EWTN: great or squishy?

An Irishman was walking along and saw a crowd of his countrymen brawling in the street.  He runs up and shouts, "Is this a private fight or can anyone join?"

There is a fight brewing in the comments of another entry.  It is about EWTN.

What sparked the fight is the news that on 14 September EWTN will broadcast a Solemn Mass in the older use of the Roman Rite.

The esteemed Fr. Trigilio posted:

I hope this televised Mass disproves the slanderous lies leveled against the network by some conspiracy minded radicals on the very far right. These are the Fantasy Island natives who promote that horrible book “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong” They are also closet sede vacantists who secretly believe there has not been a valid pope since Pius XII. I put them in the same neighborhood as the Flat Earth Society. Mother Angelica and EWTN along with Pope John Paul II led the groundwork so Pope Benedict XVI could issue the motu proprio. Everything at its proper time.

Popular author Brian Mershon responded (some of the sharper comments edited):

I believe your reply [is about] “conspiracy-minded” radicals and against Christopher Ferrara…. … Would this have happened on Sept. 14 at EWTN live without the Holy Father’s recent encyclical? Without Bishop Baker, trad friendly, being appointed to head up the diocese effective Oct. 2?  … Mother Angelica and Pope JPII laid the groundwork? Pope John Paul II called for “a wide and generous application” of the indult in 1988. If we have anyone to thank, it is certainly Archbishop Lefebvre.  … Everything in its time? What timeframe did Pope John Paul II indicate in his 1988 (nearly 20 years ago) motu proprio? Are you Gnostic? Is EWTN gnostic?

Folks, while this has the potential of turning into a street fight, and I will watch it very carefully, it raises an interesting subject: EWTN.

  • Some think EWTN is the savior of American Catholicism.
  • Some think EWTN started great and then, with the decline of Mother Angelica, went squishy.
  • Some, I suspect, thought from the beginning it was "modernist".

Personally, the only thing I ever see with any frequency is the wonderful weekly program by Marcus Grodi, The Journey Home.  I was once his guest. Other than that, I catch only a minute two of other programs here and there, unless there are special events.  I think they perform a wonderful service in broadcasting papal events and meetings of the USCCB.  Their document library is useful, though it was assembled prety much through piracy, I think.  Things I wrote are found in the library and neither I nor the publications I wrote them for were consulted for permission.  But who cares.  It is better to be read than not read and people can actually find it. 

It might be interesting to have some thoughtful and measured discussion about EWTN, its pros and cons. 

I, for one, am delighted that EWTN will broadcast a Solemn Mass in the older Rite.  I think they perform good services, though most of their programming just doesn’t interest my and I have not seen enough of it to take a firm stand.

I really don’t want a fight here, so will eliminate any comments that I find even slightly thoughtless.

First, let’s start with a little poll:





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  1. Jordan Potter says:

    My choice would have to be something between “EWTN is the savior of American Catholicism” and “EWTN started great and then went squishy.” EWTN is one of the good things about Catholicism in the U.S. today, not one of the things “gone wrong.”

  2. Karen Russell says:

    I find myself in much the same position as Jordan Potter. On the whole, a very good thing–but I rarely watch it and so cannot comment on individual programs.

  3. mark says:


    Good luck with this thread…

    You should have an other option. Something like “EWTN is okay” or “EWTN has potential.”

    Your tastes and mine converge on the EWTN programming. It is disturbing that their library has been collected without permissions.

    There are a couple of problems with EWTN, as far as I am concerned:

    1) Some of their programming is truly cheesy. The children’s programming is almost creepy. Rerunning old Spanish movies about St. Ignatius as your big Saturday night movie is sort of sad. The “cool music” show – which is mostly pastoral musicians from around the country seeing their praise music – is cringeworthy. God bless all those people and their service to the Church, but it just painful sometimes.

    2) In regard to the last point – one of the big failures of EWTN, I think, both in terms of their TV and radio is, indeed, music. EWTN has done virtually nothing to promote an authentic awareness of sacred music in its years of existence – no programs on chant, etc.

    3) EWTN needs to get out more. The reason it hasn’t, I assume, is because of a past history of inimical relations with bishops. That is changing, however. The liturgical picture that EWTN presents is very narrow. I cannot believe that dioceses wouldn’t be happy to cooperate with and help fund EWTN broadcasts from their cathedrals and churches. There have been some steps outward this past year – broadcasting from St. John Cantius and, I believe, the Cathedral in Phoenix (I might be wrong), but truly, EWTN could, with a little creativity, do a lot more here. It would be interesting if EWTN would broadcast Eastern Catholic liturgies as well.

    4) The idiocycratic personal magisterium of EWTN is interesting and convoluted. It is a “private” entity with its own staff who, I suppose, have the right to approve and disapprove what they want, but that results in a skewed presentation. The stories of who and who is not allowed to be on EWTN, acceptable subjects for conversation, and so on, are very interesting.

    EWTN is an important entity, and does good work. But there is great potential, and I think there is also potential for great disarray there in the next few years.

  4. dcs says:

    I don’t really watch EWTN any more, but my impression is that it has gotten a bit squishy. I miss “Mother Angelica Live” and I liked the old video they used to show of the Divine Mercy Chaplet (the new one sounds like a pop song — and pop music IMHO is a sure sign of “squishiness” in the Church).

    As far as the book EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong is concerned, I haven’t read it, but it seems to me that one can write such a book, or promote such a book, without being a sedevacantist, closet or otherwise. One might be dead wrong, but it doesn’t follow that one is a sedevacantist. EWTN is not the Pope.

  5. Geoffrey says:

    I think EWTN is the greatest thing on American Television, especially considering the plethora of trash on every other channel! I waited for years until EWTN was available in my area, and am very glad it is. I don’t watch it 24/7, but I have yet to see anything questionable. I am very thankful for EWTN. I think it is a powerful tool for evangelization. I recall Mother Angelica relating a story many years ago… a man upgraded his cable service to be able to view inappropriate material… he then stumbled across EWTN and underwent a conversion. ‘Nuff said!

  6. danphunter1 says:

    I watched EWTN regularly from 2003 to 2005 we no longer own a television but we have EWTN radio and we listen to it as we drive.
    The orthodoxy of the program seems above reproach,from what I have heard but since 2004 the cheesiness or tacky level has gone way up.
    Just one example: EWTN has a program called Catholic jukebox which features mostly horrible Christian folk and rock music which is not Christian sounding at all.
    The best way that I can describe this music is Marty Haagen meets Aimee Mann.
    The network is an odd mixture of great and orthodox priests like Father Pacwa and Father Corapi but then the horrendous and non Catholic music segueways.
    It is great that EWTN will air a Classical Rite Mass and God bless them for this, it will bring many souls closer to our Lord through this glorious exposure.
    I just think that the network should embrace the beauty that Catholic Culture has to offer and get rid of the new age music, build sets that look good not something that you see on a Star Trk episode.
    They should also ditch a program called “Life on the Rock”, at least in its present format of an attempt to appeal to the “cool” kid generation with its Ramones sounding rock and roll theme song and ridiculous,”Friar Cam”, zooming in and out all over the place. No teenager thinks that this is “cool”. The Two priests that host this show seem to be very devout and holy and thie neato toss it out to you jargon they use is not in keeping with the serious nature of the program.

  7. I agree with a lot of what’s been said here. The music is nasty. I don’t like the children’s programming. The live shows are mostly fine. The other shows are, well, OK. I don’t watch it a lot. For the special events, I usually watch in online. The archdiocese where I live has its own programming, so it shoves EWTN programming in whenever it wants. As bad as EWTN might or might not be, it’s a lot better than what many of the dioceses provide. For the archdiocese stuff, I usually either laugh at how ridiculous it is or wonder what really old EWTN stuff they’ll show instead of Mother Angelica. Because, you see, they refuse to run any program that they know will show her face. I find that amusing because it’s so blatantly obvious.

  8. Father: I am unable to actually do your poll. I think your first option comes
    close. I would say EWTN is A savior of American Catholicism but not THE savior.

    EWTN was an important part of my reversion process. Up until 2 years ago,
    I can’t remember the last time (if ever) I saw a Mass validly celebrated until I saw
    the Daily Mass on EWTN. EWTN helped me rediscover the Rosary and other
    traditional devotions. In many ways, EWTN was one of MY saviors.

    Is EWTN perfect? No. Are all the shows fantastic? No. However, they can only
    do so much with the money and talent that they have available. I can’t
    imagine there are a lot of people QUALIFIED to be on the air of a Magisterium
    faithful Catholic network.

    marc: Regarding your Comment #3, EWTN has aired, at least one, Eastern
    Catholic Mass. I don’t recall which rite. It was a Daily Mass in their Chapel. The visiting
    priests even celebrated ad orientem. There was a thread on the Catholic
    Answers forums about this Mass at one time (if it’s still there, I could not
    find it this morning but I think it predates their server being hacked)
    because an ad orientem Mass on EWTN surprised a lot of people. I believe Mother Angelica
    wanted to have Masses celebrated ad orientem but the Bishop denied her

  9. Jon says:

    My feelings echo Jordan’s completely.

