How to Fix This
More on The Sin of EWTN/RN
PREVIOUS STRONG ACTIONS BY THE CHURCH
AGAINST ANTI-ABORTIONISM & EWTN –
The Church and the whole world, have been increasingly mislead by the false, narrow Pro Life theology of EWTN/RN, and of various bad priests. So what can we and the Church now do to fix that? How can we restore these priests and Bishops, to real Tradition, and to a less narrow, “full”er view of God?
Major authorities in the Church have attempted to control EWTN and these heresies in the past. But shockingly, the Church itself has clearly failed. Three cardinals and the Pope himself, have tried to fix EWTN and its major issues, all without effect; EWTN simply disobeyed or “twisted” the words of three Cardinals, and the Pope. While EWTN has also always gone against core Catholic traditions; denigrating and going against the major theologian/saint of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas; who, following the Bible itself (Ps. 139; Num. 5.15-29), said that the young embryo is not sufficiently “formed” to have a “soul.” In flagrantly and at times even explicitly denigrating St. Aquinas and his theology, EWTN therefore not only disobeyed a saint; it also went against the canon laws that mandated Thomas Aquinas as a major theologian of the Church (1917 Code of Canon Law, 1918 revision; canons 589 & 1366). In fact, Catholic “conservatives” and anti-abortionists have ignored a hundred and more good arguments against their extreme, radical position. As outlined here. (And as presented informally to the network earlier, by countless call-in listeners to the network.) While the effect of these new conservative heresies, has been dire; contributing to environmental disasters, unnecessary wars, and to the denial of health care for the poor.
So what can be done? Why hasn’t the Church itself been able to shut down EWTN/RN and associates? EWTN once used to complain about lack of support from “the bishops.” But EWTN did not honestly or adequately report to its listeners, the many times that it fought against major authorities in the Church; against three cardinals, and the current pope, Joe Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. Clearly in fact, the Church itself has many times attempt to correct EWTN/RN. As Cardinal Mahony chastised Mother Angelica; as Cardinal McCarrick of the USCCB spoke against its one “issue” narrowness; as Cardinal Joe Ratzinger of the Vatican itself, in his 2004 memo, insisted that one-issue anti-abortionist is dis “proportionate”; and that therefore voting for Pro Choice politicians, “can be permitted.” And yet, even though three cardinals, including the future pope, attempted to correct EWRN/RN and its dangerously false theology, our review of the situation shows that even rather strong measures against EWTN/RN have obviously failed. Even the confrontation of EWTN founder and head Mother Angelica, by Cardinal Mahony, even the pronouncements of two Cardinals and the Pope against its chief theology, have failed. So that already, very strong disciplinary measures have already been tried by the Church, against anti-abortionism, and even specifically against EWTN/RN have been tried – but even very strong measures, by the very highest leadership in the Church itself, have obviously failed to move EWTN/RN, or end these heresies.
What therefore, is now necessary to change, correct, EWTN, before it causes even worse disasters? And how has the Neo Con network resisted change in the past? In this chapter, we will briefly review, a few final additional aspects of the problem. And we will mention too, a few milder possible solutions, that have undoubtedly already been attempted in the past. But after reviewing milder remedies against EWTN/RN and associates, we will ultimately have to recall that after all, even strong measures taken against EWTN in the past – even its rebuke by three Cardinals and the Pope – have failed to stop it. So that finally we must recommend that the milder remedies not be repeated. Since that will only repeat the same earlier failures.
111) # 173 Why and how, has EWTN/RN resisted correction to date? The problem is that by now, mild pastoral counseling, even indirect admonition by the Pope himself, will not be enough by far, to reform EWTN. By now, after 30 years, EWTN and allied agencies, are a hardened, practiced, seasoned opponent. With its many trained apologists, talk show hosts, guests, lawyers like Karl Keating, Pro Life, anti-abortionists and conservatives today, form a modern talk show, a rhetoric, sophistry machine. Today we are seeing a new kind of development in political rhetoric; a massive network of rhetoricians, trading “talking points” daily over the Internet; and then immediately broadcasting them over the radio waves and Internet. This is a new development; this new kind of mechanized sophistry machine, is enough to easily defeat old style debates, and casual arguments and responses; it has easily been enough to seduce and defeat ordinary priests and even bishops. So that all previous mild, counseling efforts against anti-abortionism – even efforts by better priests, bishops, and even Cardinals and Popes, to gently correct theological errors – have clearly failed. The Church has failed to correct the problem – because it used mild measures against a massive, hardened, practiced, obdurate, opponent. EWTN/RN and allied organizations today form a well-funded and well-staffed, lawyerly, clever opponent of the Church, and of the truth. Neo Conservatives are in possession of a rhetorical machine that is as superior to old style rhetoric, as Hitler’s mechanized army and tanks, were superior to ancient medieval fortifications of France. And in the same way as Hitler was able to simply outflank all of France, the New Conservatism’s new talk machines, were able to outflank all of the Liberal church. (The Church should see however, Barack Obama’s setting up a special web site, in his election, specifically to counter the latest rhetoric from the conservative talking point machine). Clearly, we need a more organized, rapid-response team, on “issues.”
Can the now-massive anti-abortion machine or cult, be changed or reformed at all? One might try to continue to gently counsel the movement. But there are many motivational reasons it has easily resisted change, mild pastoral reform, in the past. Especially, the movement has successfully resisted gentle reform or theological correction, because these new conservatives, are full of pride and vanity; the pride and vanity that comes from thinking of themselves as the voice of the Church, and of God. They feel important; they have influence. They are getting psychological satisfaction from their work; their vanity is being catered to.
Especially though, after having been so widely criticized in the past, the conservative and anti-abortion movements today resist milder counseling, because they have a massively “hardened heart,” a “seared conscience,” as the Bible would say. Many members of this movement, were very rough, working class, lower-middle people from the old industrial belt in Pennsylvania: they are the sons and daughters of oil field roughnecks; iron workers; coal miners. (Drew Mariani, is a Penn State graduate; while the extremely conservative/backward Franciscan seminary at Steubenville PA, was a major think tank for these new figures; Jerry Usher of EWTN perhaps was a Steubenville alum). The hard core of the movement therefore, was composed of very rough people, football fans, from physically dangerous and rough professions. They are the descendants of people who were used to being spoken to very roughly, very directly, and very loudly, in the past (so as to be heard over industrial machinery). To be sure, these are people who were trained to blindly obey loud, strongly-worded marching orders. But this means that these are people who do not even hear or respect, gentler, milder advice or subtleties at all. On being gently chastised, individual members might appear pious and obedient and chastened – for a moment. But they are generally loud, insensitive; and their theology is often extremely crude and narrow. Therefore, milder pastoral chastisements, do not get through here. These are a people descended from fathers who are blind – or more exactly, deaf; from heavy industrial noise. Merely appealing quietly and mildly to them, and their conscience therefore, or their sense of intellectual fairness, has not really worked: they are deaf.
But they are not therefore innocent victims only; they are rough perpetuators of abuse. They like physical violence. And they are not idealistic about intellectuals and leadership. So that when they go to school, they use whatever education they get, in the service of a rough, working-class cynicism and anger; and love of physical force and violence. At best they are football fans; at worst, right-wing thugs or bullies, that like to beat people up, fairly or unfairly; and at worst, they like to start wars. While their semi-intellectual branch, their apologists, don’t mind using any kind of dishonest, coercive rhetorical trick or sly move, to try to win arguments.
(See the biographies of “Father Rocky,” Fr. Francis/ “Frank” Hoffman, of Relevant Radio: Senior Direction of Mission, Programming and Development, and full time staffmember as of Feb. 2010. And Chicago “Bears fan” too, according to Sports Faith International; on whose board he serves, along with Card. George, of Chicago. Father Hoffman started out as a layman; working in part as a salesman for Inland Steel Company; before going on to join the priesthood, with advanced degrees … but especially as a priest of the infamous Opus Dei. This organization was set up c. 1928 – around the time Mussolini’s fascism triumphed? – by the Church, to allow the importance of the “ordinary work of laypersons.” But useful as that orientation is, there are many dangers in admitting persons with lay mentalities, deep into the priesthood. The problems we see with deacons, lawyer hosts, and what we see on Relevant Radio, perfectly exemplifies those dangers. In effect, all too often, we may often see the mentality of the steel worker salesman, presented as sacred. Especially the dangers of Opus Dei – “Works of God” – are so great, that this organization has been widely reviled; in Brown’s Book on the DaVinci Code not least of all. Father Rocky especially, appeared briefly on a June 5, 2005 Christ Matthews’ “Hardball Special Report,” on “Inside Opus Dei”; text reported on the Internet, by “IR.” Here we do not oppose the concept of integrating lay science particularly, into the Church; but we caution that there have been countless, fatal errors, by lay persons in the Church. While indeed, Relevant Radio is such an error, in its entirety. We would urge Fr. Hoffman – and Cardinal George too – to be cognizant of the many specific errors in Catholic/lay radio, that we are noting here. In particular, the tendency of football fans to love physical violence. Probably Fr. “Rocky” adopted this name and attitude, to compensate for the femininity of his real name, “Francis.” But this overcompensation after all, is causing problems. Fr. Rocky might do well to listen to the Feb. 11 or 12, 2010 discourse on Teresa Tomio’s EWTN show, with Deacon James Keating speaking eloquently on the dangers of laity in the priesthood).
Some might pity many of these people; but rough and dishonest salesmen as they are, and as persistent in their sins as they are, finally, there is no choice except to begin to use very, very strong and direct remedies, to shut them up. Or open their ears.
This is not easy. Especially, as the sheer bullying momentum of Conservatism, this massive media juggernaut, the practiced and well-oiled, spin-doctoring machine of right-wing “conservative” media, begins to automatically generate sound bites and sophistical arguments, to defend its conservative message. As it simply turns off any call-in opponent trying to correct it. Then too, they are being reinforced in their false beliefs, by power and prestige: the appeal of being a show host, or guest, or apologist, combined with personal ideological commitments, is very seductive. Though at times such people seem to want to be, when chastised, childlike and obedient to at least the Church – the one voice for gentleness in their lives – finally these people have been mislead by elements of the Church itself. And so they defend bad ideas, with all the crudity and vindictiveness of 19th-century oil field workers and marines. And they are immune to criticism or correction; they are used to fighting dirty; and they are a hardened, obdurate, enemy of the Truth. They occasionally respond to a mild argument; but only temporarily. (Perhaps the figure in the Bible they would like to look at closely, would be Baalam’s donkey?)
Saints, and bishops, and cardinals, and the pope, and no doubt Jesus himself, have all attempted, many times, to counsel conservatives, and EWTN. And many have tried to control the kind of heresies spread by them. But all those who tried to reform the movement, were ineffective. Partly because these conservatives were always hard of hearing, and hard-headed. And militant too. By now, the movement is an insensitive, hardened, seasoned, practiced, opponent of the real Church. And of God. Its only concession to gentleness – indeed, its only, and therefore inordinately precious, fixated symbol of gentleness – is a mother’s attachment to her embryo. This tiny bit of gentleness is fixated upon, with the intensity of a killer whale falling in love. But now clearly, we need to broaden the social consciousness of this group. To help them see a wider range of responsibilities and social ties.
In the meantime, the movement remains obdurate. And it has in possession of a well-staffed, semi-intellectual argument-generating machine. Or indeed, an army of machines. The dozens, the hundreds, the thousands of guests and apologists that this movement has on call, have given the movement far more than enough energy and arguments, to pridefully resist the mere gentle blandishments of the Church, of the cardinals.
The movement’s deafness, even its own occasionally-justified working-class pride, has caused it to ignore massive amounts of evidence against what it has recently chosen to “believe.” The wrong idea it now follows with even greater intensity, because it now feels that this is the one, single road to the gentleness and religion it knows it needs. It clings to its one idea, the one solution that occurs to it, like a drowning woman clutching a straw. But in its desperate narrowness, the movement ignores far too many problems with its one answer. And it ignores other, better answers.
Today, the movement simply ignores the problem, for example, that the Bible itself never firmly condemned abortion; that God himself even ordered priests, no less, to perform actions that in effect, were abortions and even sterilizations (Numbers 5.15-30, in The Holy Bible). Next, the conservative Pro Life movement ignores the fact that some of the most prominent saints, firmly said that the young embryo is not fully human. St. Thomas Aquinas was the saint that was made, for a while, the most prominent theologian of the Church. By 1917 canon law. This saint assured us, that the young embryo was not formed enough, to have a body capable of holding a human spirit, mind, or soul. While modern science confirms this: the chief organ of the mind, is the brain; and the embryo does not have a brain big or developed enough, to have a fully human intelligence. (No doubt, the average working-class person is anxious about any scheme that defines humanity, based on intelligence; and yet to be sure, anyone who can walk and talk, possesses enough intelligence to be defined as human, here. Though surely those who are obdurately resistant to any and all intellectual arguments, will themselves garner ill will.) Among the many things ignored by conservatives: most recently, three Cardinals and a Pope, rebuked “one issue,” dis “proportionate” Catholicism. As being too narrow. To seek a positive solution, one might urge these people to seek a broader, “full”er view; and yet they are used to constantly being told that anti-abortionism is the view of the Church – and the Church (and their opinion of it?) already has the “fullness of the truth.” So they are used to congratulating themselves, as priests do, in a self-satisfied and vain way; as already having all they need. No need to improve, or learn anything more. Normally such people would be just safely be ignored; and yet however, since they vote, they now do great damage.
Few people today – and certainly not even the Church – have fully realized just how effective the new, unprecedented resources of “conservative” organizations really have been. A conservative organization like EWTN not only has its own staff, but also links to a vast network of like-minded members, of the Conservative Coalition and the Republican Party. Who have been deliberately, consciously “networking,” seeking a “coalition,” since before 1980. (As outlined in say, “God and Country: Where the Christian Right is Leading Us,” the special issue of Mother Jones magazine, Dec. 2005; especially say the article “Expanding Universe: The Religious Right’s Orbits of Influence,” by Frederick Clarkson. Also consider “The Talk Radio Host,” by David Wallace, in Atlantic Magazine, April 2005. Cf. also Hillary Clinton, mentioning the “right wing conspiracy”). For decades, pro-American, pro-military (patriotic/nationalist/militarist) conservatives, right-wing Republicans, have been deliberately trying to put together a massive, coherent, even centrally-controlled organization or “coalition” to combat liberals. And they have been effective enough, to have created a massive army, with hundreds of devices, at its disposal. A machine well known to EWTN; which in fact borrowed many of its ideas from say, machine kingpin Rush Limbaugh. Especially his attacks on “liberals.” While EWTN also draws on dozens, hundreds of anti-abortion groups.
A vast conservative machine has existed for many years; throughout the entire world there are today thousands of conservative organizations. Sen. And Sec. State Hillary Clinton, one called it a “conspiracy”; while indeed, members meet often, to consciously seek to form a coalition with its own often secret strategies and aims. And this machine, has helped given EWTN lots of ideas and strategies and resources. At the same time, EWTN is a self-proclaimed conservative network, that has had some significant resources on its own. In addition to countless ideas and resources borrowed from other members of the Conservative Coalition, its own apologists, its own massive media reach, have made it possible for EWTN to effectively triumph. Thanks to dozens, hundreds of clever arguments, generated by a significant extended staff of regular staffers and contributors, it Pro Life heresies, were well enough defended, that they have been able to dominate nuns and priests and bishops; to dominate in fact, Catholicism itself. And through that, elections, America, and the world. With their false message.
The resources of EWTN at first appeared small to many; even to EWTN itself. But thanks to the power of the new conservative organizations, and the new media networks and Internet – and thanks to their sly appeal to “motherly” emotions, the unreliable, deceitful heart – EWTN and anti-abortion movements, have amounted to an unprecedentedly able enemy to the Church and truth, the life of the mind or spirit. But was thanks especially to its command of a small but dedicated cadre of apologists, that EWTN in effect had a think tank; a (semi’) intellectual boiler room operation. That was able to generate semi-intellectual ideas continually, in defense of its questionable new opinions. And this new type of cadre was enormously effective. This was the new type of complex, modern talk-show, lawyerly, idea-generating cadre. Staffed every day of the working week (and more?); and capable of generating arguments daily to meet new challenges. When this new type of conservative rhetoric machine, met with the more archaic, informal legions of ordinary theologians and priests, this far more modern, new type of professional, argument-generating organization, was able to easily predominate. And within a few years, what was in effect, the EWTN branch of the Conservative Coalition quickly dominated worldwide perception of what the Church “really” thought. When any traditionalists opposed what the machine supported, its cadre of professional argument-generating PR apparatus, was able to either a) simply ignore it. Fail to give it any significant air time. Or far more effectively, it was able to b) use its semi-intellectual staff, to quickly, instantly “twist” any words against it; even words issued by traditional cardinals and popes. Twisting any and all words from the Church, even from the Bible, to suit itself, or its own private and political agendas and philosophies. To make it appear that anti-abortionists were all fools; and to make it seem that the Church itself fully supported their own radical politics.
To date, the Church itself has been hopelessly outclassed. It has no real idea of what it is up against, in taking on a 24/7 operation, with just a few Cardinals and the Pope. Against international talk-shows and anti-intellectual “think-tanks,” who are developing and collecting and employing arguments within an hour or two, on any given subject, responding in effect instantly, to any statement it wishes to oppose, the modern talk machine easily overwhelms a few pastoral remarks by Cardinals and Popes. The post modern talk-show machine, runs around doctrines and dogmas, in the same way that Hitler’s newly mechanized army, simply ran around the fixed Medieval emplacements of France’s Maginot Line, in 1940. Today, the Church itself has no appreciation at all, of the advantages of such a front-line, rhetorical, instant response team. The Church moves much, much, much too slow, to catch these new, much quicker media staffers and public interest/issue groups. Today, the Church is simply incapable of dealing with something new in the intellectual world: 24/7 spin-doctoring operations. Unless finally, the Church hauls out the very biggest Traditional guns it has. As we will see. (Barack Obama had to set up a new type of online response team to such rhetoric, to win the election for example).
Not knowing much about postmodern media, about the new public-interest organizations, the Church therefore, has failed in previous attempts to control EWTN and so forth. In particular, its response time has been much too slow. And its very indirect method of mild, indirect criticism, has by far not been enough. So that the Church’s best efforts to date, its previous attempts to control media organizations like EWTN, and Fr. Frank Pavone’s “Priests for Life,” have been a horrible failure. Though we today don’t know much about any private communications between the Vatican and say, Frank Pavone’s “Priests for Life,” clearly for instance, his entire organization is dedicated overwhelmingly to anti-abortionism; and his entire organization therefore is clearly, precisely, precisely the very kind of dis-“proportionate,” “one issue” Catholicism condemned by Cardinal McCarrick and Pope Benedict XVI. But clearly too, in spite of criticism from Cardinals and the Pope, Frank Pavone and his adamantly one-issue organization, are as strong as ever. Clearly, the Church has not, until today, had the awareness or focus or reaction time, to step in to order the dismantlement (or Catholic disenfranchisement?) of all such programs.
Previous attempts to address and fix the anti-abortion heresy at EWTN – even efforts by even Cardinals and by the present Pope – have failed. EWTN and associated priests like Fr. Frank Pavone, have simply ignored the Cardinals and the Pope. Or have deftly topspun or “twisted” what their superiors have told them. So what is to be done, now?
Obviously, there is a problem here; a heresy has taken over many priests, and has effectively taken over the Catholic Church. So what should we do about it, now? Here and now we will list a few milder remedies. But most of the following remedies, no doubt, have been previously tried by the Church and other agencies against EWTN … and have obviously proven ineffective. If EWTN and Fr. Frank Pavone can ignore three Cardinals and the Pope, clearly, mild pastoral remedies like the following, have undoubtedly already been tried, and also failed.
Such remedies as those we are about to list here therefore, for the sake of a fairly complete survey, will not be by any means, nearly enough to achieve what we want. We merely list them here, in order to have a fairly complete list of all the various options against anti-abortionism. In the interest of a fairly complete list, here a few milder, undoubtedly ineffective remedies against EWTN/RN and its false doctrines:
112) # 174 These many new networks, are found of running a few clips, that suggest that the Popes themselves, support and admire specific Catholic media outlets, like EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio. But suppose we actually read what the popes originally said, more fully, for once. Consider for example, the foundation document, “Inter Mirifici,” or “The Decree on the Media of Social Communications,” promulgated in 1963 by John VI. Here, perhaps the first major pronouncement of the Church on the media, notes both wonderful things in the new media … but also many awful things as well. He says that …“Among the most wonderful technological discoveries which men have made with God’s help” are the media of social communication; which we now call “the media.” But while noting how wonderful these media can be, Pope John VI? also says this:
“The Church recognizes that these media, if properly utilized, can be of great service to mankind… The Church recognizes too, that men can employ these media contrary to the plan of the Creator and to their own loss. Indeed, the Church experiences material grief at the harm all too often done by their evil use.” (Inter Mirifica, from the authoritative Vatican website, Vatican.va).
Here, the Church clearly warned about evils in the media. And some say it set up an office of Social Communications in fact, to deal with them (?). Now however, we suggest that this office needs to be closely interrogated, and chastised for laxity. (Whatever happened to Archbishop Foley, a recent American head of this office?). Organization like Relevant Radio, vainly assume that these warnings about false media, apply only to “mainstream secular media”; to everyone else, other than themselves. But like most people convinced of their own holiness and righteousness, those who are “righteous in their own eyes,” who are “righteous overmuch” as the Bible says, they can see a speck in other people’s eyes, but they cannot see the entire “beam in their own eye.”
113) # 175 No doubt many, many concerned persons, have already suggested to the Church, that EWTN and related associates, should be very carefully a) studied and b) monitored Or c) that these vain, renegade entities be simply controlled, by the Church itself. But the problem here is that many attempts to control these individuals have been made before – yet all attempts to correct them, have clearly failed. Incredibly, a) three Cardinals and the Pope attempted to correct this allegedly pious and obedient network – and failed. Then too, b) it was rumored that after Mother Angelica resigned, the Church (her order, among other things?) attempted to take over the organization – but failed. Then too c) you would have thought that the presence of dozens of priests as intermittent guests and speakers on the anti-abortionist network – sometimes even as fairly regular staff – would have held things in check. But clearly even the occasional presence of dozens of priests, has not done much good to date; instead of priests changing EWTN, the effect went the other way. All that happened from having priests mix with the lay staff, of lawyers and sophistical talk show hosts and media advertising experts, was that the basic dishonesty of many lay professions, just backwashed onto the priests; and now it seems, through priests, to bishops. What happened when lay people mixed with priests, was that the dishonest and questionable hypotheses and political opinions of lay persons, were presented to millions as if they were holy.
Although various organizations like the Church have attempted to control EWTN, clearly its efforts to date have not been enough, and have clearly failed.
114) # 176 Given the inability of the Church to date – even three cardinals and a pope or two – to control all this, should the Church simply give up? And consider simply following EWTN and its anti-abortionism? Surprisingly, to be sure, the Church can monitor and then allow some innovation and change in religion (see #49 above? Change in the Church)? New media; new ideas. Or experimentally updating its old ideas. Pope John XXIII seemed to allow for something like that; carefully balancing the many different conservative and liberal theologies then current in the Church, Pope John XXIII, 1958-62, initiated Vatican II, and allowed such things, under the rubric of “aggrionamento”; “bringing up to date.” But how far should this updating, making old ideas “relevant,” proceed? Does it mean secretly, slyly, randomly giving up on the old saints – like Thomas Aquinas – and giving up on core ideas in Canon Law, and the Tradition? If we are to change the Church, and new doctrines, new charisms, any such thing, of course, must be done by a very careful procedure. New ideas should not just be dropped on the masses at will, willy-nilly, as the word of God, after just a few minutes (historically speaking) of casual debate. Many, many Catholics objected to the new pronouncements around the time of Vatican II – like the pronouncements in fact, against birth control (Humanae Vitae in 1968, etc.). Indeed, even the Vatican itself seems to be inventing things willy nilly; indeed, “conservatives” should be chagrined to remember that many of their most precious “conservative” ideas, were opposed as radically liberal speculations, when they appeared in documents like Humanae Vitae, in 1968. The problem with conservatism, is that it is too radically liberal; it invents new concepts, whenever it feels like it … and then announces them as timeless, well-proven truths of God. But we find here that while there can be change, progress, even in religion, this must be done very cautiously; it should not be done especially, by uneducated talk show hosts, saying whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like it. And especially, principles more firmly enunciated experimentally just yesterday, historically speaking – like ideas about sexuality – should not be introduced as timeless truths even by the Church itself; since many new ideas, experiments, fail over time. Many new theological experiments are found to have flaws in the longer run; in spite of the most careful review by say, such agencies as the International Theological Commission; the Church’s semi-official speculative theological think tank. Indeed, the problem with one-issue antiabortionism is I fact that an ancient hint, was firmed up, “clarified,” all to quickly, in the wrong direction. In the wrong way. So that existing mechanisms for change or progress in the church, “aggiornimento,” have clearly failed. Therefore, we suggest that from now on, the Church should henceforth, not so rigorously support – or allow rash media hosts to support – its own latest pronouncements, as absolutely holy. New pronouncements should be introduced as new, and experimental; as tentative. While following them should be clearly presented as optional, not mandatory. All such pronouncements should be considered holy and binding, only after they have withstood the tests of time. The test say, of a hundred years or more experience, verifying that a given doctrine is fruitful. That should have been the very minimal first step, in presenting such new doctrines, as Karl Keating’s one-issue anti-abortionism, and for that matter the latest doctrine that the embryo is human “from conception”: these ideas should have been presented, explicitly, with warnings that these are radical new experiments in the Church; not yet verified timeless truths. As hypothesis which are optional, not mandatory. Indeed in fact, after just 50 years or so, we are here beginning to note many severe errors in a whole host of new experimental ideas advanced around the time of Vatican II. Indeed, our own survey of Christian and Catholic Tradition here, at a distance of 50 years out from Vatican II, shows that an objective review of these new pronouncements, must reject key elements of speculation especially on sexuality and birth control – especially anti-abortionism – as a viable “new” update or clarification of Catholic doctrine. Here we find that it is not a mere clarification of earlier holy ideas and holy “tradition”; but an illegitimate extenuation of some incidental folk ideas. Old prejudices that were never addressed well at all, and never fully accepted, by the core traditions of the Church.
