By Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B.
EWTN and the Charismatic Movement – This is our primary article on EWTN. It comes from our book, The Truth about What Really Happened to the Catholic Church after Vatican II. This article explains the main problems with EWTN. It covers heresies that are promoted by EWTN and its foundress, Mother Angelica.
*Emphasis in this article (including bolding, underlining and italicization, is not necessarily that of the quoted author and is usually my own).*
A new book entitled A Network Gone Wrong (by Chris Ferrara, Good Counsel Publications, Pound Ridge, NY) was recently published. The book is being vigorously promoted by Nicholas Gruner’s apostolate. Gruner’s apostolate is even sending out free copies of this book. Simply put, the book is an all-out assault on the television network EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) which has become, according to the book, a network of apostasy since the departure of Mother Angelica from the reins of power.
Before I get to examining both the positive and negative parts of the book, the question that needs to be asked is why is Nicholas Gruner’s apostolate now promoting an all-out assault on EWTN – so much so that he is sending out free copies of this work on a massive scale? Is it simply because he is truly fed up with EWTN’s apostasy, and wants to let the whole world know about it? Why is he now promoting the idea that Mother Angelica is a hero whose removal from EWTN has been the downfall of the network into apostasy? Is this even true or is this a big lie? Were things really different under Mother Angelica? Is there some ulterior motive for his apostolate’s sudden and tremendous enthusiasm for attacking EWTN, and for defending Mother Angelica?
In this article, I hope to shed some light on these questions, for there is a major deception at work with the publication of this book – a deception about which traditional Catholics must be aware.
Much insight into the purpose of the book can be derived from examining the book’s thesis. The thesis of the book, repeated prominently throughout, is that EWTN has become a network of apostasy since the departure of Mother Angelica – as if it had not been a network of apostasy before that time!
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 5: “With Mother Angelica’s departure as the network’s signature personality by the end of 2001, the original vision of the network as a counter-Modernist force for a Catholic restoration was quickly lost and has never been recovered. Mother’s vision has been replaced by an ‘ecumenical,’ watered-down blandness, delivered largely by ex-Protestant ministers, combined with lame attempts at ‘cool’ Catholicism with a heavy emphasis on rock music.”
“Fr.” Nicholas Gruner, Letter on promotion of the book EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong: “All of these scandalous novelties are on EWTN! And they undermine the Faith! Over and over again, Catholics complain to us about EWTN’s scandals. Faithful and informed Catholics are disgusted with EWTN’s brand of ‘Catholicism.’ All of this has been happening since Mother Angelica gave up control of EWTN in March 2000 – 6 years ago.”
What a lie! For anyone who has just a little honesty and a little familiarity with the positions and programming of EWTN prior to Mother Angelica’s “departure” in 2000 or 2001 (whenever you want to date it), this statement is quickly seen to be an outrageous falsehood. Under the control of Mother Angelica, EWTN promoted the same false ecumenism, the same denial of Outside the Church There is No Salvation, the same rejection of the necessity for Protestants to convert (as exemplified on The Journey Home), the same type of Rock Music (Life on the Rock), etc. that Ferrara complains about and denounces in his book. During the reign of Mother Angelica, EWTN covered and promoted John Paul II’s interreligious apostasy – for instance, his Pan-Christian Encounter in 1999 and many other events with heretics and schismatics– it promoted the cult of John Paul II and, of course, it promoted the New Mass and Vatican II to the core, while rejecting independent traditionalists. (Jeff Cavins, by the way, said on EWTN radio that our material should be thrown in the trash.) EWTN was the same network of apostasy under Mother Angelica that it is now, with minor differences in programming, such as would change on any network from year to year. This, of course, is very obvious and well known to anyone who knows anything about the network (as Ferrara and Gruner certainly do) and is honest at all. In response to this book, even EWTN personality “Fr.” John Trigilio objected to the ridiculous assertion that everything has changed since the demise of the popular nun:
“Fr.” John Trigilio, in response to EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong: “I have known Reverend Mother Angelica these past ten years, along with Deacon Bill Steltemeier and many of the staff in production and programming, Internet services, the theology department, and so on. It is a gross distortion to infer that EWTN, since Mother’s stroke and subsequent absence from the camera, has deteriorated into a modernist, heterodox, sacrilegious agent of modern Catholic media.” (http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/abbott/060307)
To assert that EWTN has spiraled into apostasy and modernism and the promotion of the aforementioned things only since the departure of Mother Angelica is one of the biggest and most outrageous lies I’ve ever heard. But there is (in our view) a calculated purpose behind this outrageous lie.