    First, I think EWTN, with it’s reverently televised Novus Ordo Masses, has done the very best they could do with a lame horse (the Novus Ordo). I think they’ve single-handedly kept alive in the mind of the Catholic public the idea that Mass does not have to be 1975 locked in amber. They’ve reminded all that divine worship isn’t necessarily Marty Haugen’s mess of pottage that’s served up at their local parish, but that we have a brilliant patrimony, which, while slumbering, may any time be re-awakened to the greater glory of God.

    In our house EWTN is on more than any other station. My wife loves it, and it was instrumental in her “re-version.” Occasionally I find an echo of Mother’s old charismaticism (of the 70’s and 80’s) still alive in some of the programming, and I’m particularly uncomfortable with Scott Hahn’s para-Protestant ecclesiology, but by and large I think EWTN does a mighty service.

    Regarding the broadcast TLM on September 14th; I think it marvelous. As a matter of fact, next to the possibility of Pope Benedict celebrating a TLM publicly himself, I’d judge it the most significant liturgical event in the Church since that Holy but black Thursday of April 3rd, 1969, when Paul VI inked his name to Missale Romanum.

  10. Boko Fittleworth says:


    You take that back! You take that back right now! How dare you, just days after the anniversary of the Ramones’ last concert, claim that the “Life on the Rock” theme song is “Ramones sounding!”

    I attended over a dozen Ramones concerts over the years. Hade they ever played that kind of dreck, we would have forced them off the stage.

  11. Fr. Andrew says:

    I want to agree with much of Mark’s comments, especially regarding a 5th option for the vote: “EWTN has potential.”

    They have great market access, at least where I’ve lived and visited. Everywhere you go you can find EWTN on cable. Major sports networks in the U.S. don’t have that type of coverage. That is their potential.

    Where I most feel they fail is in their presentation quality. Many blogs, podcazts, etc., have sharp, creative, culturally relavent presentations and feels. EWTN has never reached that quality. I don’t think it’s a matter of culture vs. the Lord- “Save the Liturgy, Save the World” anyone? EWTN seems aimed soley at the 60+ age bracket. Unfair generalization? Yes. But it is my perception of them.

    As far as their theology, ecclesiology- I never watch enough to know as the presentation does nothing for me.

  12. Brian Mershon says:

    For the record, I think that EWTN serves a valuable service for the Church, obviously inspired by a nun in Alabama whom nobody knew, and was able to put together a worldwide network of Catholicism and Catholic issues without any hel p or intervention from the USCCB. In fact, if I remember, when the USCCB tried to put together something similar years back, it failed miserably.

    Personally, I don’t watch it much, but it certainly is a good evangelization tool for the broader society.

    My comments on EWTN were not to defend everything Christopher Ferrara wrote (I have read only excerpts), but to question Fr. Trigilio in the same manner as I would other “conservative” media who have suddenly, out of nowhere, become “trad” friendly. Seriously. Anyone with any eyes to see and ears to ear can tell what is going on.

    Bishop Baker, recently named to Birmingham, and after allowing four TLM locations in Charleston in a short 7 years, gave the go-ahead, and invited in the FSSP. It is well known that the laymen in charge of programming, while conservative, have never been advocates of the TLM.

    Of course, Pope John Paul II, with his motu proprios, started the way. But would they have occurred without Archbishop Lefebvre (prior to the consecrations)? Not a chance… Not a chance…

    I detect in the “Archbishop Lefebvre set the traditionalist movement back 20 years” stuff, a logical fallacy. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

  13. William says:

    I also think there should have been an “EWTN is ok” option. Nothing I have watched on EWTN has bothered me, but then again I don’t have cable and haven’t been able to see much.

    I have seen around 10 of their televised masses and they’re not that bad. Yes, they could be improved, but the EWTN masses are the best “ordinary form” masses I’ve ever experienced in the U.S. (I guess that says something about the local parishes.)

  14. danphunter1 says:

    Boko Fittleworth,
    Mea Culpa.
    “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” is Palestrina compared to the,”Life on the Rock” theme.
    You are absolutely correct.
    My point is that rock and roll does not belong on a Catholic talk show.
    Otherwise, I think the Ramones cruised the groove.
    God bless you.

  15. Rob in Maine says:

    I rarely watch EWTN as I rarely watch TV. I *do* listen to it’s Podcasts! I am a great fan of Fr Groechel and Marcus Grodi.

  16. Matt says:

    I am a convert who started pretty much by watching Mother and other EWTN shows. I can’t see any squishiness. Everything is faithful to the Magesterium. And a lot of the complaints I see seem ridiculous or are made because a person just doesn’t watch enough and then gets a feeling from others and runs with it.

    As for no programs on chant, I’m sorry but that one is incorrect. In fact I have in the past DVR’d several programs on sacred hymnody and chants. They even include theological and historical background. If I can remember the name of the program I’ll repost. I also used to hate the Joy of Music with Diane Bish but now I watch it to see all of the sacred architecture. I have also spent good DVR space on the Sunday afternoon concerts. Many times they have my favorite groups performing (Tallis Scholars, Consort of Musicke, and even Emma Kirkby!)

    I for one think it is kind of sad for people to complain about EWTN. If it isn’t up to snuff in our eyes then we need to remember as they say “this is your network”, etc. Fill out the feedback forms, donate, and pray for them. I bet they know the network isn’t as snazzy as others. I don’t think they live in caves. If they had the money they would upgrade for sure.

    But if EWTN turns into INSP (a tragic protestant sales network) then we’re all in trouble.

  17. danphunter1 says:

    Before I came back to the faith, I was once in a spa and while laying in the mud pit heard the exact same new age music over the sound system as is on the lead in to ,”The Journey Home”.
    So whenever I hear this music on EWTN radio I automatically think of Wyndham House and Pat Metheny.
    Why not Veni Creator Spiritus as lead in music instead?
    God bless.

  18. Janet says:

    I also wish there’d been a category somewhat short of the “EWTN saved the world” category. Living just a few miles from the studio and current friary, I feel very blessed by their presence in Birmingham and Hanceville. As a convert/revert, I used EWTN as my ‘catechism’ almost 3 yrs ago when returning to the Church. I watched many hours of it for about a year, and can say I’m a better, more Orthodox Catholic as a result. It is a vital network, and especially should be made available in all hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons. (it would be an interesting and amusing experiment to see what might result from locking the channel onto EWTN for a year in the rec-room of a penitentiary) :-)
    (I don’t watch EWTN much now because I cancelled cable TV a yr ago and only rarely pick it up over the internet now).

    And in response to someone else concerning the televising of ad orientum masses, Bp. Foley was not opposing Rome in the slightest and was well within his authority as Bishop. He went to Rome and made certain he was within his rights and authority, before making that decision. Many of us weren’t happy with the decision, obviously, but he did not put himself at odds with Rome when he did it.
    And on a personal note, I have been in his presence a few times for masses, and my strongest intuition each time was that I was in the presence of a very humble, unassuming, and God-loving man. The Diocese of Birmingham, AL is overall a very orthodox diocese, and we can thank Bp. Foley for that, even if he didn’t give M. Angelica everything she wanted.

  19. Suzanne says:

    EWTN taught me the Catholic Faith when our parish school of religion was teaching some quasi-protestant, lukewarm neo-religion (I can’t even call it “Catholicism” — I just can’t.) Mother Angelica taught me right from wrong and helped me pull my soul out of the dregs of modern culture both in and outside the Church. EWTN revived my wheelchair/homebound mother’s faith after the death of my father and has been her comfort in loneliness. It has also equipped her to be a sweet little Catholic evangelist among more liberal friends and relatives. For these reasons, I owe EWTN an enormous debt of gratitude.

    That being said — I think there are many, many valid criticisms a person could make about the current state of programming at the station. As a 30-something, I don’t find the new talking heads on the live program the least bit interesting…and as a fifteen-year-old, I used to look forward to listening to then 60-70-something Mother Angelica. I hate to say it, but television requires a certain charisma from its personalities. It doesn’t have to be “cool,” just engaging. Not much on that station is engaging anymore. Though, I do enjoy the news with Raymond Arroyo.

    And, though I hate to say it, over the last few years, some of the theology I’ve heard, even from some of the most popular personalities on the station has made me cringe. And, there was one personality who was a bit rude to Alice Von Hildebrand upon her mentioning her preference for the traditional Mass. I just couldn’t handle such treatment of that noble lady — although she did with the utmost sweetness and grace.

  20. Bear-i-tone says:

    Brian Mershon,

    I have heard both of the arguments many times over that without Lefebvre the traditional situation would be much different now: that is, it would a. be better or b. be worse. Both arguments seem to me to suffer from a fallacy, whose name I sadly do not know: They both require a knowledge what would have occurred without Lefebvre. No one ever knows what might have happened, and the basis for both arguments is nothing but fiction.

