Mother Angelica, The Catholic Culture Wars as Waged by Traditionalists and an Expose by National Catholic Reporter on EWTN

The National Catholic Reporter did an expose on the large Catholic Network called EWTN. EWTN is a conservative Catholic network that was founded by Mother Angelica. She was inspired by Pat Robertson and wanted to create a Catholic version. After World Youth Day in Denver in the 1990’s she waged war on “liberals” and gave traditional Catholics who believe in the Latin Mass and who disagree with Vatican II a home to engage in the culture wars. EWTN has been involved in criticism of Pope Francis. There is criticism that EWTN is trying to become like Fox News especially as it has become more political. 

“The spider and the fly can’t make a bargain. “

    Jamaican saying 

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.

2 Corinthians 10: 17-18 NRSVCE

Mass at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans 

Tucker Carlson and Raymond Arroyo on EWTN 

This blog has written about a couple of issues in Catholicism. One of them is the push by some in the Catholic church to go to the far right. In addition there are some Catholics who want to engage in the culture wars as well. I wrote about this issue in, “A Look at the Alt-Right Movement Targeting the Roman Catholic Church. Michael Voris and Church Militant” and “How Populism is a Threat to Roman Catholicism.”  This issue popped again in a series at the National Catholic Reporter that led to this post.

Mother Angelica is Inspired by Pat Robertson. Was she a Catholic Rupert Murdoch?  

Mother Angelica was a well known television personality and a nun affiliated with the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. She grew up in Canton, Ohio and in 1939 a stomach ailment led her mother to take her to a Catholic mystic who allegedly healed her. In 1944 she decided to become a nun and eventually did so. In 1962 she started to record her talks and begin to sell them. In time she started to record television broadcasts and wanted to reach more people. In the 1970’s Mother Angelica watched Pat Robertson launch the Christian Broadcast Network and was very much inspired by him and wanted to follow suit. She wanted to create a Catholic version of the Christian Broadcasting Network. What she created was to be called EWTN. Her network would be deeply popular with conservative Catholics. This blog would like to pose the question, could Mother Angelica be the Catholic version of Rupert Murdoch? Was she ahead of her time when she saw how media can be used to influence people. Rupert Murdoch has an agenda and you see that through his media empire. Mother Angelica it appears also had an agenda. EWTN began broadcasting in August of 1981. 


Mother Angelica on World Youth Day

World Youth Day in Denver and Declaring War on “Liberals” 

In 1993 Pope John Paul II flew to Denver, Colorado to celebrate World Youth Day. A mime performed the stations of the cross and was a female. On EWTN Mother Angelica exploded and tore into the performance for the Pope. She declared that the church had to go to war against liberals. She committed herself to taking the Catholic church back. This is part of what she said. “

“I’m so tired of you, liberal church in America,” she said, using the second person to talk directly to those she saw as destroyers of the church over the past 30 years. 

“I don’t like your church. You have nothing to offer. You do nothing but destroy,” she said, adding that “you’ve been strong too long.”

Specifically mentioning inclusive language, centering prayer and earth spirituality, she added: “We’re just tired of you constantly pushing anti-God, anti-Catholic and pagan ways into the Catholic Church. Leave us alone. Don’t pour your poison, your venom, on all the church.”

After that she took EWTN in a far more conservative direction. In time EWTN would become a refuge for traditionalists who disagreed with Vatican II and those who were quite conservative. Mother Angelica took on Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahoney. She told Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland that “he can go put his head in the back toilet, as far as I am concerned.” As her health declined she turned over the network to others who controlled it. But she still was a prominent individual who had a lot of influence. She died in 2016. 


A Platform For Traditionalist Latin Catholics, Fringe Politics and Attacking Pope Francis.