Surprisingly, many priests and bishops today seem to secretly accept that the Church needs to be simply, at times, updated or changed. But if so, if God speaks to us today too, then after all – as real conservatives insist – the process of change, must be extremely careful and slow. And we should indeed, take much care to make recent presentations, quite consistent with old tradition. While unfortunately, the specific radical new change advanced by talk show hosts – this radical one-issue anti-abortionism, this new elevation of the embryo – turns out here, to be an unacceptable change; it fails the true conservative test; it goes against too many old but also central Christian ideas. Worse than that, experience now teaches us that not only does this idea really go against many core traditional writers like Thomas Aquinas; it is also disastrous in its real, practical effects: it leads to neglect of too many important things in life, and to the deaths of thousands, millions, of children and human beings. Though neglect of other issues, like floods, plagues, unnecessary wars caused by bellicose, bullying insensitivity.
What disasters will be caused by the new “conservative” issue of antiabortionism? In particular, the huge “one issue” emphasis on the embryo, focuses the attention of Christians on just one very small “issue” in Christianity, to the detriment of dozens of other, proportionately more important subjects. Indeed in fact, anti-abortionist’s radical, obsessive focus on the embryo – mentioning it dozens of times a day, speaking of it about an hour a day – seems almost to supplant discussion of Jesus himself for example. So that in effect, it supplants God himself; and founds a new and different religion. One that is not even recognizably Christianity. And worse, we have shown here that this focus on just one issue, has literally fatal practical effects in daily life: if you are totally focused on, voting only for, embryos, you may neglect to fund immunization shots, say; and fall to disease, plague; dying from lack of health care.
Change in Christianity is possible. But any change in the Church, must proceed with infinite caution, and proper procedure. If for example, any modern Papal encyclical seems to directly contradict a previously saintly theologian, and earlier canon law, and to disobey three Cardinals and a Pope, to suggest that an embryo is fully a human being or person? It such an idea contradicts in fact, the very core of Christian values: the emphasis not the a human-seeming physical body, but on the mind, spirit, or soul? Then any such encyclical, has – just as many high voices complained at the time, in many cases – done something that is far too radical, and dangerous, and wrong. Something that contradicts too many core Christian traditions, and is too fatal in its practical effects, to be considered as viable doctrine.
Now and then, no doubt, we should review any and all old doctrines. To see if they hold up today. While now and then, perhaps, we should change, update, some old Church doctrines, dogmas, laws, the Magisterium. But to be sure, this approach should be extremely careful; even more careful and gradual than in recent memory. Since any change of what was once said to be absolutely firm and holy, will a) not only be psychologically hard for many, who have been told that the laws of the Church and God are “eternal” and unchanging. But b) in fact, any such change may be found in hindsight, to have denied too many good traditions. Indeed we have found here that the idea telling us all that the embryo is a fully human being, “from conception” for example, clearly contradicts far, far too many things that were said to be eternal truths. The new Pro Life attitude says in effect, that key saints like Augstine and Aquinas were wrong. And even that some core concepts of Christianity – like valuing the soul or mind – were wrong too.
Change, experiment, can be allowed in Christianity. But c) who really has the wisdom and authority to do that? Even Popes make mistakes; “all have sinned”; “for we all make many mistakes.” Even the apostle Peter, the first Pope, made mistakes so severe, that Jesus himself once called Peter “Satan” (Mat. 16.23). Finally no individual, not even a Pope, is all that great; any new idea must be introduced as tentative experiment only, and fully accepted, only if it stands the test of time; proving true and fruitful, over a period of probably, many hundreds of years.
In the meantime, there are clearly many errors in the latest round of pronouncements; the attempt to “err on the side of over-caution, and to pronounce clumps of cells to be fully human beings, was after all, a very silly and fatal error. Furthermore, d) by thus demonstrating such a willingness to change things once said to be absolutely true and eternally holy, by thus crossing its own saints and chief theologians so obviously, the Church suggests to many, that it never really believed or followed its own tradition, strictly, absolutely. And if so, then e) more and more people should increasingly conclude that, simply, the Church itself is not so holy, after all. While if this is true, then f) obviously, henceforth, simply, no one should take anything the Church says, with such total seriousness, and obedience. (A conclusion that would startle many; but that to be sure, might also give us a more modest, genuinely “humble” Church at last).
Among key changes we might recommend in fact? Surprisingly, the g) Church itself in fact, has begun to at least partially, imperfectly, confess the perception of earlier sins and errors in the Church; as it says in its document “Memory and Reconciliation,” (c. 1999, International Theological Commission; signed by Cardinal Ratzinger). In “Memory and Reconciliation,” the Church tentatively begun to “confess the sins if the Church,” as the press reported, and as some Bishops repeated. Recognizing that some of its ancient ideas did not stand the test of time, the Church seemed to tentatively admit, particularly, historical and recent crimes and sins against minorities. While the Pope himself, Benedict XVI, seems to have made a public admission, say, of many priests sexually molesting minors. (When the pope visited the United States, c. 2008).
Change – and even the confession of errors even in the Church itself, in the past – is possible and even advisable, in the imperfect Church on earth. Yet to be sure, while the Church rightly seems somewhat open today, to the “Confession” at last, of sins by the Church itself, and while it might therefore even be properly open to some careful changes even of past, perhaps flawed doctrines, still, h) the Church should now be consistent, in its new humility. And i) prudent proportionality. It should not at times insist it is perfect, and other times, suggest it makes errors, which it feels free to change. Ultimately, probably the best position for the Church today on its own authority, is a balance between dogmatic assertion and love of itself and its rules, and simply giving up all authority altogether and allowing any “Catholic” talk show host to present himself as the voice of God. Probably the best statement would be to consistently say that the Church’s rules are “pretty good,” say; and might be followed tentatively, as a sort of default mode. While admitting however that it now seems that, since the says of Peter himself, even the Church occasionally makes mistakes. Imagining, asserting that it was absolutely holy, was just Pride, and Vanity. (See the Church admitting that the Church on earth is not yet perfect; not until the second coming. In the big, c. 2000 AD Catechism, sec. 670, 769, 825).
We need a Church that can confess its sins publicly, and continually. That presents its ideas in the future, far more modestly; not as absolutely holy, but as merely fairly good, useful ideas. Related to this, it should not demand perfect, total obedience to itself, and to its rules. If the Church now feels it made mistakes in the past – as it began to above – then it should also admit, that even its own current rules might be flawed too, after all; so that the Church should not demand total obedience to itself any more, but allow a measure of individual discretion, according to our own “well-formed consciences.”
“Behold, I do a new thing.” Those who want people to see sins in the Church, and see change, progress in the Church, might say many things like this: in fact, the Church should confess it occasionally make errors. St. James said even of “we” Apostles, like himself, that “we all make many mistakes” (James 3.2). Even the first Pope, the Apostle/St. Peter, committed sins and errors so grievous, even in his most serious moments, that Jesus called Peter, the first Pope, “Satan” (Mat. 16.23). So that it is not known by anyone, which if any of the pronouncements and writings of the apostles or Pope, are true or “ex Cathedra,” or not.
To be sure, any “new” doctrines or “clarifications” of old ones however, need to be advanced as only very, very tentative ideas. Indeed, we here find that many of the key pronouncements of Vatican II now seem simply incorrect; including especially its hasty pronouncements relating to the newly academicized field of sexuality and reproduction. Though some divergence from past tradition can be allowed – some ancient ideas having not been found to have stood the test of time; and some cautious social experimentation being allowed – and even though even St. Thomas Aquinas to be sure made some mistakes, in this case we find that the Vatican II era pontifications, that gave up on Thomas Aquinas on the soul, the status of the young embryo, were simply, wrong. We suggest that the Church needs to in this case, actually return, conservatively, to honor some key elements of its own earlier tradition. And reverse its more recent hints, that the embryo is fully a human being.
In any case, j) since the Church now changes the doctrines of saint Augustine and Aquinas, then it has admitted in effect that the Church was often wrong in the past; even in some theologians, saints, that it declared as recently as 1917 canon law, to be the very center of seminary training. At this point, it seems advisable for the Church to simply expand its public confession of its own sins; to rather more boldly than ever begin to confess that at times it errs; and that therefore it is not quite yet entirely holy and perfect after all: God himself alone, is holy … but you are not. And the Church is not. The Church has sinned and erred in the past; and it is inevitable that it will sin again, in the future. Which means furthermore, that k) it is a sin for the Church to demand perfect, or total, or blind, of complete obedience to itself, today; since those who follow an imperfect Church, will be often following errors. The blind leader will lead the blind follower, often, over a cliff. Therefore, let none of us follow anyone whatsoever, as blindly as so many have in the past.
Change, of course, admits that past rules were somehow, not working today. So that part of change should be the confession of the failure of past rules, past dogmatic pronouncements. Or to put it the other way around: if the Church now wishes to rightly confess that it makes mistakes – as indeed it should – then however, as a corollary to this, it should also back off commands to believers, to follow it so exactly today, and that its commands can change, or be followed loosely. This surprisingly, finds support in biblical language, say: the Church should announce often, that we are not required to follow it, to the “letter” of its “law.” But in the larger “spirit” of it.
Most importantly in any case: if we are to have a Church that occasionally changes, then l) it should it constantly warn us of its own imperfections. So that we do not follow ideas that should have been changed, all too closely. The Church should warn us more clearly than ever, that the Church on earth, is imperfect (as the Catechism suggests); and will remain imperfect till the end of time, the Second Coming. In the meantime, the people need to take the Church seriously, but not as absolutely perfect or holy; since the Church often makes many mistakes, as St. James suggested.
Indeed, an interesting case in point, has been the Church’s Vatican II pronouncements on sexuality and reproduction. Here we have found that while such changes are possible, they were in fact radical, experiment ideas, “aggiornamento”s; and should never have been presented by talk show hosts as absolutely final, holy truths. Not only was this rash and unjustified from a conservative point of view; time is beginning to suggest, even just 50 years out, that these doctrines were aa) radically inconsistent with key and good traditions; while they bb) can easily be literally, physically fatal to millions of children and adults, when applied in daily life. Since the obsessive (dis “proportionate”) focus just on one issue, causes people to fatally neglect many other important things.
The bottom line here is that some gradual change in the Church is not only possible, but advisable. But that such changes should be frankly, continually announced as tentative, experimental extensions of old principles. And therefore, as somewhat optional. As very serious recommendations; but not as infallible commands.
To be sure, the Church occasionally knows somewhat better than the average man on the street, what is good. Indeed, we would hope that the Church will become better still, when it begins to confess its sins, and look for more rigorous, scientific ways of finding the truth about God and life. While in the meantime, even a good but imperfect Church, still has some authority worth asserting. Indeed, it can and should, assert some punishments; particularly in the case of the obvious sins and disobedience, of extreme anti-abortionists. No doubt, such people were partially mislead even by radical elements in the Church itself; on the other hand, they have been stubbornly resistant to correction. Anti-abortionists have been in flagrant, cynical, consistent, and deadly rebellion against Cardinals, Popes, and God himself, it seems.
115) # 177 It is time to fix this. But what remedies against these neo heresies will work? What milder remedies might have been already attempted, against radical anti-abortionists? Many have no doubt been tried – and have obviously failed. No doubt, we will have often had at least a few priests, speaking to EWTN about its problems, informally. With mild pastoral criticism or cajoling. No doubt, at least a few priests noticed something wrong at EWTN; and said something. But while the attempted correction of the network almost certainly happened many times, obviously, these mild pastoral corrections, have has not worked. (See earlier remarks on the ineffectual presence of priests on EWTN). Today, even now, anti-abortionists are more rabid and narrow minded and obsessive, than ever. In fact, as we edited this very text late in 2009 and early in 2010, we were listening to Relevant Radio and EWTN – and inserting current examples of these heresies, from these networks, in parentheses. Note therefore our many current, 2010 examples, proofs, that the heresy of one-issue anti-abortionism continues right now, today, in 2010. Note comments say, on EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo for example; criticizing, rebelling against a Cardinal, and an Archbishop.
So how can neo cons be stopped? Obviously, many milder – and even some more dramatic remedies – have been attempted by priests and even cardinals and popes, against EWTN and against anti-abortionism. But obviously, even cardinals and popes have failed to correct the problem.
116) # 178 So how do we fix this? One way we might suggest, is to simply remind people, EWTN listeners, to follow their Cardinals, and the Pope. While making sure that EWTN actually tells the people truly, fully, what the Cardinals and Pope really said.
In part, EWTN listeners need to listen say, to Cardinal Mahony. When he began to see the real problem: untutored voices in “media,” speaking without real training in or knowledge of “theology,” as he said earlier. Here Cardinal Mahony began to see the problem clearly: many unqualified persons were presuming to speak for the Church. And using the media, to magnify their voices .. and to magnify their mistakes. But here EWTN should not be allowed to topspin this, into a criticism of only mainstream media; of everyone other than they themselves. They need to make it clear, over and over, that EWTN and Cardinal Mahony conflicted; that Mother Angelica rebelled against Cardinal Mahony, and urged others not to follow him.
To be sure though, EWTN will twist that. So that this mild remedy will not work; no more than earlier pastoral chastisements and advice did.
How therefore, can we fix this? Undoubtedly, we might all try to repeat and expand the statement, that there are many sins in talk show hosts and “apologists,” and guests from particular advocacy groups. To summarize their sins, we should all now warn – as Cardinal Mahony began to say – the problem is that those with access to the “media,” often use it to publicize false theology. Here therefore, we and others might confirm and expand on the Cardinal’s message. Noting that his criticism would of course, in the context of his earlier criticisms of Mother Angelica, include EWTN; and implicitly should include simple anti-abortion pronouncements, and other positions. Positions which at best miss, deny, the larger picture. Or the larger ambiguity and complexity of things; of real “theology.” But to be sure, here we are up against a giant megaphone; a massively extended media machine. Anything we say once or twice, will be instantly drowned out, in a massive wave of top spinning and lies. Today, there are 780,000 references to EWTN in a Google search; all but a very few of them are put there, by EWTN itself. While EWTN broadcasts and netcasts, to tens of millions. Finally, only direct, public, pointed criticism of EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio themselves, by the Pope himself, could fix this.
Milder Solutions Have Not Worked
How could we fix this? We might try to simply reason with people. We might try to suggest to those few neo cons who have a conscience, that their error, is in large part simply, false or selective, incomplete theology. Indeed, to try to correct the egregious theological errors of talk radio and media, we will have presented here, just a fuller theology. Presenting some of the many, many parts of Church doctrine that EWTN ignores; or that it, in Biblical terms, “twists,” “whitewash”es, or launders. Quoting some of the parts of the Bible, that you never hear about on talk radio.
So indeed, what might help fix this heresy? In part, perhaps, better discussion; and better training in scholarly theology. For everyone; especially Catholic talk show hosts. Or actually, no one should be allowed to speak for the Church, in major media, before millions, who does not have the status of at least, Bishop or Cardinal. Obviously, a talk show host who went to Catholic school or a few Catechism classes, or even an ordinary priest, should not be the major voice of the Church, for the largest ministry in the world: speaking to tens, hundreds of millions. It is an astonishing lapse of judgment, that the Church has allowed this. Though for that matter, by now, so late, even many Bishops judgments are impaired.
To be sure, a few might still be open to reason however. To those few who listen: it was all based on an inadequate theology, a theology a) formed in part by a late, highly speculative document after Vatican II (Humanae Vitae, 1968; an extremely controversial and divisive encyclical – and Pope Paul VI’s last. Though he lived to 1978). But formed even more by b) talk show hosts. Even if we accept all the pronouncements of Vatican II, even that document did not go quite as far as talk show hosts were to take it today; to the point that abortion is the one supreme issue that must dominate our entire lives. Or our vote.
Unfortunately, it now appears that among other things, Vatican II was misinterpreted, as writing a blank check, just handing over all the power of the Church, to the “laity”; to ordinary Catholics, non priests. But to be sure, that was advanced rather cautiously … and was taken much, much too far by ordinary Catholics. Because of the new enthusiasm for the laity, all kinds of highly unqualified ordinary voices, entered the Church – and began presuming to speak for it. Teresa Tomio and Raymond Arroyo are trained as journalists; Karl Keating and Pat Robertson, as attorneys; Jimmy Akin seem to have studied philosophy; Drew Mariani seems to be a Penn State football fan. None are priests so far as we know. But these voices have presumptuously claimed to be the voice of God; and have guided all of America. And that is finally, is where so many heresies have come from. The problem really took off, when the Church allowed questionable persons to begin to presume to speak for it, all too informally, in major media settings; speaking for the Church before millions, uttering un-approved, non-liturgical words, that were inevitably taken by obedient Catholics, as if they had the force and authority, of the only other words offered regularly before millions in the name of God: the liturgy.
It was a shocking lapse of judgment and authority. From at least 1981, major institutions appeared; institutions that claimed to speak for the Church. But that have been staffed by underqualified, private, lay persons; lawyers and apologists and media people and so forth. These new organizations, and their staff, are not up to this huge job. They are not adequately trained; and therefore they are not reliable. And they are not adequately run or overseen, directly by any well-established church. Typically, they don’t have priests in real, full control of the operation. EWTN is run by a “President,” (Mike P. Warsaw; who makes $105,682 a year according to Charity Navigator), and a “Chairman,” (R. William Steltemeir, who makes $75,000). Both without “Fr.” in front of their name it seems, from the charities report on them (Charity Navigator). Or any degrees after their names, either. Though to be sure, the real problem is not just chronic “lack of knowledge,” as the Bible warned; it is also the fundamental hypocrisy and dishonesty, the lack of commitment to honesty, of these new false popes. They are not priests; they normally do not feel as compelled to be as good or honest.
The problem therefore has been in part – though this in itself is by no means the major problem – that there are not many priests on staff, or in charge. There are no “full”y, seminary-trained, priestly persons in charge of the message. Particularly, reliable persons and not there, where the rubber meets the road: almost never does a regular talk show host, have full, adequate training in religion, in a reputable seminary. In the case of one or two full time priests? They are only ordinary or even sub-par priests … speaking to an audience of, in total, millions. Therefore Cardinal Mahony’s complaints are true: their “theology” is not adequate. But to Mahony’s complaint, we add that it is not adequate because the apologists are not adequately trained; and they are not overseen, corrected, by a reliable church. No doubt to be sure, well-informed scholars do not make for dramatic radio; but after all, the fuller truth is not necessarily dramatic or entertaining. Indeed, part of the problem is that religion is now being taken over in part, by talk show entertainers; who say outrageous and provocative things, to entertain. But the problem is that outrageous and unconventional and entertaining things … are often silly, and wrong; that is why they are provocative, deep down. Because of inadequate Church or seminary oversight, many extreme individuals and even massive networks, feel free to spout any kind of personal philosophy or heresy, as the word of God. Even priests on shows often confess that they themselves are not fully qualified (Fr. Rich Simon: “What I don’t know, I can always make up”; “Go Ask Your Father,” on Relevant Radio 12:30 PM, his usual motto. “I’m not very political,” says Fr. Simon; but he said right after reports by Liaugminas that Obama was “considering” not putting up the Holy Family statues in the White House lawn, reports in a way that says he definitely was not doing that. Simon is a friend or close acquaintance of Scott Hahn, radical Catholic conservative professor. Cf. “A Closer Look,” a regular feature on Relevant Radio, by Sheila Liaugminas)
To fix this, were might therefore stress, as a milder solution to this problem, that people and the Church today follow Cardinal Mahony more closely: to note constantly to these radio stations and listeners, that many very prominent people speaking for God on the radio are just not adequately trained in theology, religious studies, to be considered authorities, or good leaders. And unfortunately, though this was bad enough when we had priests and ministers graduating from bad seminaries, today, increasingly, the situation is now far, far worse. Since now religion, Christianity, is dominated not by graduates of good seminaries, but by talk-show hosts, lawyers, and advocacy groups. Especially one-issue advocacy groups; who tend to be narrowly fixed on just one issue, and never see the bigger pictures; the fullness of Christ.
In part the problem, as we noted earlier, is the new prominence in religious radio, of persons trained to be lawyers. Like Pat Robertson, and Karl Keating. But lawyers of course, are often (if not always) not too good at theology; and much better at sophistical reasoning. They can be very good theologians; but more typically we find, they habitually intermix their social and political theories in, with their religion. This is particularly true in TV religion. Pat Robertson was originally trained as a lawyer at Yale; his religious education was largely honorary, or secondary. Similarly, the core anti-abortion message of EWTN was formulated largely by an apologist lawyer, by the name of Karl Keating. Keating has been enormously important to the anti-abortion movement; he has appeared on EWRN hundreds of times, to fully inculcate his message there. But the problem is, that these new lawyerly voices in the churches – like Pat Robertson and Karl Keating – were not early enough, fully trained in good seminaries. Or if, they later on got religious training, then they still cannot in any case, give up their earlier lawyerly training and instincts. And lawyers, legalistic thinking, are not admired always for their honesty. While in fact we find here that to this day, televangelists in general, but particularly those who were originally trained in law, are still inclined to use the kind of sophistical, dishonest reasonings that lawyers would typically use to win cases.
The problem therefore is in part, lawyers in religion. The same problem that Jesus had with the Pharisees. Who by the way, were often condemned by Jesus himself, together with “lawyers.”
But finally, will Mahony’s remedy – in part, just more and better training in “theology” – entirely solve this problem? No doubt, not only lawyers, but also even trained priests, can be dishonest or sophistical. Even priests trained in pious seminaries, often eventually try to use dishonest, tricky reasoning, to try to win converts. Especially when they are overseen by, or work closely with, secular persons and lawyers, eventually even good honest priests, will sometimes adopt bad, lawyerly thinking. (Cf. the enthusiasm for “natural law,” which is totally misunderstood, on EWTN). Today more and more priests use dishonest, apologetics sophistries, to try to defend their faith. Thus robbing Paul, to pay Peter. One might hope that simple reasoning with these wayward sheep, would help; that the answer would be more good, rigorous, rational, scholarly seminary training and theology. Which should be in fact, very firm requirements for these jobs. Though today, most apologists and even the average priest, is not very intellectually honest; and simply misuses reason and logic, in dishonest ways, to advance many false arguments. Intellectual honesty, honest reasoning, is the very last virtue a priest ever learns. But to be sure, eventually, by the time they get a Ph.D. at a good seminary, even most priests can reason straight enough. So that perhaps at least one advanced degree in Theology, and a Ph.D. in something, would be one good, minimal qualification to appear regularly on such a network, as a host. Though there are many other requirements too.
Presenting only graduates of good scholarly seminaries, might begin to help; good seminaries know how to teach future priests honest Logic. So that especially, we should insist that anyone who speaks on radio or in major media, to millions, should be extremely well qualified, with advance degrees in theology. Or the equivalent; the status of at least Bishop, or Cardinal. Or else simply, they should do not be allowed to speak, after all, before tens of millions, as if they were authorities.
Good scholarly, academic seminaries therefore, know part of the solution to Unreliable Radio, unreliable Internet religion. But to be sure, it is today all too easy for many individuals, to simply get around or ignore, seminaries and professors. First, the Church apparently currently sets no minimum qualifications, for talk show hosts on “Catholic” networks.
Origins of Conservatism,
In Lower Middle Class Sentiments
For that matter, much of talk radio and its audience, has a very strong, working-class prejudice against intellectuals, and even against intelligent people. Intellectuals often tend to entertain many different, complicated ideas; and therefore to be “liberal,” and indecisive. They apparently cannot give simple orders. Intellectuals therefore, are widely reviled in talk radio; while the figures that are admired, speak “plain and simple enough to understand.” Who are not wishy-washy. This working class dislike of too complicated things and people, has probably existed for some time; but it in fact became the major impulse that created the Neo Con movement. Since the days of fictional TV character John Wayne and Archie Bunker, and then after Archie, the semi-real media personas of Rush Limbaugh, Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky”), and Pat Robertson, the uneducated public has wanted a hero to follow, that talks plain and simple enough for them to understand and follow. And preferably, a leader who doesn’t get lost in endless mental speculation, but who can get down and get things done, in the material sphere: tell you how to fix a leaking pipe; or play football; or kill an enemy. Many of the people, want someone who can talk simply enough, and assign simple physical tasks, to “Joe 6-pack.”
A certain dislike of “empty suits” and “eggheads” and “airy fairy” thinking, and endless and indecisive intellectual theorizing, by practical and working people, is in fact, the deep impulse that largely created the Neo Conservative movement. You can see it even on programs that seem to have intellectuals in charge; they are usually disillusioned or failed intellectuals, after all. Like the talk radio shows of ex-, embittered Columbia graduate student, Dennis Prager. And then “Doc Savage.” Who is actually a disillusioned Doctor of Microbiology, they say; by the name of Dr. Weiner, Ph.D.. Rupert Murdock – owner and founder of Fox Network, and the Wall Street Journal (and at one time Dish Network?), etc. – was originally an Australian, with a traditional Auzzie “mate”ship ethos, from the days when Australia was founded as a prison colony. Though Murdock got an MA from Oxford, he got it at a time when Oxford didn’t really give just master’s degree; only as a consolation prize for flunking out of a Ph.D. program. Like many failed intellectuals, Fox founder Rupert Murdock took out his resentment of his professors, by turning back in an exaggerated way, to backing working-class, low-class, lowbrow publications, (the New York Post?). And working-class, intellectual-hating, actions shows.
There has always been a popular (and in part, justified) dislike of overly-intellectual persons, professors. And around 1976, there was a massive resurgence of this; of the common, working-class prejudice against intellectuals, and intelligence. A dislike of mental things; that is combined with a love of simple physical things. A well made house; a bigger paycheck; but also unfortunately, physical force to solve problems. While to be sure, we all need to keep the physical side of life in mind, this can quickly degenerate. The football fan’s love of just pushing your enemy over physically, to defeat him, comes from and plays to, the barbarian or Neanderthal’s love of physical force. To people who are often the enemies in fact, of the more intellectual-to-effete priests; of love of invisible, intangible things, like the “spirit” and the “soul” and the “Mind.” It is therefore not surprising, that few if any priests initially found it easy, to appeal to the masses; or embrace Right Wing Republicanism. But there were a few very rough priests, who had come from rougher backgrounds, that took to the role, and therefore ended up on EWTN/RN: Fr. John Corapi came to the priesthood late in life, after trying out for the Army. Fr. Benedict Groeschel, talks like a New York cabby (in spite of his advanced degree).