  21. Bear-i-tone says:

    “I deny your major” is the term I used to hear.

  22. Muscovite says:

    I don’t have a TV, but people I know have had good experiences with EWTN. My mother, a Lutheran (I converted to Catholicism four years ago) found EWTN on the radio and is learning a lot about the Catholic Church. (She doesn’t watch EWTN on TV, though. She says she prefers the medium of radio.) She now wants to learn to pray the rosary. She is a very intelligent woman and enjoys the theological discussions. There isn’t anything available in our area for non-Catholics to learn about Catholicism (I’d include the local masses in this–they tend to give a very distorted picture of Catholicism to my non-Catholic friends.) So how can I complain about EWTN?

  23. Pius VII says:

    While I agree with the comments that some of the music on EWTN is schlocky, I would like to point out that the music during EWTN’s televised Masses is always very traditional. Further, I don’t think that the schlocky music is inherently evil or anything like that; I think the worst we can say about it is that it’s annoying and lame, but I don’t think there’s anything too wrong with it outside of the context of the Liturgy. I do agree that maybe they should have some sort of pro-chant type show or special or something, and I don’t think it’s the sort of thing to which they’d be opposed.

  24. ACS says:

    I have to say, I thought the “Fantasy Island natives” comment by Fr. Trigilio was HILARIOUS!!

    “The plane! The plane!”

    As for EWTN, I watch it from time to time. I love Mother Angelica!

  25. Dan P. says:

    EWTN will televise a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Right. I understand that there are tensions here, but quite honestly, who cares whY? GOD BLESS THE FACT THAT THIS IS HAPPENING, AND WILL BE SEEN AROUND THE WORLD! So we can rejoice that this is, without argument, a GOOD THING, and work to build on it, or we can sit around and bitch about who “made it happen”; only one person made it happen: GOD. Every other incident, person, document, fight, dog, or cat was simply a pawn in GOD’S plan to make this happen. For good or bad, EWTN is the instrument God is using to put this event out there. Quite honestly, who cares if it is EWTN or the Tom and Jerry Show?

  26. Dan P. says:

    EWTN will televise a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Right. I understand that there are tensions here, but quite honestly, who cares whY? GOD BLESS THE FACT THAT THIS IS HAPPENING, AND WILL BE SEEN AROUND THE WORLD! So we can rejoice that this is, without argument, a GOOD THING, and work to build on it, or we can sit around and bitch about who “made it happen”; only one person made it happen: GOD. Every other incident, person, document, fight, dog, or cat was simply a pawn in GOD’S plan to make this happen. For good or bad, EWTN is the instrument God is using to put this event out there. Quite honestly, who cares if it is EWTN or the Tom and Jerry Show?

  27. Thomas says:

    Fr. Z,

    About 15 years ago I purchased a portable shortwave radio to carry about the world with me so I could listen to WEWN wherever I went. It was a great tool for one who was “formed” (if you could call it that) as a layman convert in the 1970’s, and requiring much more information about our faith and Church. I agree with you that the programming on EWTN isn’t for everyone, all the time. However, some of these programs are wonderful for those who are shut in and cannot get to Mass for long periods of time, and for those who are “inquiring”. There are certain programs, however, that I particularly enjoy: Journey Home (I wasn’t on the program myself [surprise!], but as a convert find it most interesting, and I do personally know a few who have been on Marcus’s program); The World Over has become my favorite news broadcast – Raymond Arroyo is quite interesting, and I liked very much his two interviews this past weekend with Bishop Baker and Robert Novak; Fr. Corapi is always engaging and interesting, of course; and there are a couple of other programs I like also, but these are the main ones I like to watch. I still listen to WEWN too when cable TV isn’t available to me.

    I, too, found that I could not agree with any of the poll choices, so I chose the one that I found to be closest to my opinion. The poll needed another option or two.

  28. Patrick says:

    Thanks for all the comments. I agree with most everything said.
    A few quick opinions:

    1) EWTN is overall a great blessing, and I have always loved Mother Angelica. Nonetheless, it does suffer from the misguided pseudo-conservatism that plagues many who try to follow a Church that is currently confused about the content and place of Her own tradition (e.g.: I have seen Fr. Groechel swipe at traditionalists with far too broad a swing at times).
    To faithfully defend JPII from the enemies of the faith often seemed to require attacking “traditionalists.” For some, you were either with the Pope and all his apparent opinions, or against him. Those same people are sticking with the current Pope, but are in the awkward position of contradicting their former positions, if not their larger principle of defending the pope.
    2) EWTN is cheesy probably because the people who create parts of have little taste, and either do not know it or don’t particularly care. It is as simple as that. If they did they would be embarrassed by so much of what they do with rainbows, and mood music, over-the-top sets etc. However any suggestion to this effect always smacks of elitism, and being the Universal Church, we are obviously very sensitive to this charge, so don’t expect anything done about it. (Interestingly, MANY (not all) Anglican parishes are extraordinarily tasteful, but falling apart theologically. Is there a connection?)
    3) As has been alluded to, I have always been stuck how much silliness is perpetrated in the name of appealing to young folk or contemporary culture, when in fact, nothing could be less appealing to teenagers than the Broadway-esque praise music that is put forward for their consumption. In fact, “Chant” will ALWAYS be cooler (in the usual sense of the word) then contemporary praise music because it is at least exotic, sophisticated, and foreign. Contemporary Christian music it is not about cool, but about Christian kids looking for an alternative way to hear the same beats they are used to.
    4) I always found Raymond Arroyo’s presentation (if not his person) smug and unlikeable, though too many good people like him for me to hold that opinion with any conviction.
    5) I just recently attended a mass with the former Bishop of Birmingham, and he pleaded with us to be nicer to people because making good impressions on people was more important than we thought. I left with the same non-opinion about him as I do with many Bishops.


  29. Henry Edwards says:

    In my view, EWTN has for a decade and more been the most powerful single influence on a national scale supporting the restoration of faithful Catholicism in this country and beyond.

    I’d suggest that a better description than squishy is “cautious” — for the necessary approach of EWTN during the 28-month interim during which they have been without both a permanent bishop and (since her illness) Mother Angelica’s active daily leadership of the network. Perhaps many are not fully aware of the way EWTN has been in the crosshairs of a long-dominant segment of the U.S. hierarchy and its administrative establishment, due to the network’s staunch adherence to orthodox doctrine and (especially) proper liturgy.

    Shortly after Pope Benedict’s inauguration, I inquired of a self-described confidant of the new Holy Father as to whether — given the fact that the then just resigned bishop there had (under great collegial pressure, obviously) prohibited telecasting of the ad orientem Mass for which Mother Angelica’s new shrine was obviously designed (and where Mass is celebrated no other way in the main chapel) — the Vatican was fully aware of the potential contribution of the Birmingham appointment to the world-wide success of the reform of the liturgy. He replied that we could be fully confident of the Holy See’s recognition of the critical importance of this particular episcopal appointment, which aside from the EWTN issue might well not be on the front burner in Rome.

    In a post at least a year ago, in response to a similar criticism of EWTN’s leadership, and on the basis of this and similar contacts, I predicted that EWTN would, among other significant new moves, schedule a live telecast of a Tridentine Mass at their absolute first opportunity. I must confess that I would not have predicted then that the announcement of this televised Tridentine Mass would occur in the same week as the announcement of the new Bishop of Birmingham, and be scheduled on the first day of the implementation of a motu proprio providing any additional “cover” (and shielding from outside episcopal ire) that might be needed.

    Of course, much of EWTN’s programming is still schlocky. However, a final solution (in addition to Bishop Baker) may be readily at hand. Can anyone suggest a media- and technology-savvy priest with impeccable liturgical and theological credentials who could be put in charge of EWTN to direct any further improvements that might be needed? (Hmm ….. maybe they’d rename the network as EZTN.)

  30. I think that people should separate Mother Angelica and EWTN because they are not the same thing. You might like Mother Angelica, but that does not mean that you have to support EWTN or say that it has not changed a lot from what it was when it started.

    I used to watch it frequently… but I stopped waaay before the book by Chris F. came out. The extreme emphasis on the youth and what they like (ugly/disruptive music, the way of speaking of some of the friars have adopted to sound younger, etc) really obscure the whole point of EWTN.

    Also, when Fr. Groeschel talks about Ecumenism and the Church, that’s where I completely get turned off by EWTN. For everything else he is very good and learned, but when he talks about Ecumenism, it is almost like having Card. Mahoney there (this is especially with ecumenism and attending protestant religious services).

    The only programs (to me) worthy of watching now are Super Saints and B. Fulton Sheen’s show.

