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EWTN: A Profile in Courage

by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 20, 2016

I am on record as highly critical of the direction EWTN took after the late, great Mother Angelica unseated herself from its board of directors in a bid to avoid a takeover by her hostile bishop. In fact, I wrote a whole book on the subject.

I am also on record, however, as praising certain good elements in EWTN’s programming. I have no personal animus against the network and am delighted to note its positive contributions to the Church. And now, with the publication of Amoris Laetitia agitating the Church from top to bottom, we have nothing less than a “profile in courage” from Mother Angelica’s legacy.

I am referring to a recent episode of EWTN’s The World Over, which presented an honest and unsparing critique of this truly calamitous document by Fr. Gerald Murray, Robert Royal and Raymond Arroyo as host of the show. If the reader thinks “calamitous” is too strong a word, consider that during a half-hour of searing commentary these three gentlemen, in turns, used the following phrases to describe the problematic passages, which seek to excuse grave sexual sins on the basis of “mitigating factors” so as to allow objective Catholics who purport to “remarry” while a valid Christian marriage remains, and even simple cohabiters, access to the Holy Eucharist:

  • “dangerous,”
  • “very disturbing,”
  • “very problematic,”
  • “not the language of the Gospel,”
  • “very odd,”
  • “very strange,”
  • “a big mistake,”
  • “set[ting] up straw men to knock down,”
  • “a direct contradiction of John Paul II in Familiaris consortio and subsequent documents,”
  • “not in accord with what the Church has said until now,”
  • “false mercy” favorable to “‘Father Friendly’ who wants to sell the store,” and which would make receiving Communion “a badge of honor that you receive even though you know what you are doing is contrary to the teaching of the Church,”
  • “an attempt to paper over what really is a change of doctrine… but denying that you’re changing the doctrine.”

Arroyo summed up the problem with admirable concision: “the exception becomes a very difficult rule, or no rule at all” while the Church, to quote Father Murray, becomes involved in “the excuse-making business, not the Gospel business.”

Given the last word, Father Murray said what every member of the Church needs to hear concerning Francis’s reckless disregard of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Code of Canon Law, every Pope before him and all of Tradition:

Flattery would mean we keep our mouths shut and say nothing. But Gospel frankness… calls upon us to say, Holy Father, either you have been poorly advised or you have an incomplete conception of this issue…

I don’t want to criticize the pope…. but what I will say is when you do something in public that contradicts what your predecessor did, there has to be an accounting for it and a responsibility to upholding the gospel…

All praise to EWTN for a courageous exposition of the truth at a time of unparalleled danger to the Church. In the 4th century, to quote the famous observation of Saint Jerome, “the whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Arian.” Today, the whole Church groans to find itself, humanly speaking, a worldwide personality cult headed by an unassailable guru, hailed by all the powers that be for every word he says and every gesture he makes to the Church’s detriment.

The way things are developing it seems that, just at it was during the Arian crisis, it will be the laity and a thin black line of good priests, like Father Murray, who stand fast against the tide of novelty, guided by only a handful of faithful prelates. And so we should all hope and pray that EWTN stays its thus far courageous course in this affair, for its resources will be of immense value in the battle Amoris Laetitia signals. To recall once again the prophecy of Sister Lucia: “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”

Please write to EWTN in praise of “this profile in courage.” And tell them I sent you.