinal Spellman. Indeed, d) current biographers tell us that Sheen had many flaws; that he lied on his resume for example, about having a doctoral degree. While e) other early Church experiments in media – like Vatican Radio – were properly restrained; but also because of that, never very dramatic … and never very popular. Indeed, f) the Church’s insistence on performing certain physical acts in a physical church – like taking the wafer, the host, in communion – meant that it was insisting on something that could not be done on the radio, or TV.
Historically therefore, there was often (if not consistently) a strong resistance in recent Catholic Tradition, against evangelization in general; and against televangelism, in specific. So that the first really spectacularly successful religious network, was not Catholic, but Protestant: Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, when it expanded into “CBN,” or “Christian Broadcast Network.” In contrast, there had long been, very deep and fundamental objections in Catholics, to evangelism in general; and to televangelism in particular. The g) only very tentative exception to that rule, seemed to be allowing the broadcasting of the formal words of the Pope himself. Or, if we were to try allowing, experimentally, h) some more informal speaker, a mere priest, then that speaker should be, tightly restrained, as to what he could say. Or i) preferably the speaker should be at least, a Bishop. Like Bishop Fulton Sheen. But even there, anyone can see that there were problems with that experiment; anyone can note countless problems in Bishop Fulton Sheen’s strange, modern theology.
Until recently, the Roman Catholic Church had traditionally, tightly reined in, controlled, any Catholic evangelization, and media efforts. In part because recent history is filled with examples of disasters, from allowing religious media to do whatever they wanted. (See Father Coughlin). For that matter, it is the purpose of this very book, to show that those problems got far worse, the real potential for disaster began to surface, when a mere nun – Mother Angelica – founded her own radio station, around 1981. From that moment on, a mere simple nun, was allowed to eventually speak to, to define the Church, to millions. But there were countless problems with that, we find here. Especially, Mother Angelica and her network, spoke obsessively, far too much, about her own special issue: Abortion, and the alleged supreme importance of the Embryo. She was so obsessive on this “single issue” as it was alter called, that in effect, ironically, just like earlier Protestant evangelicals, she was breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church; the church of Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit. Without making her rebellions explicit, for all practical purposes however, she was founding in effect, her own, whole new Church; her own, obsessive, anti-abortion cult.
Remotely, it was arguable that Mother Angelica’s network still under Church control; since after all, a nun was in charge. And surely a nun would obey the Church. On the other hand though, we will have been finding out here, that this particular nun, and her network, were more than a little “independent,” as Angelica was often called in the print media. From the very start Wikipedia tells us, her network, EWTN/RN, deliberately (or even at the insistence of the Church itself?) left the word “Catholic” out of its name. So that it could not be directly affiliated with – or fully responsible to? – the Roman Catholic Church. No doubt, in the first days, many priests and bishops objected to Mother Angelica’s project – but she persisted. To go on to conflict directly and on the air, with Bishops/Cardinals. Like Cardinal Mahony (c. 1997; q.v.). And to conflict, in her “one issue” anti-abortionism, with Cardinals McCarrick and Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI.
How did the Catholic church neglect to fix this; to censure Mother Angelica and EWTN openly? How and why was Mother Angelica allowed to go on, with her public, scandalous rebellion? There are many various reasons why the Church did not really monitor this nun and her new projects. In part, a) it was still new medium … and the Church was just not yet looking at it closely enough yet. To be sure, Popes were beginning to speak of “evangelization,” and “social communication” (which however, seemed to be about hearing the gospels, directly from personal audiences?). But those statements were very cautious. While in any case, if some indirect remarks were being made about media in general, it seems likely that few Bishops or Popes were actually listening that much to Mother Angelica’s show, specifically, very much; enough to know what was happening.
Then too, b) the post Vatican-II church was at the time, experimenting with liberal experiments; including even a measure of feminism. So that allowing a woman a new role – especially in taking over a new medium, that was not directly affiliated with the Church – seemed OK to some.
If this was a new, deliberate experiment by the religious hierarchy though, we need to note that, just like other experiments of this era – like the allowance of gay rights, leading to covering up for pedophile priests – many such liberal experiments as Catholic evangelization after all, must now be said to have partially failed. Or to have created some huge problems, that now need to be fixed. The fact is, the Church had always had big problems with evangelization in general. While tel-evangelization just compounded the problems there, that we had been warned about historically. When suddenly the new media allowed almost any one person, any unreliable angel or ev-angel-ist (the etymological meaning of the word), to reach hundreds of millions, billions of people, over the air … then suddenly, the sins of evangelism were hugely magnified. As they were now heard not just by one or two people; or even a congregation of thousands; but now any theological errors were immediately broadcast to tens of millions.
The problem is essentially, as following. In the old system for evangelizing, for teaching, preaching to the masses, there had long been many, many corrective mechanisms in place. Essentially, the word was spread worldwide – but a) by priests, who were rigorously trained according to central doctrines, formulated in the Bible, and worked over by church headquarters in Rome. The b) doctrines that priests were allowed to teach, were very, very rigorously worked out, every single word, in countless church “councils” and so forth; like the Council of Nicea. And so, when priests spread around the world, they were spreading a rather systematized and centrally-controlled body doctrine. When priests preached, they issued mostly Church-approved ideas; most in tightly-controlled scripts, or liturgies. (If the Catholicism of individual nations varied, if local gods were incorporated as “saints,” it was noted that there were problems with such syncretisms, after all). All-in-all there was, very early on, a very strong system in place, for maintaining doctrinal correctness or “purity.” Keeping it all on message, on task. But the problem is this: with the birth and growth of transportation and trade, and the rise of the Middle Class, there came to be more and more remote parts of the Christian world, that developed a high degree of civilization, besides Rome. And those regions began to feel that they often had even better ideas than Rome; and that they therefore deserved some considerable independence from central authority. They translated the Bible into their own languages (and were initially executed for it). More significantly, they eventually they came up with their own, rather independent versions of Christianity. Martin Luther began the Protestant rebellion, c. 1515. While soon, by around 1534 or so, King Henry VII of England decided to found his own, English version of the Roman Church: the English or “Anglican Church.” (Related to the Episcopal Church). Founding a church that was independent from Rome (and the Roman and Holy Roman Empire). But while there were many good things about this new independence, there were bad things too.
In many ways, the foundation of many new kinds of Christian churches, was a good thing. Rome itself after all, was not always as fully good as it had often claimed to be; there was room for improvement on the old religion. In fact, by 1534, many other countries outside Rome, along with the new Middle Class, were beginning to develop new ideas, sciences, technologies, that advanced far beyond Italy and traditional Roman Catholicism. So that many felt that some recognition and authority – even in religion – should be given not just to the Pope in Rome, but to new ideas, new churches, in the new kingdoms, then nations, that were beginning to firm up in Europe. Though to be sure, there were problems with these “new” things: the nationalistic wars, that attempted to establish new “Christian” nations independent of each other and of Rome, cost many millions of lives. But on the other hand, relative “independence” from outdated authority, allowed much progress. So that the American “Declaration of Independence,” is a model document for our time.
