In the battle between Catholicism and the heresy of modernism, the newest salvo from the side of Divine Revelation possesses a title - EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong. This courageous expose, authored by Catholic lawyer and author Christopher Ferrara, is truly an apologia (a formal written defense) of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. After reading this work, one can only quote the famous words of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, "Contra factum non est argumentum," which means "Against a fact, there is no argument."
OUR LADY OF FATIMA, THE THIRD SECRET AND THE "NEW CHURCH"
Upon opening the book, the first thing one observes is the dedication which reads as follows:
"To Our Lady, Conquerer of All Heresies, who warned us of the coming apostasy, and promised to restore the Church through the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart
Pope St. Pius X, the last canonized Pope, who defeated the Modernists of his day. May the Church soon be blessed with a Pope of equal greatness, who will rescue her from the scourge of darkness that calls itself light."
Turning to the Preface, the book briefly addresses the crisis within the Church, a crisis which has been mounting for the past century and is getting worse every day. The result of the crisis: Generations of confused and cheated Catholics with a "massive turning away from the Faith - an apostasy - in the Catholic Church."
Thus does the Preface introduce the book's theme, which is simply "that the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) both exemplifies and promotes these ruinous novelties, and thus has contributed to the crisis itself."
The Preface continues: "It is the author's burden to demonstrate that with the departure of its foundress, Mother Angelica, from a leadership role, EWTN has taken a sharp turn toward what Pope St. Pius X condemned as the heresy of modernism, as it attempts to combine Catholicism with rock and roll, show business and the worse novelties of the era after Vatican II."
Continuing along those lines, the Preface also states that "EWTN now functions as an organ of what is aptly dubbed 'New Church' - a kind of faux church that exists parasitically within the host organization, which is the unchanged and unchangeable Roman Catholic Church of all time. The author will show that the unprecedented emergency of 'New Church' is the very essence of the post-conciliar crisis, and that this development was predicted in the Third Secret of Fatima, as Pope Pius XII indicated in a stunning prophecy that figures largely in this book." (p. vii, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong)
For those who may experience difficulty in recalling that EWTN is, after all, only a television network and not the Spotless Bride of Christ - that is, the eternal Catholic Church, in her heavenly and mystical perfection - the Preface reminds the reader, "It is the duty of every Catholic to oppose words and deeds that undermine the Faith, give scandal, disturb the good order of the Church and endanger the welfare of souls - especially when those words and deeds are televised throughout the world to audiences of millions of Catholics and non-Catholics by a lay-run organization that has absolutely no authority in the Church, yet creates the impression that it represents the best of what the Church is." (All emphasis KIC's)
Next is the Overview: The Banishment of Mother Angelica and EWTN's Promotion of Modernism, wherein it is particularly gratifying to read Mr. Ferrara's following words, because they are so true, so well-said and stated with firmly objective charity:
"In this discussion, I will not employ such terms as 'traditionalist,' 'conservative,' or 'neo-Catholic' to distinguish different 'strains' of Catholicism in the post-conciliar Church. As useful as such terms may have been in the past, the ecclesial crisis has advanced to the point where one must speak frankly of who is, and who is not, adhering to the Roman Catholic religion in its integrity. This is also necessary because the proponents of New Church have not hesitated to render judgments on the Catholicity of those who held fast to Tradition during this crisis, denouncing these faithful Catholics simply because they will not embrace the unheard-of novelties of the past forty years."