At EWTN part of the criticism with it is that it its trying to become like the Sinclair Stations or Fox News. In this way with mainstream Catholics it has become controversial. It has become a platform for those who disagree with Vatican II and who support the Latin mass. It has also supported the populists and featured Steve Bannon if my research is correct. Well known personalities from Fox appear on the EWTN News segment led by Raymond Arroyo called The World Over. You can watch Raymond Arroyo interview and discuss politics with Tucker Carlson up above. EWTN has also supported those who attacked Pope Francis. A number of Catholics don’t know what exactly to do with EWTN as its influence has grown outside the control of the US Catholic Bishops. 


National Catholic Reporter Does an Expose 

The only reason why I am doing this article of EWTN is because of a series of recent articles by the National Catholic Reporter. The articles were written by Heidi Schlumpf. The articles caused quite a splash and this blog wants to push them. Those articles are as follows:

  1. The rise of EWTN: from piety to partisanship.” This article deals with the effort to create a Catholic version of Fox News. Also explored is EWTN’s growing involvement in politics and libertarian causes. 
  2. EWTN: connected to conservative Catholic money, anti-Francis elements.” This article looks at some of the financial issues and questions that are being raised in regards to EWTN monetary policy. Also its ties to those who want to remove Pope Francis. 
  3. Money trail tells the tale of EWTN’s direction.” One of the issues with EWTN is about its assets and property and a look at its money trail. 
  4. How Mother Angelica’s ‘miracle of God’ became a global media empire.” This is an overview of the founder Mother Angelica and her pushing the network into conservative causes and its controversy inside the Catholic church. 

It will be interesting to see if this series at the National Catholic Reporter will influence this issue.


It Appears as if There are Some Catholics Who Want to Duplicate Evangelical Christianity 

I never heard of EWTN but as I learned about it I think the problem with it goes back to the very beginning. The problem is that Mother Angelica wanted to create a Catholic network that was inspired by what Pat Robertson was doing. For me that is the biggest mistake. Who in their right mind could think that Pat Robertson was worth following or duplicating? I don’t understand that at all. In my opinion nothing good came from Pat Robertson. So already EWTN is founded on a rotting foundation. But you know what else popped into my mind as I put this post together? It appears as if there are some Catholics who think that modern evangelical Christianity has a lot that can teach the Catholic church. Why do some think that evangelicalism has much to offer? Evangelicalism as a system has deep flaws. To quote from C.S. Lewis why play in the mud when you can go swimming in the ocean? Evangelicalism represents the mud and the Catholic church represents the ocean. The other point that I am learning also is that Catholicism also its problem with fundamentalism also. For me that is sad even though fundamentalism can happen in many different forms. Hopefully these issues being brought forward can bring about change. 

3 thoughts on “Mother Angelica, The Catholic Culture Wars as Waged by Traditionalists and an Expose by National Catholic Reporter on EWTN

  1. Several years ago, I read a blog post about what the ancient churches can learn from Evangelicals about raising kids in the faith. Despite their drawbacks, Evangelical churches know how to get kids fired up for the faith and get them to read their Bibles. I’ve noticed in my local parish, even among the elders, people tend not to know what’s in their Bibles or even how to pronounce words/names that I learned back in Sunday School. Mother Angelica probably wanted that kind of fervor among Catholics.

    I remember watching EWTN a lot back when I was a catechumen in the Orthodox Church. They had a lot of masses, a Q&A show with a couple of priests/bishops, a show about converts from other faiths, and sermons by Bishop Fulton Sheen. I don’t recall much about politics. I liked watching because 1) I didn’t have a DVR then and nothing else was on, and 2) There wasn’t an Orthodox TV channel. A friend mentioned Mother Angelica once or twice, but I don’t recall seeing her. It seemed pretty harmless back then. I’ve heard about the radicalization of late. 😛 I wonder what Mother Angelica would think of our local Sisters of St. Agnes–They sure don’t fit the FOX mold. 🙂 I’m also not sure why Pope Francis is so excoriated when he really is quite conservative.

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