Of course there is a case for “independence,” for some degree of “rebellion” against central authority. No doubt, an absolutist, heavily centralize authority, can become corrupt, and dogmatic and inflexible; and needs to be loosened up now and then. We overall support the Protestant Reformation/Revolution here, for example. But on the other hand, there are problems with many such excessive, extreme rebellions. Among other problems, excessive independence from core values, from international culture, can cause … provinciality. And, out of thus heightening differences between nations, come massive wars.
Beyond the rebellions of nations, on a smaller scale, we are here noting … that there are similar strengths and weaknesses, in allowing a few nuns and televangelists some relative independence from central authority. As new social and religious experiments begin in our own era, to include a few rebellious priests or nuns, some will have found new and better things, to be sure. But on the other hand, the failure rate for new experiments is often very high (as Edison knew). And the new, ad-hoc experiments and ideas of televangelists, will have found many “new answers” that were now find are not so good after all. That are now better termed “strange new doctrines” and “false” ideas and teachings, after all.
No doubt, some relative independence and personal discretion, “freedom,” is extremely important. Some new social experiments have to be allowed. Yet all such experiments need to be carried out quite carefully, in somewhat limited and controlled situations; and firmly labeled as indeed, “life style experiments” and so froth. Such social experiments need to be carefully quarantined. Because after all, probably hundreds of experiments fail, before we find one that works. So that we cannot afford to have the whole world – or the huge numbers reached by televangelists – galloping off too casually, on their own ad hoc experiments. Because televangelists speak to millions; and when the televangelist makes a mistake, he infects not only himself, or a small congregation, but infects, potentially, the whole world. With a bad or false idea. When the occasional bad idea or idol breaks out, in the media, and has too much influence, a bad idea, a bad theology, can drag many millions – even billions – of people down with it.
Here we are dealing with a single rebellious nun. But her media, televangelical network, now reaches hundreds of millions of people; in the age of the Internet, her doubtful messages now reach, infect, the whole world. With a theology that is clearly narrow and heretical. Pro Life anti-abortionism, is extremely narrow and obsessive; it is focused far too narrowly, on just “one issue” in life; and it therefore neglects many other important things. While in effect, the narrow obsessiveness of Pro Life anti-abortionism, makes it in effect, a fetish cult.
The Pro-Life antiabortionist movement, is a cult. A cult of the embryo. A cult whose narrowness and obsessiveness is, moreover, extremely destructive, and often even literally fatal. Even right now, in 2009/10, many Catholic anti-abortionists are working to defeat a government proposal for better Health Care, Health Insurance, for (10 to 30 million uninsured) poor people. “Catholic” embryo cultists are willing to stop this health care for the poor, because the health care bill allows abortion. Catholics in this way now work against the cause that was championed more often by Jesus himself, than almost any other: helping the poor, healing the sick.
Cult Catholics are now actively working against one of the major goals of Jesus himself: healing the poor, the sick. They are giving it up, moreover, for an issue that was never mentioned by name in the Bible. They are giving it up, even though two or three Cardinals, and the current Pope, for very good reasons – for exactly this reason in fact – attacked such dis- “proportionate,” one “issue” anti-abortionism. Right now, today, the Pro Life movement as defined by Relevant Radio, is opposing health care for the poor. In part because the present health care bill, would fund abortions. (At least one senator or congressman made his objection to the health care bill, on that basis: that it funded abortion. While Drew Mariani supports antiabortionism so strongly, that he urged listeners to call their elected officials to essentially oppose the health bill; even though the bishops supported health care for the poor publicly). This means that the at last we are seeing the bad “fruits” of one-issue Catholicism, just as the Cardinals once warned: the narrow fixation on just one thing, neglects many other evils, and allows them to flourish; in this case, it ignores the importance of combating sickness and disease. This means that in effect the obsessive fixation on abortion, the embryo, by the Catholic Church – or those who present themselves in its name – now opposes health care for the poor. And this has literally fatal consequences: this will mean that ultimately millions of poor people will die. From lack of health care. So that narrowness and small-mindedness of the Pro Life movement, now kills millions of children and adults; in the name of embryos. In the name of an entity that is not even a human being
To some extent, some bishops supported this movement; many priests and bishops were absolutely inflexible in saying that the embryo was indeed fully human; and that lead inevitably to the conclusion that we are dealing with mass murders; an issue that would indeed outweigh all others. And so, even in the name of “proportionality,” the Roman Catholic Church now allows the deaths of a few million adults, through sickness and disease; sacrificing them to save the tens of millions of embryos, and frozen bits of human tissue. But was this the right choice? Does the Church really want to go down in history, for supporting/allowing EWTN and Pro Life priests and bishops, to cause this massive disaster? No doubt, the Church at times has helped the poor and sick in the past and even today; but in this case, the Church is opposing a bill that would take better care of the poor and sick than anyone has in the past; that would save more lives still. While it appears that the Church, by encouraging or neglecting to shut down anti-abortionism, is now partially responsible for the deaths, from sickness, of millions of Americans. With even worse disasters to come?
What should be done? First of all, today, we must all now petition the Church itself, to take action against Pro Life anti-abortionism. Then too, the Church must go beyond that, to shut down the “Catholic” networks and talk show hosts, that were also responsible for this literally fatal heresy. The Pro Choice fixation became successful, in large part, thanks to the worldwide distribution of its own false ideas, by international, teleangelistic anti-abortionists, like Mother Angelica. And her network: EWTN/RN. It is because of these individuals and especially conservative networks, that the false and literally fatal ideas of anti-abortionism, are today, within a vote or two in the U.S. Senate, of handing a major defeat to one of the main aims of Jesus himself: helping the poor, and healing the sick.
Ten to thirty million poor people in America, will not get better health care; and because of that, millions will eventually die. All at the hands of anti-abortionists; all in the name of a soulless entity: the embryo. All because anti-abortionists are narrow-minded, and cannot see the larger picture. And the rests of this are disastrous: eventually millions of undisputedly human beings, poor sick people, will die prematurely, because anti-abortionists stopped the health care bill that would have saved them. And the unnecessary deaths of millions of poor and sick Americans, is just the first of many disasters that will come. From the fatal, abominable narrowness, of such one-issue theologies; millions will die from the abomination of Mother Angelica, and Pro Life anti-abortionism. But even worse than the a) deaths of millions from lack of health care, are the b) billions that may well be killed, by neglect of the environment; and the c) lack of desire to avoid unnecessary wars.
