On EWTN’s Diabolical Inversion

Published November 20, 2020
The curious place of apes in Christian art

One of the medieval images of the devil is as the Ape of God.

That is, the devil tends to offer parodies of the things of God. As Tolkien remarks of Sauron, the demonic power of his own sub-creation: he cannot make; he can only mock.

Satan does three things in the biblical tradition: he lies, accuses, and tempts. That is, he parodies God’s creative Word, His loving rebuke of sin, and his promises of blessing.

And what is striking about MAGA Qhristianity is that it does all these things consistently too.

Benedict XVI remarked:

“We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

What amazes me about this remark is that it describes perfectly what the MAGA Qatholics who constantly invoke Benedict’s name worship in their raw, nihilist, truth-free adoration of a dimestore antichrist disciple of the Father of Lies.

Examples are too numerous to display here, so I will limit it to just one: the recent “interview” of papal accuser Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano by Raymond Arroyo on EWTN. Mike Lewis of Where Peter Is has the story:

Last Thursday, November 12, at 8 p.m. EST, an interview between Raymond Arroyo and the former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, aired on Arroyo’s weekly show, The World Over. Following the broadcast, videos of the interview, a discussion between Arroyo and his so-called “papal posse,” and the full episode were posted to the network’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

While I didn’t see the interview during its original broadcast, I was alerted to the headline of an article about the interview on LifeSiteNews: “Viganò skewers McCarrick Report on EWTN: ‘Bergoglio is to the deep church as Biden is to the deep state’” The timestamp on this article says “Thu Nov 12, 2020 – 8:50 pm EST.” In other words, it was posted shortly after the interview aired, and even before the program ended.

I was intrigued by this, in part because I was somewhat surprised that EWTN had fallen that far down the rabbit hole, and in part because I was curious about what else he might have said. EWTN, despite its clear antipathy and opposition to the Holy Father, has thus far striven to maintain a veneer of “respect” for Pope Francis, and—to my knowledge, anyway—has not yet indulged in the wildest QAnon-related conspiracy theories that other reactionary Catholic outlets and figures typically embrace.

First point: Liesite News, passionate haters of this Pope, prominently feature an absolutely nutty quote from Vigano they say they got from Raymond Arroyo’s “interview” with Vigano. We continue:

In the early morning hours of the next day, Vatican reporter Edward Pentin posted a tweet about an “exclusive” transcript of this interview on the website of the National Catholic Register.

When I read this transcript, I noticed that it omits the “deep church” line. This was strange. Where the LifeSite story quotes him as saying, “the evidence of the facts demonstrates the opposite. I would say that Bergoglio is to the deep church as Biden is to the deep state,” the Register’s transcript stops at the word “opposite.” I checked the YouTube video (cued here to several seconds before the missing statement). At around 21:25—the point at which the “deep church” line should appear, the video cuts from a photograph of Viganò to a reaction shot of Arroyo and moves on the the following paragraph:

Second point: the extremely nutty quote which Liesite featured as their headline was excised by the Register and EWTN both from the video and from their transcript of the “interview”.

Was it a mistake by Liesite in their zeal to nail Francis?

Only if it was a mistake by a bunch of other Francis-hating accusers too:

Meanwhile, I was directed to several reactionary Catholic websites that also purported to have the “complete” transcript of the interview, including LifeSiteNewsOne Peter FiveCatholic Family News, and GloriaTV. All of these transcripts included the “deep church” line, as well as other content that was not featured in the EWTN interview.

This seemed very odd. How did these outlets obtain and publish transcripts of an interview so soon after the program, why were they all identical to each other, and why did they not match the transcript published by the Register (an EWTN-affiliated outlet)?

Yet, Arroyo continued to lie that the EWTN transcript was complete:

So what happened? Mike Lewis explains:

At this point, things started to look really fishy. I couldn’t understand how the same interview had two different transcripts. Despite Arroyo’s insistence, it was clear that EWTN had made cuts. I also found small discrepancies—a word or two here and there—between the transcripts in addition to the missing sections of the Register’s transcript. Additionally, I noticed that there was one question and answer in the Register’s transcript that didn’t appear in the “alternative” versions. Then I stumbled upon a PDF transcript of the interview on an Italian website on Viganò’s letterhead.

