Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some EWTN Chickens Come Home To Roost

I bet Mother Angelica would like to sock it to a few folks right about now and one might live in Whitefish MT.

So far I have more or less restrained myself from writing too much on the Fr. John Corapi story, but this news release from EWTN dovetails nicely with yesterday's post on fundamentalism being the bane of religion in our time.  In that post I wrote that it often appears the leadership in mainstream religions caters to their fundamentalists in order to avoid being the target of all the irrational emotion.  EWTN has certainly found out the truth of that statement:  

EWTN says pulling Fr. Corapi programs respected Church authority

By Marianne Medlin, EWTN News/CNA - 4/1/2011

The Eternal Word Television Network said its decision to halt programming by the popular speaker Fr. John Corapi followed the lead of legitimate Church authority.

“EWTN has an obligation to uphold the discipline and teachings of the Church,” president Michael Warsaw said on April 1. “In the network’s thirty years of existence, our practice has always been to discontinue airing programs featuring any cleric whose priestly faculties have been suspended, even if temporarily,” Warsaw said. (Which has included Fr. Francis Mary Stone, Msgr. Eugene Clark, and Fr. Thomas Euteneur.)

EWTN pulled Fr. Corapi’s programs following the priest’s announcement on Ash Wednesday that he has been publicly accused of drug abuse and sexual relationships with several women. Fr. Corapi has denied the allegations.
In the weeks since then, EWTN has come under intense criticism for its decision.

In his statement, Warsaw said that much of that criticism has been “shrill and uncharitable.” He said that many people have threatened to withhold donations and have made personal remarks attacking the network’s employees.
“When I see messages and web postings that malign the character and intentions of people who have served this mission for years, often at great personal sacrifice, I cannot allow those assertions to stand unanswered,” he said.
Warsaw stressed that it “is simply illogical to assert, as some have, that the very people who have worked personally with Fr. John over the years and who have made certain that he has had a continued presence on EWTN would suddenly and immediately take league with the enemy and turn against him.”.....(click here for rest of article.)


I'm beginning to think there might actually be some good coming out of the Corapi story.  When this first broke at the beginning of Lent, I didn't think any good could come from it, especially after submerging myself in the comment boxes on some of the major conservative Catholic blogs.  The vitriol coming from Corapi's followers directed at some of these bloggers, who were basically just reporting the story, was unbelievable---OK not really.  I've seen the same phenomenon repeated over and over again, the Marcial Maciel case being number one in this particular hall of shame, but there's something karmic about EWTN being hit with the irrational emotionalism they sell as real Catholicism.  They are being hit with the storm they themselves set in motion when they chose to make their media living off of priests like Euteneur and Corapi and the spiritual warfare crap they both sold.  This dis empowering 'theology of the devil' respects no one because eventually everyone is a victim of it, including those who sell it.  Given that, I am utterly amazed EWTN should be surprised some of Corapi's followers can accuse EWTN of "suddenly and immediately take leave with the enemy."

EWTN has done a good job of promoting priests who are telegenic and able to sell themselves and their ideas as real Catholic priests having the real Catholic truth.  And yet these EWTN versions of real Catholic priests never seem to be responsible for the types of things that real Catholic priests do in the real world like minister to parishes and deal with real laity.  EWTN priests get to have a fan base.  Freedom from those mundane priestly responsibilities leaves them unsupervised and free to pursuit their primary vocation which appears to be the creation and maintenance of their media personalities and personal multi media companies--a vocation that EWTN seems happy to facilitate since it also facilitates EWTN.  It also leaves them free and unsupervised to engage in other things not terribly priestly or Catholic as the Euteneur case is showing in spades.

This is why one of the facets of the Corapi case which really bugged me was finding out that he never applied for faculties in the Diocese of Helena.  It's not like this Diocese couldn't have used another priest.  By not applying for faculties he couldn't function publicly in a priestly role up there in the beautiful mountain vistas of Whitefish.  Given that, I am not entirely sympathetic to any claims of his about the injustice of having his priestly faculties suspended while he awaits the outcome of the investigation of the claims against him.  His objections appear to have nothing to do with saying Mass or hearing confessions, and everything to do with not appearing on EWTN and not collecting speaker fees.  Which seems to me to say his objections have a lot more to do with the impact on his business concerns rather than any spiritual priestly concerns.  