Today, many Pro-Lifers acknowledge that the Pope himself told us to look at this “proportionate”ly. But they claim that the deaths of fifty or a hundred million embryos, proportionately outweighs all other issues today. Here indeed, the Church has not looked at the implications of its claim that the embryo is fully human; indeed, if it is, then killing one is murder; and the sheer number of abortions make it mass murder. But is the Church really prepared to face the implications of its stupid claim? That therefore, we should ignore the rest of “life,” ignore wars and the environment and health care, and let millions of child and adults die? All in the name of the holy embryo? Here the Church itself has erred, disastrously. It should a) immediately retract its current claim that the embryo is human from conception; and b) should further emphasize the evils of “one issue” Catholicism, specifically naming Pro Life anti-abortionism; and it should c) continue to focus the public on other issues. While d) shutting down EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio. And e) excommunicating most of the staff at these networks; along with their associates, Fr. Frank Pavone, Sheila Liuagminas. Only that will prevent this heresy from destroying the whole world.
Can the Church shut down several “Catholic” evangelical organizations? Historically, evangelicals specifically have always presented some very special problems for the Church. Allowing many ordinary, untrained people to speak prominently for God, in life and over the media to millions, normally brings some advantages – but also some considerable evils. Especially, untrained people often say things about God, that may be false. Because of that, over and over again, as part of its war on Protestants, the Church (and the remnants of the Roman and Holy Roman Empire) had asserted adamantly, repeatedly, that there was no room for private or lay “evangelists.” There was no room for persons who were not priests, to presume to speak for the Church. And to support that claim, the Church even explicitly addressed the part of the Bible, where Jesus seemed to tell all believers to go out and preach or “evangelize” to all nations: the Church said that in this passage, Jesus was not authorizing just any and all Christians, or just anyone at all, to go out and speak for God; the Church said that Jesus meant only to give that “commission” to in effect, the Twelve Apostles. Or even especially the Church claimed, to one apostle: Peter. Or then, Jesus meant to give the authority to evangelize, to the official, legitimate successors of the apostles (by “Apostolic Succession”); to Catholic priests, and especially, popes. Regarding “evangelization” therefore, the Church traditionally and very adamantly said that the only people that were fully authorized by the Bible, to go out and act as spokesmen for God, were not random individuals, but were primarily major apostles; especially St. Peter. Or then, Peter’s legitimate successors: the Bishops of Rome, the Popes (by strict “apostolic succession.”)
“Conservative” Catholics claim to follow Catholic tradition exactly. But traditionally, the Church often adamantly opposed the idea that just anyone, any private individual, outside the Church, could “evangelize” or preach to others. The reason for this, is that the Church had often been confronted by various persons it considered heretics: with people teaching in the name of God, what the Church considered to be false doctrines. To be sure, many of those who were teaching apparently false doctrines – like Protestants – asserted that they had the right to do so. Protestants asserted that Christ had given nearly everyone, a “Great Commission,” when Christ told his followers to “go” and speak to all nations. Protestants asserting that therefore, any believer, in the Church or not, could go out and preach or “evangelize.” But the Church has insisted that by that statement, Jesus had not meant to hand on the authority to teach, just to ordinary people, but especially and only to, apostles. Or to the designated successors of the apostles, beginning with Peter. Or to the successors that Peter designated: the later bishops of Rome, or the popes.
Regarding ordinary people participating in “evangelization” therefore? The Church traditionally, normally opposed it. Indeed, it literally fought a series of wars against the Protestants, for claiming that. From these and many other acts, it is clear Church really did not want many private individuals speaking whatever they thought, for the Church, and its God; the authority to speak for the God, it insisted over and over again, belonged primarily to the Pope himself. Or at most, to the Bishops. And remotely, priests; but only when they were speaking authorized words. Certainly the authority to speak for the Church and for God, does not belong to televangelists and talk show hosts and apologists. Or even to ordinary nuns, normally. Those who think otherwise, do not agree with the Church, and should simply leave the Church entirely. Or be excommunicated from it.
No doubt, the Church’s own call for a “new evangelization” confused many people. So that now a clarification is desperately needed on this issue. It seems that the Church could never have really anticipated that a) this phrase would become the motto, the justification, for numerous heresies. So that b) it is once again time for the Church to publicly, repeatedly recall its own adamant opposition to evangelization in other contexts; as when it executed many heretics; and when it suppressed the Protestant Reformation. In any case, c) it is time for the Church to remind lay people and priests, that not every Catholic lay person or priest, really makes an infallible – or even good – spokesman for the Church; much less for God; “are all teachers”? “Not many of you should become teachers.” In particular, d) our review here of the many major mistakes made by Pro Lifers and EWTN/RN staffers especially, shows that there should be adamantly, no “evangelical”or any other commission from the Church, for “Catholic” talk show hosts and apologists. On the contrary, e) the very heart of Catholic Tradition, has been adamantly against any such thing. The Church always stressed proper training, education, or “formation” of primarily, professional priests; priests who would become bishops, popes. To serve as the real authority. While indeed, f) the Church should now make every effort to shut down EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, along with associates like Fr. Frank Pavone, Karl Keating, Sheila Liuagminas.
It is shocking in fact, that the Church has allowed EWTN/RN to exist. From the 16th to the 20th centuries, Catholics often physically attacked, went to war with, “evangelicals.” Like Protestants and others; for claiming the right to speak for the Bible and for God, themselves, without the Pope. Many millions were killed by Catholics, precisely to deny the right to speak for God to others, in dozens of religious wars, like the Thirty Years War. Indeed, the Spanish Armada sailed, to destroy Protestant England; and restore England to Catholicism. While literal, physical wars between Catholics and Protestants, over the very issue of who has the right to speak for God, continued as recently as 1998, say, in Northern Ireland. The Church always insisting that evangelicals, Protestants, were wrong; and had no right to evangelize. While earlier the same issue had reigned; millions being killed over the centuries, as heretics.
For centuries, the Church has authorized primarily only priests and especially their superiors – the Popes – to speak for it, authoritatively. While even there, they speak only very conditionally; the Church acknowledges that even priests can make mistakes; and to rein even priests in, the Church in fact often limited their official pronouncements to the very tightly scripted words of the liturgy or Mass. Or indeed, regarding who has the right to evangelize, or who is most authoritative, standard doctrine says that only the Pope is infallible. While even the Pope, is only authoritative only at certain times. Even Popes make mistakes, some say today; to they are considered authoritative, only when speaking “ex Cathedra.” Or in other words, only when speaking officially, from the chair or throne, with an intent to present an infallible teaching. (While in addition, there is only the barest and most conditional room for non-priest or lay saints? And only if approved by priests, after all.)
The new “Catholic” media love to quote the Church’s apparent endorsement of a “new evangelization.” These media outlets assert that this statement encourages ordinary Catholics, even talk show hosts, to speak or “evangelize” for the Church and for God. Seemingly, separately from – and even over and above? – priests and the Pope. But our very quick review of some Church history on this subject, suggests that it would actually be a startling reversal of Catholic tradition, if the Church, advocating the “new evangelization,” meant to suddenly embrace the concept that ordinary untutored people, apologists and talk show hosts, were suddenly free to speak authoritatively as the voice of the Church. If that had been the intent of the Church, then ages of Church tradition against “evangelical”s would have been suddenly, shatteringly, reversed.