Nicholas Gruner’s Fatima apostolate is losing steam. People are getting tired of hearing about his plans to petition Rome for the consecration of Russia. People know that Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) was one of the primary authors of the 2000 booklet which totally rejected Nicholas Gruner’s line on Fatima. Thus, there is little left for Gruner’s apostolate-of-petitioning the antipope. People know that Benedict XVI will hear none of it. So what is he going to do to pump new life into what is, in our opinion, a dying apostolate and a dying position? Enter the hugely popular nun, Mother Angelica, who is no longer in control at EWTN.
One way to pump new life into a dying – and compromising – apostolate is to ally oneself with another hugely popular personality, Mother Angelica. That is why Ferrara and Gruner aren’t honestly pointing out that EWTN was a network of apostasy when Mother Angelica was in control. Rather, they are promoting the ridiculous lie that EWTN has gone from an anti-modernist vision under Mother Angelica to an apostate network since her departure. Even the cover of the book is meant to promote this false idea. The cover of EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong features an obvious representation of the plump Mother Angelica, including her characteristic monstrance around the neck – but without her face. The point is obviously that EWTN has “gone wrong” since Mother Angelica was removed (hence no face) from power.
Thus, the purpose of the book – and the ridiculous lie at the heart of it – is to promote the false idea that EWTN forced Mother Angelica out because of her staunch “Catholicism,” and that EWTN has “gone wrong” as a result. Further, by his promotion of the book attacking the post-Angelica EWTN, Gruner can effectively create the impression that his apostolate is the defender of the famous nun. This, in turn, will shift the support of those (including possibly some of EWTN’s biggest benefactors) who love Mother Angelica from EWTN (their favorite nun’s network) – since EWTN supposedly doesn’t stand with her anymore – to the apostolate of “the Fatima priest,” who is now defending the “great” nun and her “counter-modernist” vision! This is the real purpose of the book and its outrageous lie. This real purpose can be ascertained by a careful reading, especially on pages such as 15, and in Gruner’s letter promoting the book:
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 15: “[the evidence will show]… that EWTN attacks and attempts to ostracize from the Church the defenders of Roman Catholic Tradition, and especially those, such as Father Nicholas Gruner, who defend the traditional Catholic understanding of the Message of Fatima and its prophetic relation to the crisis in the Church.”
Notice that the promotion of Gruner is an important part of the book.
“Fr.” Nicholas Gruner, Letter on his promotion of the new book on EWTN…: “Our sounding the alarm will no doubt provoke EWTN’s supporters. They will harp on good elements of EWTN’s programming (which this book does not deny). No doubt EWTN will repeat their attacks on me and the work of Our Lady’s Apostolate… Please read EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong with care. Then please take a few moments to give me your advice on the enclosed response form. Can I count on your support? If so, we shall distribute this book on a wider scale!”
Isn’t it interesting that just as Nicholas Gruner wouldn’t attack John Paul II as a heretic (even though John Paul II clearly was) because Gruner would have lost too much support, likewise Gruner didn’t decide to attack EWTN as the network of apostasy until the hugely popular nun, Mother Angelica, was out of power! With Mother Angelica out of power it not only doesn’t hurt Gruner to attack EWTN, but it can help him, as we see above. He can ally his own apostolate with the supposedly persecuted and very popular nun. That is why we find more outrageous statements in the book, such as the following:
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 5: “The robust Roman Catholicism the fiery Italian nun (formerly Rita Rizzo) exemplified is almost entirely gone from the network. As we will see, EWTN has even gone so far as to promote the Judaization of Catholic worship by a movement whose members insist upon calling themselves ‘Hebrew Catholics’.”
“The robust Roman Catholicism” of Mother Angelica! This is just a putrid lie from the pit of hell. During her “reign” at EWTN, Mother Angelica was an outspoken defender of the worst kind of false ecumenism, including with Jews. In one show we watched, Mother Angelica and Fr. Benedict Groeschel were discussing the recent death of “Cardinal” John O’Connor. Fr. Groeschel mentioned that the Jews held a Jewish service in St. Patrick’s Cathedral after the death of “Cardinal” John O’Connor. Groeschel, an incredible apostate, thought that the Jewish service in the Cathedral was a great thing. Mother Angelica also wasted no time in blurting out: “That’s awesome!” Thus, Mother Angelica held that the worst kind of false ecumenism – a Jewish service in St. Patrick’s Cathedral itself – is “awesome.”
