A reader writes because they are leery of EWTN and want my opinion. Short answer: they are right to be leery, but for all the wrong reasons:
Here’s the letter:
Hello Mark, I would like your views on EWTN. I nave been watching mass daily for many years through EWTN. However it appears that things have been changing quite a bit with EWTN and their priests! This mornings mass was given by a priest who about a few months ago made reference to the great need for Humanism in the church! I was outraged and contacted EWTN. The operator acknowledged that yes many viewers were calling in to complain about this priest. The priest has since been given masses at EWTN and has toned it down a bit. However this morning during his homily he made reference to the fact that” Nationalism is not such a great idea as he said other nations have a right to prosperity and success as well! He made reference that we have to be a Universal family and give brotherhood and love to all”. He also said to pray for the advancement of Ecumenism throughout the world”. Now, I am a Catholic! I understand about loving others and caring for others as well as acts of charity! However, I believe that this priest amongst others is pushing the socialist communist agenda, however making the appeal very enticing to Catholics! My gut feeling has been to turn this station off, What are your thoughts on this? I greatly would appreciate any feedback! Thank you.
I think you are right to be leery of EWTN, but for all the wrong reasons. I do not think you are thinking with the Tradition, but with a lot of right wing culture war stuff that many American Catholics mistake for the Tradition or “orthodoxy”.
For instance, there is nothing dirty about the term “humanism” properly understood in a Christian context for the very good reason that God the Son is, himself, a human being and human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. Your reflexive reaction, which hears “secular humanism” whenever somebody says the word “humanism” is not something that comes from the Catholic tradition, but from things like Talk Radio and FOX News and right wing Evangelicalism. Pope Benedict did not call for the repudiation of humanism, nor denounce it as intrinsically oppose to the Faith, but instead called for a “new humanism”. That is because the Faith affirms, not rejects, what is human since Jesus blesses our humanity and shares in it. I beg you: think with the Faith and not with simplistic right wing slogans and kneejerk fears.
As to nationalism, the priest was dead right. It is a diabolical and demonic heresy, radically opposed to the Catholic faith. Many people confuse it with patriotism but it is a monstrous perversion of patriotism. A healthy patriotism is about love of neighbor and respects those in other countries who love their home as a patriot loves his. Nationalism is about the sin of pride, not healthy love, and regards all countries but one’s own with contempt. It cannot possibly be reconciled with the Faith and it comes from Hell.
As to Ecumenism, it is entirely unrelated to questions of patriotism or nationalism and is about the love and respect Christians of different communions owe one another. It is taught by the Church and you should educate yourself about it. Nothing the priest said, at least based on what you report, has the slightest thing to do with socialism or communism. I beg of you: learn what the Church actually teaches and do not let yourself be blown about by every wind of rumor and fear that right-wing media tells your to tremble about.
Ironically, that is the real problem with EWTN. They have spent years teaching their viewers to live in terror that the Magisterium and this pope cannot be trusted and that sinister “infiltrators” are everywhere, subverting the Faith. It is dangerous and toxic nonsense and can only result in the destruction of your soul. Listen to and learn from the Magisterium and do not put your trust in right wing propaganda at war with the Church. Neither the Holy Father nor the Magisterium are the enemy. Jesus’ promise to the Church that the gates of hell will not prevail will not and cannot fail. Have hope and learn to think with the mind of Christ.