"For the good of the Church, this absurd situation must be corrected. As Holy Scripture warns us: 'Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." (Footnote inserted at this point reads "Isaias 5:20. Most bibilical quotes are from the Douay-Rheims Bible (Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1971)
"For too long EWTN and other 'mainstream" aiders and abettors of the post-conciliar revolution have been allowed to adorn themselves with the cloak of respectability, while they impugn faithful Catholics who defend Tradition and refuse to follow them down the path of compromise. The cloak must come off so that the truth about these people can be revealed - not for their disgrace, but for their own good and, above all else, for the good of the Church. For as I will demonstrate here, whether or not they understand subjectively that they are Modernists, this is what EWTN and other post-conciliar purveyors of novelty are, objectively speaking. It is, therefore, they, not traditional Roman Catholics, who are theologically suspect. It is they, as the evidence to be presented here will prove, who are advancing novelties that are objectively contrary to the Faith, sacrilegious, scandalous and even offensive to good morals. It is their 'new" version of Catholicism, not the perennial practice of the Faith, that ought to be condemned. It is the proponents of New Church, not the adherents of the Catholic Church of all time, who should be examined for their views." (All emphasis KIC's)
FOR THE SAKE OF CHARITY
The author continues, "Let me emphasize at the outset that this entire discussion presumes, for the sake of charity, that those responsible for EWTN's Modernist content do not subjectively intend to depart from the Faith. They may even think in their distorted view of the situation - a view which leads them to condemn faithful Roman Catholics as 'extreme traditionalists' - that they are actually defending the Faith. Some may even possess the state of mind Our Lord warned His disciples would be that of the Pharisees: 'yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God.' (John 16:2) But if they are acting in good faith or out of blindness at present, they will have no excuse for continuing in their course of conduct once they consider (or if they refuse to consider) with an open mind the evidence presented here in this book, and they will no longer be entitled to the presumption that they do not understand that they are promoting Modernism."
"In any case, justice, the good of the Church and the good of souls demand that Catholics who are only endeavoring to practice the Faith without alternation not allow themselves to be framed by the accusation, so often leveled by EWTN and other New Church organs, that they are 'extreme traditionalists,' 'disobedient,' and even 'schismatic." It is time for the accusers, not the accused, to stand trial." (p. 12-13) (All emphasis KIC's)
FACTS, FACTS, and MORE FACTS!
The Preface and Overview are followed by three main Parts, which are comprised of 10 chapters total. As for the evidence in regard to the prevailing heterodoxy at EWTN, the author amptly provides it - backed up with 329 footnotes in the 261-page book (which do not include the Index's 13.5 pages!).
The book's Overview establishes why a desperate Mother Angelica, at an emergency board meeting in March 2000, felt compelled to resign as EWTN's CEO, "relinquishing her veto power, and with it her control over EWTN's affairs." Ultimately, with Mother's resignation, what was formerly "her" network was left "entirely in the hands of lay people, many of them ex-Protestants who did not have her traditional pre-Vatican II spiritual formation and old-fashioned Catholic militancy." (p. 4)
What was the reason for this astonishing decision? Since 1997, Mother Angelica was in direct conflict with heterodox Cardinal Mahoney and the liberal Bishop Foley, the ordinary of her diocese in Alabama. It seems that, by 2001, Mother Angelica felt she was forced into a corner (as, indeed, she was) and believed that her strategic retreat would protect EWTN.
The trouble began in 1997 after Mother Angelica publicly "denounced Mahoney's 'pastoral letter' on the Holy Eucharist as a Modernist obfuscation of the true doctrine of the Mass. Under pressure from Mahoney's friends in the Vatican apparatus, Mother made an on-the-air apology, but the 'apology' was even more defiant than the original commentary."
"For over an hour, Mother 'served up a point-by-point critique of the pastoral letter,' demonstrating the Mahoney had slighted and thus undermined the doctrine of transubstantiation. An infuriated Mahony filed a canonical complaint in Rome..." [Raymond] Arroyo quotes one elderly curial Cardinal as admitting that 'Mother Angelica has the guts to tell him [Mahoney] what we do not.' Mahoney's canonical complaint went nowhere, but he had already begun to agitate the Vatican apparatus to take action against Mother. Arroyo quotes Mahoney's Director of Media Relations as stating, 'The cardinal wants the Holy See to do something about Mother Angelica's whole attitude that she is not responsible to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops or to any of the individual bishops."