Speaking about other religions in another show, Mother Angelica asserted with pure religious indifferentism that we all have the same God. She specifically said: “You call him Allah, and we call him Jesus.” For the Jubilee Year in 2000, Mother Angelica was repeatedly featured citing a Jubilee prayer. In the prayer, Mother Angelica mentioned the “great religions” of the world – a quotation of John Paul II’s and Paul VI’s frequent expression of religious indifferentism. On another show we saw with Mother Angelica, Alice Von Hildebrand (a woman who frequently appeared on EWTN) bluntly asserted that one can get to heaven as a Buddhist. The way it was stated not only indicated that Buddhists can be saved (which is heresy, of course), but that there is no obligation whatsoever for a Buddhist to be a Catholic – not even as “the ordinary means of salvation.” In the face of this tremendous heresy and religious indifferentism which was asserted right in front of her face, Mother Angelica posed no objection, and even commented with approval. But Ferrara and Gruner would have us believe that the apostate nun Mother Angelica had a “counter-modernist” vision, was a “robust” Roman Catholic, and was taking the network in a “militantly traditional direction” (p. 228)! Why would anyone promote such an evil lie? It’s because this lie serves to pump new life into Gruner’s dying apostolate by creating the false impression of an alliance with the supposedly “traditional” and persecuted Mother Angelica.
(By the way, the manifest heretic Alice Von Hildebrand, who bluntly stated that one can be saved as a Buddhist, is also featured as a contributor to the Latin Mass Magazine – a magazine to which Chris Ferrara, the author of this book against EWTN, contributes. It’s interesting that Chris Ferrara would complain about the apostasy of the EWTN personalities when, at the same time, the apostolate with which he is involved, The Latin Mass Magazine, features the same kind of heretics.)
SOME OTHER POINTS ABOUT THE BOOK
Now that I’ve discussed what is clearly, in my view, the primary purpose of the book, it’s important to discuss some other points. I do believe that Ferrara’s and Gruner’s desire to expose, in some fashion, the incredible apostasy of EWTN was an additional reason for the publication of the book. (The reason that I can confidently state that this is only a secondary reason – the promotion of Gruner by creating the impression of an alliance between Gruner and the supposedly “traditional” Mother Angelica being the primary reason for the book – is that if their intention were primarily to expose apostasy for what it is they wouldn’t lie about Mother Angelica’s “robust Catholicism,” but would expose her as well.)
In the book, there is much valuable information documenting the almost unbelievable heresies and apostasy promoted by the “Global Catholic Network.” Some of these points we’ve also made on our website; for instance, EWTN’s heretical show The Journey Home, which treats the conversion of Protestants as something nice, but completely unnecessary for salvation.
Among other things, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong documents how Fr. Benedict Groeschel (a huge figure at EWTN) not only turns away converts, says that he never “bought” that non-Catholics can’t be saved (a defined dogma), preached in “200 Protestant churches and a hundred synagogues,” declares that the sacraments are not necessary for salvation, and even denies that Our Lord even said “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you shall not have life in you” (John 6:54)! The book documents how EWTN’s “experts” totally reject the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation. EWTN’s “experts” inform non-Catholic inquirers – including a Jew who rejects Christ and the wife of an “Orthodox” schismatic wondering about her husband’s obligation to convert – that they are fine for heaven right where they are.
The book documents the astounding sexual perversion of “experts” featured on EWTN, such as Gregory Popcak, whose ideas I don’t consider fit to repeat in this article. Ferrara sums it up by pointing out that EWTN promotes a sexual Gnosticism and an NFP cult. Regarding Popcak’s views, he states: “That EWTN would showcase a man capable of such insane and blasphemous filth is almost impossible to believe, but such is the state of New Church theology” (p. 202).
Perhaps the most interesting part of the book concerns EWTN’s attempted Judaization of the Vatican II sect. The book documents how EWTN promotes an organization called the Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC). The Association of Hebrew Catholics is composed of supposed “converts” from Judaism. They are attempting to create, in effect, a Jewish sect inside the “Catholic Church.” This organization is headed by David Moss, who has been featured on EWTN numerous times. David Moss is the brother of Rosalind Moss, who also has hosted shows on EWTN and is employed by “Catholic Answers.” This AHC – composed of supposed converts from Judaism – promotes that Catholics converted from Judaism may continue to practice the Old Law (an idea solemnly condemned by the Council of Florence); it promotes that Catholics may and should celebrate Seder suppers; and it promotes that the “Church, beginning with Vatican II, has been revising its teachings regarding Jews and Judaism.” (p. 124)
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 146: “Putting aside the heresies that underlie the ‘Hebrew Catholic’ Judaization project, what would AHC’s Hebrew Catholic Community look like if, God forbid, the Church ever approved it? On EWTN’s The Journey Home, Moss gave a good indication of AHC’s plans in response to a question by e-mail about why Catholics do not celebrate the Jewish holidays ‘like Jesus and Mary did.’ Ignoring the Church’s teaching that the rituals and observances of the Mosaic law have been abolished with the New Covenant and that it is mortally sinful to observe them, Moss recommended that the Catholic inquirer ‘go to a local synagogue and watch what they do and listen to it. You can take part in a Seder,’ he added… Moss then recommended that Catholics follow suit [that is, follow the practice of ‘Messianic Jews’] by celebrating Passover and Rosh haShanah… This conclusion is supported by an item on AHC’s website entitled: ‘Through the Hebrew Catholic Year: A Collection of Traditions and Prayers for the Jewish Holidays for Catholics.’ Here AHC advocates a ‘Catholic’ celebration of Rosh haShanah, Yom Kippur, Succoth, Purim, Passover, Shavuoth, and Hanukkah, using prayers ‘adapted from traditional Jewish prayer books.’”