  31. Gloria says:

    I truly believe EWTN is a gift to us. I agree with most that it is not perfect. I am also a re-vert as of 2000. I am 62 years old and had been away from the Church for over 30 years. I was one of those that didn’t like what was going on in the Church at that time and decided to throw the baby out with the bath water. But Our Lord called me back in 2000 mostly due to EWTN. I live here in la-la land in Orange County California and I couldn’t find a reverent Mass for a long time until EWTN. I watch many of their shows and find them educational and inspiring. I think the old Spanish movies are geared to a certain geographical area, especially here in California. I hear a lot of positive fed back from Spanish speaking friends. I truly believe their is something for everyone. As far as the music is concerned, they have had some wonderful Sunday classical works over the last few years especially around Lent and Advent. So, all in all I believe we should look at this gift as something that can be used to reach out to everyone, no matter what stage of their spiritual journey they are on.

  32. Andy says:

    I think it has gone pretty squishy. There seems to be a struggle going on over which direction to take the network. For several years it has leaned fairly heavily in the charismatic direction. I find most of the programs to be extremely cheesy and unbearable, some even bordering on Saturday Night Live skits. I think the network has done many great things. I don’t question that fact. But they could do much greater things if they would fix these deeply rooted issues.

  33. Drew says:

    Dear Father Z.,
    We haven’t had television for awhile but we used to watch EWTN quite a bit. We download podcasts now so that we can listen to certain shows. I would never have known about Chesterton without EWTN- The Apostle of Common Sense is a favorite. A good friend is coming back to the Catholic faith and EWTN (specifically Father Corapi) has had alot to do with it. All in all I think it’s a wonderful resource.

  34. Barb says:

    Father Z,

    Another category would have allowed me to pick something like: EWTN has potential to provide much better service to Catholics. I say this because, while some programming is excellent, the budget makes the ability to do more than talking heads on some programs difficult. I wish another feisty, orthodox host a la Mother Angelica would emerge. No one can imitate her without coming out way second best, but perhaps if we pray God will send another warrior for the Faith to educate and entertain and capture the audience as she did for so many years.

    I don’t watch EWTN much except for the Bishops’ Conference, and sometimes that is so bad I can’t stomach it. However, they provide a good service to many. Now that Summorum Pontificum is out and Birmingham has a bishop who is behind the Pope all the way, perhaps we shall see ad orientem Masses and many more extraordinary rite telecasts. The extraordinary rite is what I will watch

  35. mike says:

    Grodi is fun & interesting & Corapi is a hoot. Otherwise:

    Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated…


  36. RC says:

    EWTN has actually become less squishy. In the early years the channel wasted a lot of time promoting various supposed apparitions, and its speakers seemed to be drawn almost exclusively from the charismatic movement.

    When EWTN started to welcome William Marra and Ralph McInerny, it marked the network’s move toward a more classic Catholic approach.

  37. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    I am a fan of EWTN especially Marcus Grodi.I turn off the Divine Mercy chaplet though when that country western melody is used.There are several interesting interview programs.At one time they had the world’s worst preachers.Mother defended them by saying the Cure of Ars was also a horrible preacher (he had a squeeky high voice).But they did not televise the Cure.The preaching has improved (the friar who used to bring several books with him into the pulpit and quote from them ,left and attempted marriage).But they dont know how to process-they literally run down the aisle,and several ofthe young monks have some problem with reading-the follow the words with their finger.I once wrote and pointed out that they were setting a poor example in their liturgy by the priest blessing the incense at benediction (it isnt done)and wearing a colored humeral veil (both the new and old rite says the humeral veil MUST be white.Colored ones are for the subdeacon in solemn mass).They never replied.Most of the celebrants chat when they begin the mass.They do their best and are improving. As far as the pop religious music,I say let them have it as long as it stays out of mass.I choose to turn the program off when it comes on. Finally,those who claim Archbishop Lefevbre is responsible for the MP dont have confidence in the power of the TLM.I believe it would have been restored even without Lef.Certainly allthose intellectuals who signed the petitions in 1969-70 were acting out of love for the beauty and clear orthdoxyof the old rite and not for any attachment to Econe.I believe the MP would still have come without Econe but much later.

  38. John Paul says:

    I have mixed feelings about EWTN since our cable system picked it up in 2005.
    Father Corrapi is terrific, and woke me up to what I wasn’t hearing about sin during
    Sunday sermons. I also like some of the stories about the Saints. But I do get
    the sense that since Mother Angelica is no longer running the programming that
    the post-Vatican II ecumenical spirit is coming into play much more. Even Fr.Pacwa’s
    touting of a Catholic-Hebrew group is confusing.
    It would be interesting to know if “Life on the Rock” has helped with vocations.
    Certainly the Poor Claires appear to have some vitality in vocations, but I don’t
    know any real statistics. Overall it seems “OK,” but there are enough programs
    with confusing messages to warrant some concern.

  39. ALL:  I changed the poll, taking into consideration your comments.  Go back and VOTE AGAIN.

  40. fr. franklyn: Call me conventional, but how about using that wonderful space bar toward the bottom of your keyboard?  It sure would make your comments less burdensome to read.   I believe the usual practice is one space after commas and two after periods, question marks and exclamation points.

  41. Marcus says:

    Like several other entries here, EWTN helped bring me back to the Church and give me the proper catechesis that I never received in felt craft class, er, I mean, CCD.

    And no parish to which I’ve ever belonged has celebrated Mass – and daily Mass at that! – as reverently, solemnly, & properly, with chant, Latin, and beautiful hymns. It is a great blessing, & a model many could learn from.

    The non-Mass music is really terrible (my parish was held hostage yesterday with a particularly jazzy “Be Not Fraid” during Holy Communion). Regarding the shows that try to be “cool”: trying to out-world the world fails every time. Chrisitianity isn’t “cool”. Never was, never will be.

    Overall, some shows are good, some not so good, occassionally great; but like anything, you don’t watch have to what you don’t like. Writing them to share your thoughts on how they might improve seems much better than just complaining. I’m listening to EWTN right now!

  42. Berolinensis says:

    Perhaps I can bring an outsider’s perspective to this: Being a German living in Germany I had heard about EWTN but that was about it. Now, last year I spent three months in Washington DC doing an internship at the German embassy, and I got to watch EWTN with some regularity. While I fully understand the criticism raised here concerning tacky music, pseudo-cool youth lingo, poor stage sets etc. let me say this: It doesn’t seem most people here are aware of what you’ve got in EWTN. I would regard it as absolute bliss if we had something like this in Germany. A professional (and yes, compared to the pitiful attempts that exist hereabouts, it looks very professional) TV channel with a huge audience promoting and defending the fullness of the Catholic Faith in uncompromising orthodoxy, standing firmly by the Hierarchy, and all in such a positive, cheerful, attractive way. Praise God that many of you seem blessed with some sort of sound Catholic environment, but for those of us who often wonder if there are any faithful Catholics left beside themselves this is such an encouragement and a consolation.
    This is not to attack anyone personally, I hope I don’t sound condescending, since it is an admonition that I myself have to take to heart, and it is of course a generalisation, but it is this spirit of constant criticism, of always seeing the bad and stressing it out of proportion even if there is so much good to something, this sourness, that is doing, IMHO, a lot of damage to the cause of tradition, and also, I think, to the soul affected by this spirit. Let us try to exercise rather the virtue of charity: Caritas patiens est, benigna est caritas, non aemulatur, non agit superbe, non inflatur, non est ambitiosa, non quaerit, quae sua sunt, non irritatur, non cogitat malum, non gaudet super iniquitatem, congaudet autem veritati; omnia suffert, omnia credit, omnia sperat, omnia sustinet. And heed Fr. Z’s 5 rules, especially no. 3!

  43. Xavier says:

    I have a friend who actually moved to Hanceville AL in 2000 to be near the Shrine. She left a year later, totally disillusioned with the EWTN apostolate. I asked her to comment on the poll. She says:

    “There should be another category: EWTN is an enigma.

    I am in debt to EWTN for making me an educated Catholic, but I parted company with them in 2000 over their support of pro-abortion candidates in the last presidential elections. When I sincerely questioned how a church named after the Divine Child could promote the “Vote Smart” philosophy that denied the dignity of men conceived in rape or incest, I was treated like an enemy. They responded to me in the same way that the editors of the New Oxford Review respond to the sincere inquiries of their readers, ie, an attitude that if I don’t agree with them, I’m a bad Catholic who is totally lacking in humility. Maybe they were right about me, but I still can’t betray the Holy Innocents of Abortion by supporting EWTN until I hear them retract this pragmatism. (Perhaps they already have and I haven’t heard.)”

  44. Paul Murnane says:

    I think EWTN has provided an invaluable service to Catholics, particularly in the USA. While not perfect, the network has great potential and I have seen a subtle shift since the election of Pope Benedict.

    I don’t get to watch too much anymore, although I do encourage all the candidates I sponsor to watch the network (particularly the catechism series and The Journey Home) in order to get a better picture of what orthodox Catholicism is all about. RCIA tends to get touchy-feely out here in SoCal and EWTN definitely helps spark more serious discussion.

    Regarding the future, I am hopeful that a good working relationship with the new bishop will spark additional changes.

    Regarding the quality of production: I think they have done well in upgrading their productions with limited financial resources.