There is something partially true, to be sure, in the lower classes’ distaste for overly effete, overly intellectual dreamers. On the other hand though of course, there are obviously many problems with uneducated working-class people, and their ideas about life, too. Especially when they, like Sarah Palin, want to run the world. Not doubt, hate for intellectuals plays very, very well, and widely, on conservative talk radio, among the working class; on this cheap and free medium, which is readily accessible especially to a working class that cannot use computers and the Internet. A class that does not understand – and often hates – metaphors, and complicated “theology.” A class that doesn’t want turning the other cheek and thinking about things; but wants instead, just wants simple clear, black and white answers, clear leadership, and maybe a good war or two, to fix things; to kill the bad guys. Everything else is airy-fairy, religion, magic and miracle. This is a class that has been dissatisfied with intellectuals second-guessing old, primary answers: hate for minorities; simple religion; American “values”; killing enemies. And this class has long been looking for a leader, for leadership; for someone to vote for. While many radio networks like EWRN, have tried hard to furnish that leadership; offering very, very simple leaders indeed. Offering only very, very simple answers. And a simple program to follow. One that claims to be absolute “Truth.” So there is no ambiguity or confusion. But to be sure, if may be that life and God after all, are just not that simple; and such answers are just simplistic, to the point of being false.
In any case, the appeal to simple lower-class sentiment – in this case, the uneducated class’s prejudice against intellectuals and non-physical solutions, its love of visible, physical things, physical force, like football and wars for example – largely defines much of talk radio and the appeal of the conservative right. And these sentiments insure that complicated “theolog”ies, will not be popular on radio. Or for that matter, TV, or Internet. (Indeed, such things as complicated theories, the life of the mind, are only popular in the tiny world of academe).
Can even our present book on theology help? We might wistfully “ hope” with Cardinal Mahony and Pope John Paul II, that more theology and religious scholarship on the air, in the media, would help. But it may be that any good, adequate religion, cannot by its very complicated nature, succeed in the Media, or with the mass audiences we have had in the past. The mass audience, if allowed to determine religion by its preferences, will prefer a a) simplistic set of simple rules for “life”; including b) a literal understanding of the Bible. They will c) typically reject many scholarly, intellectual values, as effete, or d) incomprehensible, or e) “liberal.” Indeed, good academic theology is hard to read and understand; and a real priest is all too easy to ignore. Or, for a “man of action,” easy to even despise.
And indeed, for their own part, scientists and intellectuals, tired of the people’s witch hunts, the Church silencing, jailing, and burning early intellectuals and scientists at the stake, have long since insulated themselves, in part self protectively, in ivory towers. Just as the ancient clerics once did. Which protects professors and intellectuals from the unwashed masses. But it also means that that our intelligent and educated people are in retreat; and do not talk to the masses. The average, crudely physical, flesh-loving, anti-intellectual worshiper of physical force and war, of material prosperity, the average Rush Limbaugh “ditto head” (as Limbaugh himself called him), never sees a professor in real life; and is rarely confronted by any arguments counter to his own opinions. And if at one time mainstream media and the Fairness Doctrine tried to ensure that, the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine ended all that. Opening the way for “shout radio” and “shout TV”; crude, simple phrases delivered loudly, even shouted, for people who worked out of doors; or whose hearing had been destroyed by constant exposure to heavy machinery. Who wanted to follow a fat millionaire, who told them to forget intellectuals and liberals; and just give more and more tax breaks to rich people. (Rush Limbaugh now makes $50,000,000 a year. He wanted to buy a football franchise – but was turned down for racism).
The media in any case, are quite different than good churches, in many ways; the media are driven by indeed, a crude physicalism; by “capitalism,” and the need to sell more and more material things (cf. John Paul II, Dives et Misericoria, 1980). And when churches try to move out, and become media presences, many bad things happen. In essence, there are two major forces that determine media production: what producers want to produce (“push”), and what the audience wants to hear (“pull”). But of these two forces that are at work, in determining what programming we get, it is probably what people want to hear, their “pull,” that most determines what producers decide to give us; producers want to make money, and that means, finding out what people want, and giving it to them. But there are problems with this situation: it is all too easy, even necessary, to cater to popular prejudices. And there are problems with this, extending into populism, demagoguery, even in media itself.
But if there are problems with this for the media, and for democracy itself, there are even more problems with the need to sell things to the masses, when this situation is allowed to govern religion. When the people get what they want or like, when religion is run by popularity figures and sales, and appeal to crude materialism, then we get the religion that we see on talk radio; one that caters often, to very, very low instincts. In the case of talk media religion, what ends up determining the day, is mostly, the forces of ignorance, anti-education, anti-intelligence, anti-spirituality; and say, the love of brute physical force. To be sure, the first televangelists like Billy Graham still stuck to spiritual ideas; though there was always the constant call for dollars, “tithes” – a tenth of all your income – from televangelists. By 1980, catering to (and even speaking for) a lower audience, a very low materialism, had created the message of surprisingly many televangelists; from Pat Robertson’s promises of physical “prosperity” and especially physical “miracles”; to EWRN’s very literal, physical sacramentalism, and similar promises of physical miracles and so forth. Under it all, is the emphasis on physical things. While working out things in reality, is seen as a purely physical thing; problems are worked out not by effete talking or praying, but by manly wars. Both Pat Robertson and EWTN, were always for our nation, “America,” and for “supporting our troops”; they firmly supported the military, and the idea of military – physical – interventions, wars, in Iraq and elsewhere. While the “issue” that some wars might not be “just” or necessary, was just not on the radar.
To be sure, there is a need for people to make physical things that work; to take care of our physical needs. And no doubt, intellectuals at times forget this. But at the same time, the working-class’s involvement in physical labor, and its emphasis on physical things well made, can be overdone. Especially as it shades into great, exaggerated contempt for intellectuals, and for people who stress things like the “spirit” and the “soul” and the “mind.” As opposed to muscles, and guns. Indeed, it is curious that there should be any priests at all today, who back this physicalistic movement; since this movement, this mentality, has often been seen as the classic enemy of New Testament religion; those who love “possessions,” material things, “riches,” and so forth. To be sure, there is a need for a greater recognition of the value of the material life, in religion; but the very, very crude materialism and anti-intellectualism, the shouting, and physical bullying and wars, of the neo conservatives?
To be sure, there is no doubt some room, for say, parts of “the theology of the body,” and doctrines of “just wars” – major topics well loved on conservative talk radio. But on the other hand, there are problems ultimately – even recently – with a media religion that encourages too much love of the body, the “flesh.” Simple love of money, the money-driven Church, is already a problem. And there are the problems with a gross materialism, that play a part in our specific topic here. A gross, simplistic, unscientific materialism, has lead in part to the anti-abortionism, that declares a fetus a human being, just because it has physical human DNA in it, and a (vaguely) human body. While the anti-abortionist never cares at all, about the fetus’ lack of a human mind, spirit, or intelligence; or its lack of “soul.” Such things as the lack of a soul, the neo conservative materialist never notices at all. Such things are the concern of “effete” (Spiro Agnew) intellectuals, like St. Thomas Aquinas.
No doubt to be sure, the development of the spirit, higher education and the life of the mind, is difficult for many people. And that difficulty all but insures that many will learn to trust the physical, and despise (or uncomprehendingly revere and misrepresent), intellectual and spiritual things. For talk radio today, the only “marriage” for example, is the ordinary physical one on earth, between “a man and a woman.” Never mind the spiritual feast of the lamb, the mental/spiritual union with God, come down to earth, like a groom, to earth. Today, the robust, physicalistic priest, normally rejects anything but earthly weddings. Though belatedly, Father Corapi admits: “I had 10,000 people at my wedding…. And my beautiful bride” the Church, says the priest Father Corapi. In a brief recorded message, on the day he was ordained at St. Peter’s, narrated on Relevant Radio, 1:35 PM, Dec. 16, 2009. The former gung-ho solider, and Las Vegas/California accountant, the often all-too-physicalistic Corapi, noting for once, a more spiritual definition of his life, and of marriage. But for that matter though, he contradicts his usual very conservative, even fascistic, message. By supporting a different kind of marriage than the normal physical one, “between a man and a woman,” as conservatives want to have legally stipulated. Here Corapi almost becomes spiritual, rather than typically bellicose, bullying, the voice of an offending working man. Following him here, we might note that indeed, the “marriage amendment,” in effect would make spiritual marriage with the Church or God, after all, perhaps illegal. If marriage is to be defined as “the union of a man with a woman,” then after all, the union or “marriage” of a man or woman, with God, would be illegal. (To be sure, priests are often over-spiritual; and need to be more physical. But today we often see an all-too conjugal Theology of the “Body” and of physical sexuality; an emphasis on only physical sex, the “Fruits” and physical children and physical bodies, and not on reproducing art, culture, religion, the life of the “mind.” The Polish Pope that authored the Theology of the Body remember, first came into prominence, for selling the first guide to sexuality, in Poland. A development that was good in some ways … but not so good in others).
Perhaps finally, that is the real problem, and part of the solution: Eternal Word Radio Network and conservatism, really wants a simple, physicalistic philosophy, and a simple, rulebook, “law” oriented Catholicism; full of simple rules, and simple physical situations, that simple people can understand and follow. But in this environment, “theology” is a dirty word. As it explicitly is among EWTN regulars like Fr. John Corapi. And if “spirit” is longed for at all, it is thought of as a vague and supernatural thing, only. Yet however much people want simple physical things, and simple rules, ultimately, a good seminary, a real theology, knows something that conservatism apparently resists: that God is not simple. That God cannot be fully described in a few simple rules. And any attempt to do so, misrepresents God. And undervalue the mind. Those common folk, who see the essence of a man, as being his body, his flesh, his DNA, neglect more subtle but far more important things – like his mind or spirit or soul. To the crude physicalist, those intellectuals who do not proclaim a soulless embryonic body, and the nearly brain-dead body of Terri Schiavo, as human, are seen as evil, too intellectual, too mental radicals. (“How radical the people we have” governing us are in Congress, says John Adenaeur (SP?) in a brief message; congressmen are radical for ignoring Pro Life support going from 44 % to 51 % recently. John not blaming “just” Obama, but also a Democratic congress, for demonstrating, by its allegedly extreme Pro Choice stance, how bad their position is. Relevant Radio, 1: 49 PM, Relevant Radio, Dec. 16, 2009. But after all, perhaps congressmen, our leaders, appreciate the mind, more).
The lower-middle class and EWTN’s eternal quest, for a simple, physical, literal, rule-minded message – including say, its essentially simple, unambiguous, physicalistic stand that human DNA, a vaguely human body, makes us full human beings – really derives simply in part, from a) the Bible might say, “stupidity” (Job 11.12, Ps. 73.22. 92.6: Prov. 12.1; Jer. 4.22, 10.8-21, Isa. 29.9). Or b) low attachment only to the most obvious physical things, like the “body” or “flesh.” And/or, related to this, this comes from c) lack of education. The many “conservative” rule-bound ideas, the love of simple physicality offered on the many massive conservative networks (including say, FOX), do not accurately reflect the “full”er complexity of life, of the mind or spirit, or of God. Especially, the constant emphasis on physical bodies, does not move beyond obvious physical things, like the body, to see the value of the invisible mind or spirit or “soul.” The reverent vigil of Drew Mariani, who spent weeks, months with the nearly mindless body of Terri Schiavo, convinced that what physically looks like a human being is one, failed to understand that the real essence of a human being is the invisible mind or spirit inside that body. And to see that when that is gone, the human being is gone. Ironically, the conservative right fails to appreciate – and deep down, works adamantly against – the very “soul” of religion. While worshipping the dead or soulless body.
The fact is – the major theological point that the Church needs to make to the people – untrained media announcers, conservatives, and the radical priests they influence, do not adequately appreciate the full complexity of what the Bible and the Church, actually, fully says. Particularly, they often do not really get beyond the simpler physical side of life; they do not really see the importance or fuller outline, of the spirit, or soul, or mind. They might superficially, superstitiously revere the “spirit,” but they have little understanding of it; much appreciation, but no understanding, of its complexity. The fact is, every good seminary will tell you that most the statements of the Bible, and even most Church pronouncements, have several layers of meaning in them. They usually offer at least a) one layer, seeming to be compatible with a simple, conservative, rule-following Catholicism, offering simple physical miracles. And demanding devotion to physical objects, like relics, and the host. But b) then after all, the Church always tries to tell us all that there is another layer, offering … deeper, more complex, ambiguities. And a “spiritual” level. This second level is what footballs fans, worshipers of physical force, miss. Or fail to understand. Except in some vague, superstitious way.
No doubt then, among the solutions to the problem with violent, warlike conservatives, is to emphasize “theology,” and other refinements of mental things. But to be sure, these things are a hard sell, to a too-physical, anti-intellectual people. And selling the life of the mind, is a hard sell in the popular media, driven by advertising revenues and consumer spending. While to be sure, there is a need for material things, even to be spiritual: poor households, migrant workers and others without access even to TV, much less Internet, have been deprived of the means of communication that might have taught them better ideas. In that milieu, the inexpensive, ubiquitous radio, and its emphasis on physical things, (you can buy a cheap radio at a yard sale for a dollar these days), has remained especially influential. And in the segments of society that lack even the more basic physical things, Eternal Word “Radio” Network especially, and its average apologist, its crude physicalism, have had much success. But ultimately, the emphasis on just simple, visible, physical things, the neglect of the mind, the spirit, are fatal for religion, and for humanity. No doubt, many people need material things; and an uneducated working man just wants from religion, a few simple rules, he can understand and follow. But the message we have from “Catholic” media to date, is far, far too crudely physical: phrased in simple terms, it says that if something has human DNA, or if we see a human body, it is a full human being. Whether there is a spirit or mind in there, or not. But finally, the simple feeling that a body or an embryo, is a human being, even without a mind or intelligence in it, is just simple-mindedness. Specifically, it comes in part from a class bias against (or incomprehension of) intelligence, education; especially in lower working class neighborhoods, where talk radio (and FOX owner Rupert Murdock’s Labor Party, yellow journalism), has loomed so large, so late. (Till 2009; when the Internet finally replaced radio, overall – if not in the working class – as the second biggest medium, after TV?).
Now and then the Pope himself tries to correct this; but to no avail. Reported on 12/16/09, the Pope says – in his Wednesday address? – in a lecture on a theologian cardinal of Salzbury (?), that “reason and logic” are extremely important in theology; especially in the matter of abortion. This brief note is reported on Relevant Radio, around 3:30 PM – but no one notices it. One possible meaning of the Pope’s statement is lost; the importance of the mind is lost. The Pope’s message is subsumed as just another negative remark about abortion; or it is taken simply as just an assertion that Logic endorses EWTN’s quite emotional anti-abortionism. But if we are to be physical at all? Then note that RR blithely asks for more support for itself, as a nonprofit 501-c3, even just a week or so after … apparently urging listeners to call their senators and others, to influence pending legislation, to stop the Health bill, that would protect the physical lives of the sick. It seeks to stop aid to the poor, because of a section that allowed abortion. (Note by the way, that Drew Mariani urging listeners to call in to their congressmen to influence the Health Bill, was an attempt to influence ongoing legislation; a violation of its 501c 3 status. Exact date unknown; some time in Dec. 2009? See an example of this on EWRN, March 7, 2010, 1:30 PM ff., Raymond Arroyo’s show)
No doubt, the physical side of life is very important. But Conservatives often speak from and to, a simple, lower-class state of mind; a very, very crude physicalism. One that does not appreciate the mental/spiritual side of life and being a human being. One that does not even appreciate the full scope of physical life, either; that does not even currently support the physical health of children and adults. But the conservative movement’s most offensively simplistic message, has been its one-issue obsession, with just this single element of physical life: the physical body by itself, without a brain or soul. Superstitiously, conservatism regards this body, as a full human being. Never quite really understanding, that when the mind or spirit has left or never entered, all that is there is a mere lump of flesh, or an animal. (Drew Mariani apparently spent weeks with Terri Schiavo; that was the formative experience of his career it seems). Though conservatives may superstitiously revere the “spirit,” they have no idea what it is. They do not understand that the essence of a human being, is our ability to “think,” our consciousness, our mind, our spirit. Not our body. And therefore, they continually make the mistake of supposing that a brain-dead, thoughtless human body, is fully human. Not understanding that when the mind has ended, the soul, humanity, has departed. (For “heaven”).
Since these people are not very intellectual, and only know the life of the mind vaguely, through religious regard for priests and the mental or “spiritual” life, intellectual arguments go only so far with them. However, religious-based argument can achieve something; since they have been taught to revere them, even if they do not understand them. Therefore, let us speak of “the Lord.” The Bible. Is God himself, really all that firm, on the subject of the embryo? The fact is, the Bible never mentions abortion by name, even once. If the Bible mentions it indirectly, then it approves of abortion, it orders priests to person them, in Numbers 5. Is God so fixated on the mere physical body, that an embryo with the physical DNA of a human being, but without the mind, must be declared human? Does God himself really deify anti-intellectuality, and anti-spirituality? Clearly of course, God often supported the life of the mind or “spirit,” as one of the core values of religion. While conventional folk theology thinks of us, as a spirit in a physical body; and admits that after all, the spirit can leave the body, at death for example. Leaving nothing behind but a dead body, after all. While the Bible also suggests that the very young body of the embryo is not yet sufficiently “form”ed to accept or generate a full spirit or soul or human or divine self.
So how do we fix this? In part, it might be by recalling the importance of the mind. No doubt, there are sometimes false things in the mind; but let us have the “mind of Christ,” many might respond.
. . .
So how do we fix this? In the recent past, interested parties have tried to exploit the simplistic physicalism, and anti-intellectualism of people who work with their hands and not their minds, for a living. And to turn that sentiment, into a vote for the warlike, nationalist militarist party in America; the Republican Party. With its dislike of intellectuality, and its interest in simple physical solutions: wars. Executions. But finally, the take-over of much of Religion, c. 1980-2008, in the Rush Limbaugh era, by violently, simplistically physical anti-intellectuals, runs into a number of objections. Objections in part, from the Bible itself. And so finally therefore, does God himself really tell us, order us to vote Republican? Does God really pronounce on such specific things, as to tell us which party to vote for? Will God himself tell us to vote Republican? Or will God next, tell us to drink Pepsi, instead of Coke? That would be convenient for Pepsi sales and others, no doubt. But are such simplicities true? Does God come out firmly on the side of physicalistic Republicans?
No doubt it has been convenient for Republicans – and it would be useful for the Pepsi Cola Company – to claim that God supports them, and no one else. But after all, we might doubt the reliability of such credos, in the end. The assertion that God loves only the physical life, the theology of the body, seems all too obviously, to fail the larger complexities of the mind and of the spirit; of Theology, and of God. (As Cardinal Mahony and others suggested.) While next, far worse, those who hold thus neglect theology, the mind, these simplistic ideas that deny the importance of the mind, have long since begin to try to impose their own narrow, small-minded biases, their false religion, their false god, on everyone else. Through EWTN; and then the vote.
How therefore can we escape false theology, imposed by physically coercive mob rule? And escape the destruction of real religion, of the spirit, and of real, scholarly theology? Here, maybe the Church itself, can be helpful. By recalling after all, the many theologians that have suggested that the embryo does not really have a human mind or spirit. But to get to this point, the Church needs to correct the simplistic religion that dominates “Catholic” media. This it might do, by publicly, liberally, freely admitting a greater, larger ambiguity or equivocality in its teachings, and in the Bible. And by allowing more flexibility in understanding its doctrines. A flexibility that is open enough to discover, after all, a different theology than the conservative, Republican one, in the Bible itself. And in the heart of Catholic tradition too.
What can the Church do to prevent simple-minded anti-intellectuals, from bullying the Church and the rest of the world, into following them? We will summarize lots of necessary, very strong measures here, soon. But finally, the solution will not be quite as mild as past attempts, which have failed. Finally, though we might have mentioned a few intellectual teachings to help fix the problem, ultimately, any real solution will have to be far, far simpler and more direct. Mere intellectual arguments will not be enough here. Because after all, persuasion has been attempted here before; yet even the censure of EWTN, by three Cardinals and the Pope, has not worked. So that finally, some very, very direct actions must be taken. (Though at times good liberals can be found even on EWTN – see the retired major, who asked whether a Christian can be a good American, Mon., Feb. 15, 2010, EWTN – overall the network remains adamantly conservative, physicalistic). While mere intellectual persuasion, does not entirely work on non-intellectuals.
To cognizant people, we might still propose mere teachings, ideas. In part, a general request from the Church for a more sophisticated “theology” for everyone, would help. It would help if the Church would more prominently teach the recognition (in part from Job and Ecclesiastes, “wisdom”) that God is infinitely complex and that therefore most of the pronouncements of talk show hosts, and even priests, on God, will always be simplistic, and fail to recognize, do justice to, this infinitely complex entity.
While more specifically, the entire body of the Church needs to be addressed, corrected, on the fuller complexity of the issue of abortion, and the status of the embryo. Everyone needs to be told that a) the Bible itself never mentions abortion by name; and b) the Bible if anything appears to support abortion, in Numbers 5.14-29. While c) the Bible says the embryo is not yet “formed” in the womb (Ps. 139). Then too, it needs to be said that d) the bulk of Catholic tradition dislikes abortion … but does not consider it as serious a sin as, say, murder. In effect, e) the traditional argument for abortion, based on the writings of the major Catholic saint, Thomas Aquinas, is that the embryo is not fully human; it is not physically “form”ed enough to accept a “soul” or rational mind or spirit. While f) the writings of Aquinas were given specially central status in Catholic thought, by the 1917 canon (revised 1918; canons 589, 1366).
To be sure, over the years, anti-abortionists have tried to use semi-intellectual arguments. They have advanced dozens, hundreds of sly arguments, sophistries, to try to defend their point of view. Among other methods they use to defend their anti-abortionism, we might incidentally mention here that amazingly heretical priests, have often even suggested that it does not matter if an embryo has a soul or not. That embryos are fully human, whether they have a soul or not. But we might note that with this argument, priests in effect have suggested that the human “soul” is unimportant. No doubt, it at first seemed like a fine, liberal sentiment, some feel, to suggest that a tiny, weak being, or glob of DNA, might be considered human, have “human rights”; even if it does not have a mind or soul. But take a look finally, at where this fine liberal sentiment ends up: denying the importance of the soul, or of the mind. While valorizing just the physical body, or “flesh.” Shockingly, the conservative point of view ends up exactly, precisely opposing the very heart of much of Christianity: the literate, clerical life of the mind. Indeed, conservative anti-abortionism ends as an all-out attack on the soul.
Ironically therefore, many of the “noble”-minded arguments against abortion, end up violating core major Christian traditions. Finally in fact, they end up literally attacking the mind and the soul. In this sense, conservatism appears even simply … demonic.
In the particular example of antiabortionism, when even priests ignore the saints that told us that the embryo does not have a soul, when priests tell us the matter of “ensoulment,” the question of the soul, has no bearing on whether an embryo is human, in effect, we now have now we have an increasing number of priests who now thus, thereby, without quite knowing it, attack, the human soul. (See earlier; #46?). Today, anti-abortion priests in effect are making us say, that a mindless soulless entity, mere body, can be human. The soul, these “priests” now teach, is unimportant; all that matters, what really makes us human, is just our physical DNA, our physical flesh. So that the very movement that began with such high ideals, to protect the Church by defending embryos, ends up attacking the very foundation of Christianity and religion: neo conservatism attacks the soul itself.
Could our allegedly innocent, compassionate anti-abortionist priests, like Fr. Frank Pavone, be a problem for Christianity, therefore? Could their effective denial of the importance of a soul or spirit or mind, be a problem? Indeed, it is a huge problem. One of many deeply disturbing and evil aspects of anti-abortionism, is its subtle (inadvertent?) attack on the very core of Religion: its attack on the soul, the spirit, the mind. An attack that makes apologists, anti-abortion priests, look very suspect. Indeed, their theology now makes anti-abortionists now like a) the biblically foretold “false priests,” b) unreliable “lawyers,” c) “false prophets.” Or even like satanically d) evil demons, evil spirits, straight from Satan himself. As warned about, in the Bible itself. Contemporary apologists, talk show hosts, clearly seem deceitful, and even evil – though they pose to themselves and to others, as the very essence of all that is good and holy. On the surface, indeed, they look like good priests; protecting our children, protecting all that is human and good. But then underneath, underneath the “whitewash,” we will have found here that they are actually, attacking, denying, the core of Religion: the human soul, the human and divine mind, itself.
It often seems in fact, that there is a surprising hidden, awful agenda, in much of conservative apologetics. And in say, their misuse of the philosophy or “theology of the Body.” The new conservative theologies, systematically distance themselves from the old, admittedly excessive clerical fixation on just the mind, or just the spirit. But useful as it is in some ways, to begin to see again the importance of the physical body, on the other hand, the new priests emphasize the body, even the “theology of the body,” too much. No doubt, the physical body is extremely important; but emphasizing it can be overdone. Especially as is inevitably carried too far; and now amounts to a brutal assault on the human soul, or spirit, or intelligence itself.
So finally, we will need some very, very firm action by the Church itself, against specifically and by name EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, and associates like Sheila Liaugminas and Fr. Frank Pavone. Since EWTN has rebelled against, resisted three Cardinals and the Pope, since the measures of three Cardinals and a Pope or two, against EWTN, have failed, clearly now, very, very strong measures, very, very severe measures against EWTN and associates, will now be necessary. Mere pastoral or intellectual counseling, will not fix this.
The problem is in part just as Cardinal Mahony began to hint: the problem is that a wide number of a) lay Catholics and uninformed, self-proclaimed Catholic experts, are presuming to speak for God and for the Church; and they are presumptuously, heretically introducing their own unauthorized, simplistic, physical-action-oriented but problematic interpretations, as the voice of the Church, and of God. And b) their words furthermore, are not spread for the purposes of academic discussion, back and forth; c) their words are issued in a way that is intended, by its proponents, to be enacted immediately, by the vote, into law. Listeners are urged to immediately vote strongly against abortion. While indeed, d) all too many voters have all too hastily done precisely that. So that e) today we see this false theology, this false god, not worked out in mere academic discussion, as theory; but now, since it was enacted in the physical sphere, it has caused real actions, that have caused actual physical disasters: like the creation of unnecessary wars; like the flooding of New Orleans. Like the deaths of many children and adults, from lack of health care. And so forth. The results of neglect of “other issue”s than abortion. And the result of the attack on the mind. Of the idolization of the mindless body.
