Is EWTN too Fundamentalist?

Given its huge and growing part in spreading and often defending the faith, I’m beginning to wonder if EWTN is too fundamentalist and often reductionist for the good of the Catholic faith? Don’t get me wrong I really like most of EWTN, it certainly has brought me closer to the faith and it’s a great means of international apologetics, but there are certain things what are beginning to concern me – and there are now times I immediately switch the channel these days.

EWTN often reduces the idea of legitimate positions to one (when there is more than one) and often with their own strange theories. I would have less problems with them if they were humbler, gave a variety of possible positions, and let people see and realize it is not so simplistic and hence fundamentalist as they make it out to be. EWTN rarely seems to take a wrong position, but it OFTEN excludes/denigrates other legitimate positions and I find that to be VERY fundamentalist.

There is also the matter of hubris and downright meanness. Take the misrepresentation of Cardinal Mahony’s infamous letter from years ago. Whatever one thinks of the Cardinal, you don’t misrepresent him, claim he is a heretic, and tell people to give him zero obedience, etc. Exceedingly bad form. Then Raymond Arroyo spends how many pages in his book seemingly celebrating this most lamentable behavior? What was the purpose of all hubris? To educate? To warn? I don’t think so.

Speaking of Cardinal Mahony, there is also the matter of pettiness. No matter what your feeling about the structure, the building of LA’s Cathedral was a monumental process, yet EWTN didn’t even bother to cover its opening. When I asked why they didn’t on one of their Q&A forums, I was met with a very petulant “because we were not invited.” Oh, is that so? C’mon…

EWTN seems to be VERY appealing to Catholics who want everything rigidly cut-n-dried and simplistic – much like some of our Fundamentalist Protestant Brethren. It certainly appealed greatly to me when I knew even less about the faith then I do today. I worry however that many are receiving an intolerant formation from EWTN – particularly in the area of apologetics and that ultimately it’s going to harm the Church.

Lermont, could you explain what you mean by ‘*fundamentalist’ *and ‘reductionist’ in relation to EWTN please. Could you please give some current examples of your dissatisfaction with EWTN; I was not watching EWTN during the Cardinal Mahoney kerfuffle in 1997 and so can’t comment on it. Could you give some examples of EWTN’s 'strange theories’
and instances when they either excluded or denigrated 'other legitimate positions.'
I watch EWTN a fair bit and I can’t say I have noticed any of the above.

Could it possibly be the reverse of what you think?

Perhaps you could give an example?

I have some problems with EWTN (not doctrinal ones- I just don’t get much out of most of the shows any more, and they seem to show the most the ones I like the least), but I don’t think it is too “fundamentalist”.

EWTN began at a time in the Church- which is still a problem today- when many people weren’t sure what the Church taught. There were too many “options” being given. Part of Mother Angelica’s intent with EWTN was to give people one position- the Church’s position. If the Church didn’t take a position, or gave more than one option, they took a position- usually the more traditional one- to keep things simple so people would know what the Church stood for.

Everyone can make mistakes. Mother Angelica appologized to the Cardinal for any misunderstanding, but when Catholics are more ignorant of their faith than ever before, and a bishop writes something that seems to cause further confusion, someone has to step up and explain things. There have also been many problems in the Church with priests and bishops not teaching what they should be teaching. Raymond Arroyo gives examples of many situations in his book, and explains how Mother Angelica and EWTN set the record straight.

They aren’t going to go everywhere. There are many important events in the Church. They aren’t going to go to one diocese’s cathedral dedication without invitation- particularly when they don’t see eye to eye with the cardinal on many things.

EWTN, Catholic Answers, and all these other sources are here to help you in basic areas of the Faith. If your spiritual life is healthy, you’re going to need something else- this just doesn’t cut it.

My golly. Whenever anybody dislikes a clamping down on doctrine, immediately, that person is labeled a “Fundamentalist.” To paraphrase “The Princess Bride”, “I don’t think you know what that word really means.”