If either John Paul II or some earlier fixture of the Church began apparently encouraging, authorizing, a “new evangelization,” then no doubt it is time for the Church to now better define what it meant. It might be worth stressing existing caveats found in the original documents. Today, the Church needs to read constantly, clearly, to networks like EWTN, the key parts of existing documents – and introduce new clarifications on them. To warn that “the new evangelization” is not quite what EWTN has claimed; it is not a phrase authorizing apologists and talk show hosts, to speak officially as the voice of the Church. The call for a new evangelization is certainly not the Pope abdicating his authority to apologists and talk show hosts and EWTN. Or appointing them as his reliable voicepieces. Indeed, there is no official commission from the Church at all, not even in this phrase – the “new evangelization” – for Catholic talk radio. Especially when the media apes say things that go against the saints, and the Pope.
What was the original intent of the phrase then? The phrase “the new evangelization” was most prominently delivered it seems, by one or two popes, not too long ago; most prominently by John Paul II. It was delivered in such a way as to appear to at last, a) either make ecumenist concessions to Protestants and evangelicals; to suggest that Protestant ministers might have some authority. Or to b) encourage qualified people, priests and bishops – or especially, Catechism teachers – to evangelize properly. It is not certain at all, that this phrase was c) intended to allow Catholics to co-opt the Protestants’ ability to deputize their laity; to allow a vast number of ordinary rank-and-file Catholics to presume to speak as authorities, for their religion.
To be sure, the Church might have flirted with this last notion – of allowing ordinary believers to preach. But it allowed this, only experimentally, and only for a moment. The bishops seem to have thought that since fewer and fewer people want to become priests, perhaps, as the number of priests declined worldwide (relative to the number of people they serve), the Church now needed to deputize some new voices; to get civilians, non-priests, to fill in some jobs; and even speak for the Church. It is possible that our religious leaders toyed with the idea, that it might allow ordinary believers, non-priests, some leeway, some expression, some right to spread the message of God. As Protestants have. So that the Church would be able to use ordinary Catholics at last, not just priests, to spread the word. But if that experiment was ever the intent of “the new evangelization,” we will have been showing here that this new experiment had borne many foul fruits. Clearly there are many pitfalls, when many ordinary citizens, talk show hosts like Drew Mariani, presumptuously take it on themselves to begin speaking in a forum, a mode, formerly occupied only by highly trained bishops and Popes.
What kinds of things specifically, have already gone seriously wrong with the New Evangelization, and the new conservative media? There were clearly many dangers in this experiment. And many of those dangers have been resulted in bad things, in fact. Specifically, the problem was that the new evangelization handed over too much power, to unqualified people. Many ignorant and biased persons, with their own political agendas, and no real “theology,” as Cardinal Mahony noted, took up the “call for a new evangelization” (as EWTN constantly trumpeted it). Every day today, many unqualified people, who are not priests, take this phrase, and use it as the Catholic Church’s alleged authorization for even the most uneducated, untutored, right-wing talk show hosts, to present themselves as the voice of the Church. To present their false ideas as the voice of God.
The “new evangelization” therefore, or the handing over of some Church power to the laity, might have been well-intended. So that perhaps some more cautious version of the new evangelization, might even some day, more properly monitored, do some good. But for now, our report here shows that to date, some very, very egregious sins and errors have resulted from this apparent new policy experiment. To allow and even encourage ordinary lay Catholics to teach religion, might on the one hand seem to be a good thing in many ways. It might seem to be a) a nice ecumenical move; one that would both send out a friendly endorsement of even Protestants. By at last acknowledging the validity of Protestant evangelicalism; allowing people other than the Pope to have direct communion with God. Or b) perhaps too, perhaps it was intended (merely) to allow some lay persons to teach Catechism classes. (A subject, an aspect of the new evangelical commission, addressed by some Church documents). Or then too, it even seems that this phrase was engineered in such a way, as c) to allow – in one reading – a possible mobilization of lay Catholics, even over and against Protestants. To allow Catholics to at last, compete with Protestants, by authorizing and energizing and enabling ordinary Catholics, to even go door-to-door, seeking converts. Or d) to speak out loud, on the radio. It is conceivable that the Church intended to offer (to be sure, equivocal and ambiguous) phrases, to allow replacing the declining number of priests, with laypersons. Or even to interface with lay media, and gain many new outlets and spokesmen for its own point of view. But this new phrase, which would seem harmless and positive enough, and potentially even useful, was actually, a revolutionary experiment. One whose results were not completely positive.
This simple phrase, as it has been commonly used every day on talk radio, was anything but “conservative”; it was all but totally reversing centuries of Tradition. Before this phrase, the Church had been extremely hierarchical and ordered; it had been based firmly on the idea that private individuals often sin and err in their ideas about religion, Christianity – and therefore, we should trust and rely, only on well-vetted, authorized authorities. We should not follow even apparently very pious lawyers and talk-show hosts and apologists; instead, we should follow primarily, priests. Especially priests who have attended good religious or seminary programs. Or even more than that, we should follow the Cardinals and the Pope. Especially when the Pope is speaking authoritative.
The Bible itself often warned that we should be cautious, even about following the fathers, our priests; since even priests sin and err and are often “false.” Therefore the Church at times implied that we should follow even priests and bishops, only when they are speaking in a way, consistent with the Church and the Pope. Especially, the Church often stressed the authority of the Pope. Though to be sure, even Popes can make mistakes. So that we are to follow only the most authoritative words spoken by the Pope. While if there are to be any evangelicals at all, mostly they are the Popes, only.
Catholic talk show hosts have read the “new evangelization” therefore, in a way that been a very significant departure from Catholic Tradition. And as we will have shown here, a very destructive departure. In general, it might have been hoped by many liberal, progressive leaders, that a somewhat more diffused, and/or broader power structure in religion, might have been useful; to update our religious institutions. Perhaps that was part of the reason that this new phrase was spread. But at the same time, in this, like many “new” ideas, there have been some unforeseen mistakes and pitfalls. In the case of the “New Evangelization,” there have been some extremely serious mistakes. Especially, the error of the New Evangelization has been this: in the transition from the extremely, overly centralized authority of priests and the Pope, to, like Protestants, giving every individual a small measure of authority on his own, eventually, too much power was handed over to unreliable, untrained people.
There are some answers to this. Earlier, Protestants who had at times asserted the right of almost anyone to find his own way to God, had eventually themselves had problems with unreliable people speaking falsely or fatally for God. And so even Protestants had found some ways of dealing with this: by suggesting that we should listen primarily not just to anyone, but primarily to at least, trained ministers. Of whatever denomination. Even most Protestants today, do not quite tell us that we should listen to just anyone; even Protestant church suggested we should follow Protestant “authorities,” say. (A word from the Bible itself). We might follow say – and even there, with caution to be sure – major churches. Or we might follow religious scholars from reliable institutions. So that amazingly enough, even the very Protestants whose very religion is based in part on the asserted right to break away from much of traditional religious authority – to break away from and disobey The Church – eventually found their own way of regulating religious speech, somewhat.