No doubt, wide and free discussion on many issues, even abortion, is useful and vital in academe, in the seminary. But unfortunately much of the public is not so used to academic discussions, or expert in them; it has no time to discuss the many ramifications of any given position: it simply wants marching orders. It wants a simple message that is “relevant” (from Relevant Radio), to its daily life, and votes. So it wants the vast complexity of the abortion issue, boiled down to a simple formula. And “Relevant” radio stations are all too willing to boil all of God and the Bible down to a simple phrase: God they claim, wants us to value the embryo above all other issues. Or finally, in the grossest oversimplification of all: God says, Vote Republican. Love war; forget the mind and the soul.
The Place of Speculative Theology
Possibly, EWTN was allowed in the interest of allowing the public to see the variety of ideas, in theological speculation. But the fact is, if the public is going to be introduced to theological speculation, then we will need any number of far more careful mechanisms to see that is done well and honestly – and safely, and fairly. In the case of anti-abortionism, the academics’ liberal latitude, allowing free discussion of theological ideas, has allowed in effect, radical right-wing superpatriots and others, to present their witches’ brew mix of their own political ideas, and half-digested literal understanding of the Church, over the air. To millions of Catholics. Who, unaccustomed to hearing speculation from priests, or from “Catholic” institutions, simply accepted these new false mixtures, as the word of the Church, and of God. As marching orders: to vote Republican.
The new “Catholic” media, therefore, and their presentation of theological speculations, need to be far more closely monitored and controlled by the Church. The most modern, speculative and questionable ideas, are today announced as the word of God by talk show hosts. The most doubtful guesses, are all-too-quickly turned into firm, operational orders; and translated into action. And that is a problem. “Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.” [“We’re still having a tea party,” says Drew Mariani, 4:30 PM, Dec. 16, 2009; supporting it seems, the conservatives, and their demonstration “parties” dramatizing their issues? These parties in turn referring to the acts of rebellion against high tea “taxes without representation,” that lead to the American Revolution. But are the new tea parties, even really American ideals?]
As Mahony warned, the media have clearly been used by irresponsible or untrained people, to publicize many speculative – and now we find, simply false – philosophies, false theologies. But, against what Catholic media have always supposed, it was not mainstream, secular media, that have been the worst problem; the worst abuses have been in self-styled, allegedly loyal “Catholic” media. (Networks like EWTN left the name “Catholic” out of their official name perhaps, but inserted it everywhere else. As in “Global Catholic Radio”; EWRN.) The very worst abuses, the worst examples of false and shallow theology, were not even in major public, secular lay, “mainstream” networks; but ironically, the worst abuses were in precisely many of those networks that announced that they were most closely associated with the Church and God. It was the self-styled conservative religious networks, far more than the others, that spread false theology; that especially for example, spread one-issue anti-abortionism, worldwide. It was ironically not the “bad” guys, “secular” media, that have been destroying religion; but just as much, the “good” guys; “Catholic” networks. Worse, the domination of American by a false theology, was not just an inconsequential opinion, a phantom of the mind and spirit only; we now find here, that false ideas, a false theology, were increasingly turned into a program for physical action. So that eventually these false ideas, have created real, physical, bad things in the physical world. Bad things happened, people began to die, when narrowly-focused anti-abortionists in particular, began to neglect environmental, social, and health issues; when they did that, many people physically perished. While the life of the whole planet is at risk; ironically because of the narrow theology of “protecting life.”
Our emphasis for the moment, has been on the serious effects of the conservative’s neglect of the mental, spiritual side of life. But in turn, lack of education for example, in turn, eventually causes problems in the physical sphere; we don’t know now to do things well, in real life. So to be sure, physical life does have great importance. But if so, then let us now note that a very significant amount of physical damage, has already been done to America, and to the world, by the neo-conservative movement; its neglect to note the importance of the “mind,” that otherwise might have, say, solved environmental problems; or cured more diseases.
So how finally can we the public, and the Church, now fix all this? How for example, can the Church begin to allow the people to discover a higher theology? The life of the mind … and at the same time, the tentativeness of many ideas and theories? How can the Church lead the people, beyond blindly following unreliable religious leaders; to discover Theological speculation, and physical responsibility both? How can we prevent persons with no appreciation of the finer points and ambiguities of life and God, from riding roughshod over theology and theologians and academics? How can we prevent the unwashed masses, from insisting on their own simple ideas, ruling – and ruining – the world?
It is clear that allowing the Church, by allowing the development of unregulated “Catholic” media organizations like especially EWTN/RN, has caused many problems. There are many sins and errors, when we fail to find the right mechanism to present theological speculations; when we allow simplistic theologies, to take over the Catholic media, and the open marketplace. Bad things happen, when the very questionable, simplistic, half-theological, half-political ideas of self-important talk show hosts, are increasingly broadcast to the millions as the word of God … and worse, after that, are immediately translated by the masses, into bad votes, bad laws, rash actions.
No doubt, it is extremely, vitally important for Catholics to become aware of the speculative freedom, that theology allows. But Catholics should also be aware that many speculative ideas do not work in physical life. Simply allowing an un-vetted, self-proclaimed lawyer or talk show host from Philadelphia PA, to present his own political theology, his own anti-abortion opinions, in rigged call-in “debate”s, as the word of the Church, has been a disaster. Such people have violated dozens of core principles of the Bible itself; and worse, when those bad ideas are made “relevant,” and are translated into votes, into action, the result is … foolish actions that will kill millions.
The conservative coalition, along with other (even Vatican II?) attempts to merge lay thoughts and theories, with religious ideas, has not be entirely successful; we have discovered many things that can go wrong with such efforts. So finally: what strong corrective mechanisms, should now be put into place by the Church for example, to prevent a potentially massive disaster?
117) # 179 Among many other desperately-needed, immediate remedies, some might that we need, immediately, much, much tighter controls by the Church, on any and all messages released over the air, in its name; under the name “Catholic.” Stricter control measures over Catholic media, should include all the milder measures note here. Including what is outlined here. But also much more severe remedies. Like those that we will outline here, in the end. Yet to be sure, this kind of thing, has probably been attempted by the Church itself – but networks like Eternal Word Television Network, found a way around this. In part by simply leaving the word “Catholic” out of its primary name. No doubt, the networks can continue to get around this kind of restriction.
What other, stronger controls should the Church now therefore exercise? The problem is, that many mild, pastoral remedies have already been tried against EWTN/RN – and have failed. To be sure, our brief review of a few more milder remedies might be useful here. But only if accompanied by the warning, that most of these remedies have been attempted in the past; and yet they were unsuccessful. We will review milder remedies here, only to list the ideas and efforts that after all, have failed to date.
118) # 180 Pending the development/unveiling of better procedures for change in the Church itself, in the meantime, one of better remedies used in the past, for irresponsible representation, was the disclaimer. That is, many media and other organizations, when discussing controversial ideas, make a formal announcement before the show, that “whatever opinions are expressed on the show, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this network. Or in this case, “of the Roman Catholic Church.”
What should the Church now order anti-abortionists to do, to rein in the new heretics? Among other remedies tried in the past, the Church might firmly tell the networks, that a) they are not allowed to in any way, represent the views expressed on their shows, as the definitive voice of the Church or of Catholicism. And indeed, b) specifically, they should make this clear on the air, over and over, before ever single show. With an explicit disclaimer: a statement offered prominently, before every single show, firmly, slowly noting that any ideas, the ideas discussed on these religious networks, have not been approved by the Church. Every single show should, every single day, be prefaced with a formal disavowal, stating that any opinions expressed in the network, “do not necessarily represent the formal position of the Roman Catholic Church.”
This kind of disclaimer, has been a somewhat useful control mechanism in the past; it had once proven reasonably effective years ago. Yet to be sure, we are not dealing with persons of good will here, who would make a good will effort; we are dealing with trained, cynical manipulators of the truth; who have typically gotten around one restriction, after another. This particular precaution, the disclaimer, would likely be gotten around by EWTN/RN. So that this formerly useful mechanism, the disclaimer, would be ineffective today. No doubt it would eventually be “taken care of” by a very small and unnoticeable, fast-taking disclaimer; one delivered in such a way – so quickly, or so quietly, or so rarely – that the average listener would not notice it. Even if the networks would agree to this, eventually the Church would become lax in enforcement; and there would probably be only one brief disclaimer offered a day; probably a typical, very, very brief statement at the beginning or the end of the broadcast day, when no one is listening. Which would not even remotely be enough.
At the very minimum, we would need very, very clear, prominent disclaimers, warnings, slowly, distinctly re-stated, before every single show, every single day. This kind of repetition would be necessary, to make sure these warnings from the Church, were noticed by a normally unobservant public. Repetition here is useful; on the same principle as repeated prayers. But even formal disclaimers of any official affiliation to the Church, though, would never be effective by themselves. To be sure, the disclaimer might seem to be one small necessary step. Given so many serious errors in their own presentation of the Church and its theology, anti-abortionists should at last simply, honestly, clearly, and before every single show, announce their anti-abortionism not as Church doctrine, or the word of God; but as their own, personal social/political ethic or opinion. Thus ceasing to be so quite dishonest; ceasing to misrepresent the Church. Yet to be sure, no doubt the networks are easily clever enough – and the Church will be lax enough – to let any such warnings, degenerate into a mere misunderstood formality.
Warnings, disclaimers to be sure, are related to traditional religious values. First, a) their constant repetition is very much like the repetitious nature of many Catholic prayers. And if they are useful, it is for the same reason: people remember things said over and over. But more than that b) in the disclaimer, there is also humility. Humility, for anti-abortionists at last; as they at last cease to proudly present their own personal opinions as the word of the Church and of God; as they acknowledge that the things they say on their networks might, after all, just be their own flawed opinions. So that at last, self-important conservatives being taking their place, among other humble mortals. By voicing, listening to the Disclaimer, our anti-aborts might begin to remember that God might be great, but that all our perceptions of Him – all our statements about Him too – will always be merely human, and flawed; will often be all-too-human.
It is tempting to therefore, just call for disclaimers on the shows. Since they have so many virtues. Confessing his own inadequacies, the arrogant apologist for a moment ceases to pretend that he himself speaks infallibly for God. And in fact, he here c) begins to “confess.” To confess in front of everyone, that he himself is human; is not an official of the Church; and can and will make many mistakes . So that in effect, the Disclaimer, is an extension of, surprisingly, Confession. Yet to be sure, constantly repeated confessions tend if anything to dull the sensibility; and are easy to ignore. And even easier to mouth, hypocritically. So that neither the Disclaimer (nor the Confession, for that matter) will be by any means even remotely enough to fix this long-standing evil.
Could the Warning, the Disclaimer, be extended in some way? (Cf. the “imprimatur”). No doubt, better than a simple blanket, rote statement, it would be better if for example, EWTN/RN would begin regular broadcast confession, entire shows devoted to naming and describing its own individual sins and errors. This would be useful, so that everyone can hear about these sins in detail, and know more fully what is wrong with them. It would finally be especially useful, if those many “conservatives” who secretly knew that their anti-abortion ideas were not really Catholic at all, began to finally, in adequate detail, confess that. On air. Repeatedly. For several years.
But to be sure, Catholics and other sinners – even priests and ministers – often regularly “confess their sins,” even in sermons and homilies. And yet they find a way to get around even public confessions. Especially, they present their confessions often in too-vague way, for listeners to know exactly what is being confessed to. This kind of typical, vague confession, would not achieve one major aims here: it would not let others know that a sin has been committed by our allegedly holy speakers. Typically, vague confessions in public do not adequately warn the public either, that they have been misinformed by this individual, this organization. So that the public can reassess what it has heard from them..
The disclaimer, the public warning or confession, might seem to be useful to a degree. Yet to be sure, no doubt, such mild measures as disclaimers, were once in place in the past; but they have proven inadequate. First, it is rather unlikely that EWTN/RN would agree to such a thing again; or if it did, it is extremely unlikely that it would actually consistently, honestly, adequately carry out such a measure. Especially, to the degree that is necessary, for all members of the public who have been damaged by untruths, to hear the correction. EWTN has been speaking to an huge number of people over the last 30 years; and it is currently being offered to an audience of 148 million households or so (though to be sure, only a small proportion of that potential audience is actually listening to the network, still, over 30 years, many have caught a bit of its primary message). So that millions have been deceived; and so to fix that, an almost equally massive publicity effort might well be needed, to reach all those deceived earlier. To reach hundreds of millions, any retraction would have to be repeated at least several times a day; prominently, in the middle of major shows; slowly. Every single day. For as long as the network exists. Yet it is extremely unlikely that EWTN/RN would carry this out adequately and honestly; especially when only EWTN itself, is often the only overseer or watchdog. Indeed, it is extremely likely that EWTN would quickly revert to some cursory, blurred statement once or twice a day, which no one would hear.
Therefore, the warning or disclaimer, though partially useful, would be ultimaely ineffective. (Quite possibly they were even in use early on in the history of the network; but if so then have proven doubly ineffective. Indeed, it is possible that it already has such a routine in place; which would prove that this kind of confession, the disclaimer, was clearly inadequate in the past. Therefore, clearly, we will need many, many more, far more, far more dramatic corrective measures, to fix this problem.
No doubt, d) it would be nice say, to allow many speculative things to be said; in the spirit of open, freewheeling and debates on church issues, theology. But there have been problems with this too. Especially, with the fake debates of right wing call-in radio. First, these “open” discussions are rigged. While then too, the people have tended to hear just one side of alleged “debates”; and have misread that side as offering firm recommendations – even commands – from the Church itself. Then too, e) most members of the audience and of the staff, really think of their remarks as quite firm, and binding. Statements made informally on the shows, are taken as the firm word of God, after all, by most listeners. And even constant warnings about that, would probably not be enough to correct that false impression.
To be sure, f) the Church might begin to very, very rigorously enforce its proprietary right to the label “Catholic”; to the extent that it should not only begin to forbid any and all such organizations from using its name, using the word “Catholic,” without instituting disclaimers and so forth. But even to the extent that the Church should firmly warn the networks not only to not use the name of the Catholic Church; but also to in no way ever imply that they are the voice of the Church.
As part of this, g) it might be thought that it could be useful, for the Church to renew the use of the old “imprimatur.” That was a system of classifying statements by theologians and others, as being very Catholic and reliable, or not; giving this or that statement a stamp or “imprimatur” of varying degrees of approval, that was often rather exact. The old system operated rather like the modern ratings system for movies; in this case, it seems to have assigned various Latin terms, that were used to apply to nearly all religious writings, to assign various degrees of conditional, qualified approval to various Catholic writings. Telling us just how reliable they might – or might not – be considered.
Related to – indeed, as a potential refinement to – the old Disclaimers, the old “imprimatur” system, was somewhat useful. This is one of many useful measures, that the Church unfortunately dropped, or failed to reapply, when the new media appeared. These traditional, conservative measures though, should not be dropped; but should be renewed and updated and strengthened. An imprimatur or disclaimer, in the local language, should be inserted very prominently, clearly, before every single show; from now on. Furthermore, this traditional system could now be updated, and presented not in Latin, but in the appropriate language; in America, English.
But unfortunately, none of these mild measures is likely to be enough to correct the massive, deliberate, studied rebellion of the Catholic networks, against the Cardinals, the Popes, the saints. Given a network that has currently no really enforceable tie to Church authority (it is not owned by the Church), but has only ties of alleged piety, and given the poor record of its piety in the past – EWTN having systematically disobeyed three Cardinals and the Pope – a mere disclaimer or imprimatur, will obviously just not be enough to fix this. Far, far more dramatic measures than even very prominent and repeated disclaimers and imprimaturs, will be absolutely necessary.
119) # 181 What mild measures, to correct the networks, might be proposed again? The Church and the public, might insist on the re-establishment of true, honest debate in such media. Especially, in talk radio and media in general. At present, call-in talk radio, produces only fake debates. The ration stations allegedly allow opponents of the station’s opinions, to call in and voice contrary ideas. But the call-in listeners’ format, merely feigns the appearance of real, honest debate. Most of the opponents who call into radio shows, are at an extreme disadvantage; the game is rigged, to make sure they lose. First, callers a) usually not informed as much in advance what the subject would be; b) and they are overwhelmingly therefore, not experts in the field being discussed. Generally, they are c) not go on the air, they are screened by the station – and often are simply not allowed on air, by the screener, if they seem too good. If a would-be debater seems too smart, too well-informed, if they will be too effective in presenting the case against the network, the caller is simply not allowed on the air. Then too, after all the many mechanisms in place to make sure an effective opponent never appears on the air, e) if somehow, in spite of them, an effective caller manages to get on the air anyway, and begins to make too many effective points? Then he or she is simply … cut off; dropped from the air. By the control room or by the talk show host; who has a “dump” or off button to cut off the voice of any caller who becomes a real competitor for the network. The ability and regular practice, of simply hanging up on a caller, to cut him off, is of course, not real debate; and that ability is what finally guarantees, that these shows cannot be real debates. If a caller in a call-in show, is too good, and begins to make telling points on air, he or she is simply, taken off the air – furthermore, this f) leaving the talk show host with the last word; and offering a conclusion that appears unanswerable. Indeed in fact, the host can make a point that is literally unanswerable … since the station has simply silence the opponent, arbitrarily. Then too g) after the show is over, the station then edits the show – and excerpts and runs over and over if it wants, only the parts of the discussion most flattering to itself. These parts it can run a hundred, a thousand times. Thus utterly drowning out whatever points an opponent managed to make on the air.
So the whole game, even in Catholic talk radio, is dishonest, rigged. The fact is, most “conservative” talk shows pretend to be traditionally American, and to honor basic American values, like Democracy, and the virtue of Freedom of Speech; the virtue of free, open, and fair debate. But it has been one of the greatest ironies and hypocrisies of conservative talk radio, c. 1981-2010, that while they constantly wave the flag, super-patriotically, and cite “American” “values,” they have actually systematically attacked, subverted, weakened, perhaps the single most important element necessary for a Democracy: they attack and weaken freedom of speech, and fair, free, open debate on all issues. (When Democrats took over the Presidency and the Congress, in 2008, radio conservatives feared – and fought – the return of the “Fairness Doctrine”; the doctrine that was suspended from 1984-5-7. The Fairness Doctrine had earlier demanded that, in the publicly-owned airways, anyone who wanted to advocate a controversial issue, had to give the opposite side, a fair debate, and what some called “equal time.” This doctrine was dropped by conservative President Ronald Reagan; and immediately afterwards, we saw the exponential growth of a right-wing “conservative” speaker, Rush Limbaugh; in the talk format that mimicked the old debates, but that rigged the game all along).
The fact is, there is a huge, heretofore-unnoticed “scandal” in talk radio; a scandal far, far worse than the “Payola” scandal, and the scandal of rigged quiz shows, from in the earlier days of broadcast media. Today therefore, we here and now need to break the news to everyone: there has long been an enormous, evil scandal in talk radio that no one really knows about. That evil scandal is this: that nearly all the apparently fair and democratic discussions, debates, on conservative talk shows, are rigged; they are not real, actual, honest debates. The networks always had countless mechanisms on hand, to make sure that their own voice, their own opinion, appeared to triumph, every single time. After conservative Republican Ronald Reagan disemboweled the Fairness Doctrine, the talk show game was firmly rigged, every time.
Call-in shows are rigged; they are not real, fair and honest debates between equally-weighed opponents. Ironically therefore, the very stations and shows that constantly trumpet patriotic attachment to democracy and America and its institutions, are the very stations that are doing the most in real life, to destroy all that. So that the public and the media industry, should take steps to fix this. (If re-instituting the “Fairness Doctrine” is not possible, then it is at least time to begin regularly exposing the duplicity of conservative talk radio; its deep antagonism to real democracy).
No only does dishonesty, false witnessing, dominate conservative Catholic media; worse, this dishonesty and unfairness, is even more true of “Catholic” talk radio, than other talk show formats. The “Catholic” talk radio formats of EWTN/RN, are just as bad as, and are often worse than, other conservative stations. Thus the “scandal”
of false witnessing, rigged debates, is found worst of all, in Catholic radio; causing a massive religious “scandal” for the Church.
To remedy the problems of talk shows therefore, one might well ask for fair and honest debates. And yet finally, that has been attempted – and this mild measure, has been defeated already. The whole mechanism, was soon tricked up, subverted, and then terminated, by conservatives like Ronald Reagan; whose previous career in media, Army propaganda, made it easy for him to disembowel even the institution of fair and honest debate; the core principle of Democracy itself.
A massive scandal remains therefore, for the country, and for the Church: it does not allow fair and honest and free debate, open discussion.
More, Earlier Corrective Measures
Against EWTN/RN …
That Have Failed
We have therefore, just described some of the key sins of Catholic broadcasting today; and we have described some milder measures that have been employed in the past, to try to correct such problems. Some of these measures have been useful in the past; and many people might therefore now propose that the Church should now begin to employ, these same measures, to fix the problem, the heresy, the dishonesty, of Catholic broadcasting. But already in fact, we suggest, most of these milder measures have already been tried, against EWTN, against “Priests for Life,” and so forth. But already, dozens of such milder measures have tried – and have not worked. Many of these corrective measures were long in place … but were gradually whittled away. And/or were forgotten. And/or were deliberately subverted. By various dishonest strategies, that hypocritically gave the appearance of honoring them, that went through the motions of honoring them; but that all the time, regularly subverted and destroyed these regulatory, oversight mechanisms. So that the fact is, many mild measures have been attempted to regulate EWTN/RN; but they have all failed. In fact, even rather robust, not-so-mild confrontations of EWTN, have been attempted – but have also failed. Keep in mind that at least three leading cardinals, and the Pope himself, have in effect rebuked EWTN’s founder and head Mother Angelica, and/or her major theological doctrines. And yet, even this rather direct intervention in Catholic media, has clearly failed to accomplish anything at all. So that even rather strong measures against the offenders, have clearly failed.
Milder corrective measures against EWTN/RN and related Catholic media have been attempted over and over – and have failed, over and over. Even the rather dramatic censure, even by Cardinals and the Pope, of its “one-issue,” dis-“proportionate” anti-abortionism, have also manifestly failed: EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, etc., have simply ignored or “twist”ed all such statements by real Catholic authority. These networks report or repeat endlessly, only what they want their listeners to hear. In this case, they are reading on air only the parts of what authorities say, that seemed to support their own case. But consistently, EWTN fails to be honest or fair: to honestly, consistently let the public know, just how many times the Church leadership has severely criticized EWTN/RN, and issued statements that do not fit its radical anti-abortionism. EWTN has mentioned the times it was criticized by Cardinals Mahony, McCarrick, Ratzinger, just a few times. While those few allusions were vague … and drowned out by a few rare, positive statements – that were played on the air a thousand more times.
Therefore, many milder corrective measures, have already been applied to agencies like EWTN/RN … and all these measures have failed. So what should the Church now do, to fix this?
120) # 182 Since the actions of three cardinals and a pope or two against EWTN/RN and its false theology have failed, what actions should the Church leadership take today, against EWTN/RN and its associates (like Fr. Frank Pavone; Sheila Liaugminas; etc.)? Earlier public warnings by cardinals and popes, were not effective. In part they were not effective, because they were sometimes indirect and obscure; warnings from bishops, cardinals and popes, about “one issue” Catholicism, unfortunately did not specify by name, the two major culprits: EWTN/RN. And specifically, one-issue anti-abortionism. (Any remarks by Mahony against specifically EWTN founder Mother Angelica were not reported well). So that the public never knew what the Cardinals, the Pope, were talking about. And even papal messages were too ambiguous, and had no effect when reported to a very simple population, that needed very simple, unambiguous statements to follow. Warnings about “one issue” Catholicism from our rather academic bishops and Pope were far too vague for most ordinary Catholics; who were unable to figure out what these statements meant. EWTN listeners never realized that the bishops and cardinals and the pope, were talking about, criticizing, they themselves; that the cardinals and the pope were criticizing in effect, EWTN itself; along with Fr. Frank Pavone, and his one-issue organization, “Priests for Life.” And of course, whenever a radio caller began to get any idea what the Vatican was talking about … that assertion was of course immediately denied, squelched, taken off the air, by EWTN itself.
Perhaps to be sure, the Church has intended to try to be kind, and not criticize too directly, even peoples’ grossest theological errors. But obviously, this vagueness is hurting the people; it is not getting through, to correct them in major – and literally physically fatal – errors.
So what should be done? There is clearly no point in cardinals or the Holy See, once again, say, indirectly censuring EWTN. Or reiterating their earlier, apparently too vague warnings, about “one issue” Catholicism. Since EWTN and associates like Fr. Frank Pavone, simply ignored these warnings. Or pretended that the warnings did not apply to their own organizations. To this very day, most Catholic listeners to EWTN are completely unaware that three Cardinals and a Pope or two, in effect criticized, rebuked EWTN and its theology: that a) Cardinal Mahony warred with EWTN founder Mother Angelica; that Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo contradicted Mother Angelica, and said that voting for Pro Choice politicians, “can be permitted”; that Cardinal McCarrick affirmed this. That many bishops have tried to stop EWTN’s one-issue anti-abortionism. Indeed, the vague and equivocal voices of theologians and Church officials, have been utterly misunderstood by the people. Or they have been deliberately drowned out, by hundreds of hours of programming, by those elements of EWWTN that did understand them, all too well. Given the great success of EWTN in utterly denying this message, there is obviously no point at all, in the Vatican itself bothering to issue any more allusive statements on this subject; all such pronouncements to date have been grossly ineffective.
121) # 183 The efforts of three cardinals and the pope, having failed, how can the Church stop the one-issue anti-abortionism heresy, therefore? It might be thought, that putting more priests on the network, would help. But this measure in the past, simply backfired. There have been many, many dozens of priests appearing on the anti-abortion network in the past; but instead of these priests correcting, redirecting EWTN/RN, what happened more often was the reverse of that: many priests were seduced by the network; seduced by media glamour, and by its clever but false theology.
It might be expected, that priests on these networks, would correct and reform any bad doctrines, false teachings. But that has not been the case. Among other things, most ordinary priests are not very sophisticated theologically; and they simply did not have the intellectual resources, to understand and combat the cleverness of EWTN lawyers and apologists. So a) rather than priests converting EWTN, therefore, b) the effect was exactly the reverse: many, many priests indeed, were soon converted by EWTN, to its false one –issue theology.
Many priests were infected, converted to heresies, by the clever, dishonest rhetoric of the apologists and talk show hosts. And c) then, worse, their own presence, as priests, on the network – and worse, their own occasional statements of support – lent their authority, to the heresy. So that the whole thing snowballed.