Now to the good thing I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  It does seem some of Corapis' fan base is beginning to ask the right questions, but better than that they are really looking at their own behavior.  It's one thing to support Corapi but another thing entirely to support him by tearing apart his accuser, anyone who even dares issue a squeak about the man, anyone who has the audacity to defend the authorities who acted in his case, or bloggers who just report the facts---all of whom who have been accused of going over to the dark side by Corapi's spiritual warriors.  But now all of that is beginning to change.  It's like a time out has been called and some people are taking a step back and looking at their behavior.  Some are beginning to see that Fr JC is not JC Himself.  That's not just a good thing, that's a great thing.  

Now if only EWTN would learn it's lesson and start featuring a few priests who actually have real parishes and do real parish things and don't pretend to have all the answers to all things Catholic.


  1. "... suddenly and immediately take league with the enemy and turn against him."

    You know, when EWTN talks about "the Enemy," they mean the big guy downstairs. When they talk about "the enemy," I think they mean people like us.

  2. Now if only EWTN would learn it's lesson and start featuring a few priests who actually have real parishes and do real parish things and don't pretend to have all the answers to all things Catholic.

    That's a tall order, Colleen. Those folks are already far too busy to be able to stop for media events.

  3. It also reminds me of Fr. Frank Pavone and his zeal for protesting abortion, and his relative inactivity at ordinary parish priest tasks.

  4. In the words of Gladys Knight: "He got dreamin', that some day he'd be a star."
    Superstar, but he didn't get far.

  5. It also appears to me when EWTN promotes these priests as superstars, and when Corapi, Euteneuer and company start developing their respective groupies and the groupies start buying into the images they see on TV, said groupies are bound to be disappointed. EWTN's financial backers are trying to do with Catholicism what evangelical Protestants did with televangelism, and they are going to encounter the same human problems we saw with Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, Robert Crouch, and Benny Hinn, to name a few.

  6. Felapton, you may be right about how EWTN normally uses the term enemy, but having read too many comments supporting Corapi that resort to using the word enemy as a reference to Satan, I happen to think EWTN was in fact referencing 'the big guy downstairs".

    Tim, I don't see why they couldn't do a weekly series featuring a number of different priests. It might go along way to mediating their 'one size fits all Catholicism".

    Karen, that's an interesting point about a conscious effort by some people to turn EWTN into the Catholic version of CBN, at least in terms of politics. After all, Mother Angelica did her get her start on Pat Robertson's CBN.

  7. There's nothing wrong with teaching orthodoxy and fundamental beliefs. The Church provides definitive answers to questions people have, and many people elaborate on those. I think it's a little strange to desire priests who claim not to really have the truth on matters.

  8. Nobody desires priests who "claim not to have the truth." Priests who are half as interested in living the gospel as they are in living off the gospel, is what people want.

  9. It's not just the strange priests on that network, it's that closet case Raymond Arroyo. I would guess the RNCC is paying him under the table to promote it's causes among tradcath voters. Maybe they've paid Sorrico to service Ray sur la table.

  10. "Definitive answers to questions people have"? I'd rather listen to a priest who's in the midst of existential struggle but is engaging that world with faith. Having someone spout pat answers to complex and, at times, overwhelming problems insults people's intelligence.

  11. Sounds like you are all a bunch of haters. Get over yourselves.

  12. Ewtn does serve a purpose. It provides clear Catholic teaching for those who are first learning the faith. Should one probably move on after a few years and only watch the network once in a blue moon, if at all? Well, each person has to make their decision. I intensely dislike the Catholic "celebrity" feel of Ewtn. All because someone has a gift for speaking doesn't make that person a saint, and it seems like, in our desire to uphold others as examples of holiness, we can set ourselves up for disappointment.