Finally, things seemed to start becoming clearer. It was now apparent that Viganò must have sent out the script to numerous friendly outlets and permitted them to publish it in full after midnight Eastern time (based on the timestamps on the articles) following the broadcast. The editors of LifeSite must have been so excited by the “deep church” line that they decided to publish their short piece about it immediately after the interview aired.

There were other things that struck me as odd about the video of interview. For one thing, at the very beginning we don’t hear Viganò greet Arroyo. In fact, Viganò doesn’t say a word until he launches into a paragraph-long response to the first question. There was very little (if any) direct interaction between Viganò and Arroyo the entire interview. Viganò spoke in long, multi-sentence monologues in response to each of the questions, while Arroyo nodded along with a look of keen interest on his face. Was it possible that he was talking to a recording of Viganò’s voice and it wasn’t a real interview at all?

In the labyrinthine lie machine that is now Francis-hating media, the liar Vigano outlied the liar Arroyo by getting his full remarks to the more ferocious accusers of the pope at Liesite and other venues, while the cowardly liar Arroyo tried to deny that his prize “interviewee” said any such thing, because ETWN likes to encourage rebellion against the pope, but not too blatantly. And they like to cover up the fact that Vigano is a raging paranoid kook in order to prop him up as a Folk Hero antipope.

Arroyo then attempted to lie about Mike Lewis, while disgustingly using the recent death of his mother as a weapon:

But it was no good. Lewis soon sussed out the layer upon layer of lies and deceit from Arroyo and EWTN, designed to help Vigano continue his war on Francis while muting his most crazy assertions to make him sound reasonable:

Confirmation came in the form of Robert Moynihan’s ”Inside the Vatican” Letter #37, which arrived in my inbox the following evening and now appears on his website. This letter not only contains a combined transcript, but makes parenthetical notes of the parts that were cut from the EWTN broadcast. It also confirms that most of the interview was pre-scripted.

Additionally, the letter confirms that the EWTN version of the interview was edited, making a note near the beginning that says:

“The entire text originally prepared for this Arroyo-Viganò interview is below in its entirety; the broadcast interview does not have the complete prepared text, because some prepared sections were omitted from the broadcast interview.”

Towards the end, he adds this “Special Note”:

“The following question and answer were not in the prepared interview. So this is the sole question and answer which were completely extemporaneous…”

In addition to the aforementioned “deep church” quote, statements removed from Viganò’s transcript by EWTN include mentions of secretive networks of nefarious people (“The same connections, the same complicities, the same acquaintances always recur: McCarrick, Clinton, Biden, the Democrats, and the Modernists, along with a procession of homosexuals and molesters that is not irrelevant”). He suggests that Francis is an illegitimate pope when he states that Benedict XVI “is too meek to blatantly disavow his successor by calling him a liar and discrediting him, as well as the function he holds.”

Additionally, the EWTN version of the interview omits Viganò’s closing rant:

“In this grotesque farce, now cloaked in a false semblance of legalism, there is no hesitation to drag the entire Church through the mud – its prestige before the world, its authority over the faithful – in order to save the now-compromised image of corrupt, unworthy, depraved prelates. I limit myself to observing that even now, in the Vatican, Bergoglio still surrounds himself with notorious homosexuals and people with gravely compromised reputations. This is the most blatant disavowal of Bergoglio’s supposed moralizing work.”

The point is simply this. A “news” network and a “journalist” that behaves this way is, not to put too fine a point on it, lying. It embodies what Benedict XVI is talking about when he describes the “dictatorship of relativism”. Arroyo and EWTN have goals, not principles and will say anything or suppress any fact in order to achieve their end. That they peddle these lies under the label “Eternal Word” is a blasphemous and diabolical inversion of their once-Catholic mission of speaking the truth. They are lying, accusing, and tempting, all at once. And they know it.

Their end is all too clear in this case, and has been for several years: the destruction of this pope by any means necessary. And by their torrent of MAGA-adoring/Francis-hating lies and accusations they tempt their viewers, not to believe that they tell the truth and the pope is an enemy, but far more insidiously, that there is no such thing as truth–only raw, nihilist power.