Probably it would be useful if the new Catholic “New Evangelical”s, noted that they have Protestant predecessors; the Protestant evangelicals. While they should also note that there were some controls on evangelicalism however, even in Protestantism itself. Though the Reformation opened up religious authority a little, still, it did not normally hand over full or even very great authority, to just anyone. Or if it did hand over much power, then to be sure, many subsequent problems with that were widely noted. For some time for example, even many Protestants have noted severe problems that have occurred, abuses, when televangelism, the media, created much power and influence, among relatively independent and unsophisticated speakers, like Pat Robertson
The experience of opening things up a bit, in religion, had long been known to Protestants. This experience though has been newer, and more radical, for the normally extremely hierarchical and institutional Roman Catholic Church. And the old institution did not quite understand the ins and outs, of this new thing. It did not know how even this new freedom, needed to be guided somewhat. So that we didn’t get people doing “whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Or claiming whatever they wanted, any of the even bad “traditions of men,” as the doctrine of God. So that when a rebellious nun, Mother Angelica, in 1982 decided to start her own radio station, the Church for all practical purposes (and in spite of whatever protestations against it, from Church officials, that might have taken place behind the scenes), the Church either intentionally or accidentally, gave Mother far more freedom, and far, far more authority, than it should have given her, and the new media.
Unfortunately, it seems clear from our present study, that the phrase the “new evangelization,” has resulted in some very bad developments. The phrase, “the New Evangelization,” trumpeted every day on Catholic media networks, became the rallying cry or slogan of many new “Catholic” media organs – and it was taken by dozens of unqualified people, as their alleged authorization, to saw whatever they wanted, in the name of the Church. This phrase was taken by every allegedly Catholic talk show host or housewife, as his or her ostensible commission from the Church, to speak for God, and for the Church. On the radio. Ad infinitum; ad nauseum. But today it is clear that this experiment was not entirely successful; those who took up the call, expressed many views that cannot hold up to close inspection, of what the Church really, more fully said.
What therefore should we now finally say about this “new” experiment: about the New Evangelization? Unfortunately, we are beginning to see here and now, that great problems have resulted from this doctrine … and the “strange new doctrine”s it created (to echo Paul’s warning). No doubt, it is useful and even vital for all religious institutions today to acknowledge, along with Protestantism and natural law, that the common, ordinary person, has some kind of natural, native access to truth and to God. And that the ordinary person should have a fairly high degree of religious freedom, even within each individual religion. But it ironically appears however, that no institution should be so liberal, as to allow “conservatives” to assert they are from God. No institution should allow just anyone to speak for it; unassisted by close monitoring and oversight of reliable agencies. That is to say: to simply tell anyone that whatever they feel or think is OK, is not good. Specifically in the case of Catholic talk radio: to let uneducated superpatriots, bellow their false opinions and hybrid political/religious philosophies, as the definitive word of the Church, has been a disaster. A disaster from which perhaps, the Church will never recover. (Especially when this is added to the scandal of priests sexually molesting girls and boys).
From our experience with talk show hosts – and particularly, their anti-abortionism – the “New Evangelization” has been a disaster, to date. The New Evangelization has not been properly overseen or monitored by the Church – and it has developed finally, into a very unsuccessful and destructive experiment. So that soon we hereby petition the Church to re-evaluate this trial balloon. It is high time for everyone in fact, to publicly assert that the “new evangelization” has not been successful enough, in present form, to be regarded as a new, firm, even ex-Cathedra “tradition,” “dogma.” In particular, it is clear that we must firmly and unequivocally reject, the specific new pronouncements of televangelists, that the Church and God firmly told us that aa) the fetus was fully human. Or bb) that killing it was murder. Or cc) that therefore the Church and God were ordering us to vote for the most anti-abortion candidate, in most elections. Or that dd) the Church and God were ordering us to vote Republican in every election. Each and every one these elements of televangelical anti-abortionism, are simply, false. Furthermore, the result of following this narrow, limited mindset, has not been good so far; and may well cause many millions of deaths, in the near future.
As we will have been finding here, a) the largely new para-doctrine of “the New Evangelicalization” was rash; and was inconsistent with the Bible warning that “not many of you should become teachers.” The warnings about many “false” things even in alleged Christians, followers of a “Christ.” While indeed, b) those warnings about allowing just anyone to speak in religion, were prescient and useful: the specific doctrines that the new evangelists propose, are often false. Especially the doctrine of “conservatism.” And especially, c) the doctrine of Pro Life, anti-abortionism, was a false doctrine. When EWTN came to follow Mother Angelica and Karl Keating’s anti-abortionism more and more closely, EWTN began to deviate significantly from true doctrine. The fact is, the Church itself should never really authorize such a narrow, “one issue” reading of “life” and Catholic doctrine. In fact, the Church itself, continually condemned in effect, what EWTN was teaching: at least two or three Cardinals, the USCCB, the Vatican, and the Pope himself, told Catholic over and over, in effect, that EWTN’s anti-abortionism was simply, wrong. (See Ratzinger’s, Benedict XVI’s 2004 “Worthiness to Receive…” on “proportion”; see McCarrick’s remarks on one-“issue” Catholicism, etc).
What went wrong, with the new evangelization, and specifically with EWTN and Pro Life Catholicism? EWTN has long since become precisely, the very dis ”proportionate,” “one issue” organization, that three Cardinals and the Pope condemned. EWTN focused far, far too much on this one issue; to the point of constantly insisting that this one issue should determine our vote in every election. A point that many authorities oppose. While indeed, any continuing insistence by that organization, that abortion is a very, very serious crime is simply, wrong. What EWTN says, is firmly against what the Cardinals and the Pope said. (EWTN attempts to get around this, by stressing “bishops”; not honestly noting that after all, Cardinals and Popes are also Bishops – and higher ranking ones, at that).
The one-sidedness and dishonesty of so many televangelists -and of EWTN and anti-abortionism in particular – is evident in the fact that that you never adequately heard this on EWTN itself. The network itself almost never reports : that at least three Cardinals and the Pope, have attacked EWTN or its anti-abortionism. That a) least one Cardinal – Mahony – criticized Mother Angelica, the founder and former head of EWTN specifically. For various heresies and apostasy in effect. The network almost never reports that soon after, two more extremely prominent Cardinals – including b) Cardinal McCarrick, who was the head of the USCCB – criticized “one issue” Catholicism. The network never tells the people the “full” balanced view of things. But especially, c) the narrow, one-sided anti-abortionism of EWTN/RN, Karl Keating, Fr. Frank Pavone and “Priests for Life,” of Sheila Liaugminas, never tells the people what the Vatican itself said – when it never really tells the people that Cardinal Ratzinger of the Vatican said specifically that voting for pro-abortion candidates “can be permitted” (as the Cardinal said at the end of the 2004 memo, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion”). Or especially, d) the deceitfulness of EWTN can be seen in the fact that it almost never points out to listeners that the 2004 memo which permitted voting for pro-abortion candidates, became particularly important, when its author, Cardinal Joe Ratzinger, became our current pope, “Our Holy Father,” Benedict XVI.