    By the way, it is a tribute to you, Father Z, how such a potentially contentious discussion has remained so civil (although I don’t know how many comments you’ve had to delete :) ). I can’t think of many other places where this discussion could take place.

  45. Serafino says:

    Well, I generally like EWTN. However, as someone said, “Television requires a certain charisma.” Unfortunately, the daily televised Novus Ordo Missae celebrated by the priests of the order seem to be somewhat lacking in expression. I have no problem with, “do the red and say the black,” but the monotone puts me to sleep.

    This can also be observed in the homily of the Mass. Though always orthodox and well prepared, the delivery especially for television needs to be a bit more animated. Now I realize not everyone can be a Bishop Sheen, but every homilist should be able to keep the congregation awake, at least for ten minutes. This is all the more important when the homilist is potentially speaking to millions of people both Catholic and non Catholic. What an opportunity for evangelization!

  46. No one has yet seconded my nomination of Father Z to be appointed the new EWTN cZar and make it a beacon of tradition, orthodox faith, and authentic liturgy. What’s wrong with you folks? Everybody asleep at the switch?

  47. Joe says:

    I think EWTN has done a great service for the church which is Catholic (universal). Not all styles of music will appeal to every person, I personally prefer chant and the classic music of the past, but I would stop short of passing judgement on those with different taste.I think comments like “Scott Hahn’s para-protestant ecclesiology” unsupported by any evidence are unnecessary and counter productive. I personally find Dr. Hahn’s programs both informative, and capable holding my interest, which I unfortunately can’t say about all the programming on EWTN.

  48. Stu says:

    I would love to see Father Z’s involvement in some capacity with EWTN.

    As to the “cheesiness” of some of the programs, I think folks should realize that filling up a programming schedule is not always easy especially when done on a budget. Consider where EWTN has been and where it has come. EWTN is both fantastic and has much potential. We need to pray for its continued success, sound Catholic programming and remember to keep them between your gas and electric bill. :)


  49. ellen says:


    I have to disagree about the money aspect. When you see the quality of some of the videopodcasting (?!) that is being done out there by people doing it totally self-funded, you see the difference. The issue is not money, the issue is a culture of caution.

  50. canon1753 says:

    Maybe EWTN has some less than tasteful music. That seems to be par for the coursfor Catholicism in the US. We have no or very little taste….

    Why- that’s for the Sociologists to figure out!

  51. Jon says:


    Unimpeachable orthodoxy, distinguished columnist, brilliant speaker, extraordinary liturgist, master of media, (okay he prefers wine to beer, but who’s perfect?) What’s there not to second? I SECOND the motion!

    Oh, and as Deacon Bill appears to be getting up there, would you know anyone of hoary countenance, academic distinction, ecclesial erudition, and golden-tongued Southern gentility who might be a fitting replacement?

    Just askin’.

  52. Jason in San Antonio says:

    I second your nomination, Hank.

    We can’t slight EWTN when one considers the dearth of good programs for them to purchase. Most major television networks buy ready-made shows that have been put together by photojournalists and talented teams whose sole business is making those little nature programs and Nova-type shows. Who is doing this in a Catholic context? No one. Why, when there is a market for it on EWTN? I know not.

    How fantastic would it be if there were a hundred shows for them to choose from when making programming decisions? Any of you who have ever served in an editorial capacity for an academic or other special interest journal will be familiar with this dilemma: You want to publish only “awesome” pieces, but they simply aren’t forthcoming (or you can’t afford them). So EWTN’s not entirely to blame. . .

    (My wife and I won’t buy cable and subsidize filth just to get EWTN.)

  53. Fr. Z.

    Thank you for the opportunity to defend EWTN!

    Thank you God for Mother Angelica and EWTN because:

    -Father John Corapi taught me the Catechism of the Catholic Church and after a year of him harping on me he got me to confession after 15 years and since that time I have been in the box more than any time in my life up to that time and I am 50. This would not have happened without Father John Corapi, SOLT or EWTN.

    -For allowing me when I cannot attend every day to hear and see the Mass every day in a dignified manner with Latin every day, with Gregorian Chant most days, with Latin Polyphony, good hymnody and solid homilies.

    -To answer a question earlier, thank you EWTN for broadcasting ad-orientem (notwithstanding you know who) the incredibly spiritual Syro-Malakar Rite, live!

    -For re-introducing and educating the viewers to what the Kyrie is, and the Missa de Angelis, Pater Noster, etc, because is it EWTN and its influence in this Schola Master’s opinion that is leading the liturgical renewal.

    -For the inspiration shown by all these young, vibrant nuns in habit either at Hanceville or Ann Arbor.

    -For being the only station that would ever broadcast the grainy black & white powerfully simple but dramatic “Miracle of Marcellino” that melted my heart.

    -For Father John Trigilio, Father Angelus, Father Groeschel, Father Apostoli, Marcus Grodi, Raymond Arroyo and on and on and on.

    -For keeping the message coming into my home that has kept me coming back more and more to the Church.

    -For helping me learn the rosary again.

    -For your Sunday Benediction.

    -For the family celebrations.

    -For the loyalty to the Pope and the Magisterium.

    -For Mother Angelica and her battle with you know who (a Cardinal)?

    -For all you naysayers about the children’s programming, it is getting better.

    -For the naysayers about the more contemporary music, sorry, these are not at Mass, they show Christian performers. There is nothing wrong with this music, it is on once per week and never in a Mass.

    -For the naysayers that think the network has gone down hill since Mother’s divestiture and illness, would you rather have it run by the USCCB? Where has it fallen, I don’t see it and I watch it every day.

    -I have heard critics on the right complain because before now they have not broadcast a TLM. That is not true. Three months ago they broadcast the consecration of a new Oratory by Arcbbishop Burke at his former See.

    In my opinion, this network has done more for the Church, primarily, in the US but it is spreading, than any other single bishop or apostolate in the last 26 years.

    Send them some money now, they are under budget.

  54. Janet says:

    I second your motion. :-) I think EWTN and Fr. Z would be a great match, and Fr. Z’s homilies would certainly spice up the Sunday morning mass.

    And on the topic of well-delivered homilies in the broadcast Masses:
    Since Fr. Angelus ended his tenure as Father Guardian and left, the only truly good homilist is Fr. Anthony. The others are very spiritual and holy friars and have good things to say, but their delivery isn’t as good as Fr. Angelus’s or Fr. Anthony’s.

    On the other hand, what’s wrong with folks just listening a bit harder, ignoring the unpolished delivery, and “actively participating” by seeking the good spiritual nuggets found in these less charismatic homilies?

  55. Xavier says:

    “I am quite surprised that there is no discussion whatsoever whether this mass according to the extraordinary form should be televised at all. The question should be posed for the NO as well… In the early times of Television there was quite a discussion about that. Should we show the holiest we have to an unknowing public? The old Church dismissed the Catechumens after the homily…
    And what should the camera show? Even the consecration? And from what angle? From the view of the general parishioner? (That really menas “the back”) Or should the camera kind of squeeze in and give a view that is not permitted for the faithful in the pews? I think there shoukld be much more thought on issues like that rather on who is going to celebrate etc.”
    Comment by cb — 19 August 2007

    I totally agree. Traditional Catholics understand that what takes place in the Sanctuary is much more intimate than any other human activity. We should be discussing whether the time has come to stop this exposure of the Lord to every imaginable outrage, sacrilege, and indifference in the homes of those who hate Him.

  56. Marie says:

    Question: I understood what “full and active participation” requires of me at a mass I attend. Does the same hold true of a televised mass?

    It’s been 30 years or more since I sat in front of a TV and gave it my full attention – normally I multitask. I would have to retrain myself to attend to a screen.

  57. Patrick Kinsale says:

    Xavier, I do not think EWTN endorsed anyone in the 2000 presidential election. Problem is, whenever there is a discussion of general principles, some think there is a specific endorsement being made. While I understand that many Catholics think one cannot vote for anyone who would allow any abortion, some also believe, and are within their rights to do so, that sometimes the lesser of two evils (or the better of two goods) can and must be chosen.

    That said, I believe that in 2000 and especially in 2004 it was pretty clear which of the two candidates were more pro-life when it comes to abortion.

  58. Maureen says:

    I never fell away from the Church, but EWTN has helped me become a better Catholic and a more knowledgeable one. It took me a long time to get used to the EWTN programming style, but now I like it a lot.

    Re: music, I love the Sunday afternoon concerts of all sorts of sacred music. I’m not a fan of the “praise music”, but then, I’m not the intended audience. (People who listen to Christian praise music are.)

    Re: education, Fr. Dubay and others present some very deep stuff. I’ve also been greatly edified by learning more about the history of the Church in America, as this was ignored in my school and in CCD. (We never learneed why our parish hall was called “Bishop Ford Hall”, or even who thigh schools like Alter and Carroll were named after. It’s also great at telling people where to look in order to learn more.

    EWTN can become even more useful as an evangelical and educational tool. But it’s already doing pretty darned well.