This is what MAGA Qatholicism has become in its whole-hearted embrace of Donald Trump and its whole-hearted rejection of the Magisterium.

They are fulfilling the warning Jesus gave his enemies:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

There is only one thing to say to People of the Lie:

Repent.

25 Responses

  1. I wonder how Mother Angelica would react to what happened to EWTN. I mean, it’s clear that nobody becomes a monster overnight, and people can hold the same views and opinions their entire life, but suppress them until there’s a chance to express them. Or, some views find their expression as soon as circumstances start favoring them.
    Just one such example is with BLM movement. You could have been a white supremacist and never realized it because you were completely comfortable. But when those upstarts began to demand something, it suddenly released all the hatred you were hiding within you. Some people were rightly terrified by that and repented, others, well, embraced and integrated it into their piety.
    (No point going into other topics.)

    Thinking about the election, by the end of the day, a lot of people voted for Trump.
    When he is finally gone as President and the GOP breathes a collective sigh of relief, because Trump was an albatross hanging from their neck, there’s no reason to believe that their voter base will now understand the error of their ways, repent and force change to the GOP from within.
    A lot of people embraced MAGA rhetoric and keeps its ideals at heart.
    Public opinion of Biden will shift negatively (always happens to all politicians). If he resigns due to health or age, people will soon be disaffected with Vice President Harris (because that’s what always happens). It takes an extraordinary politician to maintain high approval rates. While I trust that Biden has what it takes, a lot can happen in four years.
    Honestly? Mike Pence has a real shot at presidency in four years. I doubt Republicans will just drop MAGA rhetoric, as it still unites people under their banner, it’s possible for them to moderate their language, keep their supporters happy, but at the same time convince the undecided, since they’re no longer going to be voting for Trump. He set the bar really low, so if people still voted for him, somebody just marginally better will easily get majority vote in four years.
    After all, even though Trump was a mistake, he was the only serious Republican candidate since he was incumbent and they couldn’t just say that he did a bad job, even if most Republicans considered him incompetent and wanted to get rid of him.

  2. First, thank you Mark and Mike Lewis for sussing out the truth. I read the other day that the bishops were concerned that President-elect Biden’s views on abortion would “confuse Catholics.” I respectfully submit that Catholics know church teaching regarding abortion. Heck, even non-Catholics do. What is co fusing and what the bishops need to actually tackle are people like Frank Pavone, Father Altman and other priests who put their politics above their faith. They are the people who confuse Catholics. They also need to handle their brother bishops who also cross that line (Bishop Strickland I’m looking at you). I wish there was a way to take care of Archbishop Vigano, another part of the problem.

    Then the bishops need to stop supporting EWTN. People like Raymond Arroyo, Laura Ingraham, Abby Johnson, Taylor Marshall, and others need to be publicly rebuked for the lies and confusion they sow. There are a number of websites that need repudiation as well, like Crisis, First Things and Lifesite. They are plenty of others. I’ve barely scratched the surface here. I’d like to see Opus Dei handle it’s more outspoken folks too (ie, Austin Ruse).

    There bishops. Start with these very public, very confusing problems first. Then continue to work on rooting out sexual abuse and institutional racism in the church. Another thing. You need to stop tying the church to the Republican party and find a new strategy that is focused only on words and promises to end abortion.

    It is all these things that truly confuse Catholics. If you actually tackle these problems, I might be able to take you seriously again.

    Thanks again, Mark.

    1. ” I respectfully submit that Catholics know church teaching regarding abortion. ”

      Kate, unfortunately, a very large number of them do not, or at least, believe they can validly hold beliefs that contradict Catholic teaching about abortion. 56% of Catholics in a recent Pew survey responded that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. I certainly do think it is a concern that president-elect Biden’s prominent support of abortion will reinforce these Catholics in that belief, and lead others to the same. Also, considering how to respond to Mr. Biden’s publicly stated beliefs should not be seen as in opposition to responding to a priest proposing an absolute moral obligation to vote for a certain candidate, for example. “Both…and…” not “Either…or…”

      This is a tangent off the topic of Mark’s post I know, but I find it simpler to discuss.