EWTN from the beginning, has been hoplessly one-sided. But when it came to emphasize anti-abortionism, to mention it every week, every day, almost every hour, EWTN became in effect – as it now remains – precisely the one “issue” Catholicism that was actualy condemned by the Church itself. That was condemned among others, by Cardinal McCarrick. And McCarrick was no ordinary cardinal moreover: he was also head of the USCCB, the organization that oversees all American bishops. But then too finally, EWTN crossed, disobeys, Card. Joe Ratzinger’s 2004 memo; while that memo was issued by an expremely prominent authority in the Vatican. Indeed, Ratzinger eventually became our current Pope.
The chief examples of the New Evangelization – EWTN and Pro Lifers – have therefore clearly deliberately, consistently, flagrantly, and publicly – scandalously – disobeyed the Pope himself. EWTN’s anti-abortionism, is precisely the narrow, dis “proportionate” focus, that was condemned by Cardinal Ratzinger. And that ruling was rather firm: Ratzinger was the very Cardinal who was, at the time, the Vatican’s chief officer in control of evaluating, precisely, the validity of such doctrines (he was head of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith”). More than that though, Ratzinger in 2005 or so became our current Pope; Pope Benedict XVI. This means that Catholic televangelists and specifically their one-issue anti-abortionism have been not only found false in our own arguments here; but they have been criticized by the very, very highest, legitimate Catholic authority. Pro Choice ideas, have been condemned by three cardinals, and by the Pope himself.
And yet however, scandalously, their criticism has to date had almost no effect whatsoever. Anyone who listens to EWRN or Relevant Radio on the Internet today, 2010, will hear the very same heretical, extreme anti-abortion views expressed that were formulated and presented, 30 years ago. In spite of the constant criticism by Cardinals and the Pope, the anti-abortion heresy has not only persisted – and had even grown. And this has had an adverse effect, some would say, on several elections. While indeed, Pro Life-ism may be soon responsible for the deaths of millions. As obsessive-compulsive obsession with just one issue in life, causes Catholics to neglect countless other, even worse evils. As Catholics are now lead to neglect health care for the poor; which had been a primary concern for Jesus himself, no less.
Televangelists – and especially, among other things, their all too frequent one-issue focus on things like abortion – have long been a disaster waiting to happen. So what should we all now do to fix this? Among other things, we desperately need to demand that the Church itself, the Vatican, the International Theological Commission, take a look at our present document. The Church itself should now take a much closer look at the many doctrinal errors in the New Evangelicalism; especially errors in conservatism, and anti-abortionism. And next, the Church should very soon begin rein in the New Evangelization. And it should soon take far, far firmer actions against EWTN/RN and various prominent anti-abortionists. Far firmer than it has taken in the past. Firmer than the chastisement of three Cardinals and a Pope.
The fact is, we have found here that allegedly “conservative” televangelism commits many gross sins and errors; including the sin of a too-radical, exclusive, disproportionate anti-abortionism. While that narrow, disproportionality, can be literally, physically fatal, to the lives of millions of indisputably human beings. In fact therefore, conservative televangelism and antiabortionism is a heresy – and a literally fatal doctrine. It is therefore time for some very, very dramatic and strong measures against it. But here we must note that the action that must be taken against EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, must be very, very strong indeed. Because already, even the already quite severe chastisement of this movement, by the chief authorities of the Church – by three Cardinals and the Pope himself – has not worked. So that very, very drastic and strong action indeed, must now be taken. Especially because some major new helpful legislation – Health Care and so forth – are even right now, today, at risk (Dec. 2009). “Other issues” in which the lives of hundreds of millions, are at stake. (Lack of systematic health care, will eventually cause millions to die prematurely, if nothing else).
The new evangelists have rebelled against the Church; and now the lives of not just embryos, but the lives of millions of live human beings, are at risk. Millions of poor sick people, will die prematurely, because anti-abortionists denied them adequate Health Insurance. While the fate of the entire world is at risk, thanks to narrow people and sentimental women who only see the value of the embryo, and deny the value of grown human children and adults; who don’t take care to mind the problem with a) health care; b) with wars; and c) environmental disaster. So what must now be done? First, we will have directed our study of the problems here, not just to discuss this academically; but also as a petition: to ask for action both from the Church. And also from the public. Our present book is presented both as a critical study – but so that both interested members of the public, and the Church, can be energized, and come to rigorously, effectively address these silly/destructive new heresies, at last.
Who is Responsible
For These Heresies?
Our present volume is intended as a workbook, to assist those few who wish to stop these series of heresies; our book here sums up responses to more than 100 of conservative’s and particularly anti-abortionism’s arguments. Our book here should help ordinary citizens and the Church, to have some defenses against these increasingly-well organized and predominant heresies; in our present book here, we will have documented the way anti-abortionists go against, say, three major authorities in Christianity. Essentially the Pro Life movement goes against: the 1) Bible itself; 2) Theology; and 3) the Church itself; its tradition and doctrines. In addition we will have noted anti-abortionism going against 4) Ethics, and 5) Science.
But specifically, who and what persons and institution have been at the center of the problem? Especially, the problem has been the staff on EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio; and their associates. Including especially prominent talk-show hosts, lay apologists, and Pro Life guests.
Specifically and by name, the problem, the chief ringleaders of the heresy, are not only Karl Keating, discussed here in nearly an entire chapter, but also the following. This persons have been vociferous anti-abortionists, in flagrant rebellion against the Bible, and in rebellion against the Church:
115) # 147 Jimmy Akin, of EWRN;
116) # 148 Johnnette Benkovic, of EWRN
117) # 149 Ms. McGuigan (SP?) of EWRN.
118) # 150 But especially special guests, like especially, Sheila Liaugminas. The major lay voice in “Catholic” anti-abortionism today. (See above, Nov. 2009).
None of the people on this first list, are priests it seems; these are only lay apologists or political activists. This means that they claim to speak authoritatively for the Church – but as ordinary lay persons, they actually have little or no official status with the Church itself. Many are women. Who some would say, now prominently disobey the Bible, not only in their anti-abortionism, but also by being women speaking prominently in and for, the Church. Something forbidden.
(Other persons of interest: Patrick Madrid, Tim Staples, Raymond Arroyo, Fr. John Corapi, and many, many others who have worked on, or appeared on, the EWTN network. Check spelling? Some of these persons are priests. Later we will single out Fr. Frank Pavone especially.).
