Wednesday, August 28, 2019

EWTN as the font of all evil

Well, not really.  But ETWN has certainly become the target of the Internet Catholic Apologists devoted to Pope Francis.

Funny.  Mark Shea was the first Catholic blog - the first blog - I ever visited or commented on.  My first comment was actually a dig at Fox News and the idea that Fox was some conservative bastion.  I think I wrote something to the effect of 'everything I ever wanted to know about porn stars, I learned on Fox News.'  I got my first push back on the Internet with that. Such was Mark's blog back then.

A few months after that, I remember Mark and some readers trashing the website called Fish Eaters.  That website was my online door into the Catholic Church.  It was laid out well, and had many links explaining the various parts of Catholic belief and living that, if you weren't raised in it, can be mighty overwhelming and confusing.  Since the parish we were entering had a sort of 'that went out with Vatican II' attitude, many of those little Catholic bells and whistles - like salvation through Jesus - were tough to come by.

Fish Eaters filled the gap nicely, though even I was able to tell the publishers of the website were not fans of the post-Vatican II Church.  Nonetheless, I remember being quite gobsmacked when Mark and his readers let loose a volley against the site, smacking it down with insults and accusations.  I came to its defense, rather poorly I'd imagine.  Not much came of my protests.

That brings me around to the observation that EWTN is now receiving far worse from this strange circle of Catholic Apologists that have coalesced under the pontificate of Pope Francis.  I notice that as more and more claim fealty to the current papacy, it gets meaner and less tolerant, more judgmental and, quite frankly, more like the tactics we hear in our modern culture as whole.  So Dawn Eden, who reaped the rewards of conversion as a former journalist turned Catholic, tweeted this:
Note the word 'Empire.'  That's a scare word.  We used words like that to describe things we don't like.  In this case, it suggests Darth Vader, ancient empires of conquest and slaughter, torchlight processionals in devotion to cults of personality.  It conjures images that are supposed to be bad.  It's often used by the modern Left and its media outlets, using words like 'nationalist', or 'empire', or 'hate', or 'big', or even 'white' as words meant to conjure one - exclusively bad - image.

That struck me.  This is EWTN.  I was down there once, when I worked for Coming Home Network.  Seemed like nice people to me.   Seemed pretty Catholic too, if not a bit on the pep rally side for Mother Angelica as if she was Bill Gates to Microsoft.  But a nice place altogether, whether you like food or sleep or just sitting around and thinking. 😉

I get that things change.  Look at Disney as megacorp devoted to the dogmas of the Leftist State.  Look at a growing number of megacorps using their financial power to crush America's heritage and even throw out feelers to America's opponents, not to mention the values opposed by those conservatives who have so long fought for Corporate interests.  That sort of thing happens.

But I can't help but notice those attacking ETWN sound so much like the mainstream Left when it attacks free thinkers who refuse to conform.  I think of how many of these Catholic apologist devotees use banning and censoring as a matter of course when people call them out.  I notice how many never did such things on a regular basis until they felt the need to become totally obedient to Pope Francis.  I mean, Dawn Eden was never like that in her discourse back in the day, nor was Deacon Greydanus quick to ban over disagreement. Dave Armstrong could be pretty high wired, but usually not against people who still clung to basic, orthodox Catholic teachings.  We won't even discuss some others.

More than that, however, I also notice how many of them simply act as if they are clearly the Catholics in the right, and the Catholics they are blasting are clearly the problem ones who simply aren't as spiritual or Christian or Catholic as they are.   But then, I remember Pope Francis himself isn't above such dividing of the Catholic sheep and goats, with him ever on the side of the sheep, so I wonder how strange it should be.


  1. My views have remained exactly and precisely what they always have been since I became a Catholic in 1990. I see that you are blocked from my Facebook. I only do that for extreme cases: folks who are royally bashing Pope Francis and saying ridiculous things (about him and/or Vatican II and/or the Pauline Mass that are beyond the pale. Otherwise, I will unfriend (but not block). I have plenty of critics of the Holy Father who remain as Facebook friends, including some who have been longtime friends and apologetics colleagues.