The “corrective” presence of priests on the network therefore, has not helped. Indeed, it has made the situation immeasurably worse. Instead of fixing the situation, priests were seduced into the heresy; d) priests like Fr. Ed Sylvia, Fr. Frank Pavone and “Priests for Life.” Worse, e) it was not just ordinary priests that were enticed, but also, finally, Bishops. Bishops like Chaput and Archbishop Burke, were simply taken in, by the grass roots side of the movement; the complaints and sentiments of women. And even bishops were “snared” and taken, finally, by EWTN’s infinitely clever, lawyerly presentation of its false theology. So that ultimately, even the bishops have been seduced, egged on, into making, eventually, heretically anti-abortionist statements.
Having priests and bishops appear on networks like EWTN therefore, has not been particularly helpful in the past. Most ordinary priests are incapable of really dealing with, countering, the new, lay professional, full-time media rhetoric operations, of the new talk shows; and of the massive Conservative Coalition. When they first enter the world of the media, priests are simply overwhelmed, by hundreds of sophistical arguments. And by the glamour and prestige of being on the radio, and on TV. So that the presence of even countless priests in organizations like EWTN/RN, has not helped. They have not corrected the theology of the network; but instead, there presence has merely resulted in more and more priests – and eventually, bishops – being seduced by the networks. As it turns out, few priests and bishops have the internal discipline or strength, to resist the temptations of fame, media exposure and attention; or to counter the today, highly sophisticated argument-machine, of lay lawyers and apologists, and the satanically-clever spin-doctors, of the new conservative media. (The new mixture of priests and lay persons, someone commented, means the “laitization of the clergy, and the clericalization of the laity”; but mostly this involved each adopting the worst of the other; not the best).
Rather than priests changing the media, the influence works the other way: “conservative,” patriotically American, pro-military media, changed priests, bishops, instead. And got priests and even bishops, to simply parrot whatever stance the lay staff wanted the priests to support.
122) # 184 Could we appear to the basic conscience of believers? Could we ask the staff of EWTN to consult their conscience, and then go to the confessional, to confess these sins? It seems likely that many have. No doubt, some priests have already spoken privately to individuals on EWTN and so forth; and have urged them to “confess” their sins in the confessional, for example. Yet countless attempts by callers, to get EWTN staff to reflect on their own possible sins, have already been tried, by countless callers. Yet with no effect. Normally a) talk show hosts are simply incapable of really understanding the Church; and/or of b) seeing what they themselves do, as a sin. While c) regarding the efficacy of Confession proper here: if and when any media staffmember has a twinge of conscience, and tries to confess it to a priest, typically priests hearing confessions, do not really understand the issues. They do not understand the sins being confessed. Priests therefore simply grant all-too-easy absolutions. Or very mild penance. Then too, the presence of many priests around them, encouraging and supporting them in committing their sins, reinforces their impression that they are not doing anything wrong.
123) # 185 Many milder measures, have already been attempted to correct EWTN, like the above; but nothing yet has succeeded. Among other mild remedies, perhaps someone in very high authority would consider dramatically, publicly asking EWTN to re-think its status, its stance on issues. A more dramatic and more direct statement, by perhaps, just one more Cardinal or Pope, many might think, could at last get EWTN’s attention, and fix the problem. But we will have found here that obviously, many rather direct statements have been made, even by cardinals and the pope, in the recent past – with no effect. So that in our final sections we will have to recommend, that the Church should now make some very, very directly, clear, and public, detailed, and negative remarks, very specifically about EWTN, and the “Catholic” anti-abortion movement. These remarks should be very, very clear, and very adamant; recent experience has shown that nothing less than very, very strong statements, will get through to listeners, and staff. While indeed, it is doubtful that any mere new press releases will accomplish anything here; so that ultimately we will have to recommend the very strongest disciplinary measures be taken against EWTN/RN and its staff and associates. Ultimately, nothing will work … except public excommunications of EWTN staff and associates; ironically, almost the very same remedy, already incorrectly imposed, by right-wing Catholics, on Pro Choice politicians like Patrick Kennedy.
No doubt, a) as part of a very, very strong and severe program against the new conservative heretics, the Church itself should – among other things – present to EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio and associated anti-abortionists, a list similar to (but not identical with) ours here, of their many sins. And b) the Church should issue clarifications of its stance; making it clearer than ever, that the status of the embryo, has not yet been declared to be fully a human being or human person. While the status of the embryo should be explicitly lowered. As the Church more clearly than ever, articulates the problems with, sins in, one-issue anti-abortionism and so forth. Yet c) to be sure, there is very good reason, from past experience with the offenders, to suppose that even this will not be enough; will be too mild. So that finally, mere words will not be enough; some very, very strong actions will be necessary, against EWTN and the heresy of one-issue antiabortionism. Anything less than very, very firm, clear, and negative statements, made by the Pope himself, will be ignored, or simply twisted out of recognition, by the Neo Cons’ extended staff of expert spin doctors; rhetoricians; sophists.
124) # 186 Past experience shows that EWTN is adamant, hardened, inflexible, and absolutely resistant to mere verbal counseling; having resisted three cardinals and a pope, among other things it has not been responsive to countless simple pleas or efforts of persuasion, from public call-in listeners. That is, in addition to constant input from priests, EWTN listened for 30 years, to various call-in listeners who noted the sins of conservatism, and anti-abortionism. A hundred callers have tried, through verbal persuasion on the air, to get these people to re-think and publicly denounce, withdraw, their rabid, one-issue anti-abortionism. And yet however, most of the public was just hung up on. And thus even constant verbal input from the public, has failed to reform this movement. So that constant verbal input, counseling, even from a hundred sources, has failed to get through to this hardened opponent of the truth.
125) # 187 We might to be sure, as Cardinal Mahony suggested, today try to hereby – in this very book in part – teach the network a better theology. Like they teach in the better seminaries. But the fact is, that a) many Catholics are not well educated; and cannot understand much theology. While b) the anti-intellectualism of the Neo Conservative movement, even makes “theology” and “colleges” and “professors” a bad word. (See EWTN’s war with Colorado professor Campbell). The new conservatives not only have no “knowledge” of theology and God; they moreover, despise colleges, professors, and knowledge itself.
The new conservatives, are entirely immune to learned knowledge, or real theology. And they are now increasingly immune, even to the middle-brow theological education they would get in a church, from homilies and sermons. Among other problems, not only do they despise higher education; c) the new Catholics never even go to Church. Much less seminaries. And so, trying to gently, verbally teach the new Christians higher knowledge, does not work. The new Christians are anti-intellectual fundamentalists and evangelicals; they simply ignore all intellectual or learned arguments. Even though the Bible says that “fools despise wisdom” and “instruction.” Some might hope that these people will one day be educated; in part by mandatory education. But today, most religious people never get far enough in school, even religious school, to know what they are doing wrong. While many of those who might have been able to learn something, today are anti-intellectuals; and they simply get around, they outflank theology, and the new scholarship on religion. They just don’t read anything they don’t like. And they don’t go to school long. So whatever theology professors are saying, they never hear it. And they feel they can get away with this, and pronounce their opinions, without real theological knowledge. Even though the Bible warned that “fools despise knowledge,” and so forth.
Conservatives don’t mind just skipping education; either because they are not good at it, or because they reject education, professors, and even intelligence, as a matter of principle. So attempts to help them by educating them – in theology, say – are often fruitless. Then too, d) to the extent that conservatives learn any theology at all, the new conservatives know only whatever their own members choose to tell them. They mostly learned what it was taught to them, in this case, by one-issue fanatics, and by ideologically conservative priests. (Like those who once filled the ranks, at the Franciscan university at Steubenville, Ohio; near Pennsylvania). To the extent that conservatives respect learning or theology at all, they only value what their own narrow populist thinkers say. They seem to believe that their “apologists” and their arguments, are all they really need to know. While, since most church sermons avoid discussing political issues, that leaves the issue of how to vote, to lay Catholics. Who do not hesitate here: because as they say, “fools rush in, where the angels fear to tread.”
Today, most conservatives think that the universities are full of bad liberal professors, who don’t really know anything. And that e) only Conservatism is a full and complete and adequate and “full” outline, of the truth. Or in the case of religion, of what the Church “really” believes; that its Neo Cons are uncovering the “real” theology of the Church.
But we will have addressing our concerns here, especially to the last claim: that Conservatism gives an adequate description of the Church; that the real Church is conservative. We will have been showing here, in part, that the vision, the understanding of conservatives, of Theology, of the what the Church is alleged to have said, is extremely narrow. And is not a “full” and adequate description of the Church at all. It may be that the Pope, or the ideal Church in heaven, has the “fullness of the truth”; but the ordinary conservative Catholic is just flattering himself, is just too vain, when he asserts that therefore he himself fully knows the full truth of the Church and of God, as well. Basically, we suggest, the very word “conservative,” does not really cover the full spectrum of what the Church has been. Jesus had many liberal ideas.
Indeed, there are fundamental problems in the very concept of being “conservative.” The very word means to conserve or follow traditional, well-known ideas. But that can mean just uttering commonplaces. And to fixate stupidly, just on things said over and over. Unfortunately, it does not create or take much of a mind to do that: to understand and follow, only things said over and over again; to follow things that everyone says, everyone knows. That is what a simple person does. So that “conservatism,” might be just another word for stupid people: people that only believe what is said over and over again; things that everyone already knows. Confirming this, we find that Catholic “conservatism” in fact, deifies a simple, literal, childhood, 5-year old’s idea of Catholicism. In Conservatism everything, like miracles, is taken very simple: taken literally. And there is an emphasis on physicality: things easily seen with the eyes. Miracles in this world, are real physical events. And a brain-dead physical body, even without a mind, is fully human. In many ways, even the religious conservative, is extremely worldly: fixed on simple, physical things.
To be sure, we might here try, to teach conservatives more theology. But teaching at times doesn’t do it. We might try that; but those who are fixed on physical, tangible things in the world, don’t really listen to mere words, arguments, intellectuals. It is hard, by means of mere words, mere intangible ideas, thoughts, spirits, to convince conservatives. Among those who are too entirely fixated on the immediately obvious physical body, physical miracles, the physical world, mere intellectual ideas, theologies, have little value. And are not listened to much at all. In the old days, we would just beat donkeys to get them to work; but these days this is not done. To be sure, we ourselves, here, the author of this book, has very little immediate physical or institutional physical power. We are only spouting words; writing a book. So that we admit that our own efforts here might well fail, or be easily disregarded, in the very, simplistically physical world of conservatives.
Mere words, arguments, teachings – or the immediate specific subject, teaching a fuller “theology” – may not achieve much in the world of conservatives, therefore.
Can we simply talk to conservatives (and for that matter, liberals) and convince them? That has been attempted many times … and has failed. Even “debates” are rigged events. Countless efforts have already been made, to just gently – and even at times, rather forcefully – speak to, talk to conservative Catholics; but not even the speeches of three cardinals and a Pope have been enough here. Just talking, advising, has plainly not been enough.
126) # 188 To date, all talk, all mere words, have failed. We have here just reviewed a dozen milder speeches, ideas, teachings, designed to fix the problem here; but probably all these have been attempted before – with no result. In part because mere words, speeches, teachings, have little effect in this world. So what should the hierarchy of the Church do now? No doubt, the following words, among dozens of others outlined here, have already been tried now and then, but has also failed: no doubt one element of the Church or another, has already often counseled, warned priests that are to appear on the network, that media like EWTN are not the full, authorized, official voice of the church. No doubt, many priests who are about to appear on EWTN have been verbally warned by their superiors, that such appearances are fraught with dangers. And yet, though undoubtedly many priests have thus been verbally warned, cautioned, counseled, still, many priests fell into the narrow pit.
Mere words, teachings, cautions, mere theologies, are often not effective, in the world of very physical people. In this world, mere words in general, even higher education, are often even despised. And are not listened to. So that just verbally warning priests with mere casual words, verbal warnings to priests, about EWTN, will not entirely work. As it has been tried previously, and obviously has been totally unsuccessful in stanching the new heresies. We are in the realm here, where actions, deeds, speak louder than words. And so we will see in the end, the only solution consists in part in some rather dramatic deeds.
More, Mild – and Failed – Remedies?
Present Useful – But Still Inadequate – Remedies – By the Public
Verbal warnings from the Church, even from three Cardinals and the Pope, have achieved nothing. But if the Church itself has so far failed, with verbal cautioning, education, to successfully discipline its own, then who can fix this? Perhaps, some would say, the general pubic can do something? With its own verbal criticisms? Since the Church itself has tried and failed to discipline EWTN, maybe the Public can accomplish something. Even with a few simple words.
To be sure, hundreds of ordinary people have called up EWTN/RN and its talk shows, to complain about its policies. But nothing much was accomplished thereby. Still, if
the Church has failed to discipline its own, if the Church has failed to control those who call themselves “Catholic,” it might be possible for the general public, for ordinary citizens, to accomplish something here. Even by just a few words.
To be sure, there have already been many prior words spoken against Pro Life politics, by ordinary citizens; while these public efforts too, have obviously been ineffective. Still, it might be possible for the public to now ramp up its efforts, its criticisms. In a way that could finally begin to get through. Using more pointed, specific, clear criticisms. Naming names. Like this:
127) # 189 In addition to the Church itself, the public should now quote, and build on, the efforts of the Bishops and Cardinals and the Pope, as they were critical of EWTN, and/or the Pro Life movement. The public here could begin acting to extend the efforts of the real Church leadership. Following, amplifying the statements of cardinals and popes. By continuing to publicly, repeatedly denounce, “one issue” Catholicism.
128) # 190 Especially, we should all make it clear that when the cardinals and the pope began to criticize “one-issue” politics, their major target was one-issue Pro Life-ism; anti-abortionism.
129) # 191 Expanding on that, the public might begin to directly, strongly, repeatedly, criticize, specifically and by name, “EWTN.” And its radio adjunct, EWRN.
130) # 192 Especially, the public could directly and by name, criticize “Catholic” radio staff; its talk show hosts; and apologists; and guests. By name. Including especially, Sheila Liaugminas; Johnnette Bekovic; Karl Keating. Who have sought the “limelight,” as they say in the law, as public figures advocating a heretical cause. And who can as public figures, therefore, be rather freely criticized.
131) # 193 We all should also repeatedly criticize, specifically and by name, the rebellious priests that have spoken prominently against abortionism. Including especially, Fr. Frank Pavone, and his organization “Priests for Life.” And Fr. Ed Sylvia. And Archbishop Burke. As well as the Bishops of Philadelphia; and the Bishop who criticized/excommunicated Rep. Kennedy (of Rhode Island), Bishop Tobin. (First though see the Dec. 2009 interview, with Chris Matthews?). It is necessary to clearly, “plainly” name names here; so an uneducated public knows very specifically, what and who, we are talking about. We should all call for the disbanding of Priests for Life; which was experimentally established years ago by a Bishop, but which is an organization and theology which can now be seen to have seriously sinned.
132) # 194 What else can the public do to end the abuse of antiabortionism? The public can read our book here – and distribute this book to key persons. And use its arguments, against anti-abortionists, in debates.
To be sure, even strong and direct criticism of Pro Lifers, anti-abortionists, by the public, many not accomplish everything we need. Pro Lifers have been obstinate and persistent in their sin – while to date, no mere intellectual argument has been effective against them. But those members of the public who wish to still try to simply reason with these folks, to engage them in dialogue, or direct mere words their way, are hereby offered our text, our ideas, our arguments, to use. If the rhetoric machine of EWTN/RN has been able to bat down many arguments, here we may win by sheer numbers: we offer more than a hundred sketches for arguments.
Our book here is indeed almost intended, as a last effort, to simply talk, reason with this movement; to work things out just by talking. Just by advancing a few arguments. But to be sure, we have our doubts that mere intellectual persuasions will help much here. Given the pro-body, anti-intellectual nature of the audience.
Then too, by now the conservative and Pro Life movements, are strong enough, to resist. They have been arguing now for at least 30 years; and they have a vast network of seasoned apologists and rhetoricians, dishonest speakers, sophists, guests, to address any argument anyone might have against them. Therefore, finally, it is unlikely that even our summary of more than a hundred arguments against conservatives and pro lifers especially, even our summary of the words of cardinals and popes against them, will have much effect.
Some might think, that just sending a copy of our book here, will finally end the discussion. But in fact, it will likely not do so. Many of the arguments advanced here have been presented to EWTN previously, individually; and all the network did with them, was spend some time coming up with sophistical counter-responses.
Indeed, our book here, to be sure, should not be sent to EWTN itself. After the network’s dismissive and unfair treatment of hundreds, thousands of call-in listeners, its dismissal even of Cardinals and the Pope, EWTN by now has firmly proven itself all but utterly immune to moral or intellectual persuasion. Therefore, informing this network of the many arguments listed here, would have no function – except to merely inform the network in fuller details, in advance, of the arguments against it. And just give the network more time to generate still more sophistical counter-arguments. These hundred ideas should not be advanced any more, one by one to the network; who can easily generate responses to one or two. Rather, this book might serve as a mere footnote, a recourse to … those who decide to stop arguing; and simply take disciplinary, legal measures. Which alone, will be effective.
EWTN/RN is a dishonest rhetoric monster today, of great power; simply engaging it in more dialogues, “debates,” has not achieved anything in fully 30 years; and will not achieve anything much today, either. In effect, we will need actually, something more that mere words; we will need actions. By the Church itself.
In fact, we will see, we will need the Church itself to at last, give up the attempt to speak, and begin to directly discipline EWTN/RN and associates Pro Lifers. As private citizens can begin to undertake all legal actions that are available against it. Such actions will be necessary. Because no one can realistically expect that an opponent like EWTN/RN, with its firmly narrow, dogmatic state of mind, it “seared conscience,” will respond in any way, to simple moral persuasion or intellectual arguments. Finally, something far, far more direct is needed here: we will need direct institutional censure and a physical shut-down of the operation.
Still, in order to get effective action, we will need first, to address some words, our arguments, to those persons in power, to physically shut down EWTN/RN. To increase the awareness of the public, and the leadership of the Church itself, of the problem with EWTN/RN and Pro Lifers, readers of this very document here – who by now should be sufficiently aware of EWTN’s willful rebellion against the Church – are encouraged to send a full, free copy of this very document, here, not to EWTN; but to church and IRS officials.
A reader should send this book especially, with is or her own introductory letter, to his own priests and bishop. Our book here could and should in fact, be submitted by readers, to various officials in the Church. To say, a) retired Cardinals Mahony and b) McCarrick, and c) Archbishop Foley (formerly head of the Office of Social Communication). But also it should be send to more current Church officials. Our book here should especially be sent by you, to d) your own priest and e) your own Bishop, of your own diocese.
But ultimately too, this book, these arguments against one-issue anti-abortionism, should also be sent to f) various agencies in and around the Vatican. To various current church officials in the Holy See in Rome. Especially, this book could be sent, with our supporting materials, our book here, not just to your own priest and Bishop … and to the Vatican itself; Vatican.va. Specifically to the current heads, of say the aa) Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith; the bb) Office of Social Communication; the cc) International Theological Commission; the dd) Pontifical Council for the Laity; and ee) to Joe Ratzinger, who is now the Pope, Benedict XVI. As well as to any other relevant Vatican offices, that address particularly, the media, doctrine – and the various religious orders. (Since the many priests who have appeared on EWTN/RN, need more direct oversight, from the leadership of whatever order it is that they belonged to. Many are Franciscans for example; and the Vatican agency that oversees Franciscans should be alerted to these problems with their members, their priests).
If we can’t educate the people, we can at least perhaps educate the leadership. And motivate them to at last, take really effective measures.
133) # 195 Clearly, mere talking, teaching won’t do much in this case. But as one part of a more rigorous program of reform of Catholic media networks, we might modestly suggest that priests at least, who are thinking of getting involved in this issue, should be commanded to learn some of the many aspects of Church doctrine, as those doctrines are outlined in this very document here. Our book here, enumerates seventy or a hundred or more elements of the anti-abortion issue … largely according to Church authority itself. Here at least we tell the story that all-too-sly and lawyerly media outlets like EWTN, have selectively omitted, or topspin. But to be sure, the time for mere talking is over; our writings here, though incomplete and tentative, might well be given to all priests appearing on the network; to warn them. To tell the priests that there are many good, solid arguments, that the message of EWTN and antiabortionism, does not reflect the Church at all. And yet however, by now many priests on networks like EWTN, priests like Father Frank Pavone, are themselves already wholly convinced by anti-abortionism; and so, when confronted with counter-arguments, they will merely become defensive and antagonistic, rather than being corrected. Indeed by now, many priests like Frank Pavone, are really working for various media networks, rather than the Church, in effect. So that they are simply, the enemy of the truth; and will not listen, but merely peruse any writings we give them, to immediately try to think up counter-arguments.
It might therefore at first seem good, to give copies our present book to priests. And yet however, to be sure though, we are under no illusion that our present work will, just by itself, really change the most obdurate, stubborn anti-abortion priests. By now, many priests like Fr. Frank Pavone are hardened polemicists, with 10-, 20- and even 30-year long commitments to what we might call the Apostate Church of the Unholy Embryo. They have already put in a lifetime of work in support of it – and they will not abandon it for an argument or two.
In fact, many of the ideas presented here, will have been presented to many priests before, more informally – with no effective result at all. By now, many priests are totally convinced that EWTN’s anti-abortionism, is the voice of the Church, and of God himself. Almost nothing will dissuade them of that.
Problems in the “New Evangelization”:
Untrained, Non-Priests, Lay Persons,
Talk Show Hosts
How is it that so many new heresies, have found their way so firmly into the very heart of the Church? The problem really, is because of a certain new laxity in the Church, regarding “lay” participation especially; giving too much power and authority to non-priests.
No doubt, lay and even secular people, have much to offer. But when Vatican II properly began speaking highly of the “laity,” there was not enough attention to the problems that would be caused, when lay persons, non-priests, were integrated more and more into church life and services. In particular, some might even think that if the Church had just succeeded fully, and totally given all its power over to secular persons, that might have been useful. But in any case, the problem has been creating – or allowing – a new sort of half-trained priest: creating lay deacons and worse, allowing, without any effective control, Catholic talk show hosts. These new figures, new professions, new job roles, these new half-trained priests… brought many new problems, that we are only now beginning to see. (Though by now it is fairly widely felt in the Church, that when the Church began giving in to Psychology, that was the beginning of its problem with child abuse: modern Psychology allowing gay and even child-abusing priests, relatively free sway).
Here though, our major concern is especially with a new, problem-riddled class of untrained lay persons: “Catholic” network’s talk show hosts, apologists, and guests. Persons that are presently allowed to present themselves as the voice of God and of the Church … but who are not as fully-trained or as dedicated or qualified, as priests once were. It is amazing and unprecidentedly foolish, that the Church should allow such a thing. For 2,000 years, the Church had rigorously controlled its message in the liturgy. It had learned the hard way, that giving even its priests too much leeway, resulted in countless heresies and conflicts. For that reason, the Church had learned to very monitor its priests; to carefully monitor and control the voices that were allowed to speak in its name. Indeed, the Church had learned to absolutely control, even, every single word that even a priest could utter in the liturgy. Whole ecumenical councils were devoted just to working out a word or two, in the liturgy. But then suddenly, by 1981, two thousand years of tradition all but collapsed; it was OK for any untrained lay person or half-baked nun, to appear before millions; and say almost whatever he or she wanted; and let it be presented as the word of the Church, the fully binding word of God. No doubt, we should encourage theological speculation; and allow many different opinions to be expressed. But? We should be careful that those who present them, carefully qualify and caution, that their speculations are after all, speculations, opinion: not absolutely firm directives supported fully by the Church. If these qualifications are not voiced, then dangerous and experimental – and often false – theologies, will often be followed, to the letter.
Reduced in its earthly power by the founding of the nation of Italy, by 1880-1929-1963, and shocked and overwhelmed by the success of modern secular and scientific culture, the Church was perhaps feeling very much embattled. And ready to work with any kind of half-friendly ally. Shocked by modern times, by the media, but ready to make some sort of deal with it, the Church just gave in, to the first friendly face that came along; it gave in to the first radio network that at least, called itself “Catholic.” Perhaps consoled by the appearance of at least a nun, as nominal head of EWTN, Mother Angelica’s superiors, did not demand that she quit. Nor did they shut down her network. Even though Mother Angelica, a fairly ordinary (if humorous) nun, had few qualifications to speak for the Church, to millions of people.
In fact, a major revolution has taken place in the Church – almost unnoticed. It was not exactly just “Vatican II reforms” (which have been widely noticed to be sure). But more than that, the real revolution that took place was the … near overthrow of the Church’s authority, even within “Catholic” ranks. The Church no doubt was used to dealing with antagonism and slyness outside the Church; but this was a new threat, partially from within. From Catholic lay persons. And specially those lay persons with media skills. Suddenly, without realizing what was happening, the Church was turning over huge chunks of its institution, to persons with no particular training in religion at all. Positions that would normally be occupied by bishops (like Bishop Sheen, heading his own media show), were now occupied by … random lay media persons, with no particular training.
The Church was giving away some of its most powerful new positions – to anyone that wanted the job. And of course, there were dozens of people who wanted these jobs; the media world is full of star-struck people, who want to be heard and known, by millions. And a “religious” show was nearly as good as any other ticked to get there. Or, if a media staffer was somewhat genuinely religious? Then after all, here was an unexpected – and undeserved – windfall, fallen into their lap. No doubt, many of these new media staffers were themselves amazed at how easily, they stepped into positions of great authority. Many were no doubt constantly looking around, almost begging priests to monitor them and correct them; sensing that something after all, had gone horribly wrong with the usual mechanisms of the Church, to monitor and control its message. Many staffers no doubt felt shocking, themselves. Suddenly, they were standing just like priests, in front of millions, unchecked, delivering ideas that would be perceived as the voice of God himself. And yet they privately knew that they had no religious training, or credentials.
Indeed, the birth of “Catholic” media networks like EWTN and Relevant Radio, has been amazing – and utterly shocking. A shocking lapse in the Church’s internal controls. And in some respects, it has been every bit as disastrous, as one would expect. The growth of the lay new religious media, we will have begun to show here, has been immensely destructive. Eminently unqualified persons, were suddenly given immense power. And no one cared; or anyway, no one in high Church authority was really watching the hen house. (And people follow it like God: “If I heard if from you, I know its true,” one relieved housewife assures Relevant Radio, in an endorsement, aired as an ad, say 7:05 AM Feb. 23, 2010. By now, Catholic Radio is the Pope; Relevant Radio is God. If Catholic radio says it, the people hear, and obey).