  59. CPT Tom says:

    I think EWTN is good…could be better, but hey, it’s not a commercial organization with lots of money. If they became too slick, I’d get worried. I put up with the cheesiness, and the lack of creativity to be able to enjoy the mostly orthodox programing I certainly can not find any where else. I certainly am not going to find it in the liturgically bankrupt diocese I live in. The only thing is their Mass makes me realize what I am missing since I moved here.

    I am amazed at all the nitpicking with EWTN’s masses. Especially lately they’ve gotten much better. I don’t know what’s changed but, I do believe in the past several months they have improved and have gone over to mostly Latin. They use the Adoramus Hymnal which is DEFINITELY a big improvement over the Gather Comprehensive my parish uses. Do some of their preacher’s need work…yes, but it does seem they are working on it. While not perfect, EWTN is far better than what I get subjected to locally

  60. Xavier says:

    “Xavier, I do not think EWTN endorsed anyone in the 2000 presidential election. Problem is, whenever there is a discussion of general principles, some think there is a specific endorsement being made. While I understand that many Catholics think one cannot vote for anyone who would allow any abortion, some also believe, and are within their rights to do so, that sometimes the lesser of two evils (or the better of two goods) can and must be chosen.”

    My friend says EWTN’s endorsement of Bush was implicit in their embracing and pushing the “Vote Smart” philosophy to the exclusion of voting one’s conscience. When she wrote to EWTN and pointed out that their major duty was to the Truth they sent her the following reply:

    “… if I wrote in [a totally pro-life candidate], I could go home with a warm fuzzy feeling of being righteous. Like the Pharisee in Luke 18, I could have said thank God I am not like all the others who compromised! And with my vote not going for the ONLY viable candidate who could defeat the openly pro-death candidate, I could very well have contributed to that candidate winning and extending the culture of death ever farther than his predecessor, Which would mean MORE children dying, and probably elderly being euthanized in the near future, and a long litany of other unacceptable situations for the entire country. This seemed too much of a price to pay, in innocent blood for the privilege of saying, ‘Well, more kids are dying but at least I feel good about myself.'”

    I understand my friend’s dismay with such a reply. Aside from the ugly presumptions about her motives, where was the faith? Is it a difficult thing for the Lord to swing an election because enough righteous men “threw away” their vote in honor of the Truth?

  61. Fr. Kowalski says:

    I have a lot of good things to say about EWTN overall. I think they do a tremendous service and I commend them for their efforts, but I do have one complaint and it has to do with their interpretation of chant and its proper tempo. It seems to me that somewhere along the line they adopted the idea that “If it’s chant, it must be slow because slower is better and more reverent”. I consider myself blessed to have had an extensive exposure to chant from my early teens and have even served as choir director in a number of parishes where I was able to feed my choir a steady and healthy diet of chant. When I hear the way the responses are chanted and draaaaaaaaggggggggged out during Mass, for me it’s like being dropped into a tub of molasses and having to try to swim out of it. I have observed this choice of tempo on occasions too numerous to recall. I think by doing this EWTN does a disservice to Gregorian Chant itself and also puts a less than satisfactory light upon it especially when it comes to parishes who want to do more chant during their Masses. I myself have had a number of parishioners comment on how unappealing it is and how based on that how they hope that we won’t be “doing music like that”. Needless to say, it just makes my work more difficult. Sorry about venting, but this topic just touched a nerve. Blessings to all!

  62. TJM says:

    Father Kowalski, I agree with you about the way they render the Chant during the Mass – it’s not done well. They really have the SLOWS. When Chant is done well it’s ethereal, uplifting and its MOVES! I’m also always amazed that they NEVER chant or say the Canon in Latin which in my mind is even more important to do in Latin than the other parts of the Mass. ALl, in all, however, EWTN is great asset and has done more for the Catholic Church in the US than that worthless bureaucracy in DC aka USCCB. Tom

  63. danphunter1 says:

    According to one of the great experts of Gregorian Chant in the twentieth century,Father Andrew Klarmann, “chant must maintain a slow cadence and a deliberate and paced flow”.
    Slow is good.
    God bless you.

  64. Folks: I am very impressed that you have kept this civil while making your comments. I was a little worried about this entry, but you have made sound observations without getting too sharp.

    Things go so much better and people benefit so much more when we are a little careful. Thanks for making this blogging day a good one so far!

  65. Ana says:

    I think EWTN is okay/good with plenty of potential. I believe having Bishop Baker as their new Bishop will be helpful. He has does much to support EWTN as the Bishop of Charleston which included it being added to the largest cable company’s lineup in Charleston although the former Bishop was less than EWTN friendly. Do I watch EWTN? Not really and doubt I will as long as it only available on cable — I don’t watch enough TV to spring for cable much less digital cable. The EWTN website is awesome — especially the Q&A forums. We’ll see what happens with time and the influence of an encouraging Bishop who tends to appreciate the need for modern media although he isn’t “intune with modern technology” personally.

  66. MIchael says:

    None of the resident friars are very good at preaching, although they all seem to be excellent gentlemen. Father Angelus is a good preacher. I was always happy to listen to him. I’m sorry to hear that he has left the scene.
    The masses they televise are beautiful and reverent, even though the setting leaves something to be desired.
    The programming from the Vatican and the news programs are priceless, giving the viewer an insight into the larger church.
    The talk shows are a matter of personal preference, and are not the matter on which the network stands or falls.
    The broadcast scheduled for September 14th is a wonderful thing. I wish them much success in the future.

  67. DJL says:

    I for one am grateful for EWTN. Is it fantastic at
    all times, no. But it is reverent and orthdox. If you
    want to hear BAD Catholic media, listen to the Catholic
    Channel on Sirius. Now that channel is awful, they try
    to be a Catholic version of a “morning zoo” show. The
    music might be bad on EWTN, but the theological content
    is beyond reproach. I can not say the same for the
    “Cafeteria Catholic” channel on Sirius radio. I suggest
    for those of you who own a Sirius Radio listen to that
    channel – IT IS IS HORRIBLE! I’d be interested in hearing your comments.

  68. DJL says:

    I for one am grateful for EWTN. Is it fantastic at
    all times, no. But it is reverent and orthdox. If you
    want to hear BAD Catholic media, listen to the Catholic
    Channel on Sirius. Now that channel is awful, they try
    to be a Catholic version of a “morning zoo” show. The
    music might be bad on EWTN, but the theological content
    is beyond reproach. I can not say the same for the
    “Cafeteria Catholic” channel on Sirius radio. I suggest
    for those of you who own a Sirius Radio listen to that
    channel – IT IS IS HORRIBLE! I’d be interested in hearing your comments.

  69. Ken Weinig says:

    I’ve enjoyed all of the sincere comments, but we must remember that EWTN is a NETWORK, like NBC, FOX, etc. This means they must telecast a VARIETY of programs to appeal to a VARIETY of people at a VARIETY of times. Few would say “I love” or “I hate” NBC as a whole, except perhaps when commenting on the slant of the news or a clear predilection for violent programming, etc. As long as EWTN remains doctrinally orthodox, I must keep silent about the teen music, interviews with people with thick accents, etc. I do hope post-September we will see more Tridentine Masses. My daughter is a better Catholic than I; however, she loves the guitar Masses and raising her hands during the Our Father, etc. I smilingly say to her, during our debates, “Some prefer Mozart, others Bluegrass, but it’s all music.” — Ken, Delaware

  70. Diane says:

    EWTN programming was instrumental in guiding me back to orthodoxy. First, it was the coverage of Pope John Paul II’s pasing and Benedict XVI’s rise. But, then I started to watch Marcus Grodi in Coming Home, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, and Fr. Corapi among others. I know Fr. Corapi does not share my love of Latin, but he is not “the enemy”. I care about someone’s orthodoxy first and foremost and provided someone celebrates a reverent and abuse-free liturgy. Fr. Corapi does care about these things.

    What grinds me is the nitpicking some people do in the name of Catholicism, and much of it is nitpicking.

    I’ve heard criticisms of Scott Hahn and saw a movie clip where he said something that seemed off (and was probably out of context or off the cuff where he didn’t realize it would be taken the way that it was). He was referring to trads, and I have met a few even my own circle that I can’t stand to be around because they aren’t happy unless they are unhappy.

    All this hype was made that Scott Hahn is anti-traditional and then I hear the man actually chooses the more reverent Mass down the road, rather than the more happy-clappy version he was purported to assist at.

    I don’t see a bunch of “saints” at EWTN. I see a bunch of priests, religious, and lay people all trying to bring people closer to God and home to the Catholic Church. I see people trying to straighten out and clarify all that has been misconstrued by progressive theologians.

    Those are human beings running and working at the network, with all the same kinds of imperfections we all have. They will have glorious moments, and they will sometimes have less than perfect moments.

    Give EWTN a break! Going after them with petty arguments is like leaving the front line of a major battle to join a bench-clearing brawl on Saturday night.