    I take a very dim view of it because it is unseemly and not fitting for Catholics to be going around criticizing everything a pope does. There is a time and a place and a right person to offer respectful criticism (I wrote about it 22 years ago, and my views haven't changed a whit), but that ain't what's going on now, in almost all cases.

    So what you write above doesn't apply to me. I've never attacked EWTN or NCR in my life. I defended the latter vigorously when Mark Shea savaged it, after being let go (and he admitted it was his fault, by the way, before switching on a dime and attacking it all the more). I write four articles a month for National Catholic Register and have six books published by Sophia Institute Press, which published Taylor Marshall's book.

    As for "banning and censoring as a matter of course when people call them out" I would call to mind Taylor Marshall, who promptly banned me within 24 hours of my first critique of his book, from his Twitter page. Then he implied that I was criticizing his book to get hits at Patheos (as if only filthy lucre was my motivation). He lobbed other insults my way as well, and never has interacted with my many critiques of his current positions. Other reactionary sites, like Skojec / One Peter Five and The Remnant, have banned me and/or engaged in mere wholesale mockery if I dared to show up and critique anything.

    So if you want to sling this charge around, please do so fairly, as an "equal opportunity" critic.

    And thanks for letting me post this (if it remains up). :-)

    1. I don't ban, it will last until the trumpets sound. :)

      I'll be honest, one reason I stopped commenting at your site was that you had banned a couple folks who are orthodox Christian by all accounts, and don't seem altogether anti-Francis. Though they do complain, as do I, about some of his off the cuff statements that seem to plant confusion or, worse, divisions. My biggest complaint about Pope Francis is his 'do as I say, not as I do' approach, speaking about how we should act, then often letting fly with rhetorical zingers that he otherwise seems to condemn. But be that as it may, I can't imagine them having done anything that you would have banned, say, five years ago.

      I've always found your writing quite high strung, meaning passionate, to the point, and gloves off. And that's fine. I liked it, and still visit. But I didn't want to be banned, and it seems that you've been getting freer with that, as have so many others, all of whom seem intent on being devoted to Pope Francis. And the ones banned aren't people spewing vitriol and F-bombs and insults and attacks. They're people saying, to one extent or another, they have problems - perhaps even serious ones - with the current pope.

      Think on that, and if it isn't a fair representation of your appraisal of things, I'll make an adjustment in the post.

  2. I also ban if someone says something like "all who voted for Trump are racists / hate Mexicans / Muslims / women," etc. That's at the very least a defriend, and if the person tries that crap on my page, an immediate ban. You didn't do that, as I can see from your posts here.

    You had to say something essentially radical reactionary to be banned. I suspect it was either anti-Vatican II or an extreme anti-Francis statement, or bashing the Pauline Mass. You tell me what you believe about those things.

    1. That would be fine, because banning someone who engages in calumny or false accusations based on political loyalty isn’t something some Catholics would tolerate. However, banning someone who merely says Pope Francis is wrong about this or that, or that the most logical way to interpret his statements is through a template of Marxist based Latin American Liberation Theology, is not the same. It seems those who cleave unto Pope Francis increasingly miss that fact.

  3. I found this piece from you:

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    "What do we think of Pope Francis"

    The Inquisitr asks. Based on its take on Pope Francis, we are now in a new era of Catholicism, where the Pope has all but said there are no sins of the Left, or in relation to religious doctrine. Believe what you want or nothing at all. Indulge in gay sex. Do whatever you want. As long as you follow your own particular conscience, you're off to heaven.

    In fairness, I don't know if that's what Pope Francis has said, or at least if that is what he meant. But then, I don't know what he meant, other than the whole of his teachings suggest that isn't too far from the truth. But in any event, Inquisitr asks, assuming this is the proper take, what think us?

    For me, if that is true, then it is a catastrophe for the Catholic Church. For no matter how you twist and spin it, it becomes clear that yes, Virginia, the Catholic Faith can be changed on the whims of a single man.