No doubt to be sure, the laity, even secular culture, has much to contribute, to give to the Church. But just how that transfer is to be managed, is a matter that needs to be far more carefully overseen. The result of what we have seen to date – just giving massive amounts of power, to so many unqualified people – has been a disaster. Even those who favor giving the laity more role in the Church, should by now concede that power was handed over too quickly, and in inappropriate ways. (David Bereit, of “40 Days for life,” attempts to influence ongoing legislation on Relevant Radio, a non-profit organization; 9:44 AM Feb. 23, 2010. Specifically, he seems devoted to all but stopping health care. “Talk to your senator,” says the host at 9:47).
One of the problems with the laity, is that they are all-too-quick, all too ready, to try to tell us to do this or that, on the basis of their religious belief; to translate a too-simple understanding of the Bible into machinelike, voting orders; all without every really understanding the fuller complexity, the fuller meaning, of their religion, their Bible. On the basis of a casual reading of a few sentences of the Bible – and after much persuasion by interested political parties, a large number of Catholics have been all too willing to be persuaded that the Church, the Bible, are really centered around embryos. And now in the name of embryos, in the name of their single issue obsession, today millions of Catholics are opposing many of the major efforts, issues, of Jesus himself. Many a) oppose Jesus’ peaceful qualities, turning the other cheek; many support bellicose warlike candidates; b) many are opposing efforts to extend health care c) to the poor. Millions of Catholics today are therefore opposing in effect, two major objectives of Jesus. All in the name of a single issue never mentioned in the Bible even once. An issue that is as best uncertain in Catholic tradition. Or an issue that is even more properly, not consistent with the Church, or with the Bible either. The embryo is everywhere; Jesus, who came to heal the sick and help the poor, is not visible at all.
So what should we finally say, about these new Catholic media; and their new media Church of the holy embryo? Clearly Catholics now desperately need to be warned about media organizations like EWTN. They need to be warned that such lay organizations are not a reliable, official source of information on God, or on the Church. The people should now be told over and over, that the doctrines of EWRN– especially, its radically anti-abortion stance – have actually been widely criticized, by the real authority of the Church. The people now need to hear from the Church itself, clearly, what EWTN itself never told its millions of followers: that EWTN and its anti-abortionism, were actually opposed by Bishops and three Cardinals. And by the Pope himself.
Giving to Relevant Radio, one ad tells us on the air, is “The best way to learn about the Catholic Church on a daily basis.” But though this is what these networks have constantly, proudly told us themselves, from a fuller, more objective look at the Church, we can only conclude that the “Catholicism” of EWTN has actually been highly biased, and false. Specifically, the new anti-abortion church has violated many, many Church warnings. Especially, among many others, the new Church has violated the Cardinals’ and the Pope’s directives, against “one issue,” dis-“proportionate” religion. Indeed, we have been showing, a strongly anti-abortion position, disobeys not “just” three Cardinals and the Pope; it also disobeys at least seventy or a hundred, Christian, Biblical, and Catholic doctrines.
But these gross heresies to be sure, are not just the fault of a few presumptuous media people; in part, they are the fault of the Church itself.
134) # 196 Not too long ago, Pope John Paul II, following others (?), began to call for a “new evangelization” (source? See also “evangelization, # 146 above). A call that was unfortunately, widely taken by the media, as a license for “lay” persons, for non-priests, apologists, to begin to take a very prominent role in speaking – “evangelizing” – for God. But as we are beginning to see here, there have been huge problems in this “new” experiment by the Church. This phrase – “the new evangelization” – was constantly quoted, trumpeted by the new media. This phrase – which became the motto of many new media networks – was commonly interpreted as encouraging or allowing the media, rather ordinary lay people, to appear to speak for the Church. But a) the whole idea of encouraging ordinary lay people to speak for or as God, is an idea to which historically, the Church was often very, very strongly opposed. In fact, the whole war between Protestants and Catholics, was fought by the Church, in opposition to this idea; the Church objecting to the idea that just any person – any Protestant minister say – anyone other than the Pope, could speak authoritatively – or evangelize – for God. Protestants had based their rebellion against the Pope, the right for their own ministers to speak for God, over and above the Pope, on the basis on Jesus telling allegedly all his people to “go and” speak to, preach to, -or evangelize – “all nations.” That statement by Jesus, Protestants called the “Great Commission” to “evangelize.” And it is from this that some Protestants chose to call themselves “Evangelicals.” But now it is time to note that the Church adamantly opposed this idea: the command to “go” and preach to all nations, it was more often claimed, was spoken by Jesus primarily only to major apostles, very major disciples. Beginning especially with the apostle Peter; and then, by “apostolic succession,” his successors, the Popes. Therefore, the popular understanding of the “new evangelization” – that this gives full authority of lay Catholics or others, to speak for God – goes quite directly against core Church traditions.
So in what did the phrase really mean? If b) the Church ever supported a “new evangelization, then we find that it was a very limited call after all; speaking mainly to “catechists.” While this call was issued with reservations and warnings. Indeed, the Church very, very strongly opposed the whole idea of ordinary people speaking for God, during the Protestant Reformation. This indeed, was the primary disagreement between Protestants and Catholics; and the cause of many wars. If the Church wants to now adopt a more Protestant/liberal permissiveness, then it needs to learn how to do that properly: and the right method, was not to just turn over all its authority, to any media loudmouth that came along. Instead, speculative and individual ideas should always be introduced as speculative and individual, after all. A personal musings; not as absolutely firm dogma, that should determine our votes, and determine every minute of our lives. As the anti-abortion dogma was presented by Mother Angelica, on EWTN. And as it is presented to this very day, by Priests for Life. An organization that should be immediately dissolved.
Many very bad media moguls, have misused the “call for a new evangelization,” as a license for perfidy. So it is time to say that the “new evangelization,” has been totally misinterpreted by the laity, and the media. And c) therefore, the Church should at the very least, wade into radio land, and correct the popular misunderstanding of the “new evangelization.” It should prominently and repeatedly correct the prevailing perception that the Great Commission of Jesus, meant to call for casual voices and lawyers and talk show hosts, to present themselves, without hesitation, as the voice, the messengers, the ev-angels, of the Church and of God.
The fact is, there are d) many more problems with advancing just everyone and anyone to positions of massive visibility and authority; which amounts really to an End Time prediction, where “everyone does whatever is right in his own eyes”; where many follow the worst “traditions of men” and not of God; or where there are many “false” religious leaders, false teachers, false priests, teach a false idea of God. Which is exactly what we see in EWTN.
The problem is that e) many people are just not good leaders or teachers. Therefore, if you encourage just anyone to “evangelize,” that means that many unreliable voices will lift themselves up. To deceive themselves and many others. In particular, we have found here that that allowing anti-abortionists to speak up, to issue their assurances that God was commanding us to vote Republican, was a good example of how allowing many unreliable people to speak too prominently, soon generates and spreads, many false and dangerous ideas. But who knows how far this will go; will the name of God soon be invoked, not only to tell us who to vote for, but also what soda to drink? (Here’s an actual ad on Relevant Radio, from some monks who make and sell coffee for a living: “Brother Java? Yes, I was deep in prayer when I realized that you were in desperate need of coffee…. Christmas is coming up; this would be the perfect Christmas present. MysticMonkscoffee.com.” A regular ad on Relevant Radio, for real monks, and their coffee; aired for example 8:35 AM, Dec. 17, 2009.) When we mix religion with secular ideas too casually, problems and absurd things – and eventually revoltingly improper and physically fatal theologies and commands – soon result.
“The New Evangelization” therefore, f) can and should now be carefully, formally, publicly, called in, restrained, modified, corrected. First, the phrase should be corrected more closely against the template of Church tradition perhaps. Any limitations and caveats or conditions or cautions as to its scope, should now be stressed.
Or best of all, g) the “new evangelization” should now be restrained, cut back also, by some classic Biblical warnings. The Church should now in particular, note this: note the parts of the Bible that warned that not everyone on earth, should be given full authority to be teachers of religion and God. The Apostle and saint Paul for example, asked whether everyone was qualified to be a teacher:
“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? … But eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corin. 12.29 NIV).
It is time for evangelists, new and otherwise, to note that St. Paul asked, “are all teachers?” And to note that the Bible urged other roles than teachers of religion, evangelization, for many. Particularly, h) it is time for the Church itself, to note this limit on evangelization; to note St. James issuing the following warning, about extending evangelical authority to just anyone:
“Let not many of you become teachers….” (James 3.1 RSV?).
Evangelicalism, new and otherwise, has not entirely been a success. Today, every street corner polemicist or idiot, insists that God was granting him the right to speak for God; that God was granting this right to just anyone at all; to untrained talk show hosts. But now it is time for evangelists to note some limits on that, on evangelization. Ultimately the Bible itself questioned whether just anyone was qualified to “teach” others; and finally James simply said that “Not many of you should become teachers.” Many evangelists that presume to teach others about God, therefore, are not really following the Bible.
“Not many of you should become teachers”; this saying, from the Bible itself, would seem to be conclusive. And therefore, the common concept of “new evangelization”- as extending authority to just anyone at all, trained or not – is not fully consistent with the Bible itself. The Bible itself did not allow just anyone to speak for God, or to teach what God said: “not many of you should become teachers,” said James above. And there are good reasons for limiting just exactly who is allowed to speak for the God of the Bible; the reason is that many teachers “make mistakes” (as James noted). And this is extremely serious: because i) when teachers make mistakes, unfortunately, that is a more serious error than when ordinary people sin or err. Because when teachers make mistakes, they mislead not just themselves, but also all those they teach; they mislead many other people. Even, millions. For that reason, the standard for those who speak for God, the standard for priests and others, is much higher than for other people. So that finally, not everyone should presume to present himself as a teacher, or a spokesman for God.
There is therefore, an extremely serious problem, a massive evil, in Evangelization. In allowing just anyone to speak for the Church. Especially, there is an extremely serious evil in allowing just any untrained talk show host, or narrow-minded obsessive, to teach millions of others, over the media, while implying that the full authority of the Church is behind him. The problem, that was hinted at in the Bible, is this: not all people are really qualified to be teachers. As the apostles Paul and James suggested. And if unqualified people become teachers – or evangelists – then things can go seriously wrong. Because unqualified (“unformed”) people teach or evangelize, they make mistakes. And when the teachers – like talk show hosts – make mistakes, they mislead not only themselves, but many others as well. When you consider that the average media network talk show host today, at any given time, is probably talking to hundreds of thousand of people – and ultimately, over the years, reaching millions – then unfortunately, our talk show hosts have immense influence. When, speaking to millions, a talk show host says something rash or uninformed therefore, he or she is misleading not just himself, but is misleading even millions of people.
Bad evangelists therefore, can do – and already have done – an immense amount of damage therefore, to the body of Christ. Which is precisely, the problem we are most concerned with here; the great evil in conservative Catholic networks like EWTN. No doubt, Jesus himself, to be sure, was in many ways an ordinary person, confronting a religious establishment; so that we should not be too repressive, about disallowing such voices. But? Such voices as conservatives today, should be not be llowed to present what they say, as the official voice of the Church. If they want to claim they are directly from God, and not the Church, that would be more acceptible. So long as they do not present themselves as Catholics.
So, we finally come to noting a massive evil in “the new evangelization.” While noting the necessity of very, very severe punishment by the Church, for televangelist teachers on EWTN/RN. Just as the Apostle/Saint James concluded (James being by the way, yet another saint of the Church that EWTN ignores) the role of evangelizing, teaching religion, is extremely important. But it is also a difficult and sensitive thing. If people teach or evangelize badly, then they mislead not just themselves, but all those they teach, as well. Therefore j) finally, St. James concluded in the Bible itself, the penalties for teaching or “evangelizing” religion badly, falsely, must be correspondingly, far greater than for non-teachers:
For you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness” (James 3.1-2; RSV?)
There is a great evil in evangelization therefore. Those many people who have appointed themselves as spokesmen, as evangelists for God, or for the Church, on major networks, need to look long and carefully, at this part of the Bible. The part which tells them that “not many of you should have become teachers.” Because everyone makes mistakes. While those who teach wrongly, mislead not just themselves, but also many others. Because of this finally, moreover, those “who teach shall be judged” by the Church and/or by God himself it seems, “with greater strictness” than others. That is to say, the glories of public exposure, carrying great responsibilities, leading millions, are wonderful and great, many feel; but the penalties for doing it wrong, are also greater in some ways. And unfortunately, there is every evidence that our many various religious talk show personalities, have done it wrong; over and over again. They have mislead themselves, and millions of others.
Given all these indications from the Bible itself, it is extremely odd that the Church itself seemed to allow any “new evangelization” at all. Indeed, classically, historically, the Church often vociferously spoke against evangelism, when it spoke against Protestantism for example. Indeed, the very core of the Roman Catholic Church’s identity, vs. the Orthodox and Protestant churches, was the assertion that only priests or even just popes, and not everyday persons – especially not Protestants – could be authoritative evangelists.
Perhaps to be sure, the Church should now and then allow for some new messages and a new , spirit, in Catholicism. But only in certain carefully controlled and monitored settings; as in academic seminaries and so forth. But here and now, we are beginning to see once again, the fatal down side to allowing just anyone, to speak to millions, as if he is the voice of God. To use another biblical quote or two, about the End Times particularly, the problem is that k) when we allow just anyone to speak for God, to millions, we get, as foretold, many “false” voices in religion. Particularly we get many of those who l) mistakenly “do whatever seems right in their own eyes. And we get many who m) intermix their religion with mere lay “philosophy.” And with n) the “traditions of men.” The Bible often suggested that when controls over religion were relaxed, and just anyone was allowed to speak with great authority for God, then many huge mistakes would be made … and the disastrous end of it all would soon follow. And unfortunately, that is exactly what we have seen, as the fatal fruit of John Paul II’s “new evangelization”; which unfortunately, allowed many unqualified and false voices to gain a huge audience for their false mix of religion and their own political philosophy and traditions; and then to mislead millions of people, with their false theology.
No doubt, o) there is always need for innovation and experiment in religion, to be sure. But from now on, any new thinking in the Church, should present itself only tentatively, and only as, explicitly, “experiments” in religion; not as the firm word of the Church. Those who want more freedom than that, should simply leave the Church. And become Protestants. Or if they want more freedom than that, freedom from all Christian church dogmas, then let them become avowed agnostics. Such persons can say anything they want; it’s a free country. But they can’t represent what they say, as the voice of the Roman Catholic Church. In America, anyone can say anything he wants, even in the name of God. But not in the name of the Church, however.
Many Catholics today over-idealize their own popes to be sure; and p) many now want to immediately canonize John Paul II – who seems to have popularized the theology of the “body,” and the “new evangelization” for example. Many want to make a saint of John Paul II, before the usual amount of time for investigation has passed. But indeed, it would be better to wait – to see if John Paul II’s ideas stand the test of time. Since indeed, by now, just a few years after his death, we already are beginning to see a huge error in some of his ideas; or the use to which they were put. The fact is, there are huge problems, evils, in “evangelization”; new or otherwise. Because it gives too much authority, to unqualified and wrong-headed people. It is for this reason, that the Bible and the Church themselves, often warned, historically, that there was a need for some restraints on evangelization; some restraints on those who are allowed to “teach” in the name of the Christian God. Not everyone is a good teacher, after all, suggested both the Apostle Paul, and the Apostle James as well
Probably because of such problems with evangelicals – and specifically, because of Card. Mahony and other’s increasing complaints about the new “communication” media, like Mother Angelica’s EWTN – finally, q) even the current Pope himself began to voice some equivocal cautions, about the New Evangelization. (Cf. Ratzinger’s “Address to Catechists and Religion Teachers, Jubilee of Catechists,” Pt. 1, Dec. 12, 2000; Sec. 1 “The Structure”? And others). In increasingly equivocal and unenthusiastic pronouncements, the Vatican is now beginning to note, to be sure, that many do not “find access to ‘classic’ evangelization” (the Apostles? The Bible?) to be satisfying; and therefore many would therefore like to turn to new media, and another kind of evangelization. And yet however, we should remember that from small seeds great things grow. And regarding the new media – as Sec. 1 The Method tells us, “communication cannot reach the human person” better than the Gospel can. This remark might well have double significance for EWTN, and for its assertion that the embryo is a human person; as EWTN is of course a “communication”medium . While here, the Pope tells us such things cannot reach the human person.
To be sure, r) the media are a new problem for the Vatican; and the Vatican’s language here is not yet firm or unequivocal. For now though, s) we recommend that the Church should follow and expand a little on Cardinal Mahony, and publicly note problems with unauthorized voices, without training in “theology,” in the “media.” This is a problem. But we add here, that the problem is particularly, “Catholic” media. We should not limit the right of other religions, to freely voice their own opinions. But t) those who present themselves as “Catholic” however – especially as the authoritative voice of the Church – should be responsive to Church review and oversight and control. And should simply not be allowed to speak to millions, in the name of the Church, when they are not qualified. When they are not at least, bishops.
No one who is less than a Cardinal in fact, should be allowed to speak to hundreds of thousands of people, or more, as the voice of the Church.
Perhaps t) every individual has the right to his own special, individual access to God himself. But not everyone should be allowed to speak for the Church. Allowing just anyone at all – any ordinary priests; even any self important Penn State graduate and football fan – to speak to millions, for the Church, has been a great, massive, mistake.
So u) how can we fix the massive problems caused in part, by the “new evangelization”? Surprisingly, we can use in part, a very traditional remedy … and enforce traditional restraints on the use of the word “Catholic” for instance. As part of that, we can simply warn the public, repeatedly, that most of these new voices in “Catholic” media, are not actually the authorized voices of the Church. Among other things, aa) the new Catholic media were never effectively, directly monitored, overseen, controlled, by the Church; often the Church has had little official, direct power over them, even if it wanted it. Furthermore, bb) the new media outlets were staffed by many ordinary non priests; lay people, who were not seminary trained. These media outlets were staffed cc) by persons who also, often, did not have the same tradition of reverence, or obedience to cardinals and popes, that priests have normally had. So that dd) the message from even the most apparently, ostensibly devout, “conservative” Catholic shows, often deviated from what a seminary-trained theologian – or the Church – would support.
Let v) those who want to evangelize, become Protestants. Though even there, w) Protestants evangelicals should have themselves been far more educated; far more attentive to the nuances of the Bible. Since even Protestant evangelicals – like Pat Robertson especially – made many mistakes.
“Not many of you should” have become teachers, indeed. No doubt, “we all make many mistakes”; even the Church itself. And yet however, x) the Church should not have thrown all its authority behind, just any random network, that is presumptuous to present itself as the voice of God. Such y) networks, not only should not be allowed to use the word “Catholic” in their name, or in any of their references; z) such networks should also be far more effectively monitored, by a continuously on-site bishop or cardinal. Or else, these networks should be simply, continually, publicly criticized by the Vatican; and/or, shut down. If that is not done, millions will continue to be fatally mislead.
The media “ministry” of EWTN is the largest even vaguely “Catholic” ministry in the world, aside from the ministry of the Pope himself in Rome. Yet surprisingly, as massively influential as it is, the second most influential ministry in the world, was overseen only by one ordinary (or indeed, slightly obsessive and narrow) nun; and delivered by persons who were not priests at all. Worse, today, after the resignation of Angelica, the Church apparently has no direct control over the network; it apparently has only the casual guidance of ordinary priests, to guide it. Allowing this situation to develop, has been a grave mistake; one that must be corrected soon. And not just by the public. But especially, by the Church itself.
Some Final Statements on Problems With
One- or Two-Issue “Catholic” Media
In effect, the massive power of the media, was simply acceded to, by the popular understanding of “the New Evangelization.” And by giving laypersons more authority. These and other factors, have given dozens of untrained and unreliable media lay persons, immense power in the Church, and in the world. The Church allowed lay people to speak above priests; to be the voice of its second largest ministry in America, and in the world. Even above most bishops … and it now seems, cardinals. The Church allowed untutored, uneducated lay talk show hosts to dominate the Church’s message in America and in the whole world. While the development of existing media, finally gave these unreliable persons, a massive megaphone. As the Church itself simply stood aside, and allowed these false voices to deliver false theology, a false (picture, “image,” of) God, in the name of the Church.
How and why did that happen? Here we have outlined dozens of contributing factors. In part, we might add that in the years after 1964 and Vatican II, the Church probably was losing confidence in itself; and/or it semi-consciously decided to allow the diffusion of some of its power. Indeed, the more cognizant elements of the Church itself always knew its own limitations, of some of its own sins and errors. And so, mindful of the many times it might have erred, even in its statements of what is good and true, the Church itself, even the Bible itself, when describing God, often issued vague, equivocal statements; statements that had more than one meaning. From the days of the oracle at Delphi, even the earliest holy men did this; so as to avoid putting their foot too firmly in the wrong place. Presenting many ideas in equivocal or ambiguous, poetic language; language that could be taken literally; as presenting physical miracles. But then also as metaphors for spiritual things. And to be sure, most intellectuals, could perceive and live with this poetic ambiguity; many priests could live with reading the old promises of physical wonders as metaphors for “spiritual” things. But though even the old religion had many layers of meaning in it, many ordinary people did not understand this ambiguity, or complexity. Simple people, football fans today, often want clear, simple answers. Like a command that tells them how to vote, one way or the other, in the next election.
Tired of, exasperated by endless theological, professorly equivocations and ambiguities, the people often demanded clearer, simpler statements about God. And though the hierarchy of the Church resisted, finally, it allowed it when, in a moment of great equivocality – some time after Vatican II, c. 1981 – a few hard-headed strongmen (and a hard-headed nun), simply waded in – and grabbed the microphone from the priest.
These simple persons – nuns and lay Catholic talk show hosts – are by now normally (given the mild and negligible equivocations of the Pope), the loudest and firmest voice in Religion. In America and in the world. And these uneducated populists, had a natural knack for simple statements. So their simple message was loved by the uneducated public. Simple people wanted simple answers; wanted just one issue; they wanted one Archimedian point, on which to live their lives. And these new voices gave it to them. Though unfortunately, that central point was not quite Jesus of God: it was protecting the embryo. And the government itself allowed this too. Due in part to an accident of the structure of tax exemptions, one-issue-oriented organizations grained immense power.
Soon the simple, direct voices of a very simple, obsessive nun, and a few lay talk show hosts, were being broadcast to tens of millions. Furthermore, their naturally strong voices, were redoubled, by the power of the microphone, the power of broadcasting media. And its power was redoubled again, by occasional remarks by the Church itself, that seemed to accept such things (“the medium of social communication”? “The new evangelization”; the “theology of the body.”) Indeed, the effect of this massive, fatally simple voice, was redoubled again by the fact that its opposition, complex intellectualism, spirituality, was seemingly weak or equivocal. Most ordinary people found the high Church itself, its often elliptical statements, too ambiguous and hard to understand; there was a hunger for a strong, direct leader. One who could say things, issue a few simple rules, that ordinary people could understand. This was the hunger that in part, created conservatism. And this was the situation that created Catholic talk radio. But the hunger, the demand for simple answers, strong solutions, strong leaders, a single focus, has always lead to problems. It has always lead to many people, being all too eager to follow popularizers; to follow the too-simple formulas, of demagogues. To follow all-too-simple formulas. To follow brutal strong-men, who offered all-too-simple and direct marching orders.
Was it conservative, or liberal? In part, ironically, the growth of Neo-“Conservatism,” was a result of, even an example of, Liberalism. Because of an increasing liberalism in the Church, various a) new theologies, b) new lay ministries or c) evangelists, and d) various new media outlets, were now permitted. But once they were liberally allowed to follow their own bent, the new media outlets did not want to follow liberalism per se; they wanted to deliver simple, marketable ideas to the masses. The new “ministries” were increasingly taken over not by liberals, but by populists and media people. Simple leaders who did not care much for ambiguity and complexity. And who sought the mass audience; with simple, constantly-repeated words, a few simple, hypnotically on-message phrases. A simple, partially sentimental message, that would, endlessly repeated, eventually be understood and embraced by many simple persons, who did not know much about Catholicism. (And with still, a chance at a slightly more complex audience too).
At first, few Catholics thought that such Catholic lay people and media organizations, could or should entirely replace central authority, or replace the Vatican. But there has always been a certain popular distaste for the equivocations and indecisiveness of “mealy-mouthed” politicians and theologians; and the “lapidary” or equivocal style even of Papal pronouncements (like the 2004 memo). And even of the Bible itself. Tired of endless equivocations, people wanted a simple message. And if going to the Eucharist and eating the host was not good enough any more for those who wanted a religion that was “relevant” to politics, then the people turned to … Catholic talk show hosts, and one—issue NGO, one-issue advocacy guests. Whose message was indeed, all-too-simple, all too focused. Often on just one thing.
Many ordinary people often find the central authorities of the Church – the Bible and the Vatican – hard to understand. Many people do not really understand, or cannot make themselves comfortable with, the deep ambiguity, and “liberal” indecisiveness, of their message. So there were many forces at work, to form a ready audience, for a massively simplified, one-issue, one-product cult. And eventually, this cult appeared; in conservative religious media. Conservatism itself, was inherently biased for a few simple, traditional ideas, repeated over and over again. While in a sense, the radically new religion of the Embryo, was conservative; in that it responded to after all, a sort of native sentiment among women, to protect their embryo; and to think of it as a “baby.” While the insistence that this new cult was “conservative,” effectively halted any suspicions that this was after all, a hugely speculative, liberal new experiment, in religion.
So that many, many forces came together, to allow the fantastic popularity of the one-issue anti-abortion heresy. Among other factors, there was a hunger for a simple, natural message. And there was a massive new media apparatus, to broadcast it. So that pitchmen – talk show hosts, apologists – in this situation, soon came to acquire more and more power. Ordinary people like them: because they pose (relatively, for religion), simple rules. And because the new lay talk show “hosts” (!), respond too, to ordinary people’s most common beliefs. Never mind whether those beliefs are true, or not.