  71. Diane says:

    Oh, and Fr. Trigilio, I did not mean to leave you out of this. I enjoy your program with Fr. Brighenti, along with many others.

    I also like listening to the daily homilies out of EWTN which tend to be far more orthodox can catechetical than anything you hear in most parishes these days.

    Then there is Fr. Frank Pavone, and so much more.

    Perhaps those who would criticize it so badly would care to watch a little Catholic Television Network in Detroit. You will see lots and lots of local Catholic sports (give me a break!), some kind of programming that claims to be Catholic that seems to always have something quite secular on (crafts, cooking, etc), along with programs that promote the “miraculous” things that have not been approved by Holy Mother Church, a program with a priest who brings his dog to Mass, and some other priest whom I don’t understand because he talks like he is speaking to toddlers, yet it is not at a children’s hour (and the topics are odd).

    Now EWTN is making use of the Mary Mother of the Eucharist Dominicans for children’s programming which is great. I don’t have kids, but if I were a kid, their brand of Catechism would have worked. The other children’s shows, such as that by Fr. Antoine, who speaks with such fervor to teach the children right from wrong, and to go to Adoration.

    I think people are overly critical.

  72. Patrick Kinsale says:


    That is a bad response on the part of EWTN, you are right there. It could have had more clarity and charity. There are better ways to explain the position, and the message certainly lacks respect for the recipient. I think we who are blessed with the Faith have a much more complete and correct view of the abortion situation than someone such as President Bush, who must unfortunately weigh a lot of other things in the balance and has a lot of personal and family baggage to deal with as well. He has done quite well on the issue and I shudder to consider what President Gore or President Kerry would have done. But in no way can the blame for their victories (had they won) be laid on those who voted for the better and more pro-life candidate.

  73. Joe Marier says:

    I say this as someone who sang in Fr. Franklyn’s choir for one and a half years… for what he has accomplished in the Arlington Diocese, he can use however many or few spaces as he wants!

  74. Joe says:

    My vote would be for “EWTN is good but there’s room for improvement.”

    I don’t see Father Groeschel being overly mushy to Protestants or Jews or Orthodox. My wife and I enjoy his Sunday night show and I have shut off the NFL when Fr. Groeshcel is on. G.K Chesterton is someone I would never have known anything about without EWTN. Fr. Trugillio and Fr. Levis’ show is very enjoyable.
    I love the Benediction on Sundays at 6PM Eastern. While not every episode of EWTN Live or The World Over or The Journey Home will hold my interest, most times they do.

    As for Life on the Rock and Jukebox, I don’t care as I don’t watch them.

    Keep in mind they also run a Spanish language TV and radio network – if it were not for EWTN who would be broadcasting to the hundreds of millions in Latin America?

    What I wish they would improve on is-
    -More programming about the Eastern Catholic churches as well as a weekly Byzantine Divine Liturgy or Quorbono (Maronite) or the Syro-Malabar Liturgy – just more about the East – a lot more. The one hour special about the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church is inspiring. There could be a broadcast covering the Our Lady of Perpetual Help pilgrammage in Uniontown, PA or the Feast of the Assumption liturgies at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon near Youngstown, Ohio.
    -More about Catholic history. A series about the Reconquest in Spain or the evangelization of Fray Junipero Serra in California or about Padre Kino in the 17th century in the present day American Southwest or the Church in the early days of the US – the Church was established in Florida, California and Texas when the US won its independence from Britian.

  75. MQ says:

    There’s always room for improvement in everything(even this blog),and EWTN like every other organization seeks to improve but for the time being, it will continue to be a blessing to the Church.

  76. Rudy B says:

    In my humble 21-year old opinion, I think EWTN is a great channel. no, it is not perfect – I agree the music is subpar, but the fact that they are a channel that I can watch with my family (including my 6 year old brother) without having to worry about raunchy or violent commercials or programming.

    For me, it offers a great alternative to otherwise decadent broadcasting; I discovered the wisdom of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and am working on his ‘Life of Christ.’ I also listen to EWTN radio at work daily, and their daily line-up is great, most especially Catholic Answers in the afternoon.

    I think EWTN can always improve, and that is our job: to encourage them in the right direction, instead of criticizing them and offering no positive suggestions or support. EWTN is the best chance for positive programming. It’s critical to reach out to people where they are – on television and on the Net, like Fr. Z is so positively doing!

  77. bknotts says:


    I had not heard that Bishop Foley had “went to Rome and made certain he was within his rights and authority.”

    Are you referring to his inquiry to the CDWDS asking whether ad orientem was a preferred or “more orthodox” posture? That is a somewhat different question than the banning of a legitimate posture all together.

    I would be very surprised to learn that he had the authority to ban something that is perfectly licit.

    On EWTN, it has its good points and bad points. It has tremendous potential, but as others have said, some of it is a bit rough around the edges, and there is sometimes a certain narrowness reflected. I hope that the airing of the TLM will help.

    And, FWIW, I enjoy “Web of Faith.” But I also have a lot of respect for Brian Mershon. I do think, however, that Christopher Ferrara went a bit overboard with his criticism.

  78. Rose says:

    I wonder if anyone has also watched Salt and Light TV in Canada and have any comments. EWTN is not perfect but they have quite a few good programmes. I especially love their specials from the Vatican or when the Pope travels. Raymond Arroyo is a very good TV journalist and host, keeps things moving. Marcus Grodi is wonderful and so is Father Corapi. Fr. Mitch is very easy to listen to. What TV channel can claim to have so many programmes that are worth watching-all on the same channel? We should be very grateful for EWTN.

  79. Alexander says:

    I’m just going to comment on the two quotes posted. I think they’re both wrong in certain ways. Especially the part where Fr. Trigilio thinks EWTN and JPII cleared the way for the Motu Propro – he gives them too much credit and does not mention other people and groups that equally contributed or even contributed more so to the motu proprio.

  80. JennieinMN says:

    As the daughter of a ELCA pastor I watched EWTN in ‘secret’. A Journey Home was may favorite show and prompted my own journey back to the one true Church. Although the programing is not always as heavy in catechesis as some would like (some folks that I have talked with that is) it is friendly, aproachable, and a good forum for drawing curious protestants back into the fold (and probably cradle Catholics who have strayed too.)

  81. Janet says:

    To Bknotts:
    Bishop Foley didn’t ban the celebration of Ad Orientum Mass at the Shrine in Hanceville. He only forbade the televising of it on EWTN. He only did what he knew Rome would back him up on doing. And I have a strong hunch that it was the strong pressure of the more powerful members of the USCCB that caused him to keep the Ad Orientum Mass off of EWTN’s daily line-up of programming. He was stuck between a displeased USCCB, an infuriated Cardinal (Mahoney), and a strong-willed nun… not an enviable position! :-)

  82. MB says:

    I think EWTN is a wonderful thing for the Church.

    I am a 25 year old lifelong Catholic. EWTN has played a major role in deepening my faith during this past year. (My parents also recently discovered EWTN a year or so before I did and have grown in their faith in this time as well.) Its commitment to offering orthodox theology and reverent celebration of the Mass are inspiring and educational. I learned more about the teachings of the Church in three months than I learned in 15 1/2 years of Catholic education — and I am NOT exaggering by making that statement.

    Though I do see some criticisms as valid–the show about contemporary music and the quality of the sets being chief among them–these are really tangential in my view. The central, important thing to understand, I think, is that EWTN does more to promote authentic Catholicism than any other group in the United States.

  83. Legisperitus says:

    I did not care for the way EWTN disavowed all association with Bob Sungenis the moment he “went traditional.”

  84. Janice says:

    I have one question about Marcus Grodi and the “Coming Home Network.” Many times, the people who have “come home” to Catholicism say things like: “I’m still a Methodist at heart,” or “I’m a completed Lutheran.” And the way these converted Catholics bash cradle Catholics really puts me off. It’s not all about how many decrees one can cite, but about the lived experience of being a Catholic, something these people don’t have. And I’d appreciate them not pushing their former beliefs into the Church.

  85. Tim H says:

    EWTN has done a great job at many things over the years, and although it certainly went through a low point in the past couple years after Mother left the scene and Fr. Collins was kicked out, they are slowly recovering,and with the Ordo Antiquus being restored, I am confident they will improve further.
    MY only real gripe is that Raymond Arroyo seems to present only one brand of inside-the-beltway conservative political thinking (First Things/Crisis/National Review/Heritage/AEI/PNAC) at the expense of outside the Beltway conservative opinions (Chronicles/LewRockwell.com/The American Conservative/Acton/Mises/Rockford), a little less Weigel and Novak, more Woods, Buchanan, Richert, Sirico etc.