Fundamentalists came about at the turn of the century, as a response mostly to Darwinism and the Scopes trial. Seeing a movement to eradicate Scriptures from public schools, a couple of authors came out with a series of scholarly articles called “The Fundamentals.” These came down to five non-negotiables:

*]Inerrancy of the Scriptures
*]The virgin birth and the deity of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14)
*]The doctrine of substitutionary atonement through God’s grace and human faith (Hebrews 9)
*]The bodily resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28)
*]The authenticity of Christ’s miracles (or, alternatively, his pre-millennial second coming)

Certainly a Catholic can hold all five positions, even though he may have disagreements with interpretation as to whether “inerrancy of the Scriptures” means literalism or not.

Anybody else who uses “Fundamentalist” as a prejoritave term to label a group they don’t like, has lost his street-cred instantly.


P.S. The author, Raymond Arroyo, shares in the book how he made numerous attempts to get Roger Cardinal Mahony’s side of the conflict, with very little results (save for a brief, terse encounter in a hotel elevator). Mahony’s stock has greatly fallen since then, partially because the cathedral he built was… um… UGLY, and partially because he has become known as the worst pedophile priest shielder in the country. Mother Angelica did apologize to Mahony, but she also clarified her statements that his document on the Eucharist to be most confusing to the laity, downplaying transubstantiation, subjecting this most incredible doctrine to a mere footnote.

Where was her intent ever elucidated? That’s pretty serious stuff – you think it would be on the network’s masthead if it is the intent. If what you say is true – if there actually is a conscious decision by EWTN to exclude legitimate positions to “keep things simple” then that is terribly problematic. It’s also fundamentalist.

That’s just it though – the Church’s position is not always singular nor is it always simple to understand. One popular presenter on EWTN continually hammers on and on about Covenant Theology (no doubt heavily influenced by his exposure to the British Westminster Confession of Faith as a former Presbyterian.) Nothing wrong with Covenant Theology as it’s quite legitimate within the Church yet this person continually tries to present it as if it was the only game in town and it’s not – not by a long shot.

Her “apology” highlighted the hubris and meanness that I mentioned. If she truly believes and understands the Church she would know quite clearly that it wasn’t her job to “to step up and explain things” by trashing the cardinal. Arroyo’s words on the matter were nothing more than cheap entertainment.

That’s ridiculous. The opening of that cathedral was easily the biggest event of its kind in the USA in at least the last 50 years, maybe more, in by far the largest diocese in the USA. It was a big deal. It’s too bad that EWTN (and perhaps also the cardinal) couldn’t swallow their pride in order to cover such a historical event.

I’m not at all sure what authority you are using to make your last comment. EWTN and to a lesser extent CA covers some fairly ADVANCED areas of the faith.

No. I am speaking about EWTNs apparent limiting of legitimate positions.

Yeah, and?


So you say. Some of EWTN’s programming has lost its “street-cred” (sic) long ago with a great many. Like it or not however, the term “fundamentalist” is properly applied with a wider brush than the definition you provided would suggest.


Mother’s and Raymond’s stock plummeted in my eyes when I read that garbage. Not because I am a big fan of the cardinal’s, but because of the hubris, pride and meanness of her actions AND his writing, as illustrated in his book.

My point stands. You do not understand the term “fundamentalist”, nor is the term “fundamentalist” appropriate in the question that you presented. Certainly the term has changed throughout the years, moreso as a pejorative, deragatory and inflammatory sense… but not in the true sense of the word.

So, in essence, you are the one who has the hubris. Take the log out of your own eye.

It’s ironic that you mention this on Karl Keating’s board… he gave a lecture years ago about “Catholic Fundamentalism”, where he proved that it doesn’t exist, except in the imaginations of particular Catholic who think it’s okay to go against Church teaching.


Once more, examples please.

It is as it is.