In large part, what made a massive new heresy possible, was an entirely new, powerful development in history: the development of modern media. Radio, TV, audio and visual media; including today, the Internet. And those who controlled these new media were easily able to get around the Church itself. The Vatican, the Holy See itself, had only begun only vaguely to address the media; indeed, it is not even certain that these media, were the subject of its references to the “media of social communication” (which in one reading refers mainly to the live speech or sermon; or in another to the priestly dissemination of the gospel; not even primarily to words broadcast over the air. Just as for example, references to “the new evangelization,” might often refer to at most the efforts of teachers of catechisms, or even just priests. These phrases being highly equivocated, in their original formulations). The Church therefore was not really directly addressing the media at all; while whatever minor experiments it had made in them initially – like the experiments of Bishop Fulton Sheen – seemed, to some, relatively harmless (if not to Cardinal Spellman?). So that the Church was relatively unconcerned – or in any case did nothing effective to stop – the new “Catholic” media network of Mother Angelica. And the Church did nothing, as her message was more and more widely disseminated; until mother Angelica’s cult, was a massive force in Catholicism; particularly in Catholic voting behavior. (The Catholic vote often split 50/50, conservative/liberal, Republican/Democrat. But that obscured the fact that normally, a religion composed of minorities, Hispanics and others, would have gone more heavily Democratic; as they did in 2008, for Obama).
Then too, mollified by the relative acceptability of the early media efforts of an Archbishop, Bishop Sheen (if not of Father Coughlin?), and reassured by the presence of a nun, and countless priests on the new network, the Church became complacent, about the new Catholic media. It did not quite fully remember its own warnings, about how powerful and unreliable the media were. Especially when the new media began taking over religion. By 1980, many millions of people were getting their religion, not even so much from a church and a live sermon from a priest, but from the media. From the new televangelists like Pat Robertson. And soon, the influence of these televangelists grew, until they controlled entire media networks; like Pat Robertson’s CBN, Christian Broadcast Network, and the Crouch’s TBN, Trinity Broadcast Network. And though at first the Church resisted most forms of popular, non-priestly “evangelization,” including televangelism, eventually the Church gave in. So that by today, rough and ready “conservative” talk show hosts like Drew Mariani and Sheila Liaugminas, are in effect, replacing, editing, priests and bishops and cardinals – and the Pope. (Typically, talk show hosts call their job a “ministry”; as one does, say, on EWTN “Son Rise” show, 6:57 AM Central Time, Feb. 25, 2010. So now we have self-appointed “ministers” in the Church, in addition to priests? But how so? Who ordained them … other than they themselves? Clearly such people are presumptuous; and because they are untrained, they fixate all the more firmly on a narrow, simplistic, false theology. This was indeed part of the very reason that the Pope fought against the Protestants, and their ministers).
For some time therefore, lay media – and their largely political agenda, their un-biblical “conservative” philosophy – have been taking over the Catholic Church. Ironically, it was not the secular media that have been the great threat to Catholicism …. but in “Catholic” radio and TV and Internet. The threat from within. And of course, this is a potentially worsening disaster for the Church. So that by now the people, and the Church itself, desperately need to be warned: existing media – even “Catholic” media especially – cannot be trusted to be a reliable intermediary between us and the Church; much less, between us and God. Media organizations, we find here, cannot be trusted to tell us what the Bible and Vatican really, fully meant. If for no other reason, than that few media organizations, don’t know enough about theology, to convey complex, ambivalent texts. The religion that we get most often in the media, has almost always been an oversimplified, bastardized, perverted version of the real thing. In particular, unqualified ministers tend to focus obsessively on a single, narrow issue in religion; which ignoring and in effect disobeying what Jesus called the “larger matters” of law and faith. Or what the Church calls the “fullness” of the faith. While in their narrow obsessions, they become narrow to the point of an imprudent, dysfunctionality. They become obsessives; focusing dis “proportionate”ly on just one element or “issue” in life; ignoring more important and pressing things.
How can these false “ministers” be stopped? Some people might think that the print media at least, are a little more scholarly, and serious, and can stop this. And in many ways, the print media are still, so far, more reliable. But to be sure, even print sources can be misused. Indeed, most of the public today, follows EWTN, because it quotes constantly from Vatican publications, and from the Bible; this unreliable network constantly quotes from traditional printed authority. But even here note, we should remember that the Bible itself warned us that the devil himself quoted scripture; the devil quoted from the Bible (in Job). The fact is, anyone can misuse printed quotes, even from the sacred texts; just quoting misrepresentative bits from authoritative sources, does not mean that one is actually, fully and accurately representing the larger picture of what the Bible for example, really, fully says. In fact, the way that many of our new “ministers” lie, is by quoting just fragments of the Bible and of Church doctrine; quoting just the parts of it that seem to support their cause; while leaving out the parts that after all, disagree with their philosophy. As for example, when Frank Pavone and Sheila Liuagminas leave out, for fail to adequately stress and understanding, the part of the Pope’s 2004 memo, where the Pope says that voting for pro-abortion candidates, “can be permitted.” (See also the Catechism, telling us to real the whole, full Bible, to really understand its message; not just parts).
Unfortunately today, there are huge numbers of people – and unfortunately, more and more priests – who do not fully understand or respect, the fuller nature and message of religion; they latch on to just part, just a single “issue,” and do gross injustice to God in their neglect of the whole; Father Frank Pavone is such a person.
In part, it is because of our times: superficial people don’t have time to study things in depth – and just want a quick, entertaining sound bite. Even in their religion. While today there are all too many underinformed, unscrupulous persons in the media, willing to mislead millions. Today in fact, tens of millions of people have been mislead by various “conservative” organizations like EWTN/RN. Such organizations deceive many, and even deceive themselves; since they read parts of the Bible and parts of church doctrine; but only misleading and incomplete parts. Yet since they deliver a simple and unequivocal message, million now believe that the talk show hosts on media outlets like EWTN/RN are ministers, with a “ministry.” And millions mistakenly believe that these media moguls, media bosses, are the reliable voice of the Church and of God.
Today, EWTN is gigantic. According to its very own web page, it is the “largest religious media network in the world” (after the collapse of TBN and CBN?):
“When Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was launched on Aug. 15, 1981, many felt there would be little demand for a Catholic network. Now in its 28th year, EWTN became the largest religious media network in the world, transmitting programming 24 hours a day to more than 148 millions homes in 144 countries, territories on more than 4,800 cable systems, wireless cable, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), low power TV and individual satellite users” (EWTN web side, “General Information”; as of Feb. 2010).
Calling itself the “largest religious media network in the world,” actually, the EWTN web site understates the influence of the network; in addition to what it notes above, the network also has a radio branch (EWRN) that broadcasts through hundreds of radio stations in America – and then webstreams itself worldwide, over the Internet. While other networks also broadcast much of EWTN’s programming to many more stations (cf. Ave Maria media; etc.).
The vast web of EWTN, in fact today covers the entire earth. But that, unfortunately, is not good. The problem was that Mother Angelica – the vastly overweight, wheezing and gasping Poor Clare nun, who founded the network – was a compassionate woman to be sure. A woman who could speak with common sense, to Alabamans, in Irondale AL. But Mother (as Cardinal Mahony was to later hint) a) never really knew much theology. So that b) her message began to focus on a few of her own personal obsessions; like strangely, protecting the embryo. So that the message that she began to broadcast all over the entire earth was … idiosyncratic, at best. And then too, c) moreover, when Mother Angelica began to set up a media empire, she necessarily had to recruit many lay media people to run her network; which began to turn much power over to lay media people. So that her theology began to drift very, very strongly away from a balanced, full outline of the faith.
When you put lay Catholics in Alabama, the Bible belt, in charge of the foremost organ for (allegedly) Catholicism in the world, what happens? In this media network, an already- criminally incomplete theology, tended to be combined by lay staffers, apologists, with their own random political opinions and philosophies; especially c. 1983-2008, the fashion in radio, was to be a Rush-Limbaugh like “conservative,” hating “liberals.” To be sure, it was hard to square that with the entire Bible; which never mentioned the word “conservative” at all, and which seemed to tell us to “be liberal” in helping the poor. But full knowledge of the Bible, was never the strong suit of provincial nuns, and much less lay persons, in Alabama. And then too, by 1995 there was already a vast conservative, 24/7 machine in America, of interlacing advocacy groups and think tanks, trading talking points over the Internet every single hour of every single day. So that there was a vast body of sophists, to add a semi-intellectual engine to all this; to come up with semi-academic “apologetics” and justifications for untutored views. While indeed, the fact that these networks intermixed religion, the word of God, with mere political ideas, just make the unholy mix all the more attractive to rural Americans in the Deep South; where “God and America,” flag and religion, have always been mistakenly thought to be closely interrelated, without contradiction. So if Mother Angelica’s “conservatism” was combined, adulterated, with other, non-religious but popular ideas, then after all, that just made it all seem even more convincing and attractive to millions. Particularly, Americans have liked their religion watered-down; and combined with an equally-simplistic, patriotic love of country; nationalism. So if the talk show hosts on religious programs are nationalistic – in America, if they waved the American flag, and said God favored America, and American military intervention around the world – then after all, this very quality, made the message even more appealing; all the more convincing, to many. Never mind biblical warnings about the “traditions of men.” Or false “philosophies.” Or for that matter, warnings of “false” and bad priests, prophets, false holy men dominating, deceiving the whole world.
Joining a simplistic version of religion, with an equally simple, native, grass roots patriotism, nationalism, militarism – “patriotism” – became immensely popular; with televangelists like the 1988 Republican Party presidential candidate, Pat Robertson for example. Out of this unholy mix – particularly as popularized in the 1970’s and 80’s – we began to see many people emerging into the limelight, to become quite famous; in this era, 1975-2008, we see the success of rather fundamentalist “evangelical”s, like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, (and even Pat Buchanan?). People who asserted in effect, that religion itself, was conservative; or that God was a political conservative. That God himself, essentially, was a Republican.
The unholy mix of religion, and political philosophy, was first deified in Pat Robertson’s “Christian Coalition.” But its secular, political roots should have become more apparent to many, when the name of the organization … suddenly took a significant shift. When the “Christian” Coalition, was replaced in some circles, by a new phrase: “Conservative” Coalition. Suddenly, after that name change, Christianity was no longer in first place: it was not God, or the Bible, but a conservative ideology, was really running the show.
Religion and politics had occasionally been mixed together in the past, before Mother Angelica. But to be sure, for many years, the new “conservative” religious/political mixture, existed almost solely in Protestant churches; it was the darling of Protestant evangelicals, like Pat Robertson. Yet the Roman Catholic Church, for some time, resisted such things. This was because the Roman Catholic Church had always, traditionally, been very, very centralized in its authority. It founded itself as a central Roman authority in Christianity; explicitly and even militarily attacking all other churches, dissenters. There was not much room at all, for any new individual theologies in the Roman Catholic Church. The Church was highly controlling, highly centralized, highly hierarchic. It had often confronted theological differences with its opinion – and it had soon squashed the offenders; even burned them at the stake.
Protestants had founded themselves, on the right to come up with their own private/national variations on Church authority; their own individual theologies. But the Church had always strongly resisted such things. The Church was centered on the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, as a central authority; ruling all other churches, and allowing very little variation, from an extremely tightly-controlled liturgy. And the Roman Church was not very encouraging of people developing their own individual theology, or preaching – evangelizing – their message to others. Or even to individuals who attempted to be true to the Church, but who had not been trained well in its message. Indeed, the Church had been very, very antagonistic, about giving private individuals, much authority. When private individuals – and even bishops – tried to deviate from the core message of Tradition, or to form significantly different churches, Rome anathematized – and often executed – them. When Protestants tried to break away from the Church, beginning 1515 or so in the Protestant Reformation – and when Protestants asserted their own right to preach, “evangelize” – the Church resisted these new evangelists, mightily. Indeed, when the Spanish Armada sailed to try to destroy England in 1588, it did so partly with the idea of taking over Protestant England, for Catholicism; for Catholic Spain.
For many centuries, there was not much tolerance for “evangelicals” or for personal theologies in the Roman Church therefore. Indeed, the Catholic Church for most of its existence, fought many “evangelicals” in the sense of private or lay people trying to do their thing. For these and other reasons, the Roman Catholic Church was extremely resistant to 20th century “evangelicalism.” Among other reasons too: the Roman Catholic Church has been much, much more traditional than other Christian denominations; indeed, “Tradition,” the claim is that the Catholic Church is the direct descendent or successor to Peter himself, going back to the original disciples. Therefore, the Catholic Church has been slower about religious, theological variations. Or for that matter, scientific and technological innovations. The Church fought Galileo’s idea, from Copernicus, that the earth was round, and that the earth moved around the sun; the Church also resisted scientific dissections, and many other scientific methods and findings. While in many elements of the Church, it was common to say – regarding technological innovations like airplanes, that “if God had wanted us to fly, he would have given us wings.” Several Popes in the 20th century even condemned “modern” things.
So that the Church often resisted science and technology. And one would have expected resistance in it, to Catholics on the radio and TV. Indeed, eventually Father Coughlin was shut down. While it might be expected that Catholics would also resist a worldwide “Catholic” media network; especially one run largely by lay persons. But to be sure (perhaps out of a general liberal cynicism about the truthfulness of even the Church’s own original theologies), finally, even before Vatican II, the Church developed a) its own radio station, Vatican radio. And it began to develop b) an office of public communication and media; an office for Social Communication. And eventually, John Paul II, (and perhaps in the spirit of reconciliation with Protestants, and evangelicals; or perhaps out of a desire to compete with them) c) the Church issued a call for, an allowance for, a “New Evangelization” in the Church. One which d) it seems, was to be tentatively allowed to speak out, over the new media, like radio and TV.
But of course, there were always real conservative priests, who objected to laypersons and non priests and women, speaking prominently in the Church. Particularly, using the new media. While here we have found that though ultimately the Church will have to use the new media, it will need to use them in a far, far more cautious way than it has done recently. Especially the problem has been that suddenly the Church abandoned one of its key traditions: its insistence that only very highly trained priests – and in a sense, even, just the Popes – really have the authority to speak, “evangelize,” for the Church. In any amazing, flabbergasting reversal of one of its major Traditions, suddenly the Church in the 20th century, began to allow many new kinds of voices not just to speak, but to speak allegedly for the Church. And though many might want some kind of similar kind of liberality toward secular ideas, this should have been done much more cautiously than it was done: unfortunately, dozens of highly unqualified persons began to speak. Developing and disseminating to the whole world, their naïve, underinformed, narrow, false theologies. Worse, after many years converting millions to this false theology, this false vision of God, so many Catholics believed it, that they formed a grassroots movement, that pushed the idea back up onto priests themselves. Today, there are dozens of lay anti-abortion Catholic organizations; full of men and women working full time to badger the bishops into following their idea of theology.
Specifically what kinds of false messages have backwashed into the Church itself? Onto priests, and even many bishops? Because of the uncharacteristic authorization by the Church, of many new and unreliable evangelical voices? Remember that the effect of a 20th century Church educated by Liberals, was to allow all kinds of new voices in the Church. But that new, wide spectrum, the new voices included finally, ironically, “Conservative,” nationalist or “patriotic” voices, messages. And the problem with that, was that much of what these people thought, came from an extremely simple, literal idea of religion. Or not from religion at all, but from politics. At the core of they new Conservative movement, was just a desire to find just one or two all-too simple objects around which to organize their entire lives. And those objects tended to be … not just God, but “God and Country.” And then families; babies. Or say, finally, on EWTN, embryos. An impulse that came semi-naturally from mothers and women. And constituting what actually amounts to kind of revival of pre-Christian, pagan folk, fertility cults. (Especially given the emphasis elsewhere, on no birth control; strictly procreative sex, large families).
So there was a variety of different impulses and trends, that began to influence Catholicism in the 20th century; including technological developments; and a new liberalism that allowed, ironically, a new Conservatism to grow too. Indeed, thanks to many factors, many diverse new messages – like the “Conservative” and anti-abortion message – began to enter not just Protestant Churches, but after 1964, even Catholic ones as well. In any case by 1981 – the year of the birth of Mother Angelica’s even Catholic, Pat-Robertson style, evangelical, political/religious organization, there was a “new evangelization”- and a conservative one – not just in the Protestant churches, but also in The Church.
To some extent, the influence came from Protestants. And the phrase “new evangelization” seemed, to many lay persons (who did not read the original documents too closely), to even consciously invite Catholics, to copy Protestant evangelicals; to copy televangelists like Pat Robertson. So that, not long after Pat Robertson began to gain immense popularity, soon enough, finally, a Roman Catholic nun – Mother Angelica – began to form a Catholic version of Protestant televangelism. Angelica founding in 1981 a single radio station … that was eventually to become a giant media network. A network which would present itself as an explicitly “conservative” – read, essentially Republican – voice of the Church.
But again, the problem was that this new, self-appointed voice of God, was spearheaded though, not by trained, supervised priests. But at most, by a mere, ordinary nun. Or more practically speaking, by private, lay persons. Like apologists, talk show hosts, and lay guests. Most of the staff of EWTN were not only not priests; they were women, or lay people; people who had never even graduated from an approved seminary. (Many of these new Catholic evangelists had even been raised originally, as Protestants; cf. Scott Hahn?). Finally, as people from primarily lay backgrounds, they were often persons who did not mind – or could not prevent – their own private and political experience, from blending into their presentation, of religion.
Was EWTN ever really qualified from a religious standpoint? The a) one really full-time representative from the Church, was a mere nun. Worse, Mother Angelica, a Poor Clare nun, was often described as headstrong or “rebellious”; she started up the station and network, some say, without the full approval of her Bishops or superiors. Mother Angelica eventually even conflicted openly, with Church leadership in fact; as she began to differ on the air, (c. 1997) with Cardinal Mahony. But not only was Mother Angelica herself, a problematic pioneer; early on, because there were apparently few priests with solid professional experience in major media outlets, she necessarily b) had to hire many lay people; to take care of the technical side of her network, and fill out the staff; to be technical people, and talk show hosts, and so forth. Yet if Mother Angelica was herself insufficiently trained to head what was to become the second largest Catholic outlet in the world (after the Church, the Vatican itself), if Mother Angelica was at times even in open rebellion against the Church, the Bishops and Cardinals, her lay staff was of course, even further from following real Church authority. To be sure, these new lay staffers often seem to have believed themselves to be dutifully obedient and pious. Yet we will have found out here that, in spite of their own constant protestations of (and even personal conviction in) their own devotion, they evidenced deed down, even less obedience to the Church, than the rebellious nun they followed.
What happens when lawyers like Karl Keating take over the Church? The Bible itself for example, Jesus himself, had spoken in negative terms about many “lawyers”; but soon even lawyers like Karl Keating, Attny., were on these new networks weekly, or almost daily. Teaching a lawyer’s view of Catholic doctrine, as they saw it. Which meant enforcing the “letter” of Catholic “law,” as the new popular literalists did with relish. As they did on EWTN shows, like “Catholic Answers Live.” (Keating himself has appeared hundreds, even thousands of times, on that show, and others, on EWTN; the radio branch).
It was an insurrection in Catholicism. But amazingly, everyone accepted all this. Possibly Catholics were by this time complacent about new voices; since they were used to the earlier, well-monitored presentations of their religion in media, by full Bishops like Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Mollified by the presence of a Bishop in earlier media experiments, by 1981, many incorrectly assumed that with the new “Catholic” media, EWTN and Karl Keating, they were seeing a well-approved format, a fully informed and approve theology, on the air. This false impression was further strengthened, by the not-quite honest assertion, that the network was presenting a standard, objective, even “conservative” Catholicism. No one noticing that “conservative” is not a word found in the Bible itself; while Jesus himself seems to have rejected the concept, as he rejected conservative obedience to the traditional religion of the Pharisees for example. And as Paul told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor.
Listeners no doubt thought that what they were hearing on what called itself “Catholic” radio, would of course fairly, accurately represent the Church. But few if any noticed that these networks were not really headed by priests; but at best by a single rebellious nun, and many lay persons. And nobody noticed, what happened eventually, when lay persons created the major “ministry” of the Church (EWTN, “Son Rise” show, 6:57 AM Central, Feb. 25, 2010). No one at all has noticed, until today, that what happened has been anything but traditional, conservative, and pious: this new result of the new Vatican II, John Paul II experiment by the Church – in turning over authority to women and lay persons, and the media – we have found here, has resulted initially, in many gross heresies. Including the 1) heresy of “conservatism” and the 2) heresy of one-issue anti-abortionism.
Unfortunately, everyone was deceived. So that the fact is that today, everyone needs to be warned: most of the voices that you hear on EWTN and elsewhere in “Catholic” media, are not fully reliable. The most prominent voices, are from people who are not priests. They are usually people who have not even been to the seminary, to an approved school that would train priests. Rather, the voices that you hear on “Catholic” radio are more often than not, private, ordinary, relatively untrained, lay people. Ordinary people who have their private biases, and uneducated ideas, and an inevitably uneducated, false “theology.” So that what we hear on EWTN most often (with occasional exceptions), is persons pretending to be the voice of the Church, but who have no real qualifications, and who inevitably misrepresent the Church, and God.
It is strange, almost unbelievable, that the Church should have allowed this. Perhaps after all, it simply had no real control over the network; which was after all, not an official branch of the Church itself, but was always a private, non-profit group, run by lay persons. Or then too, because the Church itself has at times flirted with a strongly anti-abortion position, perhaps many elements of the Church itself did not notice the heresy in Pro Life anti-abortionism. In spite of the constant warnings from countless bishops, cardinals, and the Pope, about dis “proportionate,” “one-issue” theologies, those warnings were probably too vague, and general. And were therefore simply not understood by rank-and-file believers.
For whatever reasons, the voices that millions have heard as the voice of God, are from people and doctrines, that were not really authorized; and not overseen by the Church effectively. Indeed, to this very day, there is no effective correction or oversight from the Church itself, these days. In part, the network apparently set things up, so that it did not have “Catholic” in its name; so that it intended from the start to be independent. For some time after that, our new media leaders, have simply gotten around the normal monitoring mechanisms of the Church, completely. The primary hosts on radio – 1) Jimmy Akin, 2) Karl Keating, 3) Jerry Usher, 4) Johnnette Benkovic, and 5) and for the last two years on Relevant Radio, 6) Drew Mariani and 7) Teresa Tomio – were not priests. And so? They were not adequately trained. And were not under very direct control of the Church; they were just under whatever personal bond or professional obligation they felt (or did not feel). Without the much, much fuller oversight that the church has over its priests.
The staff in the core of the radio branch of EWTN, has been the most offensive and heretical of all media Catholics. Untrained in theology as it was, it tended to all too quickly fixate just one or two aspects of Catholicism, and to radically over-emphasize them. To become “one issue” Catholics right away.
Here too, we see not the best, but the worst influences of Protestantism. Ironically, these and the “converts” from Protestant ministries – likeMarcus Grodi, Al Kresta, even the priest or conservative pop theologian, Scott Hahn – ended up inadvertently re-creating several Protestant tendencies in their new jobs. Indeed, the “new evangelization” we have suggested here, was just an incursion of Protestant evangelism, into the Church. And the striking Protestant background, of so many of its most prominent, regular staffers, validates this thesis. But even on TV proper, the foremost voices – Marcus Grodi and Al Kresta – were not priests, but were even both, former Protestant ministers. Confirming that the “new evangelization” really stemmed from a rebellious, Protestant evangelical impulse. The same impulse that had gone radically political, with televangelist – and 1988 Republican presidential candidate – Pat Robertson. No doubt, voices should be free even in religion. But? They should not be allowed to pretend or assert, that the full authority of an insitution like the Church, is fully behind their every whim.
Would the presence of priests help? To be sure, dozens of priests have appeared on EWTN occasionally. But their influence was ineffectual: the core staff of the radio network, who more than anyone else determined its message – Jimmy Akin, Jerry Usher, Karl Keating, Johnnette Benkovic, and today, Teresa Tomio – were not priests. Most did not attend a reliable seminary (Jerry Usher apparently went to seminary for 5 years or so, but did not become a priest). Especially, they were not priests. They therefore, in spite of appearances and protestations, might be slightly less committed to the Church, than might appear. However pious they might have appeared, they a) never quite had the full measure of devotion, that had lead others to take vows of “poverty, chastity, and obedience”; to give up everything they owed to the Church, to become priests. While in any case, b) as lay persons, they much less carefully monitored by, or much less fully responsible to, the Church. Much less than real priests. Though they often refer to themselves as “ministers.”
Today therefore, the primary voices on EWTN radio especially, are in effect, false priests. Persons who appear as full authority of the Church, before millions of people; but who are priests at all. So that for 29 years, millions of people have been following untrained, unauthorized voices. Following people who, since they appear to be authoritative, to be priests, but who are not, are best called, “false” prophets or false priests. For 30 years, millions of radio listeners have been religiously following people, as the spokesmen of the Church; but people who have no real credentials; people who have made many grievous mistakes. So that millions of Catholics have followed false prophets, the blind following the blind; who have let them into a pit.
The Church itself allowed false voices to speak in its name. And therefore, millions have followed these false prophets, false priests. But what has been the result? Relevant Radio and EWTN, have had a massive amount of power and influence. Creating in fact, a massive new diffusion of power, or transfer of power, from the Vatican itself, to … talk show hosts. But, due to their lack of theological training, these talk show hosts, were vulnerable to all sorts of errors. In particular, their Protestant or even lay backgrounds, their media sensationalism, infected their thought – and attracted them to odd corners of Catholic thought; like copying Protestant evangelicalism. Or to following especially, the latest experimental new, pop, anti-abortion speculations. Since they did not have wide training in classic academic theology, they however could obtain quick expertise in fields that academics and priests, had not yet really studied; the new pop theologies, regarding birth control and conservatism and abortions. But they let their very narrow expertise dominate their view too completely; to the extent that they have never seen the larger, fuller outline of things.
A new crowd of people, had begun to publicly embrace and develop some new ideas. But what they embraced – and even helped create – we are showing here, was ultimately a very bad, narrow, false, provincial theology. Worse, these new figures managed to massively publicize their bad theology; by creeping around the normal vetting, controlling, monitoring process, by which theologies are normally developed, “test”ed, and then are approved or disapproved. These new figures, existed in new media networks – which were not well understood by the traditional (really conservative) Church; and which were not well overseen by it at all. So that our new false priests were able to slip by the entire training and regulatory apparatus, of the Church: of seminaries, formation, direct oversight from superiors.
The new networkers, were mostly lay people who a) were not even originally Catholics. Who b) just did not attend the seminaries. Who c) did not join the priesthood. And so these new figures were never adequately trained or schooled. And they d) were never effectively monitored, controlled, by any official offices of the Church; not as much as priests have been in the past. And tragically, soon they began generating one odd, weird theology after another; or e) embracing precisely, specially, the most problematic and experimental and modern of Catholic theological speculations. Not only did a false, pro-American, patriotic/nationalist theology develop; but also f) a strange new woman’s liberation cult, of the embryo.