  86. James says:

    When I was laid up and homebound for six months last year after falling 3 stories from a fire escape, EWTN sustained me. Every day was spent watching daily Mass, Leo Clifford’s “Reflections,” Divine Mercy chaplet, Rosary, Angelus, Marcus Grodi, Raymond Arroyo, Fr. Groeschel, Fr. Pacwa, Fr. Connor, Frs. Trigilio and Levis, Mother Angelica, Servant of God Fulton Sheen, Bishop Anders Arborelius (“Carmelite Spirituality), and that marvelous GK Chesterton impersonator, among others. I studiously avoided Life on the Rock and some of the cheesy music shows (including the one hosted by Dana). I enjoyed other music programs, including the Joy of Music, Diane Bish’s tackiness aside, and especially “In Concert,” hosted by a music scholar, which broadcasts performances of great Catholic music (mostly classical, but some from earlier periods).

    Sure we can make valid criticisms of it, but I was glad it was there for me. I emerged from my injury a much deeper, more committed Catholic. I could almost squeal with joy to be able to give my confession to Father Leo Clifford here in Boston, as his little 15-minute “Reflections” program at 3:15pm every day was a Godsend in a very trying time for me.

    Thank God for EWTN. And where else can we get live coverage of papal events? Getting up early to watch the Holy Father’s Wednesday audiences became a regular (and fulfilling habit).

  87. Saint&Sinner says:

    I go to the masses at the chapel and shrine from time to time and I am very much looking forward to this celbration. I hope the move the daily mass to Hanceville with regular celebration of the classic liturgy.

    My wife and I are also members of a Third Order Franciscan group associated with EWTN (most of the members are employees). I have found them to be solid and well formed in the faith. Many of them have pined for ad orientum posture, chaplets, full genoflection and other classic elements in the liturgy. There may be some charismatic Catholics but I haven’t met them. Even if there were isn’t that acceptable?

    Having listened to them for the last couple of years I think they are trying to to the best they can for free to anyone who will take their signal. They just want to get this out to as many people as possible. It is unfortunatly very expensive to run this sort of operation.

  88. JACK says:

    First, let me say that I like EWTN generally and think it has been a gift to the Church. It’s hard to go anywhere these days and not meet someone who came into or back to the Church because of EWTN. I also think it is important to recognize what they are capable of doing with very modest (I’m presuming, but am sure I am right on this one) financial resources. It’s a pretty professional job kept in that light.

    Frankly, what I watch it for the most is live coverage of Church events from around the world. It has done more to connect me personally to the fact of the universal Church than anything else. And they’ve been quite broad in their coverage. For example, they covered my lay movement’s audience with the Pope this past Spring. I was in Rome for the audience, but I can’t tell you how many people here in the U.S. benefited from their coverage of that event, which made it possible for them to more fully participate in that event despite being half way around the world. And I have heard from many people who watched that event who gained an appreciation and glimpse at what lay movements are about. It is in this area that EWTN is invaluable and without an equal.

    My disappointment with EWTN is that it hasn’t embraced the medium. Yes, it’s done better in stage design and computerized intros over the years, but it still essentially airs one type of program: the talking-head lecture. Some of the shows, because of the charisma of the hosts or the novelty of the topic, do better than others. And the few that stray from the form (the straight news shows, Grodi’s program, etc.) do even better. But this is television. Where’s the art, the music, the drama? I realize that these things cost money and maybe are beyond the networks capabilities at this stage. But it is dissapointing that the image of Catholic life one would get from the vast majority of the programs is that of theology student. I personally think our Catholic culture in the United States suffers already from an overdose of that. (It’s not unexpected — When you have generations that have been poorly catechized living in the great information age, it’s of no shock that they can do a fair job educating themselves through books on the doctrines of the Church. EWTN, for the most part, is an audio-visual book or lecture series based on a book. The problem is that that’s only one dimension of what it means to be a Christian. EWTN unfortunately, for one reason or another, like many in the population suffers from the same problem of failing to acknowledge that.)

    So I am thankful for what I have been given. I would be a fool not to be. But I can’t help but wish it would take some creative risks. That it try to function more like a network and less like a correspondence course.

  89. Seumas says:

    The Audio of Fr. Z’s appearance on The Journey Home can be found here (#321):


    I was shocked to discover that he used to be a witch doctor for a small West African tribe, until he was converted by Jesuit missionaries.

  90. Jack Brons says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,

    I would like to vote in your poll but for some reason it seems no matter what I click on in the display of the questions no action I take seems to register a vote. I have checked for pop-up blockers, etc. and find none. I have refreshed the blog 3 times today always with the same result. So, if I could I would vote for the first choice with the following comment:
    No TV channel is “fantastic.” On the other hand the 2nd choice makes it seem like EWTN is only so-so but with effort could be good. I think that unfair to the channel. to make the first choice I have to resort to relatavism which I do not like but here are some “relatives” that come to mind – compared to any commercial station that I know in the US, EWTN is “fantastic.” Compared to anything that has been offered to us Catholics by the USCCB, EWTN is “Fantastic.” Compared to the teaching on the Church available in my local parish bulletin or from my local parish pulpit, EWTN is “Fantastic.”
    Can it be even better? I am sure it can and I feel certain that the people at EWTN would say that too. It needs and is worthy of our support.

  91. Don says:

    The Diocese of Youngstown, which through its TV network controls most of the religious programming broadcast on our local cable company, banned Mother Angelica and most EWTN programming soon after her exchange with Cardinal Mahoney. I was not a practicing Catholic at that time but I was fascinated with Mother and her unwavering belief in the Real Presence and her defense of our Faith. I continued to listen to her on shortwave and eventually returned to the Sacraments. I now attend Mass regularly and belong to a traditional “Latin Mass” personal parish in our diocese. Without Mother and EWTN I would not have returned to the Catholic Church. In my opinion the good EWTN has done, and continues to do, far outweigh the network’s deficiencies. God bless Mother Angelica and EWTN.

  92. The work that EWTN started was great and led a great many people to the truth. My own conversion is due to the force of my mother who was brought back to the Church by Mother Angelica.

    However, beyond Dale Ahlquist’s program on Chesterton, there is scarcely anything worth watching on EWTN today. I think in some cases Mr. Ferrara went a little too far in his book, but he documented a lot of what occurred and the book is well footnoted. I think Fr. Trigilio perhaps has never read the book. I also hold EWTN responsible for the “idolatry” of JPII which frankly I’m tired of. Great man? Probably. Great Pope? No, but may he rest in peace (Mai santo). Thus I fall into the it started great but is now “squishy” as you put it category. Then again, I haven’t owned a television in years.

  93. I have to chime in here, especially noting many posts which give opinion and then say something like,”I don’t watch EWTN” or “I don’t have a TV”. I watch EWTN regularly on the internet. (Also, their web site is fabulous!) On the air every day, there is daily mass three times daily, I can find out about the saint of the day, there are daily devotions, the rosary is prayed three different times per day, the Angelus is prayed, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is prayed, there is regular benediction, and the preaching, while it is not always Ronald Knox is not bad. Now, in my perfect world, the mass would be a Solemn High Mass, but let’s be real about the fact is that they offer the NO in a normal way. Certainly, we can discuss the NO vs TLM, but that is sort of moot, the NO is the normative mass. The music there is excellent! I hate to keep going back to this, but considering what it could be, especially comparing the liturgy to the Sunday liturgy that is aired by our diocese (Albany) which is painful to watch, EWTN is not that bad. EWTN never uses altar girls or Extraordinary ministers, most people receive on the tongue, some kneel, many women are wearing mantillas. I may not appreciate the style of every show on, but I don’t hear outright heresy. There are shows on married life, family life, spirituality for women, spirituality for men, , morality, the saints, Bishop Sheen, Fr. Corapi, Fr Rutler, the seven sacraments…I really could go on. Now, maybe it’s not the style everyone wishes to see, but my gosh, there is plenty on EWTN that is worthwhile Catholic culture. Now that Summorum Pontificum is out, let’s see what happens! I voted that EWTN has potential, but overall, it’s not bad!

  94. RC says:

    A commenter above who mentioned the USCCB’s communications projects reminded me of this: Catholic media guy Roger McCaffrey once did some calculations and found that the US Catholic Bishops had spent enough money on their unproductive TV projects to have paid for a personal phone call to every American Catholic from Pope John Paul II. :-)

  95. Dale says:

    Not watching much TV at all (no cable either), most of my contact with EWTN is through the radio. I’d say some of their programming is good, but most of it is marginal/fair (only) in my opinion.

    The Catholic Answers Live program, particularly on Mondays (which is when I usually catch it for some reason) is truly horrible. The host’s heart seems to be in the right place-bless him for that, but about half of what he says is simply inaccurate. I shudder to think of the vast number of people that he has misinformed over the years.

    Once I heard Johnette Benkovich recommend the FOX TV program “24” (perhaps one of the most violent shows on television) as “good family viewing.” “Fr. Ed” (not sure who he is or what his credentials are) heartily agreed.

    I also wonder a lot about Fr. Groeschel. On one hand he seems intimately involved in the varieties of scandalous behavior going on at Ave Maria U but then seems to continue to have the EWTN permanent endorsement. I don’t get that. Sometimes he makes some comments that seem a bit out of left field.

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