Where Peter Is on the Toxic Thing EWTN Has Become
As is their custom, Where Peter Is does sterling work covering the disastrous influence for evil EWTN now is in their ceaseless war on the Holy Father since their full transmogrification into FOX with smells and bells:
Perhaps last week’s news that EWTN had reshuffled its radio lineup, dismissing several longtime on-air voices including Gloria Purvis (who was outspoken this year about the US Church’s failure to address racism) and Fr. Larry Richards (who has been a staunch defender of Pope Francis), shouldn’t be surprising. After all, in recent months, the network’s political sycophancy and journalistic malpractice—which had already been quite egregious—only increased in the weeks following the presidential election. Still, for those of us who held out hope that there would be an intervention to bring the network more closely in line with the Magisterium and less blatant in its opposition to Pope Francis, this is a discouraging sign.
Back in March, I wrote about the appointment of Bishop Steven Raica to the Birmingham, Alabama diocese (home to EWTN) and the challenges he faced with a network that has become increasingly open in its support for right-wing political causes and candidates, and (especially on Raymond Arroyo’s weekly program The World Over) has regularly aligned itself with the positions of the Republican party over those of the Church when they are in conflict. At the time, I was hopeful. I wrote, “Ideally, EWTN’s trustees will recognize the dangerous adversarial path they’ve pursued and make the editorial and personnel decisions necessary to reverse course. It would benefit the entire Church if they resolved to bring themselves back into alignment with the Church of their own accord.”
Sadly, the changes at EWTN Radio (see this post by Deacon Greg Kandra for a roundup of the coverage), along with the following day’s news of the departure of JD Flynn and Ed Condon, two top editors at the EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency (CNA), suggest that such a course reversal isn’t in the works any time soon. It is true that we’ve had serious disagreements with CNA’s ideologically-influenced reporting on the Church and this papacy. Examples include CNA’s coverage of issues ranging from the indigenous prayer service held before the Amazon Synod in 2019, to its portrayal of Archbishop Charles Chaput as a supporter of Pope Francis, to its coverage of the German “Synodal Way,” to its reliance on statements from anonymous bishops to claim that Pope Francis condemned the ministry of Fr. James Martin, to its handling of the drama surrounding Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Still, Flynn and Condon rarely showed the same open hostility towards the pope as others in the organization.
Meanwhile, figures who are openly hostile towards the pope, including Raymond Arroyo (and his “papal posse” sidekicks Fr. Gerald Murray and Robert Royal), Edward Pentin (who Michael Sean Winters once said “works part-time as the Vatican correspondent for the Register and part-time as a cheerleader for the opposition to Pope Francis”), remain affiliated with the network.
In his book The Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church, Vatican journalist Christopher Lamb wrote about the growing concern in the Vatican about the increasing dissent at the network. Regarding why EWTN’s management continues to allow the broadcast of Arroyo’s continued subversion of the pope, Lamb writes, “Warsaw and EWTN defend Arroyo by saying that he has a large following and is untouchable due to his close links to Mother Angelica” (p. 92).
In another passage in the book, Lamb relays an account of an exchange between Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States and EWTN CEO Michael Warsaw: “Archbishop Pierre, according to my sources, was not pleased with Warsaw’s response during their conversation and felt that the EWTN boss was showing a distinct lack of courage. ‘You’re a coward,’ the nuncio told him. In December 2018, when EWTN asked the nuncio for an interview, he declined” (pp. 92-93).
I don’t have any inside information about why an ostensibly Catholic network has decided to shift into a hyper-political and anti-papal mouthpiece for alt-right Catholicism, but many journalists I’ve spoken to about this have echoed the old refrain, “Follow the money.” Is it possible that the network (in addition to the ideological commitments of its management) is beholden to satisfy its benefactors? Much has been said about EWTN board member Tim Busch and his influence over numerous Catholic organizations. But he’s not the only wealthy donor financing EWTN’s media output.
There is much more here. Read the whole thing.