Not only did the lack of training, full commitment, priestly status, generate many speculative and false ideas. Unfortunately, these new jejune voices, were g) inadvertently given huge, immense power: they spoke through new media channels to literally tens of millions of people. So that g) their narrow obsessions, creep into general circulation. As these strange new oddities were soon broadcast, taught to millions. Thanks to the size of the new lay media.
Worse, these strange, odd, and false new theologies, generated first by Protestant evangelicals, and then Catholic ones, soon had a enormous effect. Not just on Catholics, but also on America. And then, on the whole world. Radical one-issue anti-abortionism, essentially backed the Republican Party (Karl Keating’s 2009 suit against the IRS for “intimidation” for asserting this, and fining Catholic Answers for violating non-profit tax rules with political activity, was reported Oct. 19, 2009, as having been thrown out of court by a Federal judge. That decision was based on the expectation by the judge however, that the situation, the offense, would not be repeated. Though certainly to this day, EWTN and Relevant Radio – if not Keating himself – are always on the edge of repeating it. As reported by “Americas Independent Party” web site, Oct. 19,2009; citing “Life Site News.” By the way, for comments on the literally hundreds of anti-abortion groups out there, the vast network that however supports all this questionable activity, hear Frank Pavone on his regular show, “Defending Life,” Fri. 5:30-6:00 Central, EWTN; especially the 5:49 discussion, Feb. 2/27/2010).
Any “conservative,” anti-abortion network, would necessarily be guiding votes to the Republican Party; these were issues that only this party really embraced. And so this new network regularly in fact, threw a million votes into the Republican hat, nearly every election. So that soon, unexpectedly, the conservative, anti-abortion party, was able to garner a million unexpected minority (largely, older Hispanic women?) Catholic votes, every election; and to win one election after another.
Controlling, determining, leveraging one election after another, this tiny heretical movement, was therefore able to partially determine the course of America. And of course, anyone who controls America, to a large extent, controls the course of the world. So that a patriotic/militant theology/ideology, was given great power. One that favored of course, Republicanism. And attacked Democratic values. [A random attack by Relevant Radio and talk show hosts, say, on Democrats who allowed abortion funding in the Universal Health Care bill: “How low do you think the Obama administration … is willing to go to get abortion coverage?” says Drew Mariani. On Relevant Radio, 3:21 PM, Dec. 17, 2009. Regarding the Democratic President? “He is the abortion president.” “What these so-called ‘liberals’ are willing to do to justify” their acts, Drew sputters, is unbelievable. “Glenn Beck,” says the typically stuttering Mariani, voiced a good description of this evil Democratic president: “The president is putting Navy Seals on trial” he sputters; while of course, Navy Seals are always good. “And that’s what makes this administration one of the scariest we seen in decades.” This is a single, moderate, typically partisan attack on a Democrat, by a non-profit “Catholic” agency. Such attacks outnumber any statements of support for Democrats or their issues, by at least a factor of 50 to one; clearly indicating a consistent, systematic, overwhelming pattern of political preference. Even when Catholic theology indicates that other issues, favored Democrats, these stations, Drew, never focus on those issues. Or offer sophistical arguments asserting that abortion, the embryo, always outweighs any other issue. But indeed, to refute that assertion, is the primary goal of our good here. What does anti-abortionism ignore? After castigating Obama for sacrificing much to get abortion into a health bill, Drew says nothing about how much good health care would do for the sick and poor and dying. That side of the Church is systematically slighted. As, at 3:35, another anti-abortion ad – from 40 Days for Life? – congratulates itself, on lowing the abortion rate in Austin Texas; as the major sign of God’s Grace. All the elements of Catholic theology that might be liberal, or Democratic, are systematically ignored, or downed out.]
The new heretics supported the Republican Party; and helped elect Republican candidates. This was widely know, in one context: for some time, the increasing influence of Protestant Pat Robertson’s conservatism, its ties to Republicanism, has been widely noted. But here we are adding a commentary on the unexpected Catholic version of this. For some time – and indeed, almost until this very book – the importance of the new “Catholic” version of all this, has not been widely known. The “new evangelical” Catholic Media, and the new Catholic vote they control, has not been adequately noticed. After all, the number was rather small, it seemed. But consider the “leverage” it had: consider how close the elections often were, and how far a millions votes would go. Consider for example, the tiny majority that often elected presidents in America, c. 2000, 2004 (see the “hanging chads” episode, in Florida, etc.); Bush v. Gore election for example, was determined by perhaps two hundred thousand votes or so. In fact, the popular vote went against Bush; Bush won the distribution of votes in the Electoral college. This vote was also not noticed, in part because the Catholic vote often split about Republican/Democrat, about 50/50 – and so that was thought to be a fair, average split. Few Democratic strategists knew the numbers would normally have gone much more in the Democratic camp. The Catholic population in America, was largely Hispanic minorities; while normally those votes should have gone far more strongly than 50/50, to the party that supported minorities; the Catholic vote should have gone to the Democratic party; about 60/40. Or then too, many Catholics are rather liberal too. (Democrats did not notice the votes that should have been theirs earlier. Until surprised, very early comments, the day of and the day after, the reappearance of to be sure white liberal Catholicism, voting Democratic, in the election of 2008).
The word “conservative” is not found in the Bible; but it is found in the Republican Party platform. Likewise, “abortion” is not mentioned or condemned in the Bible; but it is condemned by far more Republicans than Democrats. So that, in effect, the new, “conservative,” anti-abortion Catholic media in effect, steered votes into the Republican camp. Indeed, given the closeness of many elections, EWTN/RN, could be said to have elected Republican candidate George Bush junior, as President of the United States, in the 1999/2000 election. And EWTN re-elected him again, in 2004. (John McCain’s 2008 candidacy was not so clearly anti-abortion at first; so that he was not similarly supported on EWTN).
Thus, the new laxity, a new theology in the Church, controlled American politics. It elected a patriotic American (read: nationalist/militarist) Republican to office. Conservative elements of the Church thereby, not only controlled/interfered with elections; they subsequently changed the course of American politics and life. While, through control of America, this new theology for a time effectively controlled … the whole world. As the candidates supported by rebellious new elements of the Church, soon engaged in – arguably caused – countless wars. (In Iraq; Afghanistan; and a global War on Terrorism).
And that finally, begins to demonstrate the major problem with anti-abortionism. It is the worst example, of the new, one-or-two “issue” Catholicism. Its narrowness, its concentration on just primarily, one issue, inevitably lead to precisely the problem that had been warned about by the real authorities of the Church; by Cardinals Mahony, McCarrick, and Ratzinger. Countless bishops had warned about it; though it was probably McCarrick that have described the problem most clearly to date: when you focus just on one part of life, you neglect many other important things. Here we got a theology that protects the embryo … but doesn’t care much at all about saving the lives of grown children and adults, by preserving them from unnecessary wars, and poor health care. To try to prove this, anti-abortionism uses dozens, hundreds of arguments. Among others, it argues that embryos are full human beings; and the massive number of abortions outweighs all other disasters. Though we have shown here earlier, that this one-argument, justifying obsessive concentration just on one issue, is like all the other arguments, simply, false.
The new conservative Catholicism, by honoring only one part, one side of God and life, neglected many other important lives. In its “conservative”/Republican bias, it thought that only embryos were human beings, and culpable murders; not the victims of unnecessary wars and lack of health care. In its support in fact for American wars as “just,” the movement supported pro-military politicians, from Ronald Reagan, to George Bush I and George Bush II. And that was a problem. Bush II, of course, our superpatriotic president, announced, as perhaps his very first pronouncement from the White House itself (right after the inauguration), that the U.S. supported Israel, over Arabs. Thus Bush II, as perhaps his very first statement from the While House proper, with all the cameras trained on the White House … incited the Arabs. So that within a year or so, the Arabs retaliated; by destroying the World Trade Center, 9/11/01. Arguably, Bush himself in part – by his rash, bellicose attitude, his one-sided support for Israel over the Arabs – began the “war on terrorism.” A war one that would require, it was said, many new wars by America; to take over Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Not only did supporting only the lives of embryos, lead to wars; it also lead to unnecessary deaths from lack of helping poor, sick people. While Bush was busy inflaming our enemies, he and his successors have been “reforming”/disassembling, key parts of the American social care apparatus; defeating bills to extend Health Insurance to poor people. Instead, Republicans concentrated on confronting, inflaming enemies with inflammatory rhetoric – and then killing them when they responded with violence. All supported by “Catholic” radio.
The new “Catholic” media, and their inexpert lay staff, their false priests, were arguably, the decisive vote that elected these warlike conservative/nationalist presidents in the US. Though the Catholic vote often split 50/50, the fact is, a largely minority Spanish Catholic population, could have gone 70/30 in favor of liberalism, the Democratic Party … if not for conservative, anti-abortion radio, etc.. Which convinced many older Spanish Catholic women, and other random individuals, to switch their votes to the Republicans, no doubt. Finally this number was important enough in close elections. So that this neglected vote was finally, enough to determine the course of America itself. And through America, the world.
But as it became clear that the narrow focus of one-issue anti-abortionism was electing many bellicose pro-military, pro-war candidates, finally to be sure, c. 1997 or so, bishops and cardinals – and Popes – began to complain about elements of this. As Archbishop, then Cardinal Mahony complain, for example, about general problems with persons with inadequate training selling an inferior “theology” in the “media” (q.v.). While next Cardinals McCarrick and Cardinal Ratzinger complained about such dis-“proportionate,” one “issue” theologies. Yet the occasional complaints of a few mere cardinals and Popes, went largely ignored, by conservative “Catholic” media. In spite of the warnings of Cardinals and the future Pope, the public was largely unaware of these problems; in large part because, the new “Catholic” media were of course, not reporting anything the Church, Cardinals and Pope said, that crossed its own ideas. By now, c. 1997-2004, Catholics were not really listening to the Vatican itself any more; they were listening more and more to the new “religious,” “conservative” media organs, like EWTN. And EWTN did not fully report or stress, any reports of Vatican dissatisfaction, with its own views.
The Cardinals and the Popes had begun, by about 1997, to turn against EWTN/RN, and its “one issue,” dis-“proportionate” anti-abortionism in particular. But until this very day, most Catholics are unaware of this. Because the new “Catholic” media never told them adequately about it. And unfortunately, by this time, most Catholics – and it seems many priests – do not listen to the Vatican or the Bible itself; they are too hard to understand. Instead, the people increasingly listen to the Vatican … as interpreted to them, by the new media outlets, like EWTN/RN. While EWTN of course did not really, fully report every point of view; it did not adequately report or follow, any quotes, even from the Vatican, that might contradict its own “conservative” agenda.
(How far has this gone? Today, in the days when Barack Obama is trying to pass a health bill, the rhetoric reached a fever pitch at Relevant Radio. Though the rhetoric fell off for a few days, after a serious caller around the time of the Patriots/Saints Superbowl game early in 2010, by March 3, 2010, it was back up again. Earlier in the morning, Wendy Weiss, on her show, interviewing another woman, Lisa Hendy on catholicwoman.com, on Lisa’s book “Handbook for Catholic Moms,” assured us that women are now the voice of God; that by the new evangelization, the Pope was authorizing everyone, or “all of us” – including it seems these two women – to speak for God and the Church: “the Holy Father is charging [authorizing] all of us with using the … media to evangelize.” Speaking of “your own vocation to Catholic motherhood.” Later in the day, a female minister of some sort, who brings the Eucharist to an old woman, or that takes her to Mass, called Fr. Simon, to ask him if she shouldn’t refuse to bring the wafer to the woman any more – in effect, excommunicate her – because the old woman supported abortion. The woman assuring us that the new “eucharistic ministers” should do this. Citing Vatican II as her authority. Father Simon correctly noted the equivocation of the Pope on the subject of Abortion – noting the provision for excommunication, but also that we are allowed to vote for pro choice politicians. But Fr. Simon seemed to be on the verge of caving under popular pressure here, to two women. Later in the day, Drew Mariani was at first, atypically undecided on the issue of abortion vs. the Health Bill, but then assured us that listeners of this Non Profit organization should call their legislators to influence this current legislation; suggesting that “liberal” colleagues and a pro-abortion health bill are bad at 2:27; so that we should “call your elected representative and voice your disenchantment with this” bill. It is claimed this is not partisan politics, but just asking people to vote Catholic. Even though this theology is not an accurate reflection of what the Church really says, but is a partisan, right-wing/Catholic “take” on the Church. So here we have for example, two or three lay women, “evangelizing,” with an ministry, deciding in effect to excommunicate another Catholic, who disagrees with their theology. A priest, Fr. Simon, expresses concern that “it would come to this”; and urges caution, urges a visit from a real priest it seems. But by now, it is almost too late. Women are now the self-proclaimed evangelists in the Church, all but replacing priests – and they are now even effectively excommunicating those who do not follow their pro-embryo religion. It has come to this. All in the name of a heretical sense of Catholicism. March 3, 2010, on Relevant Radio.)
Are any female Catholics at all, following the Pope any more? To this very day, most Catholics are totally unaware of the negative statements about EWTN’s founder, Mother Angelica. Most Catholics are also, crucially, totally unaware of the condemnation of disproportionate, one-issue anti-abortionism, by three Cardinals and by the Pope. Most get their information on the Church from biased sources like Relevant Radio; but they are utterly unaware of the political bias on the new “Catholic” media networks. In large part, this abomination, is the fault of the new networks themselves. But also in part, it has been because the Church itself was neglectful. The Church itself was not diligent enough in supervising and censuring Catholic networks. Fr. Simon ultimately does not make his voice as strong as Drew Mariani’s, on Relevant Radio. And the final message we hear on Relevant Radio, is not the Pope’s subtle theology, but Penn State graduate Drew Mariani, blasting through all the ambiguity, with Drew Mariani’s own “relevant” theology: flunk the “pro abortion” health plan. Call your elected representatives he says in the name of the Church and of God, and let they know that helping the poor and sick by passing this health bill, is the wrong thing to do.
And so now Drew Mariani, talk show host, is the voice of God. And the forces that made him our new idol, our new God? (cf. “American Idol,” a very popular TV show of the era). There were many forces at work; like the 1) growth of media; the 2) laxity of the Church after Vatican II; the 3) takeover by lay persons. But in part too, 4) the massive spreading of false, heretical ideas within Catholicism itself, has also been the fault of the people; of a naïve, uneducated electorate. Too many people in this era, just don’t have very good educations. And the Church (except a few Jesuits, now long gone) did not train anyone, in critical thinking. Therefore, all too many people trusted anything; or especially, they trusted any media agency that presented itself as religious, Christian, “Catholic.” Those who looked more closely, might have thought that the presence of priests on such networks, might stop abuses. Or many might have thought that Democracy, fair debate, was the rule in the media; and that a good-hearted, good-faith devotion in religious institutions, to the truth, would protect the new media from error. Indeed, note, there were many “call-in” shows on the radio, that superficially appeared to be democratic; and to offer fair and balanced debate on important subjects. But such hopes, such faith in moderating, governing intelligence, was forlorn. By now, women and the media effectively control Catholicism; not the Cardinals, or the Pope. The habit of equivocation by the Church, while useful in some ways, also has kept the Church from stepping in where it should have stepped in. Or if the Church itself has made a bold move or two? Then it was often in the wrong direction. (See Archbishop Burke in recent – Feb. 16 to March 26, 2009 – news; first chastising the Bishops for not excommunicating pro-life politician. It was good and proper, that the radical conservative Burke was then dis-invited, by a Cardinal, to speak at Westminster Cathedral. As reported, regarding Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, in Telegraph.co.uk, Updated Feb. 16, 2009; Nat. Cath. Reporter March 26, 2009. It is important for Catholics to know, that cardinals are the superiors of bishops. And that Burke is not the voice of the Church).
The new networks have superficially seemed to many, to offer “fair and balanced” debates and discussion, debates. Indeed, people called in every minute into EWRN; and a very few even managed to get in opinions contrary to the network. But EWRN never gave those callers much of a chance; EWTN and Relevant Radio followed the dishonest format of many other conservative shows: they have appeared to allow fair, democratic debate on all issues. So that until this very day, most of the public is unaware that such shows do not really offer real, fair debate. Most listeners to the networks, do not know at all, that the game is rigged; that this is not real, fair and balanced democracy. Those persons who call in to object to conservative talk show statements, are always edited, screened, before they are allowed to be heard on the air. If someone who wants to disagree with EWTN or Relevant Radio and their politics, somehow manage to get on the air, and are too effective in argumentation, these callers are cut off soon, with the “dump” or “off” button. Then too, ultimately, when excerpts from the show are later re-run? The shows are often edited by the network, for later spots, rebroadcasts; but only after being edited in the network’s favor, of course. The words of EWTN are endlessly repeated; the opposition is not allowed to speak. Some of these dishonest spots, moreover, are repeated thousands of times, in later broadcasts. Repeating again, the fundamentally dishonest pattern of EWTN: they report only parts of what is said; only the parts that seem to favor the network and its political bent. Never mind honesty, and fairness, and other fundamental Christian values, or even the fair and equal debate that is essential to Democracy itself. Today, all that is forgotten, by the new media bosses; our new “ministers.” [4:07 PM Dec. 17, 2009: Drew Mariani refers to the “ministry” of a person who says he saw angels, miracles. So that now the Church does not have so many priests, but more self-appointed or Drew-appointed “ministers”? Like Protestants?] But finally, the Church which allows such things, should remember that “the new evangelism” indeed, produces evangelists; just like the Protestant evangelists who broke away from the Church. To form their own separate churches, after all. In rebellion against the Cardinals, the Pope, and the Church itself.
The sad and alarming fact, is finally that many new liberal elements from Vatican II, the brand-new attempts to regulate sex and reproduction, in documents like Humanae Vitae by Paul VI in 1968, combined with many new cultural developments like the growth in power of the media, created massive problems, that the Church has not been able to anticipate, or handle. Humanae Vitae, even an Idiot’s Guide can tell us, “was a deeply divisive document. The furor it aroused appeared to take the pope completely by surprise, and the pronouncement on contraception was to be his last encyclical,” though John VI was to rule fully ten more years, until John Paul II in 1978 (as documented even in the Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Popes and the Papacy, 2002 ed., p. 244). The attempt of allegedly chaste priests, to tell the people all about sex and reproduction, encouraged many absurdities and injustices, and many absurd speculations being advanced as absolutely firm dogma from God. Though conservative radio now wants the Church to waive the normal waiting period, and declare John Paul II for example, a saint immediately, these new, very highly novel and extremely speculative, new sex and reproduction theologies – and the Popes that supported them – need to be reconsidered, for a very, very long waiting period. While they should never have been presented as firmly as they were, c. 1956-2005.
The fact is, a number of new, disastrous developments, literally fatal new heresies, have occurred within the Catholic world, and deep inside the Church itself. And none of the many previous regulator agencies of the Church, managed to staunch the bleeding. Utterly ineffective, were: the 1) major oversight mechanisms of The Roman Catholic Church. Ineffective, were a) the Bishops; the b) Cardinals; the c) the Popes. And even the wiser d) seminaries, for example. Even the e) saints. Also ineffective in stopping the new “Neo-conservative” heresies, were 2) the major oversight mechanisms of Democracy – fair debate for example. (Especially, the “Fairness Doctrine” was weakened, from about 1983). The Church was retiring. But into this power gap, crept a number of … new demons. As the Church properly allowed some new speculations, it improperly however, allowed these speculations to be offered as the very firm word of God; not as speculations, experiments. As they should have been announced. Because the Church was not careful about the distinction, biased, manipulative voices over-stressed new, speculative, experimental theologies. And even worse, these voices were able to assume the “mantle” of the Church, the hair shirt of the prophet of God. False prophets were thus able to present their false theologies, their political opinions, their personal biases … as the word of God himself.
So that the whole world was mislead by false prophets, of a false theology. All without effective opposition from the Church itself. (Because the Church itself was mislead in many ways).
At the core of the problem, too, was not just the Church itself, but also the declining but still-powerful voice of radio, c. 1982-2008. The fact is, talk radio in general, in the Rush-Limbaugh, Glenn Beck era, has been utterly dominated not by religion, but by “conservatism”: by a “patriotic,” “American,” anti-“liberal,” pro-war Republicanism. And even “religious” networks like Eternal Word radio network in particular, followed that political model. Republican, Protestant radio-evangelists, and televangelists like Pat Robertson, had earlier intermixed, confused, their religion, with their own social political points of view. Creating “conservatism”: an unholy mix of religion and God and the Bible and the Church, with some of the less useful “traditions of men.”
The fact is, the “Neo-Conservatism,” the anti-abortionism that have ruled on “Catholic” radio, are a mere political opinion; they are not the authentic word of God. The fact is, the conservatives who have spoken to millions, like EWRN talk show hosts, had a social/political bias. One that prevented them from seeing, understanding, what God and the Church were really saying. It’s “conservative” philosophy, biased Eternal Word radio hosts. So they saw and heard, only one side, one interpretation, one part, of the Church, and of God. The “conservative” lens, did not adequately perceive and present – much less obey – anything in the Church that might be called “liberal.” Like allowing abortion. Or allowing us to vote for pro-abortion political candidates. So that ironically? “Conservative” Catholicism, ended up disobeying the Church, over and over. In particular, conservative Catholics never obeyed any voice in the Church that it perceived as “liberal”; like the voices of major theologians and saints – Augustine and Aquinas – that insisted that the young embryo was not a fully human person. Conservatives ignoring even Cardinals, when they alluded to this core tradition of the Church magisterium.
The fact is, there are many, many such liberal elements deep in the Bible itself; telling us to “be liberal” in helping the poor; and allowing abortion and so forth. But “conservative” Catholic talk radio, just ignored them; just thought of these elements, as being somehow, not the “real” church. Even though there were thousands of such elements. Even though, arguably, Jesus himself was a Liberal. Jesus said help the poor; who did not want to go to war with or kill anyone; who indeed said, “love your enemy” rather than attacking and killing him. While Paul and others finally told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor.
Pat Robertson has often used “liberal” as a bad word. But until today, no one noticed that his usage, goes against the Bible; which used “liberal” as a good word. Which told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor.”
So it is time to decide. Which should you follow: Pat Robertson and EWTN? Or God and the Bible?
No doubt, extreme liberalism made many mistakes. And needed to be corrected, partially, by conservatives. But the fact is, that often conservatism made mistakes on its own. “Conservative” anti-abortionism, was not even conservative at all: it went straight up against the Bible itself. And unfortunately, the Church itself has been utterly ineffective, in stopping this new, heretical movement.
The “Neo-Conservative,” and anti-abortion movements are anything but loyally conservative to the core traditions of the Church and the Bible; in fact, they are simply, finally, heresies. Even if Catholics don’t think much of the Bible itself, but instead follow the Church and the Pope and its “Magisterium,” then after all, we have noted here, that the new “Catholics” even go against many of their own Cardinals, Saints, and Popes too. Ironically, the new “conservative” Catholicism of EWTN and Relevant Radio, has gone strongly, powerfully against the core authority of the Church; against the very Catholic authorities that it claimed to be piously following. The fact is that conservative Catholic radio and TV networks like EWTN in fact, simply opposed several Bishops (like Foley and Steib). More amazingly, EWTN opposed at least two or three Cardinals: EWTN opposed Cardinal McCarrick; Cardinal Mahony; and Cardinal Ratzinger. While the last cardinal was not just an ordinary cardinal: Joe Ratzinger became our current Pope, Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI.
Finally in fact, ironically, “conservative” Catholic radio networks like EWTN and Relevant Radio, were anything but conservative, in many ways: particularly, they have rebelled against the core authorities of the Church; against the Cardinals, and the Pope himself. Indeed, they have rebelled against the saints, the Bible, and God himself.
So what finally, what should be done about this? Finally, the network continually, persistently, and in spite of better advice, defied the very authority it was sworn to obey. EWTN and associates continually, obstinately rebelled against the Cardinals, and against the Pope himself. While even the rather adamant attempts of the Cardinals and the Pope to correct them, have been rebuffed. So that finally, because of all that, finally, we will see, there is only one remedy to fix this situation, today: 1) EWTN, Relevant Radio, and associates, should be charged openly, formally, with the sin of “heresy.” While 2) next, most of its major staffmembers, should be excommunicated. Most of EWTN and Relevant Radio, should be denied communion; and effectively, kicked out of the Church.
This is poetic and perfect justice. The very action they advocated against everyone else – excommunication (which they recommended and even actually undertook, against pro-abortion candidates, c. 2007) – should now, ironically, but with perfect poetic justice, be applied to they, themselves.
Who, what forces were responsible for this heresy? In fact, in part, it was the Church itself to be sure. Particularly, the Church imagined that it could create/”refine” substantially new doctrines, in the rather substantially new fields of sex and reproduction, and pronounce them holy, timeless, immediately, by looking quickly at a few classic sources. But in fact, you cannot recreate the years, centuries needed, to see if a given new pronouncement really is good and consistent with tradition, or not. So that the Church itself, was correct in trying new ideas; but incorrect, in allowing them to be presented as firm commands; as anything other than new trial balloons, new experimental ideas.
Yet to be sure, though the Church itself is partially to blame for these new, fatally false doctrines, dogmas, to be sure, the Church often did try to correct the heresy as it was found in conservative Catholic media. Indeed, at least three cardinals and the Pope (and many call-in listeners) attempted to rather directly, forcibly interdict in this matter; to correct EWTN especially. And yet finally, EWTN obstinately, persistently ignored the many, many attempts of many, many people – including the very highest authorities of the Church – to correct their sins and errors. So that finally, there is no choice here, but to suggest that finally, there is only one remedy for such organizations, and such persons. Finally, ultimately, most of the talk show hosts and staffmembers of EWTN and Relevant radio, should be simply, finally, immediately, excommunicated. For heresy and disobedience. For being false teachers, false priests, false ministers. For preaching, selling, teaching, a false theology, a false vision of God and Good, selling a false idol, a false Christ, to the entire world.
Dozens of bishops, cardinals, and several Popes having tried to correct the networks, and yet EWTN and Relevant Radio and associates, having obstinately resisted all correction, and having constantly, vainly, falsely proclaimed themselves to be the voice of the Church and of God, and EWTN and Relevant Radio having thus mislead the entire world, fatally, finally there is no remedy for this, except for excommunication of essentially all staffmembers and associates, of EWTN, Relevant Radio, Priests for Life, etc.. While publicly pronouncing them, simply, heretics. And an abomination.