[Side Note: Quotes above are Mr. Ferrar's words, while "quotes within quotes" are Mr. Ferrara's footnoted quotations from EWTN host Raymond Arroyo's book entitled Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles.]
EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong also explains Mother's trouble with Bishop David Foley, who "...had no real authority over Mother's apostolate, the Poor Clares of the Perpetual Adoration. Nevertheless, he insisted that in the new Shrine to the Blessed Sacrament [which] Mother was building in Hancesville, Alabama, no Masses were to be said in the traditional 'ad orientem' manner - that is, facing the altar and God in an eastward direction, rather than facing the people. When Mother refused to knuckle under to this illegal demand, in October 1999 Foley issued a preposterous decree stating that Mass facing the altar - an unbroken tradition of the Church from her earliest days - was an 'illicit innovation or sacrilege' and that anyone 'guilty' of this 'sacrilege' would be subject to 'suspension or removal of faculties.' All Masses in his diocese, Foley declared, would 'henceforth be celebrated at a freestanding altar and...the priest would face the people." (p. 3)
Mother Angelica resisted the bishop's abuse of authority, deciding to boycott the December 1999 dedication of the new Shrine, at which Foley presided, facing the people. "Arroyo reports that a clearly humiliated Foley called Mother to the podium to say a few words, but 'in silent protest' she remained with her nuns in the cloistered area behind the altar, refusing to serve as Foley's prop. Clearly determined to get revenge, Foley went to the Vatican to demand action against Mother Angelica." (p. 4)
The end result: "Cardinal Medina, head of the Congregration for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, promulgated 'norms' that banned any televised Mass facing East (i.e., the altar) in his diocese and required Mass facing the people. EWTN complied with these 'norms,' even though they were preposterous and illegal as Foley's earlier decree." In addition, Foley put the wheels in motion for the Congregration for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to send an Apostolic Visitor, Archbishop Roberto Gonzales of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Alabama to investigate the EWTN operation. It quickly became apparent that the aim of the visitation (which took place in February-March 2000) was to establish that Mother Angelica's order, the Poor Clares, owned EWTN's assets, including the new Shrine, and not EWTN's civil corporation board of directors, of which Mother was CEO with full veto power over the board's decisions. If it could be established that Mother's order owned the assets, then the whole EWTN enterprise could be subjected to ecclesiastical control, including the possible appointment of a 'progressive' replacement for Mother Angelica herself." (p. 4)
Thus the reason for the March 2000 emergency meeting of EWTN's board, the same meeting at which Mother Angelica resigned and at which EWTN's board "amended the corporate by-laws to insure lay control and preclude any control in the future by a bishop, priest or religious." In effect, the amended corporate by-laws mean that EWTN will never be overseen or controlled by any member of the Catholic Church's hierarchy or by any religious. That includes Mother Angelica, herself a religious, who can never again direct EWTN and can never return as either EWTN's CEO or even as a board member - even if her health allowed it.
As EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong proves, with Mother Angelica no longer at the helm, the once Catholic television network succumbed to the very modernist heresy it previously fought.
After reading the Overview, one eagerly turns to Part I, "The Modernist Crisis in the Church," which includes five chapters, entitled as follows: The Silent Apostasy, A Great Facade of Novelty, The Scope of the Crisis, What Does It Mean to be Catholic? and Modernism: The Synthesis of All Heresies. These five chapters provide definitions and show why the Church's contemporary crisis is due to "a resurgence of the Modernist heresey condemned by Pope St. Pius X early in the twentieth century." (p. 13)
Part II, "EWTN's Role as Promoter of Modernism," features even more chapters, providing copious proofs of the "moderate" modernism which prevails at EWTN. Chapter titles are intriguing and self-explanatory: EWTN's "Moderate" Modernism, EWTN's Promotion of Liturgical Destruction, Abandoning the Dogma "No Salvation Outside the Church," Abandoning the Return of the Dissidents to Rome, Promoting the Return of the Judaizers, Promoting Paganism and Sacrilege, Quasi-Idolatry of the Pope's Person, Promoting Destruction of the Traditional Rosary, Promoting Sexual Gnosticism and the NFP Cult, "Cool" Catholicism, and The Assault on Fatima.