    That is hyper-absurd (on the grounds of indefectibility of the Church alone, but for more than that), and more than enough to get one blocked from my Facebook page. And I'm quite sure that if you could write gibberish like this, that there must be much more of a similar extreme nature you have stated or agreed to with likes on other pages.

    I am assuming you weren't drunk when you wrote the above.

    Note that this is all about your opinions, not you.

    1. Uh huh, you bet. And the blasting that critics of Pope Francis took for having problems with that statement puts a lie to the ‘nobody says you can’t criticize Pope Francis’ mantra I see so often in posts that proceed to blast critics of Pope Francis. From the start, people rightly condemned such a careless appraisal of a branch of one of the greatest human catastrophes in history known as the Sexual Revolution (tens of millions dead from AIDS, tens of millions more from drugs and other related ailments, abortions on levels capable of wiping out entire countries, plus the subsequent spiritual, emotional and social tragedies resulting from it, place it as one of the great evils of history). The best you could say is that it was a painfully careless quip. But as soon as Catholics spoke out against what Pope Francis said, they were blasted as homophobic bigots, pope haters, bad Catholics, and on and on. This mythical age where ‘gee, people can say Pope Francis is wrong and we’re fine with it’ is something I’ve not experienced, and as far as I know, nobody else has either.

      The same can be said about other statements of the Pope, which almost always are best understood through that Liberation Theology template.

  4. Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    "Dark night of the Catholic soul"

    What can be said? I didn't leave the Church because of this. I left the Church because my family was losing faith in the Gospel that all too many within the Church no longer seemed to think was anything other than our personal opinion. . . .

    There is something truly demonic in all of this. Some say it isn't Vatican II. After all, the charges go back 70 years. But who were the ones pushing the Church into the Second Vatican Council? Perhaps it's the Church's belief that the Faith must follow the world that is at the root cause.


    Well, this certainly explains a lot. So you left the Catholic Church? And you think Vatican II was a big cause of the problems today?

  5. Friday, July 27, 2018

    "Vatican II killed the Catholic Church"

    BINGO.I just knew it. I could see this coming, although I am surprised that you actually left the Church.

    1. Yep. It’s a long story, but in short involves the fact that my sons – especially – were losing faith as a direct result of where the Church was going. Not having the benefit of being rooted long in the Church, the sudden ‘development of doctrine means never having to say you’re sorry for the changes’ was a trend we couldn’t parse with orthodox Catholic tools. I wouldn’t say Vatican II had to go the way it did, but it did. A combination of our own ‘that went out with Vatican II’ parish and Pope Francis’s ‘Gee Protestants, just get to God your own way’ in light of the catastrophic hit our family took to become Catholic convinced my sons that Catholicism, if not Christianity as a whole, according to the new Church, was a lot like pizza toppings: a matter of preference, and not much more. I’ve seen nothing coming from the current pontificate – or a vast number of Catholic leaders – to suggest their appraisal is wrong. Had to find a tradition not going down that slope.

  6. You yourself said it: "Dave Armstrong could be pretty high wired, but usually not against people who still clung to basic, orthodox Catholic teachings."

    Denying the authority of the pope and ecumenical councils is hardly "orthodox" according to Catholic teaching. And that is eminently banworthy. I didn't know you were Orthodox, so it was a question of (as far as I knew) a Catholic who was rejecting his own Church's teachings. As I said, I have plenty of Facebook friends who are critics of the pope: several, quite severe ones. Ity's a matter of degree.

    It's one thing to have sincere questions and struggles. That's what the apologist deals with. But to outright reject what one is bound to accept as a Catholic is a completely different thing. I'm responsible to my readers, and my job as an apologist is to bolster their faith and give them confidence, not cause them to question their faith, by virtue of folks coming around who no longer believe what Catholics are bound to believe.

    So again, I have been perfectly consistent in my beliefs, and it remains not a personal thing, just as I stated in my first critique of Taylor Marshall. He immediately made it personal, but it never was on my end. Previously he had recommended my work (including with my book ad on his site), and I, his. That all went out the window as soon as I disagreed with him.