Moss also holds:
“The Church, said Moss, had become ‘sociologically Gentile’ over the past 1700-1800 years, and ‘the mission to Jews… has to be seen as a total failure.’ When Jews see the Catholic Church today, they will not enter because they see ‘a Gentile community, a Gentile religion.’ Therefore, Moss concluded, ‘the Association [of Hebrew Catholics] exists to remove that obstacle’ by advocating creation of a ‘Hebrew Catholic Community’ that will not be ‘sociologically Gentile.’ In other words, according to Moss, the Catholic religion founded by God Incarnate is too Gentile for the Jews. This objectively heretical opinion, a most terrible insult to Holy Church, passed without comment by host Grodi [on EWTN].” (Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 135)
Moss also holds:
“Moss said that a Jew would enter Messianic Judaism ‘much faster’ than he would enter the Catholic Church, ‘because they [Messianic Jews] can preserve who they are. They can be who God made them to be. And they can do that and believe in Jesus.’ But thanks to AHC, Moss claims, some Messianic Jews, ‘have moved into the Catholic Church because they have someone here in the Church that understands their issues.’ What Moss asserts here would be impossible to believe if it had not been uttered for all to hear on national television: He asserts that in the Holy Catholic Church founded by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, Jews cannot be what God made them to be, but that in Protestant sects founded by men they can be, because these sects allow them to follow Mosaic rituals and observances! To this he adds the amazingly impudent claim that his own man-made organization is the best vehicle for attracting Jews to the Catholic Church, because it alone understands their ‘issues.’” (Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 137)
Chris Ferrara sounds very much like a Catholic in many parts of his book critiquing and exposing this incredible outrage promoted by EWTN. However, he then proceeds to show that he is, in fact, very much a heretic by indicating that the obviously false “convert” and heretic, David Moss, is a true convert:
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 134: “During both shows Moss had good and pious things to say about Jesus, Mary and his own decision to become a Catholic, and I do not presume to judge the sincerity of his conversion.”
He doesn’t presume to judge the sincerity of his conversion? This is outrageous. Ferrara says essentially the same thing about a phony convert from Protestantism, who was featured on The Journey Home. This particular “convert” holds that Protestantism is an acceptable way to be a Christian.
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 99, on EWTN’s abandoning the return to Rome: “I am not suggesting for a moment that this man is not sincere in his desire to be a Catholic to live the Faith.”
Ferrara says essentially the same thing about every heretic he criticizes in his book:
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. viii: “Should anyone take the trouble to respond to this book, let him begin here, where the author stresses that he does not intend to suggest that any of the EWTN directors or celebrities mentioned critically in the following pages are all necessarily guilty of apostasy, Modernism, formal heresy or any other deliberate offense against the Faith. Such guilt is a matter of Divine Judgment, and the personal piety and sincerity of individuals is not in question here.”
To illustrate how evil this is, let’s look again at the case of the heretic David Moss. Since Ferrara doesn’t question the sincerity of Moss’s “conversion,” this means that Ferrara holds that one can be a true convert while believing that you can still practice the Old Law and attend the synagogue! As Ferrara’s pages prove, Moss rejects the solemn teaching of the Council of Florence on the cessation of the Old Law. Moss holds that Catholics should go to the synagogue. Moss holds that the Catholic Church’s teachings on the Jews have been revised since Vatican II. Moss holds that a Protestant sect’s teaching on how to deal with Jewish converts is preferable to the Catholic Church. Moss is not a believer in Jesus Christ, but a completely false convert. Yet, the heretic Ferrara doesn’t question the sincerity of his conversion. This shows us again how Gruner and those who write for him, such as Ferrara, mix truth with heresy; they mix Catholicism with apostasy; they mix good analysis with poisonous, faithless and heretical conclusions. That sums up the book, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, in a nutshell: it is a book which contains some good and true information mixed in with poisonous and heretical conclusions and a big lie as its thesis.