      I’m unfortunately* not in a position to have the time or energy to really critically evaluate all the accusations flying back and forth over the McCarrick report. Mainly, I’m disturbed by the evident division in the Church, plus hurt and disgusted by the spiteful attitudes so many people are exhibiting towards fellow Catholics as they make the case for conclusions one way or the other on the matter.

      * Or perhaps providentially. I’m not convinced it is spiritually healthy for the overwhelming majority of us who do not have a role in determining the Church’s response to the McCarrick report to get ourselves emotionally or intellectually invested in it.

      1. @ lucky

        I’m not a Catholic, so I don’t have a cassock in this race. But I am concerned about freedom of religion, and keeping purely theological concerns out of the civil law that governs of all of us.

        I think Catholics are quite well aware of church teaching on the subject of abortion. But what is obvious is that a majority are not concerned about it, just as the vast majority of American and European catholics are not at all concerned about the church‘s position on birth control. Declaring that some Catholics are true Catholics and other Catholics are not true Catholics is just more of the same divisive approach that you are otherwise unhappy about.

        Speaking of which, another thing that produces a great deal of division is the idea that Mr. Biden, or the Democratic Party “prominently support abortion.” the pro life industry wants to claim that they are pro life, and not merely antiabortion. As Mark has noted repeatedly, and one can find in these very pages, they are pro fetus, not pro life, as 250,000 dead Americans can attest, or would if they didn’t happen to be dead. Just so! Mr. Biden, the Democratic Party, and little old me do not support abortion. What we support is the right to choose, the right to run one’s life without interference of the church or the state, and certainly, not forcing one particular religious viewpoint on a bunch of religious people who don’t share that religious viewpoint.. I know that’s not how antiabortion Catholics see it, but that really is how we see it. As Bill Clinton said many years ago, I would like to see abortion safe, legal, and rare. As Mark has noted, funding for Planned Parenthood has always increased under Republican administrations, as has abortion itself.

        People who may be sincerely pro-life— a number on these very pages— should understand that after 50 years, the pro-life industry— and it most assuredly is an industry, a very lucrative one – has been scamming them for power, money, and dominion. I think Mark agrees, and has a few more choice words than I do to apply to it.

        We gay people have made far more inroads on public attitudes concerning sexuality, family, and marriage in the last 25 years then the anti-abortion industry has done for 50. ESPECIALLY among Catholics .That alone should be a real clue to you.

      2. You know, Lucky, I think you might be right. More likely though I suspect the truth is that people choose to disagree with church teaching. But that’s still not confusion. I share your your disturbance with how divided our church is. I strive really hard to understand not only church teaching, but how different people respond. I’m personally frustrated by the lack of cooperation and effort to resolve problems our nation is facing. I’m sick and tired of the current situation we find ourselves in as a church, and as a country. I feel like it’s become a game to some people. Politics is not a zero-sum game. What we say and most importantly what we do actually affects others. I’ve been unemployed since March. My benefits have run out. My workplace is still closed. I’m in human services working with people with developmental disabilities. My child, who also has a developmental disability, has been remote learning for 9 months now. Congress can’t be bothered to pass any aid, but they can go home for Thanksgiving break. People have been so selfish, refusing to wear masks and do anything that possibly infringes on their freedom. I have a significant minority of fellow Catholics who have bought into the conspiracy theories and all of the crap that passes for political and church discourse today. I’m sick at heart and so very disappointed in my country and church.

      3. I think Kate has it. I honestly don’t know any adults who are unaware of the Church’s teaching on abortion. This goes for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. They know, but choose to believe differently.

        I find it more believable that most Catholics are simply unaware that the Mass is a sacrifice and that the Real Presence is a thing. The Church spends significantly less effort teaching and reinforcing those truths than it does promoting the pro life cause. Those issues also tend not to come up in secular/political discourse and news.

    2. @ kate

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. A lot of people are facing this. But I want to make what I hope is a correction. I believe that the house already passed the second stimulus/assistance bill, but the Senate refused to hear it. If this is true, In that case, it’s another example of the republican party not really caring too much about Americans.

      But I have to say I don’t really have time to research it right now. Maybe somebody else can provide the facts, rather than my aging memory.