    I am very sorry to hear that your family had to go through the ordeal it has been through. There are all kinds of problems in the Church, and at the parish level they can be apparent all the more "on the ground." Liberalism is a scourge everywhere. I don't see problems and sin as reasons to leave the Catholic Church. It has always been there (read Corinthians and Galatians). You haven't escaped them, because Orthodox are human beings as well.

    But now you are in a Church that calls evil good (contraception, divorce). That's a line that I wouldn't cross, and so I became a Catholic because it alone preserved apostolic theology and morality whole and intact.

    God bless you.

    1. Well, it wasn’t the ‘sins’ of the Church that was a problem. If that was the case, we’d have nowhere to go. It was the abandoning of the historical faith that was the problem. The stats are overwhelming that most American Catholics reject various aspects, if not almost the entire canon, of Catholic doctrine. And it isn’t because they are bucking the guidance of the leadership. The recent kerfuffle that found most American Catholics reject the Real Presence shouldn’t be surprising. It’s just one of many things Catholics I’ve met – including leaders – seem to have put behind them. As I’ve said before, abortion, gay marriage, and our general secular culture would be nowhere without Catholic support.

      We left because the teachings of Pope Francis make it clear that it is not cleaving to the Truth, or beliving in the Gospel that saves, but by being a good person, doing good things, and of course supporting particular socio-political solutions to various geopolitical problems. Whether you are or aren’t Christian, believe or reject Jesus, much less are Catholic, seems of minor consequence. That was certainly the case in our own parish. It is hardly an uncommon sentiment across the American Catholic landscape. From what I can tell, it has become more the case with Catholics I see in the world of apologetics, primarily in the age of Pope Francis.

      As for the pope, you say obedience to the pope is it, or nothing. And yet, we’re often told that disagreeing with the pope is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, many who are Rottweilers for the current pope seem to have little problem disagreeing with him over things like abortion rights, gay marriage or even hospitals in England ending the life of terminally ill children. Yet there is no great Internet Catholic pushback against those folks. In fact, most of those (some who are on Patheos) seem to be in good standing, stand side by side with, or are ignored by, those who are hounding the Taylor Marshals or Cardinal Burkes. So perhaps someday you’ll explain what seems to be a big barrel of monkey madness and inconsistencies where this particular subject is concerned. One I can’t help but feel is unique to the Church as it is today, especially today, and perhaps why the Church is in the state it’s in.

      Again, I always enjoyed your writing and still do. But when you banned people merely for calling out what they thought were errors in the pope’s judgement, if not statements, I decided to observe from afar. I will still visit. If I see things go back to the way they were before regarding what was and wasn’t a bannable (?) offense, I’ll probably join in the discussion again. Blessings.

  7. You don't seem to be reading my comments, so I'll repeat:

    You yourself said it: "Dave Armstrong could be pretty high wired, but usually not against people who still clung to basic, orthodox Catholic teachings."

    Denying the authority of the pope and ecumenical councils is hardly "orthodox" according to Catholic teaching. And that is eminently banworthy.

    I've written at least twice about folks leaving the Catholic Church for reasons similar to yours:

    Leaving the Church for Insufficient Reasons (Damon Linker) [8-30-18]

    Leaving Catholicism (Not Primarily Due to Sex Scandals!) (reply to Michael Boyle & Melinda Selmys) [10-5-18]

    1. I haven’t read all of those, but will when I have the time. I’d lie if I said I’ve read everything you’ve ever published.

      With that said, I considered ours a very sufficient reason, assuming you believe that faith in and obedience to Christ is of paramount importance beyond all other acts and actions, and that one faith isn’t as good as another, with Catholicism just being our meat. My boys weren’t coming to those conclusions despite the Church and its leadership, but because of it. Had we been cradle Catholics or converts a decade earlier, who knows? But we weren’t.

      As for the issue with criticizing the pope, I’m familiar with what people say. I notice that what they say, however, doesn’t always get applied consistently. And that’s the issue with EWTN as Hive of Hell that I’m now seeing from those who insist anyone can disagree with the pope (like about such topics as abortion, gay marriage, terminating the lives of ill children and such). To quote the prophet Goofy, sumthun wrong here.


Let me know your thoughts