Some words must be said about these phony Jewish “converts” to the Vatican II sect. The question must be asked: why are these Jews so intent on preserving their Jewishness? Why do they have to make their Jewishness the center of everything? Can’t they understand what it means to “convert”? The answer is that these phony “converts” from Judaism haven’t really converted to Jesus Christ. If they did, they would understand that it’s not about them. God doesn’t care which false religion you came from; He cares that you have abandoned that false religion, and have now embraced the true religion of Jesus Christ. As St. Paul put it so well:
Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Judean nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
In other words, it’s not about you or your former Jewishness or your former whatever; it’s about Jesus Christ. These phony Jewish “converts” don’t understand this because they are not real believers in Christ, but in themselves. Sure, they’re able to intellectually accept the concept that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews, since it’s so obvious. But they are too proud to really, interiorly believe that Christ is the center, and that their past and their “heritage” is not. They need to retain their former Jewish identity as the center, because, in their blind pride, everything revolves around them. They are very deceived, and their pride is an abomination before God; it is why they do not come to the knowledge of the truth. I personally believe that some of these phony Jewish “converts” were motivated to join the Vatican II sect by the devil, so that he could use them as a vehicle for the Judaization of Catholic thinking. For instance, Roy Schoeman, a phony Jewish convert to the Vatican II sect, who exemplifies the type of heresy discussed above, has claimed visions. He is without question being used as an instrument of the devil.
This phenomenon of phony Jewish converts promoted by the Vatican II sect is another manifestation of the doctrine of Antichrist, and the fact that Rome has become, and the Vatican II sect is, the seat of the Antichrist. Jews who claim to believe in Christ purport to teach from inside the Church of Christ that one may practice the Jewish religion which denies Him.
Another interesting part of the book EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong is that in attacking EWTN, the author is very quick to toss around the words “heresy,” “apostasy” and “New Church.” He repeats these accusations throughout the book.
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 221 “So, here again, the New Church establishment condemns a defender of Tradition, Father Gruner, while endorsing yet another avenue to apostasy.”
Remember, Ferrara recently published a series of articles (to which we have a thorough refutation) denying that the Vatican II sect and its “popes” are heretical, apostate or a New Church. He told everyone to “Show us the heresy,” as if there is no heresy from the Vatican II “popes”! He loves to toss around the words “heresy” and “apostasy” – and tell us that it is a “New Church” – when it serves his purposes, such as in attacking EWTN; but when it comes to the heresy and apostasy of the Vatican II antipopes he denies that it exists. This is truly despicable. Does anyone believe for a moment that EWTN is worse than Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as if the former teaches “heresy” but the latter do not? It’s absurd and ridiculous.
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. vii: “For these reasons, the author concludes, EWTN… must now be considered one of the foremost agents of Modernist apostasy in the Church and a positive danger to the welfare of souls, despite certain good elements of its programming… 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 worst novelties of the ear after Vatican II. While EWTN was once a sign of hope for a Catholic restoration, it has become instead a major factor in the Modernist innovation of the Church since the Council: a mixture of truth and error, orthodoxy and heresy, the sacred and the profane.”
With this I’ve come to the conclusion of my review of this new book on EWTN. More could be said, but the reader should get the idea. In closing I will quote an interesting point made in the book:
Chris Ferrara, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, p. 8: “Here it is necessary to address a threshold objection that will certainly be raised to any suggestion that EWTN is less than the ‘gold standard’ of Roman Catholicism today. The objection goes something like this: ‘Why criticize EWTN, when EWTN is the most Catholic thing out there?’ Let me reply immediately that Catholics, as confirmed soldiers of Christ, have a duty before God not to settle for ‘the most Catholic thing out there,’ but rather to demand the Catholic Faith in all its integrity from anyone who undertakes to present the Faith to the public. If ‘the most Catholic thing out there’ turns out, upon close examination, to be a mixture of truth with error, orthodoxy and heresy, Tradition and appalling novelty, the sacred and the profane – and I will show here that this is exactly what EWTN has become – then one must avoid ‘the most Catholic thing out there’ like the plague, because one’s faith will tend inevitably to be undermined by exposure to this heterodox mixture.”
Excellent point. That is precisely why this article has been written. The book EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong does this very thing: it mixes truth with error, orthodoxy with heresy, Catholicism with apostasy, good analysis with faithless conclusions. It’s a danger to one’s faith despite the good in it. And at its center there is a big lie.