And Televangelists, Anti-Abortionists;
Failed Efforts to Control
Even Heretical Priests and Bishops:
Fr. Edmund Sylvia; Fr. Frank Pavone;
A destructive heresy has taken over Catholic media. But that isn’t the worst of it: the same heresy is taking over the Church itself. And America. And the world.
The church leaders, the Cardinals who criticized Mother Angelica and one-issue anti-abortionism, might have thought that the resignation of Mother Angelica of EWTN, c. 2001, would have solved the problem of the heresy. But the resignation of the founder of EWTN, actually had really no effect whatsoever. It did not effect things at all – because the problem was not just Mother Angelica; it was her self-styled Catholic media organization. And the people who worked for it.
As we will have shown here, Catholic leaders, cardinals and bishops, had apparently made efforts to speak pastorally – and at times, as Cardinal Mahony apparently did, speak even more strongly – to those involved in such media. As Cardinal Mahony conflicted strongly with EWTN Mother Angelica herself. But those efforts were not successful. Nor were even stronger measures. Three Cardinals and a Pope have criticized EWTN in effect – with no appreciable result. One might hope or think that the Catholic Church could simply take over the network, and fix the problem. But among its many other successful rebellions against the Church, EWTN is said (by Ferarra) to have successfully resisted later, more direct attempts of the Church, to simply take over and control the network directly.
119) # 151 Earlier efforts by the Church to assert control over the network, have failed. It is reported that around the time of the conflict between Cardinal Mahony (and perhaps before and then after the resignation of Mother Angelica), the Church had made some effort to assert some final, stronger, more direct control over the network. By a) Mahony censuring Angelica, and b) demanding her resignation. And then it is said c) people asserting that the network itself, was owned by Mother Angelica’s order of nuns; and that in effect the network was therefore owned, by the Church. From this, an attempt was made by the Church to in effect, actually control the network. By asserting, assuming ownership. But the problem was, that the network had not in fact really been owned by the Church at all; it was an independent company, after all. Though it constantly presents itself as the voice of the Church, the network after all, we have noted, had from the start set itself up to be independent of Church control; it did not even have the word “Catholic” in its name (as Wikipedia noted). So that when the Church tried to control the network, by asserting that it owned it, the network escaped again. Demonstrating that it pretends to be loyal to the Church, even as it systematically rebels against it, and systematically takes measures to insure it will not have to actually obey Catholic authorities.
Is it possible for the Church to actually bring this rebellious network into the fold? Earlier, Church leaders like Cardinal Mahony had apparently tried speaking privately to various staffmembers, or to send a message to Mother Angelica. While two other Cardinals and the Pope chastised its one issue theology. But all such efforts by Church authority to control the network, manifestly failed; EWTN’s typical broadcast day is still full of countless heresies, (as of May 2009). So, beyond demonstrably impotent censure, is there any other way the Church can fix this? For example: could the Church just simply take over the network? In part, some sources report that the Church finally tried this move: the Church (or Mother Angelica’s convent or order?) attempted to assert that a nun had founded the network – so that the Church owned EWTN. But it is reported this attempt by elements of the Church, to finally actually gain control of the network however, apparently failed. (As Ferrara asserts). The reason was that this network, which every other time implied it was run by and loyal to the Roman Catholic Church … suddenly changed its message. The network apparently asserted privately, with at least temporary success, that it was actually not an official branch of the Church, but was a non-profit corporation or some such; owned or headed by someone else other than Mother Angelica.
This foregrounds the hypocrisy of the network. When it was convenient for the network to claim to be the official voice of the Church, it allowed that impression to stand; in order to appear more authoritative to Catholics. But the minute that an apparent tie to the Church became inconvenient, when the Church actually attempted to assert any control over the network, the alleged tie to the Church was quickly dropped, or found to have been false all along. The attempt by the Church to take over the network, exposed the lie that the network was dutifully, loyally, fully Catholic; as soon as that constant implication became inconvenient, as soon as the Church attempted to assert real ownership and leadership and control over the organization, the tie to the Church was quickly dropped. This is either an example of hypocrisy. Or it is in any case, evidence that the tie between the network and the Church is not very close; not a relation of ownership.
How can EWTN be controlled then? Even if the Church does not simply own EWTN, it may be that there is one other very, very likely avenue by which the Church can control agencies, like EWTN: even if it does not use the word “Catholic” in its name, “Eternal Word Television Network” still often claims to be “Catholic,” elsewhere. While in effect, it is said the word “Catholic,” operates as something like a copyrighted brand name; it is a brand name owned and controlled by the Church. (As implied by the Wikipedia article). Therefore, it may be that the Church could simply … insist that any such rebellious public entity, misusing the name “Catholic” – as does EWRN; “Global Catholic Radio”(as it says on its WEB site) – be denied the right to use the word “Catholic,” or “the Church,” in any of its promotional materials. And/or, it might be sued for any other related past misrepresentation of itself, as speaking for the Church.
To be sure, at first this seems difficult. Because indeed, simultaneously protesting its loyalty to the Church, EWTN has systematically evaded control by it, by leaving the word “Catholic” out of its name. In order to escape, perhaps, canon or other law; which might stipulate that anyone using the name “Catholic” must indeed, be under the direct control of the Roman Catholic Church (as hinted in the Wikipedia article?). But this kind of action might be based either on canon law … or on Civil law. Which should protect the name, as copyrighted in effect. And whether EWTN has the word “Catholic” in its official name or not, it certainly uses the word elsewhere: for example, it has it in its subtitle for EWRN, “Global Catholic Radio.” While it also inevitably uses the word “Catholic,” and the “Church,” and the “Pope,” The “Holy Father,” again and again every day in its broadcasts. While it includes countless priests on its shows. So that it is clear: even if it never said this explicitly at all, the network represents itself continually, as the voice of the Roman Catholic Church. (See Karl Keating’s Voting Guide; for example).
There is no doubt whatsoever that, whether it uses the word “Catholic” in its name or not, this network represents itself every day, as Catholic. Therefore, it may be in violation of some canon law, the law of the Church itself. More likely though, if the Church determines that the network is not really following the Church’s rules, or if the network does not have any official charter, it might be claimed – outside canon or Church law but instead in civil court – it is misusing the copyrighted term “Catholic.” The network is in violation especially, of various civil proprietary and copyright laws.