  3. I see I have a few typos. The one that needs correction is about not only focusing on what Republicans say and promise about abortion. We need to hold them responsible for their lack of action on abortion specifically and for endorsing policies that shred the safety net for our most vulnerable -the poor, the elderly, children and the disabled. Otherwise, we have a strong anti-abortion law in Texas, but no public funding for children who need early intervention services. I am a mother of an autistic child. Such services make all the difference in outcomes.

    It’s these kind of injustices that cry out to heaven. These are things the bishops need to stand for. They need to cut down the eugenic, libertarian tares that have grown in the church’s wheat fields.

    Okay. Off my soapbox now.

    1. “We need to hold them responsible for their lack of action on abortion”
      This! Very much this! Americans put up with things they disagree with because they genuinely believed it would end abortion. Since it’s such a great evil, many Americans thought it’s worthwhile to sacrifice other things and they can wait.

      On the one hand, if it’s such an urgent issue, then making abortion illegal right away would be the easy fix that proved that they keep true to their word.

      On the other hand, it would have involved strong backlash and you could argue that it would be a political suicide and the next government would declare abortion legal again.
      So let’s suppose they understand the subtlety and realize that it takes more than simply declaring abortion illegal. This involves making safety net programs and helping people out of poverty. Once that is done, they’re free to say they made abortion undesirable and that the only cases of abortion which remain are purely elective and performed purely for personal luxury, and therefore they are declaring abortion illegal.

      Neither of these has happened. Abortion was not made illegal and Republicans brought America no closer to ending poverty or helping mothers with their decision not to kill their unborn baby.

  4. EWTN has lost all semblance of decency and credibility. Raymond Arroyo? Words don’t suffice.

    So Carlo Maria would have us believe that “Bergoglio” was plotting a deep Church insurrection (while riding the bus from his little apartment in Argentina, fulfilling his pastoral duties) while he, Carlo, was sipping champagne with McCarrick at parties?

    He needs to close his eyes and ask himself why “humble Benedict” removed him from his Vatican job in the first place, exiled him to the U.S. and refused to answer his letters of supplication to return.

    It would take an act of God to make me ever believe in these EWTN/NCRegister zealots again. Good God.

    Look at what a steady diet of secret sauce has reduced them to.

      1. Raymond Arroyo stops me dead in my tracks. My husband laughs heartily. He enjoys Fox News as rare comedy, switching channels only when we start crying out in pain and throwing things at him.

        Two nights ago, Raymond was fawning,flitting and pirouetting around hatchet-voiced Laura Ingraham –lamenting that this silly, silly flu was ruining Mardi Gras festivities. It was like a scene straight out of Mean Girls where the girls are in a huddle talking smack but the alpha can barely mask her contempt for the desperate-to-please interloper.

      1. You’re preachin’ to the choir, brother.

        Don’t get me wrong. I’d never let him babysit kids. But I LOVE his movies. Infinity!

  5. As I wrote to an evangelical friend of mine a few weeks ago – and yes, I do have one – you guys are going to have one hell of a mess to clean up in your church, in all senses of the word.

    1. Well, we’ve had a hell of a mess to clean up in our church from the very start. It’s almost like it’s filled with real human beings who, although believing we’ve got the scoop on the Truth, still deal with just as strong of temptation to be weak, self-serving, and even malicious as everyone else.

      You may have seen before the wry observation offered that the most certain proof that can be given that the Church was founded by Christ and is guided by the Holy Spirit is that in 2,000 years, it hasn’t been destroyed by its own members. It’s not entirely seriously logic, but it’s certainly not entirely a joke, either.

  6. What really took the cake was Raymond’s public response, in the last two minutes of his show last night. He didn’t answer the real questions, instead knocking down straw men, attempting to talk down to Mike in a vaguely threatening way, accusing him of attacking from a little social media bunker (apparently missing the irony with respect to vigano’s bunker … And also threw in a reference to papal biographers (Austen Ivereigh) ..It was breathtaking.

    To think, I put them between my “gas and electric bill” as Mother used to say, many times in 99-00 time frame, back when Mark Shea was on the network…I think I’ll put that money in small time blogger coffers instead

  7. We have these factions in the Greek Orthodox Church right now, too. The metropolitan and the archbishop are trying to make changes which are evidence of their EVIL, according to some bloggers, especially because they support the Patriarch, who is also EVIL for some reason I’ve never quite understood.

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