No, it’s barely a blip on the Church’s radar. Yes, LA is the largest diocese and it dedicated a new cathedral. Do you really think that tops the Papal Mass there in 1987?

And other than size, why should LA’s cathedral dedication be any more special than say Houston’s new co-cathedral, or Oakland’s new one.

Or should EWTN simply just cover every cathedral rededication?

Good point - and you must remember EWTN is a GLOBAL Catholic television and radio network now, and America is NOT the world. Certainly LA is even less so.

If the number of Australian and other non-US Catholics on this board is any indication, I’d imagine EWTN’s non-US viewership equals or exceeds that within the US.

Why would I, in Sydney, give two hoots about the opening of LA’s Cathedral, any more than I would expect you fine folks in the US to care if we got a new Cathedral here in Sydney.

How does coverage of the dedication of a new Cathedral in LA (or Sydney, for that matter) affect me as a Catholic living in Cleveland? If I visit LA or Sydney, I may wish to visit the Cathedral. However, the existence of a new Cathedral in another city has nothing to do with my faith as a Catholic. It might be worth mentioning in a 15 second newsclip, but I cannot see how an entire program about a new Cathedral could edify one’s faith. There are more important programs to cover which affect all Catholics, not just those in a certain town.

I can only imagine how EWTN would have covered the opening of the Taj Mahony/Rog Mahal.

By the time they got to the dancing nuns with the smoking bowls, they would have started a Novena of Reparation to the Sacred Heart!

And don’t take Nick’s word for it. See it for yourself!

EWTN is a miracle. I love the Mass. I love the shows - all of them.

So say you. And to be blunt, you are mistaken. In an ecclesiastical sense I have not misused the term “fundamentalist” (which is both a noun and an adjective by the way.) In fact, the definition you offered doesn’t even adequately define all Protestants who are considered “Fundamentalists”, not to mention Catholic fundamentalists which we’ll cover later.

That’s rather crude. Why not take some of your own advice before typing such a rude comment and remain silent?

Ohhhhhhhh, there is MOST CERTAINLY Catholic fundamentalism. To suggest otherwise is to be in error.

To answer the op …No I don’t…love EWTN and its programing…it helps me with my faith.:thumbsup:

Only on matters of discipline are there more than one valid opinion.

For example, I am not completely against the idea of married Priests. I think the current Roman Rite prohibition has partly to do with practicality and part of it has to do with some idiosyncrasies of society in the late western roman empire. I understand the pros and cons, and I think in some cases it would be fine.

Yet this is a matter of discipline, not doctrine. I am allowed this opinion.

However, if I were to say I was not against the idea of female priestesses, then I would be a heretic. There is no valid alternative opinion when it comes to doctrine.

BTW, please define fundamentalism. Is that just what people who actually believe what the Church teaches is true are called?

In all sincerity you really don’t realize just how odd, disjointed and illogical your comments are, do you? That’s easily the biggest problem with these forums.

First, neither I nor the person I was responding to ever mentioned the 1987 Papal Mass, nor did we compare it to the cathedral dedication. It has nothing to do with this conversation, it’s a red herring and you had no business dragging it into this discussion.

Based on the voluminous number of comments I have seen on these and other forums since the planning stages of the cathedral, you are also clearly wrong about it being “barely a blip on the Church’s radar.”

Where did I suggest that the dedication of the new Houston or Oakland (or any other cathedral for that matter) is not as important? I didn’t – only you are trying to infer I did. Do you really think you can put words in peoples’ mouths without them knowing it? You’re not fooling anyone.

First, we are discussing the dedication of the cathedral of by far the largest archdiocese in the USA and not “every cathedral rededication.” Please don’t think you can change the subject at hand without it being noticed. Again, your attempt at misdirection is not fooling anyone.

That said while I have no idea what a “rededication” is, I do believe that the dedication of every new Catholic cathedral in the USA is indeed programming that most Catholics would love to see and would benefit from viewing for a number of reasons.

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