The Cardinals and the Pope have tried, unsuccessfully, to control EWTN in the past; but all efforts have failed; and EWTN remains abstinently disobedient to the Church. In spite of being pastorally counseled; in spite of the even rather direct intervention of three Cardinals and the Pope. It is obvious therefore that only some very, very strong and very direct measures must be used against EWTN, to end this problem. To fix this, among many other very strong measures necessary to end this deadly heresy, the Church might simply shut down EWTN, by suing it in civil court, for misusing the term “Catholic.” For falsely representing itself as a spokesman for or extension of the institution. (If it has not already done so, probably the Roman Catholic Church should simply file in civil courts, to have the word “Catholic” branded, as its own trade name. Thus giving it certain rights and powers in civil courts. And not just in its own, internal courts. Doing this would give Catholicism far more protections against heretics; and would be far more effective than relying on strictly voluntary compliance by such media organizations.) This and other very strong measures are now necessary, because milder efforts to rein in the network, were rebuffed by EWTN. The Church had perhaps believed for example, that a) the mere pastoral presence of priests as regular guests on the network, and their occasional presence on the network, would rein it in; but that did not work. In part, because priests on the network, had very little real power; they did not own or really run the network. While b) by now, antiabortionists are utterly convinced of their own righteousness; any pastoral advice to the contrary, even by priests, even by Cardinals, is simply ignored, or denigrated as more “liberal” propaganda. Then too c) the many sophists and rhetoricians on call as network guests, have managed to fool even many priests, as to what the position of the Church really is. Priests might attempt appeal to the conscience of EWTN staffmembers; but from the start – or certainly by now – most of EWTN is a hardened, cynical opponent, convinced that its own heresy is the absolute truth; and it has been arguing this, using dishonest lawyerly arguments, against opponents, for decades. So that by now, it is set in its dishonest ways; its conscience is seared. And mere pastoral chastisement by priests will not have much effect. Not when criticism by three cardinals and the pope had no real effect.
Many might have hoped that priests on these networks would have moderated, controlled any heresies. But we have found here, that the mere presence of priests, without any real power to enforce anything, had very little effect. One might hope that priests at least, would manage to convince the network to be good; but this hope underestimated the obdurate and powerful pride of the network, and its strong if false convictions. The fact is, these networks by now are hardened opponents. They are set in their ways, and set in their heretical positions; and they are armed with countless sophistries and personal self-righteousness, to defend their heresies. These networks are powerful and entrenched institutions. So that typically, when there is a conflict between priests and the network, it is more often the network that wins; the network changes and controls priests, more than the other way around. In the contest between the Network and Priests, the Church – the one-issue antiabortionist Network, for now, has won. It has won by many different devices. It has beaten the Church, by a hundred different devices and stratagems. In part, among others, it has won by simply ignoring priests; telling them they have no legal authority over them (as it seems here). Or by simply not asking resistant priests back to appear on the air. Or then too, it has won by … eventually using the network’s apologetics/spin-doctoring skills and countless arguments; to simply convert many priests to EWTN’s heretical theology. So that the Church doesn’t change EWTN; EWTN changes the Church.
Many, many attempts therefore, have been made to control this heresy. Countless attempts have been made, by religious orders; even by even bishops; even by Cardinals, even by the Pope himself, it seems, to control EWTN network. Including among their efforts, the attempt to assert ownership. But EWTN is a far more powerful opponent than anyone thought. So that so far, even the efforts of three Cardinals and a Pope, against the network, failed. Even the criticism by Cardinals McCarrick and Joe Ratzinger, of its disproportionate “one issue” theology have failed. In part, though, perhaps these previous efforts have failed because those censures, criticisms, were too vague. The mild and vague censure of unspecified “media” by Cardinal Mahony, and even the criticisms of “one issue” or dis “proportionate” theology by two other Cardinals and the Pope, were perhaps simply not direct enough. Such vague abstractions probably simply went over the heads of EWTN’s audience (and possibly even much of its staff).
How can the heresies of EWTN be stopped, therefore? When even the efforts of three cardinals and a pope against the network, have failed? Countless efforts have been made – many milder efforts many more severe ones – to try to correct this problem. But all previous efforts have all manifestly failed; though after some particularly direct rebuke, the network tones its message down for a moment, its message always resurfaces again later.
How does it persist? It has not been stopped by simple gentle advice of priests or cardinals; in part because some say (Ferrara), that this self-professedly “Catholic” network, was never actually run – much less, we now add, owned – by the Church at all. This network is now apparently in the hands of private individuals; including apologists, and even lawyers. Persons who aa) may or may not sincerely believe that they represent the Church itself. And by bb) persons in any case, without the real, direct answerability to the Church. The lay staff of the networks is not as directly controlled by the Church, as priests are. Then too, the staff is composed largely of cc) persons often, with Protestant and not Catholic background; persons dd) especially, without adequate Catholic seminary training or “formation.” Thus today we have many ee) persons who today, continue to offer their own unschooled misunderstandings of Catholicism, as the very voice of the Catholic Church itself. Persons ff) who ultimately offer their own social/political biases and flawed theologies, (as Cardinal Mahony warned) as the voice of God. And they gg) sent their false theology, worldwide, convincing millions. All hh) without any really effective oversight, control, from the Church itself, or from any other responsible agency.
At first to be sure, the staff members of conservative and antiabortionist networks like EWTN/RN, appear to be very, very pious and loyal; they appear pious and loyal even perhaps, to themselves. They think they are loyal, good Catholics. The Church itself therefore has no doubt hoped that the movement will eventually, police itself. That the staffers will be loyal Catholics, and learn to moderate their extreme opinions. Because they have been constantly assured by guests, that the Church supports their violent antiabortionism, many elements of the antiabortion movement indeed, seem to honestly believe that they and the network, have been quite loyal to the Church. But that feeling is false. The problem is that first, the staff members are not as well trained as priests once were – and so they do not really fully know what the Church itself really does say. Then too, the movements apologists are extremely clever; and generate many arguments, excuses, to try to prove their own righteousness. Indeed, the lawyers and sophists and professional speakers that control the movement are by now experts at deliberately or semi-consciously, “twist”ing what the Church says; to fit their own biases and political opinions. So that millions have been convinced by their deceits. Catholic media like EWTN, and their staff members and guests, superficially appear to themselves and others, be very loyal to the Church. But they are actually, really, deeply disloyal to it. Specifically, they are not following the ancient, real traditions of the Bible. What we find here in fact is that though they think they are conservatively returning to the old Church, they are actually … merely remembering maybe their own 1950’s state of mind, their childhood, false understanding of what is good.
So what should the Church and the public now do, to end this abuse? This heresy? It is clear that the attempts by three cardinals and a pope to correct this heresy, this network, have failed. In part because by now, many members of the movement are fully convinced of their own self-righteousness. At least a few workers at EWTN/RN, probably genuinely believe that the network and its anti-abortion cult, its cult of the Holy Embryo, are truly Catholic. But in addition to this obdurate class of people, no doubt too however, many members of the staff are conscious hypocrites or deceivers; by now they themselves know that the Church itself does not really back their position; but they are simply using the appearance of being believers, or being loyal representative of the Church, as a mask; to present their own political and social philosophies. Such conscious and hardened liars and deceivers of course, will not have been moved in the slightest, by any gentle pastoral counseling by priests.
As it attempted to deal with EWTN, the Church in fact is encountering a far more clever opponent than it is used to in our era. And so the Church has failed to be direct and rigorous enough, in attempting to deal with the problem, with the heresy of one issue Catholicism. So that in fact, this heresy is winning; it is even now, taking over the Church itself.