Part III, "Summing It Up," closes with three chapters, beginning with Did They Love You, John Paul II ?, followed by What the Evidence Shows and concluding with What Should We Do?
WHY THIS BOOK DESERVES ATTENTION...AND RESPECT
The prevalence of the modernist heresy brings great sorrow to the eternal Church, so long under siege from without and within, and which witnesses the spiritual death of so many of her children. What faithful Catholic reader would not then deeply appreciate a source that not only lays the problem on the table but also offers a most worthy solution?
For that is what EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong does. It points out the Church's doctrines and dogmas which the "new" EWTN now contradicts. It reminds one, or makes one aware, that pervasive modernism, the synthesis of all heresies, is responsible for the fact that the Church is now at critical mass, and that modernism assimilates everything it possibly can. If that is not enough, this book also makes clear the only real solution - a Catholic one, a spiritual one.
This means, my dear readers, that the spiritual solution is not a "Catholic" television network. Perhaps there was a time when we received a little comfort, knowing that at least one television network was safe for our families. Perhaps we homeschool our children and have convinced ourselves that we "need" EWTN. Perhaps we are angry or abashed upon hearing about the book and obstinately refuse to listen to anyone who tried to share its contents with us. Perhaps we have refused to read the book because we really do not want to discover the truth. Perhaps we've even busied ourselves shunning - and getting others to shun - the book and anyone who agrees with it.
None of the choices mentioned above are indicative of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice or fortitude. In what do we place our trust - God and His Divine Revelation or mere fellow human beings? If we are upset about the proven truth in regard to the "new" EWTN, why can't we remember that all things pass away? For Our Lord said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away." (Luke 21:33)
There is also the following honest question to consider: Is it right and just to accept the "new" EWTN, all the while ignoring the truth that the former EWTN, the one for which Mother Angelica prayed and sacrificed and worked, no longer exists?
If we truly believe in Divine Revelation, which the Church teaches through Tradition and Scripture, and if we have any respect for all that Mother Angelica formerly accomplished (while simultaneously avoiding the grave sin of "human respect") we will seriously consider the advice given in the last chapter of EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong.
That advice is "to recognize that it is EWTN and the whole New Church establishment that must be shunned, not Catholics and Catholic organizations standing fast in Tradition." But that will not be enough, for "we must seek out the still-existing sources of Tradition in the Church and cling to those...for Our Lord has not deserted us and we can still find the authentic goods of the Church if we look for them. We must find priests who offer the traditional Mass and traditional catechesis. We must find traditional Catholic schools for our children or school them at home. We must study and impart to our children the unchanging doctrines and dogmas of the Faith...We must pray the Rosary every day, frequent the traditional Mass and sacraments, and strive to advance in a traditional Catholic spiritual life." (pp. 253-254)
In summary, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong accomplishes two very important duties to which every faithful Catholic is obligated: 1) It explains and defends the perennial doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church with firm charity, and 2) It rightly points out that the only solution to the Church's contemporary crisis is the hierarchy's complete obedience to Our Lady of Fatima. The pope must order and participate in the collegial consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart. When this is done, the Fatima promise will come to fruition and "an era of peace will be granted to the world." (Our Lady of Fatima)
In a world now punished by wars and persecutions of the Church (which includes the martyrdom of the good) and of the Holy Father, let us place our confidence in and keep our hopeful gaze on Our Lady of Fatima who, one last time before finally revealing her identity to the three shepherd children and the world on October 13, 1917, lovingly commanded:
"Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world...because only She can help you."